How to Teach English in Italy: Everything You Need to Know

by: Quincy Smith ESL Authority Quincy Smith | Last Updated November 15, 2019

Italy Overview

Average Salary
$1,300/mo
Native Speaker Required?
No
TEFL Required?
Yes
Degree Required?
No

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About Teaching in Italy

The Italian lifestyle attracts English teachers from all over the world, making it a popular teaching destination. Teaching jobs in Italy are widespread but can be competitive, so you need to make sure you are prepared before you head off on your Italian adventure. If you’re interested in taking a leap into the wonders this diverse country can offer, you need to start by finding out a thing or two about how to go about it.

One of the first things you should look into are the requirements, both teaching and legal. As Italy is part of the European Union, finding a job legally as a non-EU citizen requires a visa. Finding a job without a TEFL qualification can also be a challenge. While teaching English in Italy won’t make you rich, you will find that in most cases you can live pretty comfortably on your salary, especially if you are willing to put the hours in and be flexible with when you can work.

Cost of living, salaries, and job opportunities are location dependent, so it is worth having a good think about which part of Italy you would like to work in. Most teachers find a job in person in Italy, and although it may seem scary heading off to a new country without a job offer in hand, it is typically the most effective method to securing a job. Just make sure you save up some funds to live off until you get your first paycheck.

The fantastic food, culture, and climate is a massive pull to this beautiful European country and every year loads of English teachers find themselves heading to Italy to enjoy both teaching and adventure.

What Are the Requirements to Teach English Legally in Italy?

The food. The architecture. The history. The breathtaking landscape. Italy is a culturally rich country and teaching English there can be a great way to experience all the wonders it can offer.

Italy is a popular destination for teaching English in Europe, therefore you may find yourself up against some fierce competition. Don’t let this put you off – the demand for English teachers is high. You just need to make sure you’re committed to doing the legwork to find your ideal job.

One of the first things you need to do is read up on the requirements you must meet in order to get a job teaching English in Italy.

Requirements to Teach in Italy

  • TEFL Certification
  • Bachelor’s Degree in any subject (this is not absolutely necessary, but would be beneficial)

TEFL Certification

recognized and accredited TEFL/CELTA certificate is an essential requirement to teach English in Italy. While there may be some schools who are more relaxed on this requirement, you will still find yourself in competition with teachers who are qualified and you run the risk of earning less money.

In addition, previous teaching experience is not necessary but would give you a good foot in the door.

Bachelor’s Degree

It is a strong preference by schools in Italy to hire teachers who have a bachelor’s degree. Typically, the degree can be in any field or subject – so if you’ve got a BSc in Paleontology, don’t let this stop you from considering teaching English in Italy. If you do have a degree in English or education-related subject, it may improve your chances. While it is possible to get a teaching job in Italy without a degree, it does give you an advantage if you have one.

Private Language Schools vs Public Schools

The main difference in the requirements to teach English in private language schools and public schools is that most public schools require you to have a good command of the Italian language. Public schools also typically hire teachers who have some previous teaching experience. Both are pretty insistent on TEFL certification and prefer you to have a degree.

To find out how much you can earn as a teacher in Italy, read up on our salary section.

EU Citizens vs Non-EU Citizens

The legal requirements for teaching English in Italy for EU citizens vary from those for non-EU citizens. Let’s not beat around the bush – it will definitely be easier to secure work in Italy if you are an EU citizen. Without EU citizenship, legally obtaining an English teaching job can be a daunting task and will vary depending on which country you’re from. It’s certainly not impossible, so don’t give up all hope yet, but you may wish to consider other countries as options too.

Although there are many stories about how to ‘get around’ the legal system in Italy, it is highly advisable, and in your best interest, that you acquire the correct legal documentation. The visa requirements fall into two categories:

  • EU citizens – you have legal working status. This means you can work in Italy without a visa or work permit. You are required to apply for residency if you’re planning on staying for longer than 90 days.
  • Non-EU citizens – you will need a valid working visa/work permit to teach English legally in Italy. You are also required to apply for residency.

