Viva Italia! Plentiful pizza, great weather, centuries of culture… what more could an ESL teacher want from a teach abroad destination? Whether you choose to live the Italian dream in a big city like Rome, Milan, Naples or Florence, or head for one of Italy’s romantic rural locations, you’ll discover a country packed with history, culture and, of course, food!
Spend your time off from work exploring the country’s stunning coastline, pastel-painted towns and chic cities, with bucket-list destinations like the Cinque Terre, the Amalfi Coast and Venice all within easy reach. Or delve into the local culture with everything from Italian language classes to cookery lessons. Wherever you go in Italy, you’ll find friendly locals all too happy to practise their English skills!
Plus, in Italy right now, ESL teachers have never been in such high demand. While Italians do study English at school, fluency levels are typically poor. This means that teaching jobs in Italy, and the market for private language schools and freelance ESL teachers, are booming. Read on to discover everything you need to know about teaching English in Italy.
Teaching English in Italy: An overview
Excited to start teaching English in Italy? No wonder! With plenty of job opportunities and a beautiful country waiting to be explored, it’s easy to see why so many teachers choose Italy as their first TEFL experience.
You’ll need a thick skin and a good sense of humour if you want a job teaching English in Italy. Opportunities are plentiful and, if you have experience and qualifications, you’ll have no trouble securing a bit of work, especially if you speak Italian. However, full-time teaching positions at Italian schools are a rarity. Teachers have to put in a lot of legwork to secure enough different employment options to make ends meet. Most teachers work freelance for a number of different language schools, as well as teaching their own private classes.
Pay can come as a bit of a shock to teachers who’ve had English teaching jobs in other countries or are used to higher pay. While salaries for ESL teachers in Italy can vary greatly due to location, employers and past experience, most teachers will earn in the region of 1,000 to 1,500 EUR per month, around £860 to £1,280 GBP. Some schools try to get away with paying less than you deserve, but if you aren’t experienced or able to acquire your own students, you might just have to grin and bear it in the beginning.
The good news is that the cost of living is low. Even if you aren’t making megabucks from the off, you can still afford a nice quality of life in Italy. With the freelance nature of the work, the majority of those teaching in Italy just plan to stay for a year or two rather than becoming a long-term expat, so it’s the perfect place for backpacking TEFL teachers wanting to put down roots for a year.
Take a look at a few of the key facts you should know before you start teaching English in Italy:
- The most popular locations for teaching jobs in Italy are Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence, Naples, Bologna, Sardinia and the Adriatic Coast, but there are job opportunities all over the country.
- As mentioned earlier, the average salary for an English teacher in Italy will usually be in the region of 1,000 to 1,500 EUR per month, which is approximately £860 to £1,280 GBP (or around $1,025 – $1,530 USD) However, most teachers boost their salaries with private lessons, with rates of around €25 (£21.95 / $27.34) per hour. Meanwhile, summer school/camp positions will usually pay around €250 (£220 / $273) per week.
- To teach English in Italy, you’ll usually need a 120-hour TEFL certification and some previous teaching experience. A bachelor’s degree isn’t a prerequisite, but many schools do prefer to hire degree-holders. Native English-speaking teachers tend to have an easier time finding work than non-native English speakers, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
- The school year in Italy is made up of two semesters. The first semester starts in September and ends in February, while the second semester starts in February and ends in June.
- Opportunities to teach in Italy include working at private language schools, teach English abroad programmes or international schools, as well as teaching private lessons and placements at summer camps.
- While most English teaching jobs won’t expect you to be fluent in Italian when you arrive, having some of the local language can go a long way to helping secure a job. For certain English programme placements, a qualification in Italian language is a requirement.
Another main reason Italy continues to be a favourite destination for TEFL teachers are the fairly relaxed rules and requirements to teach English. Does this mean you can just turn up with nothing more than English fluency, a backpack and expect to find a well-paid job teaching English? Absolutely not. But what it does mean is that, even for those without a degree, finding teaching jobs shouldn’t be too difficult.
The most commonly asked for qualifications in Italy are:
- A TEFL certification (usually a 120-hour course as a minimum)
- A bachelor’s degree (not always required in a related subject)
- Two years teaching experience
- A teaching qualification from your home country
Remember, the requirements to teach in Italy are different to what each employer or school may be looking for. So while an English summer school might be happy to employ a non-degree holder with no prior experience, a private language academy could easily ask for a relevant degree and two-years of experience as a minimum. Read through each possible requirement in more detail below.
One of the best ways to boost your chances of securing a teaching job in Italy – whether that’s at a summer school, private language school or even private tutoring – is to make sure you have a TEFL certificate from a reputable TEFL provider.
Not only is a TEFL qualification one of the most common requirements asked for by schools in Italy, but it also gives brand new teachers the skills and confidence they need when they step into their first classroom.
Can you teach English in Italy without a degree?
In short, yes! It is possible to teach English in Italy without a degree, however you should be prepared for it to be a little harder to secure well-paid work. Luckily, many schools and employers in Italy are happy to accept a TEFL qualification instead of a degree.
It’s worth knowing that in Italy, even those with a degree can struggle to find full-time work. Instead, most teachers make up their monthly salary by working at different language schools and offering private tutoring.
On the other hand, those hoping to find high-salary jobs (and visa sponsorship) at a private Italian school will almost always need a degree (often in a related subject) and a minimum of two-years prior teaching experience.
Do I need experience to teach in Italy?
As mentioned above, whether or not you need experience to teach English in Italy will depend entirely on what kind of job you are applying for. Those who are in the country on a Student Visa and are looking for evening or weekend work at a private language school, as well as a few private students of their own, should still be able to find plenty of work with nothing other than a TEFL certificate.
However, if you’re a qualified teacher hoping to make a more permanent move to Italy, most of the top international schools and universities will expect their applicants to be able to have at least two years of previous experience.
Brand new TEFL teachers might want to consider a job at a summer camp first, where it’s possible to build up experience without committing to a lengthy contract.
A work visa for Italy (if you’re a non-EU citizen) is incredibly difficult to acquire. Most language schools only offer short contracts and, as the majority of teachers are looking to stay in the country for less than 12 months, it makes sense that most won’t go through the timely and costly process of applying for a work visa for their foreign employees.
Instead, the most common way for ESL teachers to work in the country is by applying for a Student Visa, usually to study Italian at a local school or university, part-time. This leaves teachers with evenings and weekends free to teach English at language academies or to schedule their own freelance lessons.
While this can make teaching English in Italy less lucrative than other teach English abroad destinations, most ESL teachers still manage to get enough work to pay the bills and live la dolce vita.
Salary and cost of living
Sadly, teaching in Italy isn’t going to make you rich overnight. But, if you’re happy to juggle a few jobs, market yourself as a private tutor and live more like a local than a tourist, you’ll discover that living in Italy can actually be quite affordable.
It can be hard to find average earnings for TEFL teachers in the country due to the freelance/part-time nature of the work but, as a guide, most people teaching English in Italy will make somewhere in the region of €1,000 – €1,500 EUR per month (£860 – £1,280 GBP / $1,025 – $1,530 USD).
This differs a little for those working short-term contracts at summer schools or camps, which often pay around €250 EUR (£220 GBP / $273 USD) per week.
Almost all teachers in Italy will boost the salary from their main job(s) with private lessons. In this case, it’s common to charge rates of around €25 EUR (£21.95 GBP / $27.34 USD) per hour.
Cost of living
Picture a holiday in Venice or Rome and it’s easy to see why so many people think living in Italy will be expensive. However, while it’s by no means a budget holiday destination, life in Italy can actually be pretty affordable, even on the relatively low wages that most TEFL teachers earn. Italy is one of the cheapest Western European countries, and it’s especially noticeable when looking at things like the cost of groceries and eating out. Coffee, which basically counts as a staple in Italy, is cheap and available everywhere. There are discrepancies, however – just look at the cost of getting a pint of beer in a pub or the inflated charge for a visit to the GP.
As always, you’ll find small-town living cheaper than that in big cities and bustling tourist destinations. Italian culture is a curious mix of a slow-paced lifestyle with a fast-paced vibe, but many expats find that embracing the low-key, easy-going lifestyle of relaxed small towns is the best way to strike a work/life balance and keep costs low.
If you do live in a bigger city, make local or expat friends who are savvy about where to go. Obviously, a cup of coffee will be much cheaper in a little joint down a quiet alley than it will be from a café in St Mark’s square. Flat shares are good options in big cities, whereas in smaller locations you might be able to afford your own place. General costs are fairly consistent from region-to-region, and wherever you are you’ll get the most out of your experience by living as the locals do.
Take a look at the tables below to get an idea of the cost of daily essentials in Italy.
|Country||Avg. monthly salary||Degree required||Start of term||Teaching experience||Housing & flights included||Suitable for non-native English speakers||Age restrictions|
|Teach in Italy||£1,054 – £1,229
($1,312 – $1,531)
|EUR (€)||USD ($)||GBP (£)|
|Inexpensive restaurant meal||15.00||15.30||12.81|
|Domestic beer (0.5 litre)||5.00||5.10||4.27|
|Water (0.33 litre)||1.06||1.09||0.91|
|EUR (€)||USD ($)||GBP (£)|
|Regular milk (1 litre)||1.16||1.18||0.99|
|Loaf of white bread||1.61||1.64||1.37|
|Regular eggs (1 dozen)||2.82||2.88||2.41|
|Apples (1 kg)||1.86||1.90||1.59|
|EUR (€)||USD ($)||GBP (£)|
|One-way ticket (local transport)||1.50||1.53||1.28|
|Monthly pass (regular price)||35.00||35.71||29.88|
|Taxi start (normal tariff)||5.00||5.10||4.27|
|Gasoline (1 litre)||2.14||2.19||1.83|
|EUR (€)||USD ($)||GBP (£)|
|Electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage (for a regular apartment)||168.53||171.93||143.89|
|Regular prepaid mobile tariff (per minute, local without discounts)||0.16||0.17||0.14|
|Internet (60 Mbps, unlimited data, cable/ADSL)||28.46||29.04||24.30|
|Clothing and shoes||Cost|
|EUR (€)||USD ($)||GBP (£)|
|Pair of jeans (Levis 501 or something similar)||74.97||76.48||64.01|
|Summer dress in a chain store||31.91||32.55||27.24|
|Nike running shoes (mid-range)||81.66||83.31||69.72|
|Men’s leather business shoes||107.29||109.46||91.61|
(Source: Cost of Living)
ESL teachers in Italy are in demand right now, which means the country is bursting with TEFL jobs for new and seasoned TEFL teachers alike.
Straight out of your TEFL course? No problem! Consider a placement at a summer school to dip your toe into teaching while enjoying a few months in Italy!
ESL teacher with some experience under your belt? Private schools and academies are dotted all over the country, packed with eager young learners and business English students.
Qualified teacher looking to make a more permanent move to the country? Rome and Milan are home to some incredible international schools which are always on the lookout for teachers of all subjects.
Unlike many other countries, the best way to find TEFL jobs in Italy is usually by going door-to-door. It’s also possible to find work on online job boards and through recruiters before arriving, although this is less common.
English teaching programmes in Italy
Most teaching jobs in Italy at public schools go to qualified EU citizens who are fluent in Italian, making it unlikely for TEFL teachers to work in such roles. However, there are a number of programmes in Italy that do place some ESL teachers within primary schools and high schools.
One of the most well-known of these is the British Council’s Teach English as a Language Assistant in Italy programme. You’ll usually need to show you meet the required criteria, which includes B1-level Italian but, if you’re required to spend a year studying abroad as part of your degree (or you’re serious about starting a career teaching English in Italy) this could be your best option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How much do English teachers make in Italy?
Salaries for teaching in Italy can vary a lot because most teachers will work part-time at more than one school and offer lessons in their spare time. However, as a rough guide, an ESL teacher in Italy can expect to make somewhere in the region of €1,000 – €1,500 EUR per month (£860 – £1,280 GBP / $1,025 – $1,530 USD) or €250 EUR (£220 GBP / $273 USD) per week if working at a summer school. Freelance lessons tend cost around €25 EUR (£21.95 GBP / $27.34 USD) per hour.
Q. What qualifications do you need to teach English in Italy?
Teaching English abroad in Italy is generally a bit easier than in some other countries in Europe. In order to become a teacher in Italy, you’ll usually need to have completed a TEFL course of at least 120 hours. Some schools also look for a degree and two years of experience, while Italy’s top international schools will almost certainly expect a relevant degree, experience and a teaching qualification from your home country.
Q. Can I teach English in Italy without knowing Italian?
Yes, you absolutely can teach English in Italy without speaking Italian. However, some schools do have a preference for those with at least a basic grasp of the language. It can help you to find a job more easily if you already know some Italian, or if you can show that you are going to be studying the language while you are in Italy. Plus, it’ll make your daily life in Italy a lot easier!
Q. Are English teachers in demand in Italy?
TEFL teachers are in high demand in Italy right now. While English is taught in schools, fluency levels are low in the country, which means many Italians want to improve their English skills for work, tourism or studying abroad.