Found in the heart of Europe, Germany is a vibrant country that has long been a dream destination for many ESL teachers. It is a place steeped in hundreds of years of European history and culture, with fun festivals, interesting cultural institutions, and the most breathtaking scenery. Plus, it just so happens to have great teaching salaries. It's no wonder that people want to teach English in Germany.
Let's take a look at how you can get started:
While getting a job teaching English in Germany may prove difficult for those who are not EU citizens, the challenge is worth taking. The country enjoys a strong global reputation, a very high quality of life, and a high demand for English teachers.
So, with enough determination, the right qualifications, and specialized skills, an ESL teacher can secure a good teaching position here.
There are a few options if you want to teach English abroad in Germany:
Germany is home to numerous top-level international schools that are always looking to hire native English speakers. However, jobs teaching English in most international schools are scarce so the competition is high. An impressive skill set, previous teaching experience, and a TEFL certification will give you an advantage over other applicants.
At international schools you could teach English to both foreign and German students.
Public schools, or state-run schools, are for elementary (aged 6 +) and secondary school students (aged 11 +).
The number of hours that students spend in secondary schools depends on the route they wish to take. There’s the vocational or skills training (Hauptschule), the mixed-levels school (Realschule), and the university preparation (Gymnasium). As an ESL teacher, you will need to develop a variety of skills to be able to handle teaching in these different routes.
You will find numerous language schools all over Germany. They teach adults and young learners how to speak, understand, and communicate in English. So, you could teach both children and grown-up students if you work there. Finding work teaching English at these private language schools is easier than applying for a position in most state-run schools.
Volkshochschulen are Germany’s Adult Education Centers. These centers are found in most towns and cities in Germany. They allow adults to sign up for different courses like computer skills, fitness classes, and foreign language classes such as English. They are akin to evening classes in other countries. Some centers also offer specialist classes for learning business English.
Volkshochschulen typically hire native English speakers to teach business English. The classes can last for several weeks. So, if you want to work in Germany teaching business English could be an avenue to explore.
To keep their children occupied and maximize their learning opportunities, some parents enroll them in English language summer camps.
As long as you’re over 18 years old and a native English speaker, you can apply to work in an English camp company. The pay is not as great compared to the other options, but you'll still be able to earn around $20 an hour. Plus, it provides an opportunity to gain experience to help further your teaching career and the chance to meet people who can give you a more permanent post teaching English in Germany.
Giving private tutoring lessons is common practice in Germany. Classes are conducted often one-on-one with students to help them acquire English language skills outside of school. Like in most countries where teaching English abroad is popular, private tutoring represents a great way to supplement your income in Germany.
Full-time teaching positions in Germany offer salaries ranging on average from $1,200 to $2,250 a month.
If you plan to work at any of the Germain state-run schools, you will be happy to know that the salary is a little more than this. You can expect to get between $2,800 to $4,000 per month. ESL teachers who plan to apply there must have an understanding of the German language plus a formal teaching degree. However, these positions tend to be given to EU citizens.
For non-EU citizens and first-time English teachers, you will most likely end up becoming English language classroom assistants and receive a salary of about $865 per month. Looking at the salary, it might not be enough to cover your basic needs. However, you only need to work 12 hours each week, which leaves plenty of free time. That is why many ESL classroom assistants supplement their salaries by taking on tutees. Private tutors charge between $17 to $45 per hour.
The average salary of English teachers working at a language academy is between $14 to $22 an hour. If you have a TEFL certificate, a teaching license, or considerable in-classroom experience, you can expect to receive more. Because of the low working hours, some ESL teachers can end up working for several different schools.
As usual, the salary of English teachers working in an international school remains the highest. Here you can expect to earn anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 a month. Some international schools also include a relocation allowance as a perk. This amounts to around $1,100.
The most important requirement for teaching English in Germany is a work visa. However, there are also other things that you will need in order to apply for a teaching position. The requirements depend on the institution you are applying to. Here are the standard ones:
A TEFL certificate is technically not a legal requirement for teaching English in Germany. Some schools will not look for this. However, most reputable private language schools will require this from their applicants. Good schools will only hire ESL teachers who have received proper training and possess a TEFL qualification.
If you do not have CELTA or TEFL certification, you can get this by enrolling in a TEFL course. There are a number of great online TEFL courses to choose from, and you can even study in Germany.
A bachelor’s degree in any field or major from an accredited university is necessary to be able to apply for a teaching position in German schools. This and a TEFL certification will give you the best chances of finding work teaching abroad.
However, there are still some opportunities that you can pursue if you don't have a university degree, such as assisting at a language summer camp. You can also offer your private tutoring services if you're legally able to work.