For more information on visas/residency check out our section on how to get a work visa in Italy.

How Much Can You Make Teaching English in Italy?

While most teachers don’t move to Italy with the intention of saving buckets of money, teaching English in Italy will usually provide you with a salary to live comfortably. Salaries will vary depending on the employer and location. In general, Northern cities like Rome and Milan will pay more but the cost of living in the South will be lower.

On average, a teacher will earn between €1000 and €1500 a month.

Different salaries by school

Public schools

Public schools tend to pay higher salaries with the added bonus of fewer teaching hours. Sounds good, right? Unless you have a pretty decent grasp of the Italian language, you are unlikely to get a job in a public school. Teachers are also typically required to have teaching experience as well. If you do meet the requirements for teaching English in a public school, it is well worth applying.

Private Language schools

The majority of English teachers will find work in private language schools, where the availability of jobs is widespread. These schools do require teachers to be TEFL qualified but don’t require them to have experience.

Teachers are typically paid by the hour and work between 20 and 30 hours a week spread across a varied work schedule, including evenings, weekends and split shifts.

Type of school Salary (Euros) Salary (USD)
Public School €1400 – €1600 $1600 – $1800
Private Language School €800 – €1200 $900 – $1400

For more information on the requirements needed to teach English in different schools in Italy, check out our section on teaching in Italy requirements.

How you can increase your salary

TEFL

Having a TEFL qualification will not only make you more employable, but it will also increase your salary. If you’re considering getting certified you’ll have much more luck (and selection) doing a course online or in your home country.  Trying to get work without a TEFL qualification will prove challenging and you will find yourself likely to earn substantially less.

Experience

If you have teaching experience and a TEFL, you’ll find yourself at the upper end of the pay scale. While teaching experience isn’t an essential requirement, it’s certainly a useful thing to have under your belt. If you have the opportunity to get some teaching hours in before arriving in Italy, it is definitely worth doing. Also, public schools will typically only employ teachers with experience whereas it matters less with private schools.

Speaking Italian

Speaking Italian will give you an advantage on other English teachers, especially when it comes to public schools who often require it.  For other schools, it’s not an essential requirement, but it will make you stand out from the crowd and command a higher salary.

Private tutoring

Many English teachers in Italy supplement their income through private tutoring. While it may appear a challenge to recruit students, demand for private lessons is high and it offers an excellent means to increase your earnings. The average rate per hour is around €20, with some experienced teachers charging up to €30.  Most teachers advertise in local newspapers or post flyers to find students.

Working hours

If you’re willing to work nights and weekends you will earn more money as there is more demand from students who work during those time periods.

ITTT FAQs video sums up how much you can earn as an English teacher in Italy pretty well.

Job perks

The biggest perk of teaching English in Italy is the fact that you are in Italy! However, it’s also a downside as very few contracts include perks like paid airfare as many individuals are willing to come to Italy regardless.

Accommodation is usually not included either, but some schools will offer assistance in finding housing. Our section on cost of living in Italy has more information on finding accommodation.

Health benefits

In terms of insurance, if you stay in Italy for longer than 3 months, you need to apply for residency (see our section on visa requirements). This will allow you to register with the National Health Services (SSN – Servizio Sanitario Nazionale) which provides low-cost health care to everyone registered. It is worth checking the documentation you need for this. You will need health insurance to cover you until you have registered with the SSN.

Most foreign teachers do tend to find private health insurance more desirable, despite the higher costs. It’s recommended that this is obtained prior to moving to Italy. If you are an EU citizen, your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will give you access to the necessary state-provided healthcare at a reduced cost until you apply for residency and the SSN.  You will need to check what the EHIC covers and you need to make sure you have applied for your EHIC before arriving in Italy.

If you want to learn more, this Expat Arrivals article is pretty comprehensive when it comes to healthcare in Italy and the SSN.

Cost of living and saving money

Most English teachers don’t come to Italy in order to save lots of money, although some manage to save a small amount of their income each month. In general, cities are more expensive than rural areas, and the North is more expensive than the South. As mentioned earlier, job opportunities are more widely available and typically better paid in the North, especially in cities like Rome and Milan.

