In Turkey, you can walk in the footsteps of Homeric heroes, Roman centurions, and Ottoman sultans. With thousands of years of history; stunning coastlines; and one of the hottest economies in Europe, Turkey boasts one of the fastest-growing job markets for teaching English abroad in the region due to its low cost of living, impeccable health care system, mild winters, and laid-back lifestyle.
If you are considering teaching English in Turkey, you will need to ensure you meet the following qualifications.
What Qualifications Do You Need to Become an English Teacher in Turkey?
To teach English in Turkey, you will need a TEFL certificate and a 4-year college degree in any field. Native English proficiency is also expected to find a TEFL job. The average salary for an English teacher in Turkey is about $550 - $1,150 USD per month.
Requirements for Teaching English in Turkey
Now let's look at the following requirements to teach English in Turkey in detail:
Hold a TEFL certification
Have a Bachelor's degree in any field/major
Be a fluent English speaker
Meet the age requirement (preferred)
Own a valid passport and visa
Pass a clean criminal background check (preferred)
Let's expand on each of these Turkey ESL teaching requirements and qualifications below:
1. Hold a TEFL Certification
A TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) certification is required to teach English in Turkey. Getting TEFL certified will provide you with the relevant training and qualifications you need to get hired by a reputable school in Turkey and should leave you feeling confident in your abilities to provide ESL lessons to your students.
Which TEFL Course is Right for Me?
English teaching job interviews in Turkey can be conducted both in advance from your home country or on the ground, in person. Therefore it is common for students to take one of two courses:
- Our 4-Week In-Person TEFL Courses in Instanbul means you are already in Turkey and can begin interviewing during your TEFL training, or immediately at course completion
- Our 170-Hour Online TEFL Course can be taken online from home. This course is part-time, which means you can still work and save some extra money in anticipation of your departure to Turkey, whenever that may be.
2. Have a Bachelor's Degree in Any Field/Major
Can You Teach English in Turkey Without a Degree?
A bachelor's degree is required to teach English in Turkey. Your bachelor's degree does not need to be in education, it can be in any field (i.e.: Marketing, Psychology, Arts, etc). Any four-year diploma or bachelor's degree from an accredited university will satisfy this requirement (or three years if you studied in the UK, Australia, or New Zealand).
Prior Teaching Experience
While prior teaching experience can help you stand out on your resume, you do not need it to teach English in Turkey. Your TEFL certification training will provide you with the relevant qualifications you need to get hired by a school in Turkey.
Any reputable TEFL certification course should include a mandatory practicum component to help gain firsthand experience practice teaching with real non-native English speakers. This will prepare you for the classroom and leave you feeling confident in your ability to deliver well-structured ESL lessons to your students. This practice teaching can count as teaching experience and should be highlighted on your resume.
3. Be a Fluent English Speaker
You do not need to be a native English speaker to teach English in Turkey. However, non-natives will be expected to be fluent in English and speak at a native level.
4. Meet the Age Requirement (Preferred)
While there is no official age cut-off to obtain a work visa to teach English in Turkey, it should be noted that the retirement age for males is 60, and for females, 58. Because of this, schools may be hesitant in sponsoring work visas for teachers nearing or at this age range.
5. Own a Valid Passport and Visa
Since Turkey is not yet part of the European Union (EU), Americans and other non-EU citizens do not have to worry about the potential to find jobs or worry about receiving a work visa. Many employers will help sponsor English teachers for work visas and residency permits to work and live in Turkey legally. A Bachelor’s degree and TEFL certificate will be needed in order to receive a work permit.
To apply for teaching jobs in Turkey, you will be required to have the following documents available:
- Valid passport
- International Resume and Cover Letter
- Original TEFL Certificate
- Original university diploma
- Proof of funds for Residence Permit
- Passport photos
- College transcripts (recommended but not necessarily required)
- Background Check (some schools may ask for this)
Residence Permit for Teaching English in Turkey
You can get a residence permit by yourself (without a job or sponsorship of an employer) by submitting the following documents and following these steps to the police headquarters in Istanbul or other major cities in Turkey. Although a residence permit allows you to stay in the country legally, you technically are not allowed to work on just a residence permit but as long as your work visa is “in progress” it is okay. It is also recommended to bring a native Turkish speaker with you if possible to your appointment. The permit takes about one week to process before it can be picked up and you must obtain a tax number and pay your taxes at a tax office before you receive your residence permit.
The following documentation is needed for the residence permit:
- Valid passport;
- Photocopy of the information/picture page of your passport (make sure your passport is signed on the appropriate line);
- 6 passport photos;
- Proof of funds such as a bank statement – equivalent to $300 USD per month that you are planning to be in the country (6 months=$1,800 USD);
- Approximately 687 Turkish Lira permit fee;
- Copy of the application form.
Work Visa Requirements for Teaching English in Turkey
Once you have secured a teaching job, your employer should apply for your work permit on your behalf once you are in Turkey. It is rare for teachers to receive a work permit in advance of being in Turkey. Some schools will cover the cost for their teachers and some will expect the teacher to pay for the visa.
The following documentation is required for the work visa:
- Original TEFL Certificate;
- Original university diploma;
- Photocopies of every single page of a valid passport;
- These documents must be notarized and translated into Turkish.
6. Pass a Clean Criminal Background Check (Preferred)
Although not needed to process your residence permit and work visa, some schools may require you to have a clean criminal background check to seek employment with them. You will need to contact your national embassy or consulate in Turkey to learn how to obtain this document.
Finally, it should be noted that a health screening and/or drug test are not required to teach English in Turkey.
Go Further: How Much Do English Teachers Make in Turkey?