A diverse landscape, bustling cities full of endless entertainment, efficient public transport and high wages make teaching English in Germany an attractive prospect.
Located in the heart of Europe, TEFL teachers are ideally placed for travel during the country’s ample public holidays, and free time within Germany can be spent in a variety of ways – with hiking, skiing, cycling, and adventure sports all being popular pursuits.
Germany offers the perfect blend of old and new, meaning you can be exploring the splendor of Bavaria’s baroque palaces one minute and hanging out in Berlin’s coolest bars the next. And with fun-filled festivals like Munich’s annual Oktoberfest and the Reeperbahn Music Festival in Hamburg to enjoy, you’ll never be short of things to see and do during your time teaching in Germany.
The country has an excellent state education system, giving most students a firm grounding in foreign languages from a young age. As such, opportunities for teaching English to young learners in Germany are hard to come by – far more prevalent are adult classes, specifically Business English. As this is the most popular type of English course to study in Germany, having a degree or keen interest in business or banking will put you in good stead.
Read on to discover everything you need to know about teaching English in Germany.
Germany: An overview
Don’t be put off by the stereotypes of German rules and regulations – becoming a teacher in Germany is relatively easy in comparison to other teach abroad destinations.
Unlike many countries where TEFL is a big business, the majority of English teachers who work for commercial institutes in Germany will be freelancers rather than contracted. These Honorarvertrag (freelance) teachers work up to about twenty hours a week, often working for several different schools. Even if you’re not experienced in Business English, if you can teach in any field-specific subject with authority (such as English for pilots, teachers, IT), you’ll have more opportunities.
Take a look at some of the key facts you need to know before becoming a TEFL teacher in Germany:
- The most popular locations for teaching jobs are Berlin, Munich, Freiburg and Frankfurt but, if you’re a brand new TEFL teacher, you’ll find you have a much better chance of securing a teaching job in the less popular cities and towns, particularly in Eastern Germany.
- The monthly average salary for full-time teaching positions in Germany is likely to be in the region of €1,200 to €2,000 (£1,1123-£1,872/$1,297-$2,162) but in reality, full-time positions are very rare. Instead, most teachers are freelance and get a rate per lesson. Expect to charge around €12-€16 (£11-£15/$13-17) for a 45 minute lesson as an inexperienced teacher and up to €18-€30+ (£17-£28/$19-$32) as an experienced teacher.
- The only set-in-stone requirement you need to teach English in Germany is a TEFL certification. If you have experience, many schools aren’t fussy about what sort of TEFL qualification you have, but 120-hour TEFL courses are usually considered the minimum.
- You do not require a bachelor’s degree to work as a teacher in Germany. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t see plenty of schools looking for one! A degree can certainly help to boost your chances, particularly if you studied German or business, but there are still opportunities for those without.
- Many teachers in Germany will tell you that previous experience (preferably in business English) is often seen as more important than your level of qualification. If you speak a little German, even better!
- For non-native English speakers, teaching English is possible, however many schools will show a preference to teachers who come from native English speaking countries.
- There’s no official age restriction for teaching English in Germany, however certain types of schools have their own rules. For English-language classroom assistants in secondary schools (who have studied German, preferably at university, for at least two years) applications are welcome from those under 30. For other positions, experience is usually necessary and so very young teachers will struggle to find good positions. Germans expect knowledgeable, intelligent and formal teachers, and as such may prefer older teachers to young ones.
- Teaching jobs in Germany range from adult language schools to summer camps, international schools, teaching assistant positions at public schools and freelance/private tutoring work.
- You’ll be paid in Euro, Germany’s national currency and the currency of the EU’s other 18 countries.
- The national language is German, with around 56% of the population speaking English.
Despite the stereotype of Germans being a stickler for formality and rules, regulations for hiring TEFL teachers are actually quite relaxed, with the only true requirement being a TEFL certification. But, with a saturated market and a high number of English speakers in the country, many schools are picky about who they hire.
Having a degree is less important than having teaching experience (for many positions, two years is a minimum), though of course having both a TEFL certification and a degree will always boost your chances or guarantee that you get paid more. Many schools also require applicants to understand basic German, and some positions even require teachers to have a driving license and their own vehicle to travel between classes. These extra stipulations can make Germany out of bounds for some newer TEFL teachers, but if you fit the bill and can land a coveted work visa, Germany can be a goldmine for teaching jobs.
Let’s quickly recep what you might need to teach English in Germany:
- A TEFL certification (usually TEFL courses with 120 hours are considered the minimum)
- A bachelor’s degree in any subject
- Previous teaching experience
- Passport holder from native-speaking country
- Basic German
Take a look at each of the main requirements in more detail below.