Accommodation

The biggest expense for English teachers in Italy is accommodation. If you want to live on your own in the centre of somewhere like Rome, for example, you could be looking at over €800 ($900) a month. Many teachers choose to live in shared accommodation with either other teachers/colleagues or with people they have found through flatshare websites in order to help reduce costs. The outskirts of cities will be cheaper, as will living in the South. On average, you are looking at about €260 – €600 ($300 to $700) a month for a room.

Easy Stanza is a good website for finding shared accommodation in Italy.

Food and going out

Shopping locally and eating ‘Italian” will reduce the cost of food. Most Italians tend to buy fresh produce on a daily basis, whether from markets or local supermarkets, and as such, fridges and freezers tend to be small which rules out buying in bulk to save money.

If you find yourself in the more popular ‘tourist’ areas, you will find your night out will be rather costly! On average, eating out at an inexpensive restaurant will cost you about €15 ($17) and a local beer €4.5 ($5.10).

Let’s look at some average figures for the cost of living in Italy, compliments of Numbeo:

Expense Euros USD
Milk (regular) 1 litre €1.13 $1.28
Loaf of fresh white bread €1.48 $1.69
Cappuccino €1.34 $1.53
One way ticket (local transport) €1.5 $1.71

Want to know how much Euros are worth?  Check out XE’s currency converter.

While teaching English in Italy probably won’t make you rich, many teachers find that they are able to live a pretty comfortable lifestyle. The demand for teachers is high, and although it can be competitive, jobs are readily available. Various factors will influence your income and cost of living, so it’s worth doing the research before venturing out. It’s also important to note that a good number of teachers get their jobs once they have arrived in Italy, so it is worth bringing some money to tie you over until the first paycheck. You may not leave Italy a millionaire, but you will have spent time living in a country full of rich culture, fantastic food and excellent weather!

How to Get a Work Visa to Teach English in Italy

Italy attracts English teachers from all over the world due to the wonderful lifestyle and widespread job market. While there are many positives to choosing Italy as a teaching destination, there are some legal requirements to take into consideration.

As Italy is part of the European Union, it means that EU citizens have legal working status, so they don’t need a visa to teach English in Italy. This is great news for EU citizens as it means one less thing to think about when preparing for your Italian adventure. However, it’s a different story if you are a non-EU citizen, where the legal requirements mean you will need a visa to teach English in Italy. This may seem a daunting task and will vary depending on where you’re from, but it isn’t impossible. You will, no doubt, hear many stories about how to ‘get around’ the legal system in Italy – it is highly advisable, and in your best interest, that you acquire the correct legal documentation to prevent any issues.

Residency is another aspect of Italian life that you will also need to get your head around. If you plan on being in Italy for longer than 3 months, you need to apply for residency. This applies to both EU and non-EU citizens.

We will look at 3 different types of visas that will allow non-EU citizens to legally teach English in Italy. We will look at each visa separately, the application process and documents required.

Work Visa

If you are a non-EU citizen, you can apply for an Italian work visa to teach English in Italy. This visa gives you permission to legally enter Italy for working purposes and must be obtained before going to Italy. You can only apply for an Italian work visa after you have secured a job. This is because your employer completes most of the work visa application process on your behalf and they need to prove that qualified Italian residents or EU citizens are not available for the position.

It is worth noting here that this is why EU citizens are more employable – employers don’t need to go through this laborious process. So if you’re up against EU citizens for a job, you may find the odds will be significantly in their favor.

For tips on finding a job teaching English in Italy, check out this post. Be prepared that it can be challenging to find a job before going to Italy as many schools typically employ their teachers in person in Italy. You will need to spend time and put the legwork into finding a job online. It isn’t impossible though, and there are Americans and other non-EU citizens who are successful in finding employment and securing working visas.

What is the process for obtaining a work visa?

