The academic year in language schools is from September to June. It is a good strategy to get your CV ready by January as the bulk of the hiring takes place in February and March. But do not worry if you could not make the spring deadline. The application season lasts until the new academic year begins, so you can send in your resume until October. You may hit the jackpot if the recruitment process at a school does not go as planned, resulting in last-minute vacancies.
Your approach to any prospective job offer should be flexible. Do not be surprised if a school offers you a part-time position when you had applied for a full-time vacancy. It is quite common for Italian schools to take teachers initially on a part-time basis. If all parties are happy and satisfied with the experience, then the school may appoint you as a full-time teacher.
If you are worried about the financial implications, you can always take up private tutoring to beef up your income. You are also allowed to work in other schools, so you could opt for two part-time jobs. Remember that the competition is tough and your strategy should be to get a break in the school system.
Now that you have got your application ready and have a better understanding of the job market for teachers in Italy, let us take a look at the various kinds of jobs and institutes where you should send your application. Here’s a pro-tip. If possible go personally to various schools and hand over your application. In Italy, these gestures do make a difference.
There are several international schools where you could teach English in Italy to cater to the expatriate population. Since English is the medium of instruction in several of these schools, licensed teachers in various specialities – not just English – could apply for jobs here. These schools have a higher bar for hiring teachers and you would need at least a couple of years of teaching experience to be considered for the job.
It is almost impossible for expatriates to get a teaching job in the public school system if you are not an EU citizen who is fluent in Italian.
For non-EU citizens, private language schools are the best bet to land a job. There are all kinds of private language schools in Italy – big, small, good, bad, independent schools, franchises, online platforms. Quite naturally, the working conditions and experiences differ depending on the school.
It makes sense to do some research to find the kind of schools that you are happy to work in. For example, you might prefer the smaller independent schools to the more impersonal corporate ones or vice versa. A background check will ensure if the position is a good fit for you.
If you want to teach English in Italy during your summer break, check out the summer camps run by the language schools. These are meant for young adults seeking to improve their employability by picking up English speaking skills.
Having a Bachelor’s degree is an advantage and a TEFL certification is mandatory for English teachers to teach English in Italy. There may be schools that hire without a TEFL certification or a degree, but you would have to make compromises on the salary and working conditions. As stated earlier, fluency with the Italian language is an important parameter in the hiring process in public schools. Teachers looking for work in the lucrative international school segment require a teaching license as well as work experience.
Visa and residency papers are necessary to work and teach in Italy. EU citizens have a relatively easy path to an Italian residency. On the other hand, the visa and residency process is extremely difficult for a non-EU resident. However, it can be done if you have the patience to navigate through astounding levels of paperwork, rules and regulations.
As an expatriate who wants to teach English in Italy, you need four important documents with you. These are:
EU citizens can skip this step. Non-EU residents can apply for a work visa only after getting a job. Once you have got a contract with a school, your employer will have to complete all the visa formalities. The school has to request the immigration authorities to provide you with a Nulla Osta (a document that authorises you to work in the country).
To get this authorisation, the school has to submit a lot of paperwork, deal with bureaucracy as well as prove to authorities at the Sportello Unico d’Immigrazione (Italy’s immigration office) that the school had to hire you because there were no suitable EU or Italian candidates for the job. Given the torturous process involved, most schools avoid hiring non-EU citizens as teachers.
Even if a school takes you on, the Nulla Osta request filed by the school may be rejected. This is because Italy has a quota for immigrants from non-EU countries. Once the quota for the year is reached, no more visas will be issued under this category. If it is granted, the work authorisation and all other documents submitted by the school will be sent to the Italian embassy in your country. The embassy will hand over the visa to you within a month.
You will need to submit a copy of your passport, your resume, proof of your qualifications and credentials, bank statements for a work visa. This is not a comprehensive list as the documents required vary from region to region.
Since work visas are difficult to come by, non-EU citizens can also consider applying for a student visa, which will allow you to work for up to 20 hours a week. You have to enrol for a course from an accredited university or college recognised by the Italian government. Unlike the work visa, a student visa will permit you to enter Italy without having a job in hand.
The first step for getting a student visa is to enrol for a course. Once you have proof of enrolment, submit the required documents to the Italian Embassy in your country. These include the visa application form, passport size photo, passport and its photocopy, admission/enrolment letter, proof of residence, health insurance and proof of residence. You should have your student visa within a month. Rejection of student visa applications is a rare occurrence.
This is a residency permit required by non-EU citizens. You are considered a tourist if your stay in Italy is less than 90 days. However, if you are staying beyond this period to teach English in Italy, you need to apply for a permesso di soggiorno or a permit of stay.
You need to apply for the permesso di soggiorno within eight days of your arrival in Italy. The forms are available at select post offices. Since they are in Italian, you may need some help in filling them. Submit the forms along with other required documents like passport copies, photographs, proof of health insurance etc.