The one thing you will need to have in order to teach English in Germany is a TEFL certification. Unlike many other countries in Europe that require their ESL teachers to hold a bachelor’s degree, a TEFL qualification is the only thing you’ll need to get started – making it an ideal location for new teachers.
For most teaching jobs, you’ll want to look at TEFL courses with a minimum of 120 hours, although this can sometimes be overlooked if you already have good teaching experience.
While the rules are fairly relaxed, it’s worth remembering that many schools will have their own set of requirements on top of this.
Can you teach English in Germany without a degree?
Technically, yes…although, in reality, it might not always be very easy! As mentioned above, there’s no legal requirement to hold a degree in order to find an English teaching job in Germany, but many employers prefer candidates who do have a BA (or higher for university positions).
If you don’t hold a degree but have a TEFL qualification and previous teaching experience – usually a minimum of two years – you should still be able to find a decent-paying teaching job in Germany. On the other hand, if you’re a brand new TEFL teacher hoping to secure their first position, you might want to consider working at a summer camp in Germany first. These are more relaxed when it comes to requirements and are a great way to network and find more long-term positions once you have some teaching experience under your belt. If a summer camp counselor isn’t quite what you had in mind, there are endless other countries where you can teach English abroad and build up your experience before working in Germany.
Do you need experience to teach English in Germany?
Considering a move to teach English in Germany but don’t have any prior experience? If you have a TEFL certificate and a degree, you might not need it! Experience is often considered as, if not more, important in Germany than holding a degree… but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any opportunities for first-time teachers.
Alongside summer camp jobs – where you’ll spend a few months teaching young students English alongside other activities like sports and music – you may be able to find work teaching at a private language school or volkshochschulen.
For new TEFL teachers, it’s also worth looking outside of the major cities, where competition and requirements will likely be lower.
Visa for teaching English in Germany
EU citizens are able to work in Germany without a work visa, but must be registered with the relevant district authority within one week of finding their permanent accommodation. Non-EU citizens must obtain a residence permit (Aufenthalstiel) to stay in Germany long-term, and applications must be made prior to travel. Depending on your embassy, the process will take between about two and five months (the longest is for Americans), so make your work visa application well in advance. You’ll need a passport, a letter proving you’ve had a job offer from your employer, and your projected income along with the application form.
Working as a freelance teacher in Germany without a work visa is only really possible for those from the EU. As such, the rare full-time positions (which typically have one-year contracts with a three-month probation period) are highly competitive.
Salary and cost of living
Wondering how much you’re likely to make, save and spend working as an English teacher in Germany? We have you covered! Although many people think of Germany as one of the most expensive locations in Europe, it’s actually a much cheaper place to live than neighbouring France, Luxembourg and Switzerland. And, with great teaching salaries, free world-class medical care (for those teaching legally) and cheap travel connections to nearby countries, it’s no wonder so many TEFL teachers want to live in Germany.
So, exactly how much can you make as an ESL teacher in Germany? While it will change depending on location and experience, the average monthly salary for a full-time TEFL teacher is likely to be in the region of €1,200 to €2,000 (£1,1123-£1,872/$1,297-$2,162).
Full-time positions are quite rare and most teachers will work freelance instead, charging around €12-€16 (£11-£15/$13-17) per lesson for an inexperienced teacher, rising to €18-€30+ (£17-£28/$19-$32) for experienced teachers.
Meanwhile, you can earn around €800 (£749/$865) a month for 12 hours a week as a secondary school classroom assistant and, while this might seem low compared to a full-time position, the hours tend to be much lower and it’s a good base rate for either classroom assistants or freelance teachers to make per month in order to cover their rent and bills for shared accommodation.
While wages are attractive, remember that these rates don’t factor in the roughly 40% deduction for tax and other contributions. It sounds like a high rate, but in exchange you get health cover, a pension and excellent social support. Health insurance charges vary depending on your age and gender, and women often pay far more than men for their contribution.
Many TEFL teachers in Germany find that they don’t have a lot of disposable income, yet still enjoy a good quality of life with an enviable work-life balance.
Cost of living
While the cost of living in Germany is more expensive than 73% of other countries in the world, compared to other countries in Western Europe, Germany is one of the cheaper options. The standard of life is high in Germany, making it a popular place for expats (one in ten people in Germany are not German) and it’s the most populous country in the European Union. The country is known for having excellent healthcare, transport and education systems and yet, even in Berlin and Munich, living costs tend to be much lower than other European capitals like London, Paris and Brussels.
Of course, how much you spend teaching English abroad in Germany will depend largely on where you work and what type of lifestyle you want to live. Finding cheap housing in Berlin is becoming increasingly difficult, and many foreign teachers share accommodation in order to keep costs down.