The first step in the process of obtaining a work visa is to secure a job. Once you have secured employment, your employer will then complete most of the work application process on your behalf. The process is administered regionally, so the requirements may differ depending on which part of Italy you plan on working in. The employer starts by submitting an application for Nulla Osta (an official authorization document) from the local Immigration Office. This document gives you the authorization to work. The next step is waiting for the Nulla Osta application to be accepted. This will depend if the quotas for immigration haven’t already been reached (if they have been met, it means that at that point in time, Italy isn’t issuing non-EU citizens with visas for teaching English). If the application is successful, your employer will be given ‘authorization to work’. The Italian government will then notify your local Italian embassy (in your home country) and all the documents your employer submitted will be electronically sent over.

Your work visa should then be issued by your local embassy within 30 days – be prepared that it can sometimes take longer. You can then collect it. Remember, this whole process needs to happen before you go to Italy. As requirements may differ from region to region, it is worth speaking to your employer and your local Italian embassy before applying for a work visa. That way, they can offer further information on the process.

Documents you will need for a work visa

Your employer will ask for documents from you in order to apply for the work visa. These documents may vary from employer to employer and region to region, but typically be expected to provide the following:

  • A valid passport
  • A signed residence contract (in Italian)
  • Proof you could fund your return journey
  • Proof of qualifications and your resume.

Student Visa (study visa)

Another route into teaching English in Italy for non-EU citizens is a student visa. You need to prove you are going to do a valid course (this could be a TEFL if you aren’t already qualified or an Italian language course) and the hours you can work are limited to 20 hours a week. You don’t need to have secured a job before applying for the student visa, which gives you the opportunity to apply for work once in Italy, but you do need to have secured a place on a course. The course must be recognized by the Italian government.

Further down the line, if you wish to, you can convert a student visa to a work visa. Be prepared that the process of converting from a student visa to a work visa can be a gruelling task. This blog is written by an American expat who was successful within this route and breaks down the process she went through.

What is the process for obtaining a student visa?

The process of applying for a student visa can take up to a month and you will need to visit your local Italian embassy in your home country to submit the documents. Before applying, you need to enroll on the study program you intend to do. While it is generally a smooth process, be aware that student visa applications can be denied.

Documents you will need for a student visa

It is worth enquiring at your local Italian embassy about what documentation you need before applying as the required documents will vary from country to country. Typically, you can be expected to submit the following:

  • Completed application form
  • Valid passport (valid for a minimum of 6 months after your stay in Italy is completed)
  • Passport photo
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Documentation on the course you will be doing in Italy
  • Proof of finances (a bank statement showing access to $1000 a month during your stay or a document from a parent/guardian declaring responsibility to provide the funds)
  • Health Insurance
  • Proof of return flight
  • Proof of accommodation during your stay

Italian Working Holiday Visa

Another option is the Italian Working Holiday Visa. This is only offered to citizens under the age of 30 from Australia, New Zealand and South Korea and citizens under the age of 35 from Canada. You must be able to prove that your primary intention is to holiday in Italy, with employment being an incidental, rather than a primary feature for the visit. There are a few other regulations too, such as not being accompanied by children, possessing a valid passport, possessing a return ticket and sufficient funds for maintenance during your stay in Italy. The process and requirements for the Italian Working Holiday Visa will vary from country to country. If you feel this may be an option for you, it is worth speaking to the Italian Embassy in your home country to get further information and check your eligibility for this visa.

Permesso di Soggiorno

If you are a non-EU citizen and are going to be in Italy for longer than 90 days (3 months) you need to apply for a Permesso di Soggiorno – a permit of stay. This is a small card that validates your presence in Italy and you must apply for it within the first 8 days of arriving in Italy. You can’t apply for a Permesso di Soggiorno without a visa – the visa allows you to enter Italy, and the Permesso di Soggiorno allows you to stay in Italy. You will then need this to apply for residency. This guide gives the complete low down on how to apply for your Permesso di Soggiorno.

Residency

No matter what nationality you are (EU or non-EU citizens) or what kind of visa you are traveling under, if you plan on staying in Italy for longer than 90 days (3 months) you must apply for residency. This legal document legitimizes your stay in the country and allows you to receive the same benefits as Italian residents, including access to their National Health Services (SSN – Servizio Sanitario Nazionale). The SSN provides low-cost health care to everyone registered.

