The romance of living in Italy is lost on few. Maybe it’s the allure of wandering around Rome’s famous piazzas or taking in the crumbling remains of what was once the world’s most powerful empire.
Perhaps you’re drawn to a place known as much for its seafood pastas as its chocolate gelato. It could be the idea of taking in spectacular sunsets over the countryside in the north, or the pristine beaches of the south.
Whatever idea of Italy you have, once you’ve decided you want to live in the mediterranean country, the idea can be hard to shake. The good news is, teaching English is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door.
This guide will walk you through some of the most key aspects of finding a teaching job in Italy, and how much you can expect to earn once you get there.
The requirements for teaching English as a second language in Italy aren’t all that stringent: you may be pleasantly surprised to find you’re only a step or two away from being ready to find a job.
Before you start applying, however, it’s a good idea to make sure you have these basic qualifications in order:
- Having a TESOL/TEFL/CELTA certificate is typically a set requirement for teaching English in Italy
- Candidates with bachelor’s degrees or higher are given more consideration than those who don’t have a degree
These requirements remain pretty constant for teachers from the elementary school to high school level, as well as teaching in international schools or acting as a private tutor.
If, however, you’re hoping to instruct English at a university level, you should hold a master’s degree or higher.
TESOL, TEFL, and CELTA are all the end result of completing an English as a second language teaching course. While they’re all slightly different, they’re also all equally valid for teaching in Italy.
CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is a certificate issued by the University of Cambridge after completing their five week, full-time course. It’s an intensive program, and is noticeably the most expensive of the three certificates. That being said, the CELTA is widely accepted and often preferred around Europe. Professionals who are hoping to pursue teaching English full-time are the most likely to obtain their CELTA.
TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is a course that's offered by a range of overseeing organizations and institutions. It’s also a five week course, but it’s thought to be a little easier than the CELTA; that being said, it’s also less standardized, so this won’t necessarily always be the case. The TEFL is a widely accepted certificate in Asia as well as Europe, though it's not always given the same preference as the CELTA in European countries.
TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is the same certificate as the TEFL, and the terms are often used interchangeably. TESOL is more commonly used in Australia and the US, while TEFL is the term often used in the UK and Europe.
If you’re hoping to get your CELTA, you’ll need to apply directly through Cambridge. Fair warning; you can be rejected from the program based on your background or experience.
For those leaning towards getting their TEFL or TESOL, there are a variety of programs available online and in person. Some reputable institutions include the International TEFL Academy and the University of Toronto.
As is the case everywhere, salaries vary widely depending on what part of Italy you’re going to be teaching in. On average, however, you can expect to make about €1700 per month, or a little bit more if you’re teaching in the north where cost of living is higher.
The good news is, the actual cost of living in Italy isn’t all that expensive. Some prices for common items and services include:
- Monthly gym membership: €47
- Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: €15
- Milk: €1.18 per litre
- Cappuccino: €1.35
- Gas: €1.46 per litre
These figures are estimates only, and will of course vary depending on the area of Italy. To understand the costs in your home currency, you can use an online currency converter.
If you’ll be funding your bank account in Italy from your account back home, consider using an international transfer service like TransferWise to save money. This won't only help cut out expensive international transfer fees (money is sent by local bank transfers in both your home country and Italy), but will also give you the actual mid-market exchange rate. This leaves you with extra money for enjoying your time in Italy.
Yes, you do - and if you’re a non-EU citizen, getting a work visa in Italy can pose a difficult problem. It’s common practice for workers to simply overstay tourist visas and work “under the table”. However, this kind of illegal activity is not recommended, and if you’re caught you could end up being deported and handed a temporary to permanent ban from the country.
If you're a US visa seeker, a better way to work around the visa system is to take classes, especially Italian language classes, at a university. Becoming a student means you can obtain a student-visa, which typically allows you to work. This option is the easiest way to get your visa, and learning Italian or any other subject along with local and expat peers could really enhance your experience socially. You can check out more information about getting your visa at the U.S. Embassy’s website.
For UK job seekers, visas aren’t a problem. Your tourist visa lasts for 3 months, and applying for residency (which spans 5 years) is as simple as a visit to the nearest town hall, or Comune-Ufficio Anagrafe, with the right documents in hand.
Be warned, however: due recent changes in Great Britain’s EU status, your visa requirements could well change by the end of 2017.
With the right skills and qualifications in place, finding a teaching job in Italy is totally possible. If you’re ready to start your search, sites like GoAbroad, Go Overseas, Teach Away, and TEFL Jobs can be good places to begin looking.
If you’re interested in learning more about living in the country before you make the move, Internations has many excellent guides for expats living in Italy.
With that, you’re all set. Good luck, and happy job hunting!