Recently made infamous by the ever-ridiculous Borat, Kazakhstan has much more to offer than its pop-culture reputation suggests! The country only recently gained independence from Russia in 1991 and is now avidly trying to break its way into the global scene. As such, more emphasis is being placed on transitioning the common second language to English in place of Russian (read: they need good English teachers, and they are willing to pay!).
The largest landlocked country in the world also has a whole slew of different types of land and ecosystems, making it excellent for exploring on your days off. By crossing Kazakhstan (and its two time zones and five different climate areas), you can encounter snowy mountains, beaches, canyons, and sand dunes!
Photo credit: Torekhan Sarmanov.
Education is highly valued by the Kazakh government, and money is readily spent on improving the quality of education for students.
Since the move toward westernization is so strong in Kazakhstan, the country has recently opened many international schools with instruction in English. These schools are often for the wealthier students and are usually modeled on US schools. They also generally have the highest salaries.
Only a minority of Kazakhs can afford to send their children to International Schools. For those who cannot afford the cost (or who want to improve their own English language skills) less expensive courses are available through language schools.
When and Where to Look for Jobs:
Schools find themselves needing teachers year round, so jobs are available throughout the year. However, the school year starts in August and goes to the end of May, so hiring is particularly popular in July and August before the school year begins. Many job listings are posted online, and you can contact schools via email.
Though you do not need to be TEFL certified to teach in Kazakhstan, it can only help your wage. Qualifications are specific to the particular place you work, though, so it is best to browse through postings to see specific information. For example, some jobs might require a TEFL or equivalent certification, a college degree, or a certain amount of teaching experience.
Salary & Cost of Living:
The monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment in the city center is $600, while a 3 bedroom place is about $1,150. Monthly groceries will run you about $75, a transportation pass is $10, and utilities and internet cost about $130 per month. However, It is not uncommon for schools to provide you with housing and travel expenses, which is a great help to your costs.
Salary is highly dependent on where you work and what qualifications you have. Wages range from $400 to $1,500 per month. A bachelor’s degree will earn you a comfortable degree and the higher the level of education you have attained will translate to a boost in pay.
Classroom & Work Culture:
- Student/Teacher Relations: Students have immense respect for their teachers and sometimes even fear them slightly. Classroom punishment can be quite harsh. Many Kazakhs are very interested in Western culture and might ask you lots of questions.
- Dress Code: You should dress modestly for work, and avoid wearing clothing with logos or foreign words.
- Greetings: The typical Kazakh greeting is a handshake with both hands, and a hug is acceptable once you know someone well. Very religious Kazakhs do not touch people of the opposite sex, so follow the other person’s lead when interacting with new people.