What you need and where to apply for one will vary from city to city, so it is worth doing your research into the requirements for the city you plan on living in. This blog offers information for both EU and non-EU residents on how to go about obtaining residency in Italy.

If you are an EU citizen, your journey of becoming an English teacher in Italy is a much smoother one. Your legal working status gives you a clear advantage as employers don’t need to go through a lengthy visa application process on your behalf. Unfortunately for non-EU citizens, it is a bit more complicated. You shouldn’t throw in your towel just yet if you don’t have EU citizenship, but you will need to prepare yourself to put the legwork into the visa process. It is worth remembering that there are many other countries which don’t present so many obstacles for non-EU citizens, so it may be worth checking these out too.

​How to Find English Teaching Jobs in Italy & When to Apply

The Italian lifestyle is desired by many, and for that reason, Italy pulls English teachers in from all over the world. Luckily for those of you who are interested in pursuing the Italian dream, the job demand matches the popularity. Jobs are widely available, and although competition is fierce, with perseverance and a world-class CV, you should be able to land yourself a job.

Check out the requirements and visa regulations to teach English in Italy to ensure you are prepared before you set off to find your first teaching job in Italy. If you don’t meet the teaching or legal requirements, your job search will be considerably more challenging and opportunities will be much slimmer.

When to Apply

Hiring seasons are pretty critical, so you should time your job search well. A great time to apply for a teaching English job in Italy is from mid-September into early October. This is when many schools are recruiting new teachers. Another major hiring period begins the second week of January. Although you may find employment during other times in the year, these periods are when the job market is buzzing.

You can apply from overseas for jobs or from being on the ground in Italy. If you are a non-EU citizen seeking a work visa, you will need to find employment before going to Italy in order to obtain your visa, so you will need to apply from overseas. Looking online at job boards will be a good starting point, and we will cover more on this below.

If you are able to be on the ground in Italy when applying, it is highly recommended that you do this. The vast majority of teaching jobs are gained by searching and interviewing for positions in-person in Italy. Just remember to time your arrival in Italy to fit in with the peak hiring seasons. Although the prospect of heading off to start a new adventure in a foreign land without having a job offer may seem pretty daunting, rest assured that it is very doable and is typically the most successful way of finding a job. You do have to take the initiative, be well prepared and persevere, but the job demand is high.

Schools like to meet prospective teachers in person, so the most effective method is to go door to door handing out your CV and cover letter, and inquiring about teaching opportunities. This will also give you a chance to check out a potential school and get a feel of the place, see if it is somewhere you can see yourself working. If you can, it is recommended that you have your CV and cover letter translated into Italian, although this is not essential.

What Is the Application Process?

So you have arrived in Italy during peak hiring season and gone door to door handing out your CV to every language school, meeting and greeting every person in Italy in charge of hiring English teachers, what happens next? If your CV meets the requirements and you’re legally employable, enjoy a glass of local Italian wine and wait for the invitations to interview to come your way.

Remember, it is completely normal if it takes a few weeks and visits to multiple schools before you find a job. Perseverance is key. Just going to one or two schools wilI limit your chances – make sure you drop your CV off at as many schools as possible. Job demand may be high, but so is competition.

Once you have been invited to an interview, your next step is to make sure you are prepared for the interview:

  1. Dress well and look professional.
  2. Bring your TEFL certification and sample lessons plans with you.
  3. You may be asked to teach a mock lesson as a demonstration so be prepared for this.

You nailed the interview and have been offered a job! Brilliant news! What now? Read through you contract and check you are happy with the role. Be prepared that many schools will offer part-time hours to begin with (around 5 – 10 hours a week). Don’t take this personally, they may want to see how you get on within the job or they may only have a few classes a week they need teachers for. It is recommended to take the part-time hours. Many teachers find they end up working part-time at more than one school and it is very common for teachers to supplement their hours with private tutoring. Find out how to increase your salary here. Full-time hours may come your way once you have proven yourself at the school. Also, be prepared to work evenings and weekends. The more flexible you are with the hours you teach, the more work you will find. Expect to begin teaching immediately after you get offered the job as schools typically hire teachers when they have an immediate need.

