Guide to teaching English in Germany

From the sandy shores in the north to the mountains in the south, Germany is a geographically diverse nation with a globally-focused population. While the first thing you might think of is fairytale castles (you wouldn’t be wrong!), Germany is also a fantastic destination for those considering teaching overseas. A typical English teacher salary in Germany pays around $1,100-$2,250 USD a month and usually include access to a fantastic public health system. That coupled with its affordable cost of living means ESL teachers will live a comfortable life teaching English in Germany.

Interested in teaching English in Germany? We’ve got you covered! Keep reading to learn more about the types of teaching jobs, average salaries and benefits, and how to get a teaching job in Germany!

Types of teaching jobs in Germany

Finding a teaching job in Germany might be a difficult task for those without working rights in the EU. With a high quality of life and a strong global reputation, teaching roles are generally competitive across private and public settings. That said, those with specialized skills and determination can land a teaching role in a culturally-rich country made for exploring.

International Schools

Germany is home to several top-level private international schools, which would be good for a native English speaker. Teaching roles at these institutions include teaching languages to foreign and German students looking to broaden their language skills. While teaching roles in these schools can be competitive, a specialized skill set can be a great asset to help you land a teaching role.

State-Schools

Similar to most traditional childhood school settings, the state-run schools cover age groups from elementary school (ages 6-10) and secondary school beginning at age 11.

A key difference to other education systems is that students spend different lengths of time in secondary school depending on which of the three different learning routes they take. These routes include Hauptschule (vocational/skill training), Realschule (mixed-level school), and Gymnasium (university preparation). Teachers at each of these levels are required to have a variety of skills and teachable subjects.

Volkshochschulen

Similar to “night class,” Volkshochschulen is the concept of “Adult Education Centers” available in most cities and towns in Germany. These community-level centers provide adult learners the opportunity to sign up for a variety of courses that last multiple weeks.

Typical subjects offered include languages, computer skills, and fitness teaching. Foreign teachers are usually an asset when it comes to teaching languages, but other roles do exist depending on the community.

Language academies

Language academies can be local businesses or part of an international chain. They teach English to young learners through adults which means your classload could be made up of a wide range of ages. These businesses may prefer to hire EU citizens or those with existing rights.

Private Tutoring

It is not uncommon that teaching roles in Germany are centered around private tutoring. Teachers can often work one-on-one with students to help them acquire language skills outside their traditional classroom setting. While these roles can be more difficult to find and require logistics around the ability to legally work in Germany, landing a tutoring job in Germany is a great way to earn money and broaden your portfolio of teaching work.

Average salary and benefits for teaching English in Germany

On average, English teachers in Germany earn a monthly salary between $1,100-$2,250. Those working as freelance teachers can usually charge between $14-$45 an hour depending on experience and qualifications. Licensed teachers with a bachelor’s degree can expect to make around $2,500-$5,000 at international schools.

Common benefits for teachers

English teachers working legally in Germany are entitled to coverage in their public healthcare system. Most jobs do not include accommodation or other perks but luckily, Germany’s relatively low cost of living makes it possible to survive comfortably on a teacher’s salary.

Read more: How Much Money Can You Save Teaching Abroad?

Cost of living in Germany

Germany’s cost of living varies by location, with cities like Berlin being more expensive. However, compared with the rest of the EU monthly costs are affordable on a teacher’s salary.

Spending habits are unique to each person but here are some average monthly expenses:

  • Food: $160-$250 USD per month
  • Transportation: $55-$100 USD per month
  • Entertainment: $75-$150 USD per month
  • Housing: $300-$500 USD for a room in shared accommodation depending on city
  • Utilities: $50-$100 USD per month

Source: Numbeo

Where and how to find housing

To find housing in Germany, the most popular website is ImmoScout24. You can also use Immowelt or Uniplaces if you're looking for student accommodation.

In Germany, a lot of rented accommodation is unfurnished, some even without a kitchen. However, it is very possible to find a furnished (löffelfertig) apartment, though it may be more expensive. Apartments in Germany aren't numbered and generally, you identify who lives there by their last name by the doorbell.

Where to teach English in Germany

As with starting a job in any new country, it's important to do your research before coming to Germany. Start by exploring these major teaching cities in Germany:

English teaching jobs in Berlin

Berlin, the capital, is a famous arts city that is gaining a reputation as a great place for startups to call home. This international focus makes it attractive for both English teachers and learners.

English teaching jobs in Munich

Munich, a German business powerhouse, attracts teachers focusing on working with adult professionals. As the capital of Bavaria in the south, there is no shortage of cultural events (Oktoberfest, anyone?).

English teaching jobs in Frankfurt

Centrally located Frankfurt is a great option for those looking to live and work somewhere well-connected with the rest of Germany. Frankfurt is a major European financial hub so freelance teachers looking to teach business English will likely have numerous opportunities here.

How to get a job teaching English in Germany

Aspiring English teachers have several options for finding jobs in Germany. Having the right qualifications and applying early will help you to secure the perfect job.

