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Top Tips for Getting a Job Teaching English in Italy for Americans
Written by: John Bentley
Last Updated: September 21, 2020
NOTE: This article was originally published on May 3, 2012. It has been revised & republished on August 7, 2018 for freshness & accuracy, including new information from ITA students, partners & other sources in Italy.
The vast majority of opportunities to teach English in Italy will be gained by searching and interviewing for positions in-person locally on the ground in Italy. We highly recommend that you plan on being on the ground in Italy in September. Here are some great tips for finding opportunities to teach English in Italy.
- TEFL certification is # 1. The first thing you will need is a professional TEFL certification to be considered for an English teaching job in Italy. Don't bother showing up without it, you will have a sad trip home a few weeks later when no school will hire you without it. International TEFL Academy offers TEFL classes in Italy in Rome, Florence & Sicily.
- Go to Italy! The vast majority of language schools interview and hire new English teachers locally in Italy. Each year, thousands of foreign English teachers across Italy leave their jobs, creating a strong demand for new teachers. The prospect of going to Italy to interview without having a job lined up before you leave home may seem daunting, but every year virtually every International TEFL Academy graduate who goes to Italy to interview during major hiring seasons gets hired. Why? Because the jobs are there, but you need to take initiative, be well prepared and go to Italy to get hired as an English teacher.
- Hiring seasons are critical. We highly recommend arriving in time to interview when recruiting is heaviest from mid-September into early October. A second major hiring period begins in the second week of January and runs for several weeks.
- The most effective way to get interviews and get hired with language schools in Italy is to go to schools directly in-person to inquire about teaching opportunities.
- Expect to take part-time jobs; especially at first. This is key! Many schools will not offer a full-time job right off the bat, but they will offer part-time hours (typically 5-10 hours per week, which is equivalent to 1-2 classes a day). In some cases, it's a matter of testing new teachers to make sure they are up to the job. In other cases, it's simply a matter of the school only needing a teacher to teach a class or two a week. Whatever the case, when offered part-time hours, TAKE THEM! Most foreign English teachers in Italy teach classes at multiple schools. This should be your expectation. With time, and as you prove yourself, more hours and perhaps a full-time job at one school will come your way.
Bottom line: If you are not willing to take on part-time hours, you risk on losing out on critical opportunities to succeed in getting work as an English teacher in Italy.
- Be prepared to work at least part-time as a private tutor. Like working part-time at one or more schools, this is the norm for many, if not most English teachers in Italy. While taking on private students does present challenges like recruiting students, it also offers an excellent means to supplement whatever income you are earning at a local language school, especially if you are only working part-time hours. Also, demand for private lessons is high, and in some cases you can actually make more money per hour giving private lessons.
To learn more about what private tutoring entails, please read Can I Make Money as a Private Tutor While Teaching English Abroad?. Also, ITA graduate Jenna Berens shares her perspectives on working as a private ESL tutor in Italy: Stage Fright - Teaching Private English Lessons in Italy.
- Teach English Online. Whether you teach English in Italy or elsewhere, you can always increase your earnings and get a head start of setting up paid teaching hours by Teaching English Online. With demand for online English language instruction skyrocketing worldwide, teaching English online provides TEFL certified teachers with opportunities to earn extra pay at virtually time from anywhere in the world. Most teachers are able to make at least $10-$20 (USD) an hour & hours are very flexible. Another key advantage is that you can begin teaching and making money before you even head abroad, which is great for covering start-up costs of your move and ensuring that you can have an income pretty much right away when you get to Italy. To learn more, check out Teach English Online Your Guide on How to Make Money & Travel the World.
- Be Prepared to Work on Weeknights & Weekends. Especially when you are beginning your job search, most teaching hours offered to you will likely be on weeknights and weekends - don't be picky, just because you want to work a standard 9-to-5 type schedule.
Remember, most people who take English classes are full-time students or work at their job during the day, and so they take lessons at language schools - or privately - when they have time in the evenings and on the weekends. If you are unwilling to take on teaching assignments during evenings or weekends, succeeding as an English teacher in Italy will be difficult.
- Work visas are hard to come by for Americans and other non-EU citizens looking to teach English in Italy. Americans and other non-EU citizens should expect that some language schools may not hire you because you do not possess EU citizenship or some other explicit legal right to work. However, this does not mean that other schools will not hire you, particularly in a major city like Rome. It does mean that if you are an American and do not possess EU citizenship, you should be prepared to be more persistent in your job search. It is possible for Americans to work and teach English legally in Italy on a student visa. This typically entails enrolling in language classes or other courses approved by the Italian government.
To learn more, please read Teaching English Legally in France, Spain, Italy with a Student Visa and How to apply for a Student Visa to legally teach English in Italy.