Take a look at the table below to get an idea of the costs of everyday essentials in Germany.
|Country||Avg. monthly salary||Degree required||Start of term||Teaching experience||Housing & flights included||Suitable for non-native English speakers||Age restrictions|
|Teach in Germany||£1,1123 - £1,872
($1,297 - $2,162)
|EUR (€)||USD ($)||GBP (£)|
|Inexpensive restaurant meal||12.00||12.26||10.07|
|Domestic beer (0.5 litre)||3.80||3.88||3.19|
|Water (0.33 litre)||2.18||2.23||1.83|
|EUR (€)||USD ($)||GBP (£)|
|Regular milk (1 litre)||0.94||0.96||0.79|
|Loaf of white bread||1.68||1.72||1.41|
|Regular eggs (1 dozen)||2.48||2.53||2.08|
|Apples (1 kg)||2.43||2.49||2.04|
|EUR (€)||USD ($)||GBP (£)|
|One-way ticket (local transport)||2.80||2.86||2.35|
|Monthly pass (regular price)||70.00||71,51||58.71|
|Taxi start (normal tariff)||3.50||3.58||2.94|
|Gasoline (1 litre)||2.19||2.24||1.84|
|EUR (€)||USD ($)||GBP (£)|
|Electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage (for a regular apartment)||241.33||246.54||202.42|
|Regular prepaid mobile tariff (per minute, local without discounts)||0.10||0.10||0.09|
|Internet (60 Mbps, unlimited data, cable/ADSL)||34.40||35.14||28.85|
|Clothing and shoes||Cost|
|EUR (€)||USD ($)||GBP (£)|
|Pair of jeans (Levis 501 or something similar)||76.99||78.65||64.57|
|Summer dress in a chain store||36.23||37.01||30.39|
|Nike running shoes (mid-range)||81.08||82.83||68.01|
|Men’s leather business shoes||105.15||107.42||88.20|
(Source: Cost of Living)
Teaching Jobs in Germany
The demand for English teachers in Germany is high and the country is home to some of the best-paid English teaching jobs in Europe, but not all locations are equal. More than thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, there is still a divide between East and West Germany. Eastern Germans are likely to be less proficient in the English language, and jobs in the former East Germany are less popular with EFL teachers. However, this provides rich opportunities for teachers who aren’t bothered about going to the most popular cities.
For TEFL teachers who are EU Citizens – travelling to Germany and pounding the pavement once they arrive – turning up at a school smartly dressed with your CV in hand can be one way to get into a job, as can word of mouth. Appearance and presentation are of the utmost importance in Germany – more so than in other countries. No teacher will be hired without a face-to-face interview (either in person or via Skype) and you should be well presented and dressed formally. Your manner should be polite but also formal, especially in big cities where the industry is fast-paced and professional.
Read on to discover the most common types of TEFL jobs in Germany.
If you’re looking for a secure route to teaching English in Germany, consider a job at a state-run school. Both primary and secondary schools in Germany hire native English speakers to assist in classroom learning, usually offering successful teachers a one-year contract. These positions are relatively well-paid, with secondary schools offering slightly more than those teaching younger students.
Peak hiring times tend to happen in January and September but it’s also worth keeping an eye on openings throughout the year. You need a minimum of a TEFL certificate to teach in primary schools and often a degree, as well as some experience, to teach in secondary schools.
Q. Is there a demand for English teachers in Germany?
Yes! Throughout Germany, there is a high demand for English teachers, especially to teach Business English at private language schools. Teachers with qualifications and experience will be in higher demand but those just starting their TEFL journey can find work too.
Q. What do I need to teach English in Germany?
The minimum requirement you’ll need to teach English in Germany is a TEFL qualification. A BA degree and experience are not a set requirement but many schools and employers do prefer their teachers to have these. You do not need to be a native-English speaker but you must be able to prove your English fluency.
Q. How much does Germany pay English teachers?
How much you can make as an English teacher in Germany will depend on location and experience but an average monthly salary for a full-time position is likely to be in the region of €1,200 to €2,000 (£1,1123-£1,872/$1,297-$2,162). These positions are rare and most teachers will work freelance instead, charging around €12-€16 (£11-£15/$13-17) per lesson for an inexperienced teacher, rising to €18-€30+ (£17-£28/$19-$32) for experienced teachers.
Q. Is it hard to become an English teacher in Germany?
Technically, all you need to teach English in Germany is a TEFL qualification, making it one of the more lax European countries when it comes to requirements. In reality, most schools will look for a degree, teaching experience or some type of qualification from your home country, meaning that a new TEFL teacher’s best shot for work in Germany is at a summer camp.