Teaching English in Italy certainly sounds attractive. Of all the opportunities to teach abroad in Europe, it’s one of the most popular. Whether you’re looking for a snug rural town or a boisterous city, you’re bound to find an ESL teaching position that suits you.
Let’s paint the picture (mostly because I want to talk about pasta), this is the country that brought us the epic novels of Elena Ferrante (yes, you should read them, and failing that watch the TV show), where you can spend time wandering among the artifacts of ancient Rome and where food is basically an art form. Sipping wine, indulging in the world’s best pasta, or, well, ice cream for breakfast (hello! Sicily). Italians know how to enjoy life and although you don’t need to be a foodie to teach there, you’ll probably leave Italy a fully-fledged mozzarella snob.
Food aside, Italy is a stunning place to make a life. It’s not always easy to land a job, because there’s no shortage of teachers wanting to live here. But it’s still possible! And we recommend targeting areas with bigger populations. There’s more demand for English teachers in the cities and plenty of ESL schools where you can wrangle yourself a teaching position.
What’s the best way to go about finding an English teaching job in Italy?
You can get a good position through some of the teach English in Italy programs, but the most common way is to approach ESL schools in-country. I’ve listed some tips here that should help you make the right impression when you approach a school. These are pretty typical methods employed, so anything less will make you look a bit slap-dash!
1. It’s wise to prepare a CV.
An obvious, but important starting point. Remember to highlight your experience and qualifications as a teacher as well as any Italian language skills you might have. I would even go as far as to get it translated into Italian to show them how much you care!
2. If you’re not a European citizen, then sort a visa.
Most schools tend to expect teachers to have a visa before they apply. So if you’re not a European citizen, try to get your hands on a work visa before you get on a flight.
3. Have some lesson plans in your back pocket.
Think of it as a portfolio and have a nicely printed folder of lesson plans or a word doc, ready to go! Nothing proves you’re a teacher better than showing it.
4. Rock up to the school.
No I’m not joking! Showing a little initiative will go a long way when it comes to landing an ESL teaching position in Italy. You will need to be armed with a CV and inquire politely about opportunities.
5. Failing that - call.
If you can’t get to the school or the thought of just turning up gives you the heebie-jeebies, then maybe calling to see about ESL opportunities is an idea. We’d always follow this up with an email.
6. The email.
If you’re sending an email make sure you include a teaching demo video and a CV. Good schools will have no shortage of teachers expressing interest and you want your application to be taken seriously.
Like many ESL teaching jobs in Europe, this requires a bit of a risk on your part. So we’re certainly not suggesting this method is for everyone. The teach English in Italy programs route is definitely a better option for any teacher that finds the idea of turning up at a school and looking for work daunting.
What types of English teaching jobs are up for grabs?
There’s a number of different ways you can teach English in Italy. From summer camps to language schools, there’s short-term and long-term options. Below is a quick summary of what you can expect to find.
1. Private English language schools
Private English language schools represent the biggest opportunity for teaching abroad in Italy. These schools are always hiring and tend to do so on a contractual basis. This is usually project-based work (like a company that wants to ramp up its English efforts) and is often referred to as tempo determinato.
Other private schools like to hire freelancers, in which case you will need to sort a Partita Iva declaring you are a freelancer and have a VAT (tax) number that they can use for their invoices. This might be a bit headache-inducing as you’re technically responsible for all your invoices and taxes. It might also require a certain amount of English proficiency.
You won’t find a lot of these schools online so it will take a bit of work on your side. There are plenty of different institutes and some popular ones to look out for include the British Council Italy and Wall Street English. These companies can also offer placement issues, but you will get a much better sense of English language schools once you’re in the country.
Contracts can range from 4-week summer camps to an entire academic year! So it completely depends what you’re looking for.
2. Placement programs
Although most of the jobs will fall into the contractual or freelance pile, there are several opportunities to apply for a position in a more traditional way. These are programs dedicated to finding English teachers and bringing them to Italy to teach English.
Some of these are short term and others span a little longer, a lot of them are amazing opportunities for students looking to get a bit of experience abroad.
This program is internationally recognized and a welcome addition to any resume. Focusing on young professionals and recent college graduates it’s a way to apply to be an English teaching assistant in Southern Italian high schools.
The placement generally consists of a 12-25 hour work week, over a 9 month period (October - June). Applicants need to speak Italian and have a bachelor’s degree.
This company tends to attract younger candidates who want to work in a summer camp and simply have their expenses covered. If you’re outgoing and energetic (and they seriously mean that!) then this is a great way for native English speakers to get a little teach abroad experience.
Room and board is about all that will be provided, so you’ll need some savings to make this work.
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Which Italian cities have the most ESL jobs up for grabs?
This one is easy - if you’re interested in teaching in Italy, you’re probably wondering where to start. Some of the popular destinations for ESL teachers are Rome, Florence, Milan, Naples and Turin. This list is by no means comprehensive, and there are plenty of other beautiful towns and areas that will catch your eye. These cities are simply a taste of where you might find the highest concentration of jobs.
When’s the best time to look for a job?
You can pretty much land private teaching work at any time. But as with most regions in Europe, September/October is probably the most typical hiring season.
Okay, so hit me with the requirements
Requirements are a mixed bag, but there are certain things which will be expected for most English teaching jobs in Italy.
- A 120-hour TEFL certification (trust us, it will make all the difference)
- Native-level English speaking capabilities
- A bachelor’s degree
- European citizen or a work visa*
Obviously if you speak Italian - let them know! Having some local language skills will really up your likelihood of landing a job.
*It’s possible to work under the table - but not recommended! Taking the time to get a visa will make sure you don’t end up in any desperate work situations that could easily be avoided.
What’s the money like as an English teacher in Italy? Can I actually afford a decent lifestyle?
If a high salary is your main motivation for teaching abroad then maybe Italy isn’t for you. It’s possible to make anywhere between $1,000 - 1,500 per month (if you can get full-time hours). Realistically, you will just about cover your cost of living with a bit to spare for weekend trips. The cost of living is cheap, but the average ESL teacher salary will not afford you a lavish lifestyle.
Aside from money for flights, we recommend saving enough to get you through the first month. Wannabe ESL teachers in Italy might want anywhere between $2,000 - 2,500 to get themselves comfortably set up.