Teaching English in Italy
Italy is a very popular destination for ESL / EFL teachers and qualified English teachers are always in demand. Italy’s climate, food and history draw English teachers from all across the globe. The recession that has affected the rest of Europe in recent years has done considerable damage to Italy, but the availability of teaching jobs remains high, mostly because more and more companies are looking for business overseas to compensate for the crumbling local economy. For that reason it’s rare to see a job advertisment which does not specify that applicants must have good English skills.
Teaching in Italy
If you want to teach English in Italy, ESL / EFL certification and a degree will make your job search much easier, but many language schools are willing to employ native speakers who don’t have TESL Certification. It’s fair to say that this is partly because unqualified teachers are cheaper to employ than properly qualified teachers. Some schools offer their own in-house training, but this can consist of as little as 8 hours of training with a senior teacher.
Salaries vary considerably between the North and South of Italy, as do living costs. Salaries in Italy are among the lowest in all of Europe, but living costs in northern cities like Milan can be as high as those in the UK. Salaries in the south can be 30% lower, but so too are living costs. Language schools in the north will pay anywhere between €1000 and €2000 a month for a ‘full-time’ teacher. Very few job adverts specify a salary and you are generally expected to attend an interview without knowing in advance what salary is on offer.
Teaching contracts are usually fixed-term, usually 9-10 months, and don’t provide any sick or holiday pay entitlements. Teachers are normally paid by the hour, and only for actual contact hours. Salaries are usually quoted net (after) of tax, but be sure to check.
Be careful with teaching job adverts that mention ‘collaborazione‘ or which specify that you need a ‘partita IVA’. ‘Collaborazione’ means you collaborate with the employer, which is another way of saying that you will be self-employed. In many cases this will not be enough for you to obtain a work or residence permit, even if you are from the EU. A ‘partita IVA’ is effectively a VAT account and again means you need to be self-employed. Whilst working in this manner is quite common, we advise against it if you are a newcomer to Italy.
The state education system is notoriously under-funded and it can be very difficult for a foreigner to get a permanent teaching job in the state system. Some schools employ mothertongue teachers, but usually only on a limited, part-time basis. Full-time teachers in state schools receive an average of about €1200 a month.
Finding a teaching job
There are plenty of private language schools across language schools across the country. One of the best ways of finding a job is to email schools directly, but many advertise locally and online. Most new teachers are employed in either September or January and most contracts end in June or sometimes July. It can be worthwhile emailing schools to ask if they have any teaching vacancies, but do not be surprised if your emails don’t receive replies, or if you get a phone call offering an interview a year later!
There is a reasonable demand for private teachers, particularly in the north. Private students are most often individuals who want lessons to improve their work prospects, but some companies prefer to hand-pick language teachers rather than pay a school for teachers.However, it takes time to develop enough work to survive on, and as a new arrival you’ll need a ‘proper’ job in order to get your work visa if you’re from outside the EU.
Our best advice is to start out by working for a language school and then branch out into private teaching once you have established yourself and understand the local language and mentality.
EU nationals don’t need a visa to live or work in Italy, though you must formally register as resident within 3 months of arriving. Non-EU nationals may find it difficult to obtain a work visa for teaching, as the delays and bureaucracy can be mind-blowing. If you need a visa, you need an employer who is prepared to help you get it. Otherwise, find a job well in advance and then apply for the visa from your own country.
Life in Italy
Newcomers quickly get used to seeing people wearing sunglasses in bars in the evening or whilst travelling on underground trains. To some, Italy can seem like a nation of politically-niave fashion victims, to others a museum, but to others an elegant, cultured piazza. Italian cities can be expensive places to live, but furnished accommodation is readily available for rent and many teachers share accommodation to keep costs down. Tax rates, gas, electricity, fuel and insurance costs are the highest in Europe, but public transport costs are very low.
Italy is unmistakably Italy, and that’s why so many people choose it as their home. There’s something for everybody to love, and something to drive you crazy, no matter who you are.