Teach English in Ethiopia

Flag of Ethiopia

Looking to teach English in Ethiopia? With mandated English courses, the country is in high demand for (native) English speakers. Ethiopia is rich in cultural heritage with many festivals occurring throughout the year including the Timket festival in the Lalibela Mountains, which features drumming, dancing and bathing in nearby lakes. Only 11% of the population lives in an urban setting so expect a mainly agricultural and rural way of life throughout the country; you will be exposed to many areas untouched by modernity. And for all you coffee lovers, get ready for coffee galore, as this is the location where coffee was first discovered.

  • Peak Hiring Times: end of July to September
  • Average Monthly Salary: around $250/month
  • Average Cost of Living: low
  • Save or Break Even? break even (low saving)
  • Work Visa: yes - work visa requires a sponsor letter

Teaching jobs in Ethiopia are plentiful, especially in the volunteer category. The English language is mandated in secondary education and students understand they should acquire. English skills to better job prospects. Expect to spend 15-25 hours a week in the classroom.

Volunteer Teaching:

Volunteer teaching is quite common and easy to come by. You will be placed either in the city or a rural area, where class time is less structured and not high in funding. However, this will allow you to put your skills to good use and make everyday a fun lesson. Make note: even volunteer teaching requires a visa.

Paid Positions:

If you are looking for a paid job in Ethiopia, you will likely be placed in the city. The government's efforts to improve English mean more schools and opportunities, but also more enrollment - so expect a large class. This also means a lower salary; you will not make a fortune, but passing on your knowledge is a definite benefit!

When and Where to Look for Jobs:

The best way to begin the job search is in your home country by contacting schools, NGOs, or any direct contacts you may have (as you must have a work visa to enter). The larger cities, like Addis Ababa, are bound to have a multitude of opportunities, though if you are looking to go more rural, there is also that option. School begins in September, so search for openings over the summer.


Though there are no stipulated qualifications for teaching in Ethiopia, like any other job, the more qualifications you have, the more likely you are to be hired, especially for paid positions. TEFL certification is always helpful, as is any prior experience teaching in the classroom, and of course a commanding knowledge of the English language. Don't forget about arranging a work visa prior to entry!

Salary & Cost of Living:

Don't expect to make much money teaching in Ethiopia. Though the cost of living is low, and a Coke costs less than $1 USD, your salary will reflect these conditions. A perk of teaching, though, is that most positions will involve comfortable living situations, taken care of by the school - in either a homestay or shared houses with fellow teachers. Meals will either be taken care of or will be low in costs. Living within the community allows you to gain a better sense of the area.

Classroom & Work Culture:

When meeting a new person for the first time, expect a formal greeting complete with a prolonged handshake and strong eye contact. There is generally no touching between sexes. Speaking in soft voices is common, though Ethiopians are eloquent speakers, often incorporating metaphors into conversation.

Class sizes have grown since the government made education mandatory and the stretching of resources/low funding will accompany this. However, as a teacher you will be expected to fill in the gaps and get creative with your students. The students also understand that English is an important way to market themselves in the job world, so they are very willing learners.

Contributed by Alex Ferroggiaro

After spending a summer studying in Madrid and traveling throughout Spain, Alex has officially caught the travel bug! When she is not adventuring around the Bay Area, you can find her on Pinterest looking through food recipes or in the kitchen trying them out.

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