For those of you applying for English teaching jobs overseas before you head to Italy, you will find the process slightly different. The application will be sent online and the interview will likely be over Skype. Most Italian schools typically employ their teachers in person, so you may find that you need to apply to numerous schools and be prepared that it can take time to land a job this way. If you are able to seek employment once in Italy, your prospects will be increased.

Where Should You Start Looking for Jobs?

Job boards can be a great place to start, especially if you want to secure a job before going to Italy. Check out GlassdoorESL cafe and our international TEFL job board. Even if you plan on finding a teaching job once you are on the ground in Italy, it is worth researching schools in the area before you arrive. Locate and discover local language schools in different Italian cities using the Italian Yellow Pages.

It can be worth contacting schools via email around 2 weeks before you will be in Italy to show your interest. You may not hear back but they may remember you when you arrive in person a few weeks later. Make sure to attach a cover letter and CV and let them know when you will be in Italy.

You’ve done your research, you’ve prepared your top-notch CV (maybe even had it translated into Italian), you’ve checked you meet the legal requirements, you have booked your flights around the peak hiring season and you are ready to jump into your Italian adventure. Next step is landing your first job. Remember to persevere, visit numerous language schools with your CV and prepare for that interview. For those of you getting a job before you go to Italy, keep an eye out on those job boards!

FAQs about Teaching in Italy

Do I need a college degree to teach English in Italy?

The answer is possibly – it is not an absolutely necessary requirement. If you have a TEFL and no degree, you will still be considered by some employers. If you have no TEFL and no degree, your job search is going to be significantly more challenging and if you do manage to secure a job, you will be on a considerably lower salary than teachers who do meet these requirements.

Getting a degree just so you can teach English in Italy is a tall order, but you will certainly improve your chances of getting work if you get yourself TEFL certified. Read our page on Do you need a TEFL to teach English in Italy for more information about certifications.

Can You Teach English in Italy with a Criminal Record?

There isn’t a huge amount of information on this topic, but in general, it seems that it is possible to teach English in Italy with a criminal record. In certain circumstances, it may pose a bit more challenging to get work over someone who has a clean record, but it isn’t a flat out no. Our research shows it varies from employer to employer and depends what is on your criminal record.

Will schools do a background check on me?

The answer to this question is maybe. While some Government programs, International schools, and ESL companies will perform a background check, some places won’t. If you are hired as an independent contractor within a private language school, a background check may not be requested, though some individual schools may request one.

Will I still be hired if my criminal record shows up in the background check?

Again, the answer to this question is maybe. Just because you have a criminal record doesn’t mean that you will not get a job. In many cases, minor, non-violent or juvenile offenses should not stop you being offered work. More serious criminal offenses may be a different story, and it is recommended that you seek advice on this from your lawyer.

Will having a criminal record affect my visa application?

The good news is that you are unlikely to be barred from entering Italy for having a criminal record. If you are asked to declare your criminal history, the rule of thumb seems to be that minor crimes rarely impact your entry or a visa. For more serious crimes, or to find out if your crime would qualify as a ‘minor crime’, it will be worth asking your lawyer or speaking to the Italian embassy in your homeland.

Can I get a job teaching English in Italy without having a TEFL?

Having a TEFL qualification is a strong must to secure a job teaching English in Italy. While there will always be the token school that is laxer about requirements, you will find yourself at the lower end of the pay scale. If you want options when it comes to schools and you would like to start on a reasonable salary, having a TEFL is pretty much a necessity. Jobs are competitive and he more employable you are on paper, the more likely you are to find a job

Other Resources

Quincy Smith ESL Authority

Quincy Smith

Quincy is the founder of ESL Authority and a former teacher in South Korea and China.  Currently based in Shanghai, he enjoys strong coffee, IPAs, and solo travel.

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