Guide to teaching English in Turkey

Turkey is a fascinating country that benefits from its unique geography. Its largest city, Istanbul, has been one of the world's great metropolises for millennia and is the only major city in the world to span two continents. Living in Istanbul is living with one foot in Europe and one in Asia, presenting the opportunity for a diverse and culturally immersive experience.

Of course, while many teachers choose to teach English in Istanbul, Turkey is much more than that. There’s the modern city of Ankara, the ancient and dignified city of Izmir, and the seaside paradise of Antalya. These cities are all markedly different, but they share something in common: millions of people looking to expand their prospects through education.

English is a highly sought-after skill, meaning there’s plenty of room for teachers to share their knowledge while expanding their horizons in Turkey.

Interested in teaching English in Turkey? 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 Turkey!

Types of teaching jobs in Turkey

Most international teachers in Turkey teach English since it is difficult to get a job teaching other subjects without speaking fluent Turkish. On the other hand, as Turkey’s tourist industry booms and English language proficiency becomes more valuable, demand for English teachers has increased.

There are three main types of English teaching jobs in Turkey, each with its unique requirements and advantages.

Language Academies

Teaching at a language academy is the most popular and reliable type of work available for English teachers in Turkey. These jobs usually involve teaching adults who are looking to expand their skillset. Bigger, well-established language academies like Berlitz, English Time, and Wall Street English are a great place to start your job search, but smaller local schools will also have opportunities going.

Universities

Teaching at a university is typically the highest-paid and most prestigious English teaching job in Turkey. Your job is likely to be salaried rather than hourly and will include holiday pay, as well as a vibrant and diverse workplace. These jobs are highly competitive, however, as university jobs do tend to go to existing staff and alumni, but it’s not unheard of for international teachers to get cushy university positions. To be considered, you will likely need a TEFL qualification, college-level teaching degree, and significant teaching experience.

Private Schools

Teaching English in a private school is a well-paid and stable job, which also means that it is highly competitive, similar to university positions. It’s worth applying for open positions at private schools, though, especially if you have a lot of classroom experience in schools, but novice teachers fresh off a TEFL course will have a better chance of finding employment with a language institute.

Average salary and benefits for teaching English in Turkey

English teachers in Turkey can expect a salary between $800 and $1,150 USD a month, which is enough to live comfortably relative to the cost of living in Turkey, especially when employment benefits are considered.

Benefits packages will depend on your employer but often can include flight reimbursement, a housing allowance or free accommodation, paid holidays and summer break, visa expense reimbursement, and complimentary transportation. Some schools will even provide you with multiple meals a day -- which can significantly help keep your expenses down!

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

Cost of living in Turkey

TEFL jobs in Turkey pay fairly well; however, if your goal is to build up savings, you will likely need to employ cost-saving habits like eating at home (or complimentary meals at school) and using public transportation.

Here is a list of common expenses and their average cost in Turkey:

  • Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: $3.23
  • Bus pass: $26.46/month
  • Movie ticket: $2.58
  • Housing (one bedroom apartment in city center): $239.01/month

Source: Numbeo

Where and how to find housing in Turkey

Finding housing in Turkey, especially in large cities like Istanbul and Ankara, is relatively straightforward. There are both local and international classified sites where available apartments and homes are listed. The most popular local site is Sahibinden, however, you must be in Turkey to access the site (or use a VPN). Additionally, local real estate offices are great resources for finding housing, especially if you know the general area you want to live.

Here are a few resources to get started with your housing search in Turkey:

Where to teach English in Turkey

There are plenty of English teaching jobs in Turkey. Your main challenge will be identifying a reliable and trustworthy employer that will pay you enough, give you reasonable hours, and support you through the transition.

The most popular destination for teaching in Turkey is Istanbul, as this is where the bulk of English teaching jobs are available. It also hosts the highest concentration of expat since it famously represents the meeting point between Turkey’s European and Middle Eastern influences.

However, there are teaching jobs available in other cities in Turkey, including Ankara, Izmir, and Adana. These are harder to find but may be more rewarding for someone looking for a complete change of pace and scenery. Coastal cities are particularly popular since they tend to be more laid-back and relaxed than the big city of Istanbul.

How to get a job teaching English in Turkey

The best way to apply for teaching jobs in Turkey is to do it face-to-face. Employers like talking to candidates in person, and a teaching job can usually be secured in a couple of weeks of interviewing. Bring hard copies of your CV, cover letter, and any teaching qualifications.

Where to find jobs

Since not everyone can travel to a country without a guaranteed position, online job postings can help you locate opportunities. To maximize your chances of finding work, you should also get in touch directly with language schools and universities in your city of choice. They will be able to tell you if they are hiring and, if not, when they are likely to be hiring again.

In addition to directly contacting employers, third-party providers, such as the ones below, help place teachers with open positions in Turkey, and some even offer TEFL training and certification.

Job boards, like the one right here at Go Overseas, are another great way to find open positions, especially if you already have your English teaching certification.

When to apply

For university and private school jobs, the hiring cycle for English teachers in Turkey typically spans the summer months before the school year begins. However, positions do become available year-long, especially near the beginning of the second term in February.

There is a longer hiring cycle for language academy jobs since classes run all year long. Start applying a couple of months before you intend to move, but it’s best to remain flexible in case they need you before that.

Common qualifications to teach in Turkey

For most English teaching jobs, you will need a TEFL or TESOL qualification. While it is not impossible to find work with an online course, this is likely to be lower-paid and from a less reputable employer. Investing in a full 120 to 150-hour classroom course is a better idea. Some schools, especially universities and private schools, may also require prior teaching experience and a university degree.

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

Work visas in Turkey

In order to live and work in Turkey, you will need both a resident’s visa and a work visa. If you’re lucky, your employer will take care of the admin and cost of both, but that is not always the case. Ensure you check what they offer to cover before starting the process yourself.

If you do have to pay for your own visas, they typically cost around $60 a year for the resident’s permit and about $130 a year for the work visa.

Classroom culture in Turkey

It is imperative to research and understand the cultural nuances you will experience in the classroom while teaching abroad. There can be vast differences in the way students and teachers interact, so ESL teachers should be respectful and understanding while adapting to a new classroom environment.

In Turkey, the culture is quite conservative, and it is not advised to bring up religion or other potentially controversial subjects in the classroom.

Here are a few additional tips to know before teaching English in Turkey:

  • There will be much less work during the month of Ramadan
  • When working with adults, classroom settings are usually friendly and relaxed
  • Turkish timekeeping can be a bit lax, so prepare for late arrivals
  • Female teachers may encounter disrespect from some men in the classroom. If this becomes an issue, you should bring it up with your employer immediately

Ready to find your dream teaching program in Turkey?

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

Want to read more? Get started with these articles:

Teaching Programs in Turkey

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TEFL Courses in Turkey

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

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