- Citizens of the UK (until Brexit is finalized), Ireland and other EU countries do not need a work permit or visa to teach English in Italy.
- Citizens of Canada, Australia and New Zealand will also find it hard to get work visas, but may be able to teach on a student visa and those between the ages of 18-30 may also apply for a working holiday visa that enables them to live, travel and work in Italy for 12 months. Those interested in such a visa should contact the Italian consulate in their home nation.
- Don't count on Florence or Venice - head to Rome instead! The Florence TEFL Class is one of the most popular courses we offer at International TEFL Academy and while many students who take this class are able to get jobs in Florence, it doesn't represent the best job market in Italy and we recommend that you consider targeting larger job markets in Italy. Florence (and the same goes for Venice) is much smaller & more competitive as a job market in part because everybody and his brother wants to teach there (for obvious reasons). Americans and other non-EU citizens in particular will likely find it easier to get hired at a language school in a much bigger city like Rome or Milan, where demand is just that much higher.
Arrive in Italy with enough financial resources to support yourself for 4-6 weeks (not including airfare). Costs will vary depending on where you plan on living, but if you will be paying for your accommodations, we recommend that you arrive with access to cash and/or credit of at least $2,500 - $3,000.
If you do not have accommodations lined up such as family or friends, plan on spending your first month in a hostel or some other budget-friendly accommodations. Use resources such as Lonely Planet guides to find such venues.
If you have friends or relatives in the city where you intend to get hired, have them scout out local schools before your arrival. Also, have them inquire with friends and colleagues to see if they might be interested in private lessons – this will enable you to start making money and getting experience as soon as you arrive.
As soon as you arrive, get a local phone with a local number and make sure to include the on your resume and in all correspondence.
Have your resume/c.v. and cover letter translated into Italian. Also make business cards for yourself if possible that list you as TEFL-certified (and a native speaker if that applies).
Take your interview seriously & dress well! Italians believe in looking professional and your chances of being taken seriously as an English teacher will diminish if you in any way appear sloppy or unorganized. Also, remember that you are being interviewed for a serious professional job. Schools are looking for professional teachers who will produce results in the classroom and represent their business in a reputable manner. And for gosh sake, don't reference how much you like the "bar scene" or how much you enjoy wine tasting while answering questions during an interview.
For more interview tips, read Expert Tips for Interviewing In Person for Jobs Teaching English Abroad
- Clean up your social media accounts: As in the United States or Canada, potential employers in Italy & Europe may take a peek at your social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. When they do, the first thing you want them to see is not a picture of you doing keg stands during spring break or posts boasting of your late-night exploits. Also, set up a professional profile at LinkedIn and get your friends, colleagues, professors, and others to "endorse" you in areas like "education," "TEFL," & "ESL."
- Do not approach schools to request an interview as a group of friends or classmates from your TEFL course - avoid a "pack mentality" while hunting for jobs. School directors will not be impressed & will be less likely to consider you for an interview or a job.
Bring your TEFL certification and sample lesson plans to interviews, and be prepared to possibly teach a mock lesson as a demonstration.
When you interview and go through the hiring process, expect to begin teaching immediately after are offered a job. Schools typically recruit & interview when they have an immediate need for a teacher.
Locate local language schools using resources like www.eslbase.com/schools/Italy and the Italian Yellow Pages (www.paginegialle.it), which lists more than 2,000 language schools and institutes throughout the country. International TEFL Academy students & graduates will have access to our exclusive Italy school finder as part of their Job Search Guidance.
While it’s not especially common for schools in Italy to recruit new teachers using ESL job boards, it’s still worth checking out sites like www.daveseslcafe, http://www.eslbase.com/jobs/ and www.eslemployment.com to find job listings and contact information for schools in Italy.
Try to meet other local English teachers and learn as much as you can from them about the local job market.
Try finding schools slightly off the beaten path away from the most chic and popular neighborhoods.
For those looking for summer opportunities to teach English in Italy there are all sorts of English language summer camps in Italy. Most will hire local English teachers between the ages of 20 and 30, but some camps in Italy do recruit counselors and English teachers directly from the U.S. during winter and spring for the following summer. All International TEFL Academy students and graduates TEFL graduates all receive an extensive summer camp directory to assist them in finding summer opportunities in Italy and elsewhere.
John Bentley is Co-Founder & Senior Writer for International TEFL Academy (ITA), the world leader in TEFL certification for teaching English abroad. A graduate of Harvard University and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern, John is a recognized expert in the field of TEFL. His articles have appeared across the field's top websites, including GoAbroad.com, StudyAbroad.com, InterExchange, GoOverseas.com, Adventure Teaching, & many others. He has also spoken as an expert on Teaching English Abroad & TEFL certification at major conferences like MeetPlanGo and Lessons from Abroad (LFA) in Portland & San Diego.
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