For aspiring educators with a desire to travel, teaching abroad in Iceland is a gateway for professional growth and endless adventures. On this remote island tucked away in the north Atlantic, you’ll gain teaching experience against the backdrop of Iceland’s otherworldly landscape. In your free time, you can lounge in a hot spring, try some hákarl (fermented shark), and explore glaciers, volcanoes, and more natural wonders.
At Go Overseas, we strive to provide the most comprehensive program and job listings available. At this time, we are only able to find a few teaching opportunities in Iceland, listed below. You can read this full guide to teaching in Iceland, use the Search page to explore other teaching opportunities, or browse the Teaching Job Board for opportunities around the world.
Icelandic is the country’s official language, but with English creeping into books, television, and other content, there’s an increased need for ESL educators. Programs typically require a Bachelor’s degree, and having an ESL certification will certainly strengthen your application.
When it comes to finding a teaching job in Iceland, there are services that can help you, such as recruiters and websites that post job listings. Some of these programs can even provide housing assistance, flight reimbursement, health insurance, and other benefits. In addition to going through a recruiter or checking job databases, you can also reach out directly to English language schools in the country to see if they have any openings.
To teach abroad in Iceland’s public schools, you’ll need at least a Bachelor’s degree. While education is the preferred area of study, for entry-level jobs it’s not a requirement. Degrees in English or a specific subject matter can also make for great teachers.
To get a job at a public school, you’ll have to check the career page on each institution’s website or reach out directly to someone there. In a country of just 334,000 people, networking is the key to success; it may make sense to try and spend some time in Iceland before you start job hunting, depending on your flexibility and finances. And unless you’re aiming to teach English, some knowledge of the Icelandic language will probably be helpful.
You can also apply at one of Iceland’s institutions for higher education. The support for professors, like access to university facilities and flexible hours, make teaching abroad at a university seem like a dream. To become a university educator, you’ll need a Masters or, for some programs, a PhD.
At Iceland’s universities, you can teach as a Ph.D. student or seek a professor position. As with their public schools, check university websites for vacancies and reach out directly to the institution. The top institution for higher education in the country is the University of Iceland in Reykjavík. Most of Iceland’s other universities are also in Reykjavík and the surrounding west coast area, though you can check up north at the University of Akureyri as well.
Where & When
With more than half of Iceland’s population living in Reykjavík and the surrounding towns, it’s no wonder the country’s capital is the best base for foreign teachers. A second option is the city of Akureyri in the north. While not be as populated as Reykjavík, it’s a good choice for teaching somewhere less bustling. Since Iceland’s modest population makes finding jobs a competitive endeavor, main metro areas will be better for finding jobs than small towns.
Iceland’s students have an extended summer vacation and attend school primarily during autumn, winter, and spring. This makes the ideal time for applying in June, July, or August when the school systems are preparing for the next academic year. Of course, vacancies can open up year round, and ESL programs can take educators on an ongoing basis depending on the contract length but keep these dates in mind when job hunting.
Getting a Visa
To live and work in Iceland, you’ll need a temporary work permit for qualified professionals. Both you and your employer will need to provide documentation to prove that your knowledge and background will contribute positively to the Icelandic workforce and society.
You’ll need to submit standard items, like a copy of your passport, a criminal background check, and proof of medical coverage. Additional documents specific to your particular work permit will also be needed, including an employment contract, a copy of your diploma, and details about your work history. Once everything’s been sent off, the process can take as long as three months to get visa approval.
Compensation & Benefits
Per month, full-time teachers in Iceland’s public schools make an average of $4,400. ESL salaries run lower, with a monthly wage of up to $3,000 being more likely, depending on how many hours per week you spend teaching. Either way, these amounts are admittedly less than the overall average monthly salary in Iceland, unless you secure a position at one of Iceland’s universities.
Select teaching jobs will come with additional benefits, especially at the university level. On top of salary, staff at the University of Iceland can take advantage of meal plans, gym access, and more. And some schools might even be able to help you out with health insurance or arranging housing. Teaching abroad is by no means a glamorous endeavor, but it’s one that’s fulfilling and able to lead to new opportunities.
Consumer data regularly puts Iceland among the most expensive countries in the world, so the cost of living will be higher than what you’re used to. Apartments in Reykjavík can be around $990 per month, and you should plan to eat in a lot. But, you can always save with flatmates, and, overall, your wages should adequately cover your living expenses.
For city dwellers, public transit makes it possible to get by without a car, but owning or having access to a 4x4 vehicle will give you the freedom to explore your new home. You’ll want to chase down the Northern Lights in the winter, venture down the F roads to Landmannalaugar Valley in the summer, and take weekend excursions year-round. A car will be your multi-stop ticket to countless adventures while you’re teaching abroad in Iceland.