Considering Russia is the largest country in the world (spanning 11 different time zones), it’s no wonder that such a vast country is packed full of opportunities for TEFL teaching. Most of the population live in Western Russia, particularly in the European part of the country, in famous cities such as Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Russia has a wealth of things to see, such as Saint Basil’s Cathedral and Red Square in Moscow, the famous Bolshoi ballet or the Mariinsky ballet in Saint Petersburg. Russia has a reputation for being an icy, cold place, which is true in winter, but the summers of Eastern Russia are hot with temperatures often in the 30s. Life in Russia can be a challenge, particularly if you don’t get on with the cold winters, but despite political turmoil it’s a country that has TEFL teachers arriving in droves.
Everyone with a TEFL background can find work in Russia, from newly-qualified teachers looking for an adventure, to highly qualified TEFL experts who are looking for well-paid and well-respected jobs. Most jobs require a TEFL certificate as well as a degree, and having experience is preferential. Voluntary opportunities and summer camp jobs are available for those who don’t fulfil the requirements for paid work. Having experience in Business English or a specialisation in young learners will also raise your employability in Russia.
- Popular locations for TEFL jobs: Moscow, Yakutsk, Grozny, Saint Petersberg, Samara, and Yekaterinburg.
- Average salary for EFL teachers: The basic monthly salary for full-time positions is likely to be in the region of 20,000 – 60,000 roubles (£220 – £670 / $280 – $850) per month, though more often around the 35,000 mark (£400 / $500). Jobs for highly experienced and qualified teachers could earn closer to 90,000 roubles (£1,000 / $1,270) per month. Freelance work can earn you around 2,000 – 4,000 roubles (£22 – £44 / $28 – $56) per hour, though it’s not uncommon to see a much lower hourly rate depending on where you are in the country.
- TEFL qualification requirements: A 120-hour TEFL qualification is usually required.
- Prerequisite university degree: Degree preferred.
- Term times: September to June.
- Currency: Roubles (RUB)
- Language: Russian
- Teaching programmes: Private Language Schools, Kindergartens, Au Pair and Live-in Positions, International Schools, Freelance Tutoring, Online Teaching, Business English, Volunteering, Summer Schools.
- Age restrictions: None.
- Previous teaching experience:If you have experience teaching IELTS, CAE or FCE, this will make you more employable in Russia.
Young people in Russia are keen to learn English, mainly to improve their job prospects. Students looking for a career in banking, computing, advertising, and the film industry need to have a good level of English. The Russians respect a professional education and won’t be impressed by a cowboy teacher who doesn’t know what they’re doing. Attempting to teach without any TEFL training isn’t wise.
Those who like working with children can easily find work as an au pair, as affluent Russian parents want to give their kids a head start by immersing them early in an English environment. There’s also much scope for one-to-one or small group tutoring if your regular job doesn’t quite pay the bills. Most TEFL teachers in Russia take on some extra tutoring work. With many wealthy Russians seeking to improve their English, freelancing can certainly be lucrative and could even be a full-time operation for a savvy, experienced teacher. When seeking private students, it’s important to remember that likeability is highly valued, and with many private tutors on the market, you’ll have to make an effort to impress potential clients – a free trial lesson is a good start.
While the cost of hiring an English teacher who’s come from abroad is vastly greater than hiring a local teacher, many private language schools see the benefit that a qualified EFL teacher brings to their school. Credibility and professionalism will set them apart from countless other TEFL institutes, and qualify the higher prices they can charge for lessons. Schools in Russia are run a lot more strictly than in the UK, almost as though they were businesses, so sometimes they are harder to deal with than in other countries. It’s worth finding out about a school’s reputation before accepting a job there. To legally live and work in Russia you need a sponsored visa – don’t pursue a job with any school that tries to hire you without one.
Requirements for teaching English in Russia
|Country||Avg. monthly salary||Degree required||Start of term||Teaching experience||Housing & flights included||Suitable for non-native English speakers||Age restrictions|
|Russia||£800 - £1,300
($1,000 - $1,600)
Cheaper than in 75% of countries in Eastern Europe, and 78% of countries across the World, Russia isn’t known for its high TEFL wages, but the low cost of living more than makes up for the amount you’ll be paid. As a general rule, the further you get from Moscow, the lower the wages will be, but so too will be the cost of living. While many expats are drawn to the cosmopolitan bustle of Moscow, you might be able to more easily afford a higher standard of living in a cheaper location, somewhere where you’ll also have a more authentic, immersive experience of this fascinating country. Many jobs offer free accommodation, which is helpful as accommodation can be tricky to afford for a single renter.
Living in Russia might be a completely different experience to life as you have known it so far. The climate is harsh, and many big cities experience high levels of pollution. Crime can also be an issue, depending where you are. Moving from the UK to Russia is likely to be just as radical a change as it would be moving to China or Japan. Politically, life can be challenging in Russia. Your day-to-day life is more likely to be affected by the everyday cultural differences you’ll experience, such as the Russian tendency to flare up in passionate, heated debates, and the lack of signage in English, even in big cities. However, if you like a bit of an adventure and are keen to get stuck into a foreign culture, you could be one of the many TEFL expats who make Russia their home in the long term.
- Accommodation: £427 – £805 / $539 – $1,016 for your own apartment
- Utilities: £67 / $85
- Cost of typical visit to a GP: £15 / $18
- Monthly transport pass: £21 / $26
- Basic dinner out for two: £17 / $21
- Cappuccino in expat area: £2.25 / $2.84
- A beer in a pub: £2.40 / $3.03
- 1 litre of milk: £0.75 / $094
- 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £1.61 / $1.98
(living costs sourced from Expatistan)
“For me, it soon emerged that the Eastern European/Russian market was a rapidly growing one. Predominantly, my students are well-educated Russians in highly skilled roles such as software developers, programmers, engineers, business analysts and architects working in the IT sector, as well as doctors, anaesthetists, lawyers, university professors, air traffic controllers and digital marketers! These individuals are largely at a B2-C2 level already. However, they have the common issue of working and living in an environment where they only speak their native language on a daily basis, have limited exposure to English and may even be planning to move to an English-speaking country. As a result, proficiency in English is imperative.”
David, TEFL Org graduate
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