Once you have submitted the forms and paid the applicable fees, you will be given an appointment at the local police station. The police appointment includes submitting a few more forms, answering a few questions and submitting your fingerprints. Once this is done, you are given a code with which you can check the status of your request for a permesso di soggiorno online. It may take a few weeks or even a few months before the permesso di soggiorno is granted!
There is a lot of paperwork and bureaucracy involved in the process. The key is to be patient at all times and thorough in your paperwork.
EU nationals staying in Italy for more than three months need to register with the Anagrafe (register office) of the local municipality.
This is a government identification number similar to a Social Security Number in the United States. Also known as a tax number, the codice fiscale is mandatory to conduct all financial transactions including renting a home, opening a bank account, getting a mobile phone, registering for the public health care system, applying for utilities and filing taxes. You can get the card from the tax office by appearing in person with any kind of ID including your passport or permit to stay.
This is the National Health Card and is essential for all residents of Italy. It gives you access to the government health care system. This includes access to a primary health physician, specialist doctors, lab tests and hospital admissions. EU citizens can use the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) to access Italian public healthcare.
Working in the public school system means shorter working hours. Schools in Italy begin at around 8 am and most teachers are back home by 2 pm. The work atmosphere at language schools is a bit tougher. You are expected to work longer hours and should be ready to teach evening/night classes.
Most schools have a 25-hour week. It would be fair to say that the attraction of working in Italy is not the salary. Public schools pay up to €1600 per month depending on your experience and qualifications. Private language schools pay scales range from €800-€1200. The most lucrative are international schools, where salaries range between €2000-3500.
Cost of living varies across regions in Italy, with the biggest variant being house rentals. The northern cities are generally more expensive to live in as compared to the southern cities. Milan, Florence and Genoa are among the more expensive cities in Italy.
Most teachers who go on student visas share housing to cut down on costs, especially if they are located in the bigger cities. This makes sense as a one-bed rental in the city centre being around €600. Rents outside the city centre and smaller towns are much lower.
Other than housing, the rest of the living expense is more or less standard across the country. For example, your utility bill would work out to around €150. Groceries and transportation would account for around 30 per cent and 12 per cent of your salary. Italian food is delectable and the temptation to eat out is high. A meal in a budget, family-owned eatery could set you back by around €15, while the bill for a three-course meal in a mid-range restaurant would be around €50.
If you plan to cook, visiting the local markets to buy fresh fruits and vegetables can be a surprisingly fun experience.
The public transport system in all the major cities is excellent with a network of buses and metros. You can use the public transport system to explore most of the country. It is worthwhile to invest in a monthly travel pass which costs €35.
Having a TESOL/TEFL certificate is a must in order to Teach English in Italy. A bachelor's degree helps as well, though it is not absolutely necessary and there are opportunities if you look hard enough.
Ah! The pleasure of living in Italy is perhaps unparalleled. Where else in the world can you stroll past splendid Renaissance buildings which leave you awestruck even when you pass by them every day? Or enjoy the romance of reliving the magic of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in the town of Verona?
Can anything beat the tranquillity and serenity of spending a quiet day in a little village hidden deep inside the glorious Tuscany countryside? Is it possible to gaze up at the frescoes at the Sistine Chapel and not ponder about the sheer genius behind its creation?
The iconic and gorgeous Sophia Loren is attributed to having said, “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.” Well, that itself should be an incentive for you to explore the Italian food scene. Take it from us, this journey of exploration will be an endless feast for your senses.
The use of fresh top-quality ingredients, the apparent simplicity that hides the sophisticated flair with which each dish is fine-tuned to perfection, the burst of flavours that reveals itself in each bite – it is likely that by the time you leave the country, you will be an aficionado of Italian food. Italy has its share of Michelin-starred fine dining spots. Of course, these may be beyond your budget. But do not despair.
You can have an equally satisfying culinary experience eating freshly baked bread with cheese, olives and prosciutto in one of the exquisite mountain villages. Good food is just a part of daily life in Italy.
Italy’s diverse and beautiful landscape is alluring. During your school breaks move out of the city and travel around. Hike, cycle or drive through the countryside. Take in the sheer beauty of the mountains silhouetted against the blue seas on the Amalfi coast, the vast stretches of olive groves interspersed with old cypress trees in Tuscany, the vibrant street life in Naples, the spectacular views of the Italian Riviera and the rugged beauty of the Sardinian shores. The memories will last a lifetime.
Italy is a great place to live and teach. However, if you are a non-EU resident, it is difficult to get a work visa. In all probability, you will need to take the student visa route, and take private tuitions to supplement your income.
Before embarking on your Italian adventure, do remember that the saving potential is not very high. But teaching in Italy will help finance your discovery of the different facets and regions of this beautiful country. So if your objective is to spend a year in Italy enjoying the culture, art, museums, weather, food and scenery, go ahead and start looking for teaching opportunities. Once you land in Italy, take a deep breath and dive right into vita all’italiana (life, Italian style)!