Guide to teaching English in Italy
Teaching English in Italy is the dream of many, and it's not hard to see why. The country has a rich history and culture that permeates all aspects of life, from education to food. It's also beautiful—picture-postcard perfect villages with colorful architecture sit next to rolling hills covered in olive trees. Whatever your reason for seeking out this opportunity, there are some things you need to know before you start teaching English abroad in Italy as an ESL teacher.
If you've ever considered teaching English in Italy, this guide is for you. You'll learn about the different types of jobs available and what it takes to get a work visa. The average salary for teaching in Italy is $1,929-$2,630 (€1,859-€2,535) per month.
Types of Teaching Jobs in Italy
Teaching positions are available all over Italy—from small towns to big cities—and salaries vary depending on location and experience.
Private Language Institutes
Most teaching jobs in Italy are in private language institutes. Public schools typically hire EU citizens and fluent Italian speakers, so private institutes are generally the best bet. The positions can take various forms, whether a Montessori school, a private boarding school, or one for business professionals. Business English students who make up most adult ESL classes in Italy are eager to learn and take their lessons seriously, as English is an increasingly valuable skill for locals. Private schools in Italy may also run summer programs, which you could work for after the school year is over.
Summer camps in Italy like EDUCO provide ample opportunity to pick up work over the summer. These are typically short-term opportunities in private institutes or educational companies. In addition, there are opportunities to teach older students looking to diversify their skill-set in the Italian job market or work with younger kids in a full immersion English setting.
Many teachers choose to supplement their income by teaching private lessons as well. Private lessons can earn a teacher anywhere from $16-$32 USD per hour (many choose to offer a discount to groups of university students if they refer their friends). Because the job market in Italy can be pretty tight and the cost of living reasonably high (especially in cities), teaching private lessons on the side can be a great way to cover the gap in your monthly expenses.
Average salary and benefits for teaching English in Italy
The average salary can range from $1,929-$2,630 (€1,859-€2,535) per month, depending on the school and region.
Common teacher benefits
As a teacher in Italy, your benefits may include the following:
- Paid vacation time
- Health insurance
- Transportation expenses
- Free housing (including utilities) if you live remotely from where you work
- Annual bonuses
- Paid holidays (20 days per year)
Some schools also offer extra benefits such as:
- Discounts on education courses
- Discount on cultural activities such as museum visits or concerts
Read more: How Much Money Can You Save Teaching Abroad?
Cost of living in Italy
The cost of living in Italy is lower than the cost of living in the United States. Therefore, you should be able to live comfortably on an average salary and enjoy the best that Italy has to offer without getting into debt. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when calculating your budget.
If you want to experience Italy and its culture, you’ll need to make roughly $1,500 to cover estimated monthly costs, including rent.
Take a look at some of the average costs for monthly expenses in Italy:
- Food: $52 - $260 USD/month (varies based on eating habits and whether you cook or dine out)
- Transportation: $36.81 (monthly pass)
- Housing: $725 USD/month (1 bedroom apartment in the city center)
- Entertainment: $77 USD/month (fitness club, tennis court, one cinema ticket)
Where and how to find housing
After you have accepted an offer from an English school in Italy, you will be asked to submit your documentation for a residence permit. If your school does not handle these procedures for you, it is usually possible for them to offer assistance or recommend an agency that can help with the process.
Once a residence permit has been approved, teachers are generally advised to find their housing. Ask your school for assistance. Some schools may have arrangements available where they will pay part of the rent or provide temporary housing if needed until finding something permanent.
Many schools also have arrangements with landlords who will offer discounted rates or payment plans if you have a long-term contract with the school. This is often the best option if you're on a tight budget, but not all schools offer this service, and it may not be available until after you've found another job in Italy.
Consider moving into an apartment building that already has other teachers living there. This gives you instant socialization opportunities and can help make the transition from living alone easier by providing company during meals or transportation when needed.
Where to teach English in Italy
As with any new country, it's essential to do your research before coming to Italy. This will help you find the perfect place for you and your family, whether it be the bustling city life of Milan or the slower pace of Venice.
Milan is one of the most popular places for foreigners to live in Italy because it's such a large city with lots of job opportunities (and lots of other foreigners). You'll find everything here—good food options that won't break your budget and fun activities like walking along Corso Venezia on Sundays when people dress up in typical Italian clothing! However, if you're looking for an inexpensive place where your rent will not break your bank account, this is probably not the best choice because housing costs tend to be high compared to other areas around Italy.
Florence is another popular destination with teachers looking for work in Italy because it's such an attractive city with plenty of culture and history to offer visitors and plenty going on for locals too! This city is home to some incredible architecture—Filippo Brunelleschi designed the Duomo Cathedral, and Michelangelo designed parts of the Palazzo Vecchio (the town hall). You could also get a job teaching English in Bologna or Verona if you prefer smaller cities over big ones like Milan or Florence.