To teach English in Germany, you will need some form of visa. The type of visa you need will depend on your passport as well as the employment arrangement you have with the hiring institution.
One of the biggest problems with getting an English teaching job in Germany is that nearly all institutions only hire European Union citizens. If you are an EU citizen, or a citizen of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland, congratulations, you do not need any visa to apply for a teaching position.
For UK citizens, you can get into Germany visa-free but you will need to apply for a long-term visa within 90 days upon entry to be able to stay and work as an ESL teacher.
If you have a passport from the US, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, South Korea, or New Zealand, you can also enter Germany without an entry visa. However, you will need to find work and apply for a Working Holiday visa within 90 days of your arrival. You will also need to process your residence permit application.
This type of visa is also referred to as the Youth Mobility Visa. From the name, this visa is targeted toward younger applicants. You must be 30 years old or younger to take advantage of it. Canadians can acquire this visa up until their 36th birthday.
For any other citizenship, you will have to undertake the lengthy process of obtaining a work visa along with a residency permit. You will first need an entry visa upon arriving in Germany. This means you must already have a job offer before you leave your home country.
You will need to present the following documents with your application:
Completed application form
Job offer printed on your employer’s letterhead
Valid passport (at least 6 months)
Record of projected income
So, while the task of teaching English may not be that difficult, getting the necessary paperwork to work legally in Germany can be challenging and may hamper many teachers who aspire to teach English abroad.
However, if you do decide to undertake this task, you’ll be rewarded. Getting a teaching job in Germany is a wonderful way to earn some money and acquire some teaching experience.
The demand for English teachers is highest in major cities like Munich, Frankfurt, and Berlin. You can also find opportunities in small towns and rural areas if you want to immerse yourself in German culture.
Berlin is the country’s bustling capital and is a favorite location for ESL teachers. The city brims with history and culture. While it is a popular destination, the cost of living here is surprisingly low.
The public transport system is efficient, so if you are trying to save some money, you can opt to live outside the center and just commute to work when needed.
Many people speak English here so getting around will not be a problem if you can’t speak German yet. The downside is that fewer students require your private tutoring services and the competition for teaching positions is quite high.
If you plan on doing a lot of traveling, Frankfurt is an ideal place to start. It is central to many of Germany’s cities. By train, Frankfurt is a mere six hours (maximum) away from Brussels, Paris, Bern, and Amsterdam.
Another benefit of choosing Frankfurt is that the salaries of schools, language academies, and other learning centers are high here. Additionally, you can charge a higher rate for your private tutoring services.
Munich is admittedly the most expensive city to live in. However, the salary is better here as well. Plus, it offers numerous nighttime activities that you can indulge in after your day of teaching.
If you are a fan of winter sports, you can easily travel to the Austrian Alps and enjoy a weekend of skiing. The rest of Europe is also very accessible here, either via trains or planes.
While many of the locals in Munich speak English, they are not as good at using the language as those who live in Berlin. This means getting around will be much harder if you don’t speak any German. However, it does mean that more people will be needing your services as a private tutor and there are a number of TEFL jobs available.
If your dream is to go to Germany, teach English, and explore everything that the country has to offer, you can check several resources to find the right teaching opportunity.
If you are looking for teaching job opportunities at an international school, a language school, or a summer camp, you should check out expat forums, hiring websites, or TEFL job boards. You can also visit the websites of these institutions to see if they are currently posting any job openings.
Social media groups for ESL teachers are worth checking too. Teachers often post about job openings at their schools and assist fellow teachers in securing the position.
Most teaching jobs in language schools are available throughout the year. However, they get filled quite quickly so you need to keep your eyes open at all times.
As for openings for international and state-run schools, they get filled up months before school starts. The school year starts in August to September. Universities start their classes around October. You need to be on the lookout for job listings several months before this. It is best to apply early as you will often be competing for these jobs against EU citizens, which these institutions prefer.
Before you arrive in Germany, you should submit your application to as many institutions as possible. If that's not possible, you should at least already be in contact with the schools or language academies that have openings.
After making your application, wait for the schools to contact you for interviews. Once you pass that, check that the job offer is suitable before signing. Only sign the employment contract if you are happy with what the school has to offer. Once you have a job offer, you can start sorting out your visa.
The application for the visa requires:
Town hall registration (Rathaus)
Proof of residence
Health insurance coverage
Letter of intent from the school - This should contain the monthly working hours and earnings
Bank statements as proof of funds
After submitting your documents, you will need to pay 100 to 150 euros to get your visa.
