How to Teach English in Norway: A Guide to Landing Your First Job
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If you’ve either read about or been to Norway, you won’t have a hard time understanding why many consider it a somewhat utopian country that’s famous for its high standard of living and booming economy. Even better is that it’s home to some fascinating natural phenomena, like the midnight sun and the northern lights as well as a pretty much endless list of outdoor activities.
But its fjords, quality of life and happiness level are not the only things Norway should be proud of. Another thing that sets apart this Scandinavian country is the English proficiency level of its citizens. English is indeed spoken everywhere in the country and kids are exposed to the language from an early age, making Norway the third country for English proficiency level in the world.
This explains why TEFL job opportunities in Norway are few and far between, which means moving to the country to work as an ESL teacher might be harder than you’d think.
If there’s one thing Norway isn’t short of it’s English teachers. The competition is much fiercer than in other European countries and it should be no surprise the few schools that do accept foreign candidates only hire them if they meet some pretty strict requirements:
- Bachelor’s degree or above – although any degree will work, having graduated in a field related to education should not be underestimated.
- Teaching certification – you will most likely be asked to present an internationally recognized TEFL certification.
- At least two years’ experience – this may mean choosing to relocate to Norway when you’re first getting started on your ESL journey may not be the best choice.
- English fluency – technically, you do not need to be a native speaker to start teaching English here, however, since a lot of other Norwegian teachers will most likely be competing for the same position you are, you should possess at least native-level fluency to stand out.
- Basic Norwegian – this may not be required by all institutions but it’s worth mentioning as some schools that work with younger children may set this as a requirement.
- Be eligible for a work visa (aka residence permit) – this only applies to citizens of a country that’s not part of the EU or EEA.
English teaching positions in Norway get paid quite well, especially when compared to many other European countries. Even though your salary will mostly depend on your qualifications and experience, you can expect to make between 25,000 and 35,000 Norwegian kroner (between $2,500 USD and $3,400 USD).
Not bad, right? Well, there’s a catch. Not only is Norway famous for its high salaries, it’s also famous for its high cost of living – ranking second in the list of most expensive countries to live in, with an average monthly cost of living of between $1900 USD and $2900 USD.
European citizens have it easier when it comes to moving to Norway for work but, as long as they have a job offer, even non-EU residents should be able to move to the country without too much difficulty.
Here’s how the application process works for EU and non-EU residents.
As a European resident, you have two options:
- Moving to Norway after getting a job offer – which is the easier route and probably the safest. If you have already gotten a job offer, the only thing you’ll need to do upon arriving in Norway is reporting to the police to get yourself registered. Here’s a little bonus, the registration is free!
- Moving to Norway before (hopefully) getting a job (not recommended). First of all, if you do choose this route, make sure you have enough funds to support yourself while you look for work as, as we already mentioned, life in Norway is very expensive.
From the moment you set foot in Norway, you have six months to find work and if you’re unsuccessful, you’ll have to leave the country (although you can alway come back later and start over). Regardless of whether you’ve found a job or not, you’ll still need to report to the police within three months of you entering the country.
If you get a job, you will need to register as an EEA national and then report again to the police.
Non-EU job seekers’ only option will be to apply for a residence permit which normally requires you to have already received a job offer. If you have one, you can schedule an appointment with the embassy and present all the necessary documents to get your application started, including:
- Two passport size photos
- Documentation of your studies and work experience
- Signed cover letter from the Application portal – which you will receive via email when starting your application
- Proof of accommodation – showing you have somewhere to stay in the country
- The UDI Offer of Employment form filled out
- Application fee of 6,300 NOK (around $600 USD)
For more information and to consult the full list of documents needed, you can visit the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration website.
What’s it like teaching in Norway?
Types of jobs
ESL contracts in Norway are usually 1-2 years long and technically, while no type of school is off-limits to foreign workers, international and private schools are more likely to hire foreigners than public schools.
Let’s take a look at all the options:
Probably the hardest to get into as fluency in Norwegian is almost always required, especially if you decide to work with younger children. Coming across job openings in public schools may also prove harder than for other types of schools since many of them are advertised in Norwegian.
International schools usually cater to the expat community in Norway and will often hire teachers from overseas that can follow a British or American school curriculum.
Private language schools
Private language schools, such as AAC Global and Berlitz, can be a good option for ESL teachers but then again, because the population has such a high level of English already, the demand for teachers here may be quite low.
Norwegians usually reach their university age with a very good level of English and not many will need extra support or tutoring to improve their skills. If you wish to work in the university system you can always try to apply through the Folkuniversitetet system.
Schools in Norway follow a calendar similar to American schools, with the school year running from mid August to late June, including a winter and Easter break as well as national holidays.
Teachers usually have a working week of about 28 hours.
Some private schools and international schools may offer to pay your plane ticket as well as help you cover the costs of your accommodation for the first period.
Depending on the school, you may also be entitled to private medical insurance.
How do you get a job teaching in Norway?
Regardless of whether you are a EU resident or not, it’s best to secure a job before moving to the country as staying here without a source of income can soon prove to be financially draining. For this reason, the best thing you can do is to apply for jobs online.
If you want to up your chances, you’ll want to look for work in one of Norway’s major cities: Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim or Stavanger, keeping in mind that the peak hiring season is September through December.
Now, bear in mind that coming across job postings for ESL positions in Norway can be quite hard. But don’t worry, if you can’t seem to find any offers on your own, you can always resort to an agency or contact private and international schools directly – here is a list of some of the major international schools in the country.
If you want to find out more about what life in general is like in Norway, check out this video.
In conclusion, Norway is an amazing country whose landscape and culture are definitely worth exploring. Unfortunately, very few are lucky enough to get a job here because of the low demand for ESL teachers. This shouldn’t discourage you from applying though as positions do become available from time to time and you could be just a few clicks away from living your Scandinavian adventure.
Resources & FAQs
Can you teach without a degree?
ESL teachers are normally required to have a degree, preferably in the field of education
Do you have to be a native speaker?
No, although native speakers will have better chances at finding work because the English level proficiency is already very high in Norway
Do you need a TEFL?
Yes, most school will require an internationally recognized TEFL certificate