Where to find jobs

Go Overseas has several teaching programs listed below that place participants in Germany. Jobs for direct employment with an international school can be found on Tes. These English teaching jobs generally require teaching credentials and experience.

When to apply

As with most available English teaching jobs in Germany, it is advised to apply early for any positions that you're interested in. Because of the way Germany’s education system is set up, teachers from outside of the country will likely be competing with German teachers for the same roles. The school year generally begins in August or September for public schools and in October for universities.

Qualifications needed

English teachers in Germany do not need to be from an English-speaking country, although the competition is fierce for non-native speakers. A bachelor’s degree is also not required but may be preferred by some employers. A TEFL qualification is a must and prior teaching experience is usually viewed favorably.

Because the EU has strict hiring rules, those without EU citizenship may have a harder time finding an employer that will sponsor them.

Read more: What are the Requirements to Teach English Abroad?

Work visa

To teach English in Germany, you will need to fulfill the proper requirements to live and work in the country legally. In this case, all non-EU citizens will need some form of working visa to take on paid teaching work legally.

There are a few different visa types that allow an individual to work, such as a working holiday visa (applicable for some citizenships), a formal work visa, or a student visa that allows you to work while studying.

It's best to first secure a teaching contract. Generally, after receiving your contract, you'll be able to set up residency in Germany by confirming your address, opening a bank account, and getting health insurance. Afterward, you'll be able to submit your application for a work visa. In most cases, your new employer will help you to navigate the process of applying for the appropriate visa. It may take between one to three months to get approved.

What’s it like to live & teach English in Germany

As an ESL teacher abroad, it’s essential that you take the time to research the country’s etiquette and classroom culture, as it can be vastly different from what you’re used to at home! ESL teachers should be respectful and understanding while adapting to a new classroom environment.

Classroom & work culture

Germany is home to one of the most-comprehensive school systems in the world. Children develop specialized skills at an early age, which requires excellent teaching throughout the course of their development. In Germany, learning doesn’t stop once you are an adult -- with specialized adult centers allowing continued education for all ages.

In Germany, classroom etiquette across the different learning settings is generally polite, orderly, and productive. That said, learning styles will still vary among students, and educators should cater their lesson planning to consider both the learning culture and each student's personal learning preference.

While work culture will change across the different learning settings, teachers in Germany can find themselves in a supportive yet formal teacher work culture. Generally, things are done “by the book” when it comes to interactions, teaching methods, lessons, and planning.

However, different settings might have a different take on experiential learning styles and methods. It is certainly not uncommon that, during off-hours, teachers take the time to socially connect outside of the work setting.

Culture & etiquette tips

The two biggest areas of confusion for foreigners are tipping and smoking. Generally speaking, tips are included in the bill, so simply round up to the nearest euro unless it’s a large party. Germany has banned smoking in public places but in restaurants and bars, it varies from state to state.

Germans are known for being hardworking and efficient -- you will not find afternoon naps or late arrivals in this work-oriented nation. Its dedication to timeliness is seen best in the punctuality of its transit system (a tip that will come in handy if you're running a little late for your weekend train!).

Germans are generally direct and formal and shake hands upon arrival and when leaving. In Germany, following the rules is important to local residents and something as simple as jaywalking is frowned upon.

Ready to find your dream teaching program in Germany?

Start researching and comparing teaching programs here at Go Overseas, in the Teaching Programs in Germany section below.

Want to read more? Get started with these articles:

Teaching Programs in Germany

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TEFL Courses in Germany

A TEFL Certification will help you acquire the skills and qualifications to teach abroad in Germany

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What qualifications do I need to teach English in Germany?

    Most teaching jobs in Germany will require a bachelor's degree in any subject and a TEFL or CELTA certification. You may also need previous teaching experience, depending on the position.

  • Is living in Germany expensive?

    Compared to other European nations, the cost of living in Germany is actually quite reasonable. Rent tends to be on the lower end of the spectrum, and Berlin is recognized as being one of the most affordable capital cities on the continent. Generally, you can expect to need around $1,000 a month to cover all living expenses, including rent.

  • What is it like living in Germany?

    Living in Germany, depending on the region, can offer huge variations in your day-to-day experiences and routine. There are numerous articles written on modern-day German life and culture, and they're mostly very accurate.

    Regarding the language barrier, there are always solutions to "bridging the gap". Although most Germans speak at least some English and often another additional language, you will face moments where German language skills are required. The best advice is to never give up learning and bettering your German at every given opportunity. Just remain patient, learn to accept that sometimes you won't be able to properly communicate, and most importantly, learn to be okay with making mistakes.

  • Can you work in Germany without speaking German?

    Generally, you will have more job prospects if you know the language of the country where you are living. That being said, English is widely spoken throughout Germany, especially in urban spaces. Some jobs might require German fluency, or at least basic knowledge of the language, but it still might be possible to find jobs where English is the only language needed. Check out job boards and blogs that are geared towards expat living or that let you filter by language requirements, or reach out to English-language organizations that you would be keen to work with.

  • How much do teachers make in Germany?

    The average salary for English teachers in Germany ranges from $2,500-$4,800 per month.

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