One of Italy's oldest cities and its food capital, Bologna is home to over 300 restaurants serving traditional Italian fare. The city also boasts an impressive art scene with works by Botticelli and Caravaggio on display at its many museums. In addition, thanks to its excellent university students, students should expect high-quality teaching standards in this city that can help provide insight into the local culture.
How to get a job teaching English in Italy
If you are interested in teaching English in Italy, several steps must be taken before you can begin your new career.
Where to find employment
The best place to look for jobs teaching English in Italy is online. You can explore teaching programs here on Go Overseas or explore our job board!
However, it's also good to look locally and apply directly to schools abroad since some require that candidates have their work visas already secured before offering them a position.
When to apply
Language schools typically start in September or October and finish in June, with the average teaching contract lasting 9-10 months. Beginning in February, it’s usually a good time to start looking for work, as schools will have a better idea of who is returning for the following year.
However, plenty of jobs open up closer to the start of the school year, and there are always emergency openings throughout the year. So if you're in Italy, it's good to go door to door and apply in person.
If you’re looking to work at a summer camp, start looking for opportunities a few months before. Camps usually begin in July or August.
The application process can take anywhere from one week to six months, depending on how quickly they get back to you about your application and whether other applicants pass the screening process first. If they offer employment, they'll send over an employment contract and information about how long it will take before starting work and all necessary documentation for obtaining work visas and permits.
Common qualifications to teach in Italy
It's essential to have the right qualifications before applying for work in Italy. To teach English in Italy, you'll usually need to have:
- A bachelor's degree
- A TESOL/TEFL certificate
- Two years of work experience
- You could also be required to have an Italian teaching certificate if you want to teach at private schools.
You must check out their requirements carefully because some will require certificates for specific levels of experience or even language proficiency tests such as IELTS or TOEFL exams.
It can be challenging for non-EU citizens to obtain a work visa for Italy. If you're an EU citizen, you're much more likely to get a visa that gives you work privileges. However, many schools are willing to negotiate and make arrangements to accommodate foreigners. Once you are hired, you are responsible for navigating the visa process and ensuring you are working legally in the country. You will often not be able to get a work visa while in-country. You will have to apply and get approved while outside Italy's borders.
Some people decide to overstay their tourist visas and work on a cash-in-hand basis. As a result, you may get fined when you choose to leave Italy. Others obtain a student visa to stay in Italy legally for six months while teaching and taking classes. Don't let this deter you from teaching and living in Italy.
What’s it like to live & teach English in Italy
While teaching English in Italy probably won’t make you rich, living in Italy for an extended period of time is definitely a rewarding experience. From fine dining in some of the best restaurants in the world to a quick espresso in between classes, Italians know how to enjoy life like no other culture in the world.
Classroom & work culture
- Dress properly. Italians tend to dress more formally than Americans, so don't show up wearing shorts or flip flops if you're going to teach English in Italy.
- When interacting with your colleagues/bosses/employers, focus on being polite rather than casual – especially if they're older than you!
- Remember that family is very important here. Even if it feels like all of your students need individualized attention, this shouldn't stop you from getting close with them on a personal level. It will go far in helping them improve their English skills and make their experience more enjoyable overall.
Culture & etiquette tips
- Italians are passionate people. If you speak with an Italian person, they will make eye contact and listen intently to what you're saying. So it's crucial not to interrupt them or talk over them if you want to maintain that connection.
- Say "please" and "thank you" when asking questions or requesting things from someone else; these simple words go a long way toward creating positive relationships both inside and outside of school!
- Making the correct gestures is essential in Italy. When greeting someone, it's common practice to nod your head and say “Ciao!” (Hello!). Be sure not to wave your hand in front of their face as this gesture is considered rude in Italy; instead, gently brush your fingers on their shoulder or arm as a sign of respect.
Ready to find your dream teaching program in Italy?
Start researching and comparing teaching programs at Go Overseas in the Teaching Programs in the Italy section below.
Want to read more? Get started with these articles:
Teaching Programs in Italy
TEFL Courses in Italy
A TEFL Certification will help you acquire the skills and qualifications to teach abroad in Italy
View the latest teaching job postings on our job board.
What qualifications do you need to teach English in Italy?
The job market for English teachers is quite competitive, so it's necessary to have your TESOL/TEFL certificate to teach in Italy. However, it's not a requirement to have a bachelor's degree -- it's possible to find opportunities that do not require a university education. If you don't have a teaching certificate of some sort, you can consider taking one in Italy before applying for jobs.Related Content
How much do English teachers make in Italy?
Typically, an English teacher in Italy can earn between $1,000-$1,800 (€900-€1,600) per month. Those at private language institutes can expect an hourly rate between €15-€30 per hour.Related Content
How long does it take to get an Italian visa?
The processing time to obtain a visa for Italy varies by the type of visa. A tourist visa may take between one to two weeks, while a work visa may take up to a month.
Can I teach English in Italy without a degree?
Although it may open up your chances to more job opportunities, you can teach in Italy without a college degree. If you don't have a degree, make sure to have a teaching certificate such as a TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA.