You've decided that you want to teach in Italy, and you're thinking about the time you will spend immersed in Italian language and culture, helping students, and maybe you are more than a little excited about the food -- did someone say pizza?
Teaching abroad, like any experience abroad, requires planning, to be sure you are prepared for the challenges: Where will you live? How will you get around? Who will you spend your time going out with? And how will you find a job so you can pay for it all?
Finances are an important consideration when teaching abroad, and you will set yourself up for success by planning your budget ahead of time. It's important to research how much you might make in your teaching position in Italy before you leave home. The cost of living in Italy is likely to be different than in your home country (and it will also change depending on where in Italy you choose to teach). Salaries for teaching can also vary widely among schools, tutoring, program sponsorship, or maybe a combination of those options. Read on to determine how much you might make during your time teaching in Italy.
How Much Can You Make Teaching English in Italy?
Italy is one of the most popular countries to teach English because of the abundance of opportunities. With a strong tourism economy -- particularly in cities like Rome and Florence -- English teachers are in high demand to train locals in skills that they need to communicate with visitors.
It's difficult to say exactly what your salary will be until you have a contract from the school where you will be working, and remember, you can always supplement your income with private lessons. The cost of living will be higher in major cities and salaries may increase accordingly. The average monthly salary could range between €900-€1,600 ($1,000-$1,800) per month.
Like with any job, the more experience you have, the higher your wage will be. While you can start from zero and give your first lesson in Italy, if you want to earn more and have the most enriching experience as a teacher, you may be better off getting some experience at a school, or tutoring, before you head overseas. No matter what your experience level, here are some of the options for teaching abroad, and what you might expect to earn through each of them.
1. Placement programs: €1,000-€1,600 per month
To eliminate some of the challenges of finding a job, you can work with a placement program to plan your time working in Italy. Programs can be an ideal option if you don't have teaching experience, because many of them include TEFL training in addition to job placement assistance. Some programs offer other career support like interview practice and CV reviews. Typically, you'll also have the benefit of flexible start dates, giving you the option to decide when to work abroad.
Keep in mind that many placement programs charge a fee, which often covers training and housing in Italy. If your goal is to teach at a school that follows the Italian academic calendar, you may find that it's best to complete TEFL training in the summer so you can find a job when hiring is in full swing for fall.
A salary of €1,000 to €1,600 a month may seem low, but keep in mind that you may be working less than at a typical 40-hour a week job, because new teachers are usually given part-time contracts. You can always supplement your income with tutoring to cover your extra expenses.
2. Private Language Schools & Institutes: €15-€30 per Hour
There are numerous private programs and institutes where you can find rewarding opportunities to teach English. It could be a private boarding school, a school for adults and professionals, or a Montessori school. These types of schools may hire more fluidly throughout the year than public schools, and that can be an advantage if you don't want to begin teaching in the fall.
Salaries will usually be hourly and you can expect to sign a contract that will outline your length of employment and pay rate. Another plus with private schools is that they may continue their programming during the summer -- with summer/language camps -- making it possible for you to find work year-round outside of the academic calendar. In this way, you could have more earning potential when you work with a private institute.
3. Public Schools: €1200 to €1500 per month
Contracts at public schools may be more challenging to land for new teachers. This is because the contract may be for a full academic year and for longer hours. Public schools will follow the Italian academic year so you can expect to have a fixed schedule following national holidays. This could make your earning per hour actually lower than it would be at a private school.
4. Private Lessons: €20-€40 per Hour
Nearly every English teacher I know in Italy supplements their income with private lessons. It could be that you get to know students at your school who need help outside of the classroom, or you find people through your networks, or through language exchange events.
You can teach at your home, go to the home of your students, or meet at a cafe. Private lessons can have high income potential and if you are motivated you could even make the bulk of your income through private lessons. Keep in mind that if you want a visa to work in Italy long-term, being self-employed is not the easiest route and it will be more complicated than gaining visa sponsorship from a school.
How Much Does it Cost to Live in Italy?
If you head for the most popular cities like Rome, Florence, and Milan, you'll be spending more on housing, food, and entertainment than you would in smaller towns and villages. Sharing a house or an apartment will also cut down on your expenses as it would back home. Another living arrangement (that can help you improve your Italian too), is staying with a host family. In general, in major Italian cities, a room could cost you from €400 to €600 and an entire apartment €600 to €1,200.
- Monthly rent: From about €800 per month for a studio in major cities like Florence and Milan or €400 for a bedroom in a shared apartment
- Internet: €30 per month
- Dining out: Lunch can average between €5 to €10 and dinners starting at €15
- Groceries: About €150 per month
- Bus or subway ticket: €1.50
- Domestic beer at a bar: €5 (Note: wine is usually cheaper)
You might conservatively want to budget about $1,500 a month for all of your expenses in Italy, and you can use Numbeo to further research the cost of life. If you are finding a job placement through a program, talk to them to get a realistic assessment of how much you should budget for your time teaching in a specific location in Italy.
Financial Tips for Teaching in Italy
Getting financially prepared to move to and work in Italy is about more than saving money and planning your budget. You can make a few smart financial choices that will help you have more resources to enjoy your time abroad.
You aren't going to earn a fortune teaching English in Italy. To be sure you have enough money to enjoy everything that the country has to offer, it is wise to save up a bit before you pack your bags. Make a realistic assessment of how much you might earn teaching, how many hours a week you are willing to give private lessons, and the true cost of housing and other expenses in the city, town, or village where you think you'd like to work. Set a target for how much you'd like to save and then start planning for your time abroad.
Live with Housemates or a Host Family
No matter where you decide to live in Italy, you will save money by living with other people. You could decide to live with other teachers, professionals, or students to make friends during your time abroad. Or, to improve your Italian, you can find a placement to live with a host family. It may be easier to find shared apartments in larger cities, and if you are working through a teacher placement program they can help you arrange a homestay.
Teach Private Lessons
As you know by now, private lessons are a way to supplement your teaching income, and being open to teaching on nights and weekends will increase how much you can make. If you have tutoring experience in your home country (even if it is in a subject other than English), you'll find that those skills will transfer well to working with students one-on-one.
Get Experience & TEFL Certified
Having a TEFL certificate is not always necessary if you have already worked as a teacher in your home country. This can be an advantage because you can save time and money (eliminating the training step in Italy) and you'll have more job opportunities. Or, you can think ahead by gaining at TEFL certificate before you head to Italy. No matter what your training is, the more prepared you are as an English teacher once you arrive in Italy, the easier your transition will be to speaking in front of a classroom.
Now that you are aware of the financial realities of teaching in Italy, you can start researching and applying for jobs. If you stay focused on your goal and don't give up, despite obstacles that may come up, you'll be well on your way to a rewarding experience working in Italy.