Everything about Russia is impressive. It is twice as big as Canada and spans across nine time zones. You can find everything here — from the cold, calm tundra of Siberia, to lively metropolises like Moscow and St. Petersburg. Wherever you go, you will find evidence of the eventful history that Russia’s lands have seen, as well as a booming desire to learn English.
In St. Petersburg, there’s more than meets the eye — it’s a city of endless opportunities that will suit any ESL teacher. The city has it all — teaching in private or public schools, teaching business English, and even freelancing.
Public schools are the most reliable employers for finding a job teaching ESL, but they also tend to pay the least. Once employed, you will have job secured for a full academic year and support with your work visa. Staying with the same school for the next year makes job hunting easier.
The fast-growing pace of the business sector in St. Petersburg is also one of the best employment opportunities for ESL teachers. Local companies are constantly on the look for quality English to hire directly to train their employees in English. Hours are often adjusted to the company's work schedule -- which can mean lots of teaching before and after the normal work day. Conditions vary greatly from company to company, but the expected salary is high.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that in such a rich city the best employment opportunities come from the private sector. A lot of ads for private lessons can be found in local newspapers or internet portals such as The St. Petersburg Times.
Private Language Schools
The majority of jobs are provided by private schools. These language schools typically offer 20-30 hours of classroom time. Most of them are run by westerners, but do your research before taking a job as scams are not unusual. Another thing to bear in mind is that teaching contracts usually end in June.
TESOL, TEFL or CELTA certificates, as well as a bachelor’s degree, are a must in most of the renowned schools. However, you can get by without them if you plan to live off of private lessons.
Finding a Job
St Petersburg is a vivid display of Russia’s economic and cultural development and it brings together Russia’s finest architecture, booming business, and colorful culture. It is one of the more forward thinking cities, and so it’s a place where English is the new black. Everyone wants to speak it.
When and Where to Look for Jobs:
Although ESL jobs can be found all year round, you will get the best pick from various positions in September and October. Job hunting is very conducive in January, too.
Working Visas in St. Petersburg:
A visa must be obtained before entering the country and though the visa process may be a bit lengthy and complicated, there are plenty of guides to Russian visas online to help you through the process.
You can learn everything you need about your Visa for Russia and apply for one on Embassy of the Russian Federation’s website. Their Visa section is well developed and is straightforward enough to work with even without assistance from travel agencies.
Need to Know
Salary and Cost of Living:
The average monthly salary ranges from $650 to $900 or 18,500-25,000 RUB and is enough to break even and save a bit, if you are smart about spending.
Since learning English is such a big thing in Russia, the high demand means comfortable living for ESL teachers. Native speakers are of particular interest and if you have past experience of teaching English, you are likely to be offered more than the average salary. Certificate holders also enjoy better paid jobs. You can earn as much as $1,300 or 35,000 RUB if you have both the experience and a TESOL certificate.
Those who chose to go for private lessons will be pleasantly surprised by the the pay, too. One-on-one lessons usually cost $27-$31 (700-800 RUB) per hour and it’s not uncommon for businesses to look for English lessons for their teams in which case $40-60 (1000-1,600 RUB) hourly is paid.
Petrogradskaya Storona, the Golden Triangle, and the Fontanka River are among the best neighborhoods for expats. However, housing in St. Petersburg is premium and can cost you over $615 (16,000 RUB) for most apartments.
As Petersburg4U reports about the cost of living in St. Petersburg, a meal for two out will cost you around $50 (1,200 RUB), which isn’t too bad when you consider the standard of life in The Baltic Pearl.
Classroom & Work Culture:
As you may expect, teaching in Russia is a bit different compared to the US. Small oddities like the 45-minute academic hour and the always formal dress code are things that will keep you on your toes in a nice way.
Kids will look up to you, as Russians students still see teachers as highly authoritative. And although the Russian teaching methods are mainly traditional, it’s easy to win your students’ hearts by bringing in innovative techniques.
Adults are very eager to learn English, too, as most of them haven’t received English education in public schools, but need it for career development. Teaching Business English is currently in high demand and it is here that you should step up your game and always be punctual, because punctuality is something that Russians value highly.
Russians are well-known handshakers, but avoid shaking hands over a threshold as this will lead to an argument, according to Russian folklore. Also consider brushing up on other aspects of Russian etiquette before you go.
Contributed by George Chelebiev
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Do I need a degree to teach English in Russia?
Although it is advisable and may help you find more job opportunities, a university degree is not always required. A TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA, however, is a requirement to teach English in Russia.
Is Russia expensive to live in?
The cost of living in Russia varies based on the part of the country you live in. In large cities, such as Moscow or St. Petersburg, the cost of living is high. For example, a room may cost anywhere between $700 - $1,000 in Moscow's city center. However, groceries, local restaurants, and transportation are affordable for most people.
How much do teachers earn in Russia?
Typically, an English teacher in Russia will earn anywhere between $1,000 - $1,500, depending on the teaching institution. Private language schools have a lower salary but include perks such as housing and airfare. International schools will have a higher starting salary at about $1,200.
Is it safe to teach English in Russia?
Yes, Russia is generally a safe country for tourists and teachers, alike. Like in any city, be aware of your personal belongings, avoid alleyways, and don't walk alone at night. Although you probably won't be teaching in these areas, avoid Crimea and the North Caucasus due to current civil unrest. If you're unsure, check with your home government about travel restrictions.