Teach English in the Netherlands

Flag of the Netherlands

From an Amsterdam coffee shop on a rainy day, to Queen's Day celebrations with friends, the country's identity is woven around this one, untranslatable, Dutch word: "gezelligheid." (The best definition we could come up with is a mix between "cozy" and "fun.")

Known for their social tolerance, bicycle-culture, and obsession with the color orange, the Dutch are also renowned for their excellence at speaking English. The Netherlands ranked second in the world's English Proficiency Index, a 2011 study done by a UK organization, Education First. So now the obvious question: Does the country even need foreign English teachers?

While there isn't an urgent demand for English teachers in this little country, if you have the right qualifications, there are ways of finding teaching jobs in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands has one of the highest quality education systems in the world. Here are the most popular places to find a job as a foreign teacher.

Private Language Academies/Schools:

International chain schools are found all around the world, and the Netherlands is no exception. These schools, such as Berlitz, have English language centers in the country's major cities, such as Den Hague and Amsterdam. If you're new to teaching abroad, these kinds of schools might be a good choice because the minimum requirements are usually less demanding than job requirements at international schools. If you have a college degree and some teaching background (such as a TEFL/CELTA certificate), you should be able to find a job at one of these schools.

International Schools:

These private schools provide Dutch students with the International Bacculuareate program, which focus on either a British or American curriculum. From elementary to high school level, these schools teach a wide range of subjects, and are the most competitive when it comes to hiring teachers. Teachers are expected to have years of teaching experience, as well as a B.A or M.A degree. To apply for a teaching job, you can contact the schools directly or attend one of their recruitment fairs. Take a look at the their website to find out when and where they're having recruitment events. The Amsterdam International Community School and The British School in the Netherlands are some examples of popular international schools.


The heavy emphasis on globalized education means there are a lot of English-speaking teaching positions within higher education world. According to Eurogates, an online portal for Dutch education programs, the Netherlands had 1,560 international university programs in English during the 2011-2012 school year. If you want to teach at a Dutch university, you will need an advanced degree and recognized teaching experience and credentials before getting hired.

When and Where to Look for Jobs:

The soul of the Netherlands isn't found in just one city. Amsterdam is the heart of creativity and culture, Rotterdam is for business, and Den Hague hosts the politics. Maastricht, Leiden, and Arnhem are also popular towns where you can find teaching opportunities with international or private language schools. If you end up living in a different city from your job, it could still be an easy commute. The Netherlands has an excellent train system. If you're teaching in Amsterdam but want to live in Utrecht, you're only looking at a 30-minute train ride.

The best times to get hired are in August and December, several weeks before the school year starts each September and January. No matter where you choose to live, the weather is standard throughout the country, with damp rain and snow in the winter, and mild summers. Bring clothes that can brave the rain, and very warm gloves. The icy air seems even more intense while commuting across town on your bicycle after the sun goes down.


The bottom line for landing a teaching job in the Netherlands is to have some teaching experience, along with a B.A degree. If you don't have teaching experience, you should at least have a TEFL/CELTA certificate. A Master's Degree and specific teaching credentials will give you a more edge if you want to teach at higher levels or in international schools. However, sometimes it just all comes down to nationality. Employers look for EU citizens because they don't need a work visa. Which brings us to the next topic.

Working Visas in the Netherlands

It's very challenging for someone without EU citizenship to find a legal job in the Netherlands, as most schools want to hire British or Irish citizens. This is because they can work throughout the European Union's 27 countries without a work permit. If you're not an EU citizen, you will need a work visa as well as a residency permit. Since work visas are arranged through your employer, it's usually advised to have a job set up before you arrive. EU citizens only need a residence permit, which can be obtained after arrival in the Netherlands.

Salary & Cost of Living:

Entry-level teachers in Dutch primary schools had a monthly gross salary of a little over EU2,100 a month, according to a 2008 Eurostat survey. No matter what your salary is, get ready to pay some high taxes (they hover at around 30% to 40%). The country spends a lot on social services, and the standard of living is very high, with a low poverty level. Like most of Western Europe, the Netherlands can be expensive, and the 2011 Euro Crisis only created a more tumultuous situation with exchange rates.

Since the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, competition for housing can be fierce. To rent a room in the city, expect to pay around EU500-EU550 a month, according to Eurogates. A single studio apartment in Amsterdam can range from around EU900-EU1,200 euros month. You can usually find less expensive housing in more rural areas outside of city centers. Don't worry about being placed too far away from your school. Trains run fast, and you can get anywhere within a couple of hours.

Culture Tips:
  • When greeting close friends, the Dutch exchange three kisses on the cheek, starting with the left. However, in business settings, and when meeting people for the first time, people shake hands.
  • Punctuality. The Dutch place great emphasis on sticking with schedules and meeting times, and being late or canceling with short notice is not common and is considered very rude.
  • Cycling will most likely be your daily commute, as the Netherlands is one of the most bicycle-friendly countries in the world. It's fairly easy to find a good used bicycle for 40 - 100 euros from a local bicycle shop.

Photo Credit: AnnekaS / BigStockPhoto.com and bbcactii / Flickr.com

Contributed by Andrea Moran

After studying abroad in Denmark, France, and the Netherlands, Andrea is currently teaching English in Chile. She loves writing and epic road trips.

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