Speak Danish? Have experience teaching Business English? Already live in Denmark? From the EU? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’, then keep reading. If you answered ‘no’ to two or more, we’ll stop you right there – getting work in Demark is tricky at the best of times. If you’re non-European, haven’t taught Business English, don’t speak Danish, or don’t live in Denmark, then your chances of getting work are slim.
TEFL teachers will also be expected to speak Danish, a skill which precludes the vast majority of potential applicants. Even if you are fluent in Danish, getting a foot in the door can be tricky. English language teaching positions usually offer good pay and favourable working conditions, meaning that the usual revolving door of TEFL teachers you find in many institutes across the world just doesn’t happen here – when teachers find a good job, they stay put.
If you’re dead set on teaching in Denmark, there can be ways to go about it. Voluntary organisations that run evening classes can use the skills of a TEFL teacher, and some paid jobs might be found on a part-time basis, particularly in areas where the numbers of qualified EFL teachers are lower.
So what makes it worth the bother? You probably know that the Danish are some of the happiest people in the world, which is a pretty good selling-point for any country. In 2016 they ranked as number one on the Forbes list of happiest countries, and though by 2018 they’d slid to third place, they’re still a top-ranking country when it comes to keeping their inhabitants satisfied. Despite not needing many foreigners to teach them English, the Danes are keen on integrating expats by offering free Danish lessons to new arrivals. Their homes are typical of sleek Scandi design that you’ll recognise from Ikea catalogues, dark winters are spiced up with a spot of hygge, and their penchant for bicycles means that getting around is cheap and healthy. Plenty of reasons to make Denmark your home if you satisfy the requirements for teaching English there.
- Popular locations for TEFL jobs: Copenhagen, Aarhus, Aalborg, Fredericia, Glostrup, Hellerup and Odense.
- Average salary for EFL teachers: Wages for teachers are set by law. The minimum, which most teachers start on, is DKK170 (£20/$25) per hour, rising to DKK220 (£26/$32) per hour. The basic annual salary for full-time positions is likely to be in the region of DKK296,000 to DKK400,000 (£35,000 – £47,000/$43,000 – $58,000).
- TEFL qualification requirements: A 120-hour TEFL qualification will be required as a minimum.
- Prerequisite university degree: A degree is usually required, some jobs might specify certain subjects to study such as a degree in education.
- Term times: The schools year starts in September.
- Currency: Danish Krone (DKK)
- Language: Danish
- Teaching programmes: Language Schools, International Schools, Voluntary Teaching, Business English, Advanced English.
- Age restrictions: None.
- Previous teaching experience: Usually required, particularly for teaching Business English.
Public school teachers in Denmark work around 40 hours per week, 19 hours of which will be lesson time, and have long summer holidays like the rest of Europe, as well as more time off over Christmas and Easter. International schools will be similar – there are more than 20 such schools across the country, which primarily cater for the children of expats. These positions are highly sought-after, and you may find that applicant requirements are stricter than for international schools in other countries.
If you have a non-Danish teaching qualification and are looking for a teaching job in the primary or secondary school system, you’ll need to apply to the Danish Agency for Higher Education and request that your qualification be formally recognised in order to apply. Details about what qualifications are acceptable should be listed on the job advert, and you might also need to undergo further training.
Requirements for teaching English in Denmark
|Country||Avg. monthly salary||Degree required||Start of term||Teaching experience||Housing & flights included||Suitable for non-native English speakers||Age restrictions|
|Teach in Denmark||£2,900 - £3,900
($3,600 - $4,800)
Denmark is one of the most expensive places to live in Western Europe, and is pretty much in the top 10% of the most expensive places to live in the world. As with most expensive countries, wages are high, and so these things can balance out if you’re careful with your money. Bear in mind that when tax is high, it means you get excellent public services for your money.
As some of the happiest people in the world, it’s no surprise that residents enjoy a good quality of life in Denmark. The cold, dark winters can be gloomy, but locals get around it by embracing hygge – a way of life more so than an activity, where you seek cosiness, wellbeing and contentment from simple pleasures; think of a good book read by a fireside glow, hot chocolate and sweet treats with friends, and getting in touch with nature.
Smørrebrød translates as buttered bread or sandwich, which may sound quite plain but you’ll learn to love Danish open-topped sandwiches, garnished with delicious local favourites like pickled herring, raw beef and eggs, fried fish or potatoes. You might expect to eat a lot of Danish pastries, but in Denmark they’re actually known as Vienna Bread – wienerbrød. Dense rye bread is a favourite, and the Danes love porridge to warm them up on those cold winter mornings. It’s not all savoury stuff in Denmark – they love sweets, particularly liquorice which comes in a variety of textures and flavours.
Free time will be spent riding your bicycle, visiting castles, heading to the beach in the summer, visiting local museums, and more castles.
- Accommodation: £1,282 – £1,796 / $1,590 – $2,282
- Utilities: £181 / $224
- Health insurance: Health Insurance is covered by your CPR Card, which is the civil registration number you’re required to apply for if staying for over 3 months. Your CPR Card is also your access to a bank account, library card and more. Cost of typical visit to a GP: £44 / $54
- Monthly transport pass: £54 / $67
- Basic dinner out for two: £47 / $58
- Cappuccino in expat area: £5.01 / $6
- A beer in a pub: £4.82 / $5.98
- 1 litre of milk: £1.17 / $1.46
- 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £2.50 / $3.10
(living costs sourced from Expatistan)
“What I liked most about living in Denmark was the work – life balance. Nobody in Denmark works long hours and everyone accepts that people may need time off for family requirements, personal appointments…etc They take a very relaxed and healthy approach to work. Coming from Scotland and growing up seeing my family members go to work despite being really ill with the flu or absolutely choked with the cold, it was refreshing to be in a country where people fully accept that you just can’t work well if you are ill and you should take the time off to recover. Denmark has a very impressive welfare system and employees know their rights, people there do not live in fear that they will lose their jobs if they have had to take some time off work.”
Donna, EFL teacher
Discover more student stories from TEFL Org graduates.