As an ESL teacher working abroad, you need to find out as much as you can about a country’s culture and etiquette to know what to expect. This will help you understand and adapt to live and work harmoniously with your new students and colleagues. Here are some important things to know that will make your teaching experience in Germany better:
In general, the German classroom is known to be productive, orderly, and polite. Children are encouraged to develop specialized skills and adults do not stop learning.
As for your coworkers, you can expect them to be supportive but formal. Tasks are done according to school rules, whether that’s planning, implementing lessons, or social interactions. This is true even outside of the school setting where laws and rules are considered very important. Even something as small as jaywalking is not accepted.
The Germans are known for their efficiency. All activities are started on time and tardiness is frowned upon. Even the transit system observes punctuality. If you are a bit behind your schedule, it is polite (and expected) to call and inform whoever you're meeting that you will be late.
Be prepared to do a lot of handshaking because Germans practice this often. They shake hands during business meetings. It is also done when they first meet someone or when they want to congratulate someone on an achievement. Some Germans even use the handshake to greet people upon arrival. You might even observe your young students shaking hands with each other.
The cost of living in Germany will depend mainly on which region and city of the country you choose to teach in. For example, a salary of $1,200 should cover all of your basic expenses, including the rent, in most cities in north or east Germany. However, that same amount would not cover the rent of a 2-bedroom flat in Bavaria.
In Munich, it would be difficult to get by on a monthly budget of $1,000. In fact, it's practically impossible to live on that particularly if you choose to live in the city as the rent prices are considerably higher.
Travel is quite affordable and the prices of food and drink are average compared to other places in Europe.
Rent is going to take up a big chunk of your salary. The cost of rent in Germany varies greatly depending on the location. A 1 bedroom apartment in Munich will easily cost $1,000 +. But if you stay somewhere like Leipzig, rent for a similar apartment is only about $500.
If you are trying to save a little on this expense, you can try sharing accommodation with other teachers.
Utilities such as internet, water, and electricity will add around $220 to your monthly expenses.
Eating at a restaurant is fairly expensive in Germany. You need to allocate around $30 to $35 on meals out. However, making your meals at home comes out cheaper. There are lots of grocery stores and large chain supermarkets throughout the country.
A kilo of apples typically costs about $3 and a liter of milk costs $0.90. Bread is $1 to $2 a loaf while beer is about $3.
The cheapest form of transportation in Germany is public transport. A one-way ticket on local public transport is about $2. If you use the line regularly, you can buy a monthly ticket worth $70.
Taking a taxi is more expensive. The initial cost is about $3.50 and each additional kilometer will add about $2 to that amount.
Health insurance is mandatory in Germany. You will be required to get an insurance plan as soon as you arrive in the country.
You can choose whether you want a public or a private health insurance plan. The monthly premium rate for a public health insurance plan ranges from $70 to $80.
There are so many places to explore in Germany. From the museums in Berlin to the opera houses in Bayreuth, it will take you many weekends to visit and thoroughly explore the various destinations.
If the outdoors is more your type, you can head on to the many mountains in the country or explore the fairytale-like environment of the Black Forest. You can also spend your time on the Baltic Coast or the Bavarian Alps. Germany’s natural beauty truly knows no bounds.
Another thing that draws tourists and visitors to Germany is its festivals. One popular festival that brings millions to the country is the Oktoberfest in Munich. It gives visitors a chance to enjoy traditional German food and consume copious amounts of beer! There’s also the colorful pumpkin festival that takes place in Schloss Ludwigsburg.
If this sounds appealing and you'd like to enjoy all these things and more, you’re going to need some pocket money. One good way to do that is to teach English in Germany! So, why not give it a try?
Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about teaching English in Germany:
It is said that Germany needs to hire around 105,000 teachers by 2025 to meet the requirements of elementary schools. Even if only a fraction of that is English teachers, the number is still considerably high. So, yes, there is a need for English teachers in Germany.
Most of the English teaching jobs in Germany require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree (any major) and a CELTA or TEFL certification. Some institutions also require their teachers to have prior teaching experience as well as a valid license to teach.
On average, an English teacher working in Germany can receive a salary between $1,000 to $2,200 a month by working at a language school. Additional income can be earned by offering tutoring services teaching kids or adults business English for $17 to $45 an hour. You can earn considerably more working at a public school or international school.
If you have an EU citizenship, finding teaching jobs is not a problem. If you are a non-EU citizen, then getting a teaching position can be more challenging. However, with the proper certifications and a college degree, you can still overcome that hurdle.
Most German language schools do not require their teachers to know how to speak German to teach. However, a level of understanding of German is often requested for those who wish to work in public or international schools there.
It's always worth making an effort to learn because having a basic knowledge of German will help you communicate better with your students. Plus, working on your German language skills will make getting around Germany much easier.