Teaching English in Turkey

TEFL in Turkey is a still thriving industry, though not quite as big as the boom years of the 1980s. There are of course many new private language courses opening, but the real growth area is private English-medium high schools and universities. There are also positions in state schools and universities, but these are hard to get and, furthermore, do not usually pay well.

A degree is a minimum requirement for any teaching job, but the subject of the degree is not important. Nearly all schools also require a TEFL certificate.

Visas are something of a problem. In the past, the usual procedure was to get a tourist visa, which you can buy on arrival in Turkey, then the school would get you a work and residence permit. However, the laws have changed, and you now have to apply for a work permit from your home country. Consider this before leaving! The truth of the matter is that most schools want you to stay for one year, but few schools are willing to pay work permit fees, or do the required paperwork. This means that you must leave the country every 3 months to renew your tourist visa. This is crucial, if you try to leave the country with an expired visa; you will be charged a hefty fine. However, without a proper work permit, your contract is not valid and you can leave at any time. It sounds a bit dodgy, but it happens all the time.

Most schools provide furnished accommodation or a living allowance for teachers, in fact you should insist on it, as rents can be very high in the big cities, especially Istanbul.  Generally the pay is not wonderful, but enough to live reasonably well on. About the maximum you can hope for is about 1000 US per month (after tax) in a good private university, going down to about half that for a small language school. As for saving money, only the most stingy teachers manage it, since the exchange rate is poor and inflation is high. One thing you must definitely ask about is whether your school gives a mid-year pay rise in line with inflation – if not you will need to convert some of your earlier pay packets into foreign currency to tide you through the lean months later. You can open a foreign currency bank account, which will pay a fairly good rate of interest. Some of the better schools will pay some or all of your salary in foreign currency, which is a definite advantage. In short, don’t go to Turkey to teach English expecting to make a lot of money. The salaries are reasonable, and the cost of living is very low, but you aren’t likely to leave with a huge savings account.


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