Teaching English in Italy: How to Apply & What to Expect in 2021

Teaching English in Italy is a dream for many. Not only does it enable you to spend more time in this beautiful Mediterranean country, it allows you to make money and build a career as you do so. 

Teaching English in Italy 

Italy is beautiful. This is the epicentre of the Roman Empire and birthplace of the Renaissance. 

Italy has a fascinating history and culture. Opting to spend a little longer in the country by working and teaching is one way to really scratch beneath Italy´s surface.

From the grand cities of Firenze, Venezia, and Milano, to the most offbeat Italian villages surrounded by lemon groves and vineyards, Italy exudes elegance. The country boasts incredible architecture, a UNESCO protected cuisine, and some of the warmest, most welcoming people in Europe. 

Moving to Italy to teach is a good, and understandable choice. Italy, like numerous other European countries, is known for having relatively strict entry requirements for teaching. 

When you first start researching the possibility of teaching English in Italy, it seems competitive and challenging. Hundreds, possibly THOUSANDS of people dream of moving here. So, the market must be pretty competitive, right? 

While teaching English in Italy may be a more dreamy choice than, say, teaching English in South Korea, the demand for English teachers is high. English is generally not very widely spoken in Italy. 

In recent decades, younger generations of Italians have learned the value of learning English. Particularly if they want to get into the international job market. 

Most Italians would prefer to learn English from a native speaker. That way they can really learn to master pronunciation, etc. 

The demand for English teachers still outweighs the supply. Your chances of securing work swiftly are even better if you are flexible about where to teach.

So how difficult is it to start teaching English in Italy? Before I moved to South Korea, I had actually considered teaching in Italy as my first option however after doing some research, the various websites that I encountered painted a picture that it was incredibly competitive and difficult to find job there since it was such a dream destination. When I actually moved to Naples however, I found this to be a far cry from the reality of the situation.

There are several prerequisites to you securing a teaching position in this beautiful country, and a few things to be mindful of, however with those taken into account, you’ll be ready to go.

Requirements for Teaching English in Italy

Most English teaching jobs in Italy require you to have a TESOL/TEFL or CELTA certification at the very minimum. Some places may not ask you for this but the vast majority will. As such, it is wise to complete a teaching certification before you even begin your search into teaching jobs.

The typical requirements here can be summarised as: 

  • A TESOL/TEFL/CELTA teaching certificate

  • Some teaching experience – paid or voluntary

  • A bachelor’s degree

  • The right to live and work in the EU 

Teaching qualifications

Most positions in Italy require you to have a TEFL or a CELTA as a minimum prerequisite for working for them. If this is going to be your first time teaching overseas, it can be overwhelming to navigate between the various ESL qualifications available. 

So what is the difference between these? The CELTA course is sponsored by Cambridge University. Subsequently, it is often perceived as being the most prestigious teaching course. 

Institutes that offer a CELTA course are required to adhere to strict standards. CELTA courses are usually intensive, six-week long courses that involve full time study, coursework and assessments. 

Meanwhile, TEFL courses can be completed part time and online around your schedule. Some schools and institutions specifically request that their teachers have CELTA qualifications. Others do not specify the teaching qualification required. 

Even if you do opt to just complete an online TEFL, you will not struggle to find opportunities. A TEFL is still a credible, internationally-recognised qualification. 

Is a TEFL really worth it?

It is worth obtaining a TEFL regardless of whether your specific employer requests it or not. The qualification can prepare you for what to expect when you arrive in a classroom. 

It also helps you to understand the best way to break down the English language for non-native speakers, learn how to create lesson plans, etc.

Leading TEFL provider TEFLcourse.net is kindly offering High Heels & a Backpack readers a 15% discount on their TEFL courses. To apply for more information from them, click here. There is no obligation to sign up.

Teaching experience 

Not all schools and institutions in Italy are the same. Some may request that you have teaching experience, others may be open to giving a new teacher an opportunity. 

Of course, teaching experience helps you stand out among the crowd. This is particularly true if you are hoping to teach English in Rome or other competitive areas. 

Even if you do not have not taught before, you could consider getting related experience to add to your resume. For instance, any time spent volunteering with children, whether it was in a teaching capacity or not. Alternatively, you can discuss friends and relatives´ children that you have cared for when submitting your application. 

A bachelor’s degree

A lot of schools and language institutions in Italy expect their teachers to be educated to degree-level. You may still find positions available that don’t require a degree. However, a large proportion of them do. 

The degree can typically be in any field. You do not have to have a degree in teaching/education. 

The right to work in the EU 

It can be confusing and complicated to move to Italy unless you are an EU citizen. If you are hoping to teach English and you are not an EU citizen, you are classed as a ¨third country national¨. As of the 31st December 2020, this includes UK citizens. 

UK citizens that lived in Italy prior to the 1st January 2021 are beneficiaries of the withdrawal agreement. You should apply for a carta di soggiorno elettronica (biometric permit) if you were in Italy before 31 December 2020, in order to protect your rights. 

UK citizens should apply for a Type D long term entry visa at the Italian consulate in London. American and Canadian English Teachers may want to consider applying for a working holiday visa to teach English in Italy. 

Native English-speaking teachers are in high demand in Italy. However, work permits and visas are rarely granted. It is not uncommon for teachers to be paid in cash ¨under the table¨. 

This is illegal, but it happens a lot. You should consult with your local Italian embassy/consulate in advance of departure in order to establish what your options are. 

Advice for Finding Teaching Work in Italy 

Don’t underestimate how useful it is to build contacts in Italy before leaving your home country. It may take several months for you to find work. This is especially true of sought-after locations like Rome or Florence. 

Where to look for opportunities 

Schools and language academies are one option. However, you can also find work as an au pair/English speaking nanny. 

Alternatively, you can teach adults via company training programs, or teach one on one as a private, freelance teacher. There are also some teaching agencies in Italy that require substitute teachers to work on an adhoc basis. This could be a good option while you are looking for permanent work. 

Do a search of schools and language academies in your desired area and then send them your resume by email. Even if they are not currently hiring, they can keep your details on file for the future. 

Consider joining Facebook groups for expats and teachers in Italy. You may find valuable positions detailed here, particularly for au pairs and English-speaking nanny work. 

Be open minded about where you teach

Competition for finding teaching jobs in Italy is fiercer in cities like Rome, Florence and Milan. If you are open to moving to a more rural location, or relocating to the south of Italy then you are likely to find that there are fewer applicants per vacancy.

In Naples and Southern Italy in particular, many Italians were not taught English at school. As such, there is a high demand for English teachers in this area which is frequently overlooked. 

The salary may be slightly lower in the south. However, so too are the costs of living.

Moving to Italy 

Moving to a foreign country is exciting and challenging, wherever in the world you choose to go. It is prudent to take some savings with you in order to cover your expenses for your first few months. 

You should do this regardless of whether you secure a job in advance of arrival or not. You will likely need to pay the first month´s rent at your accommodation, along with a security deposit, upon arrival. Not to mention, any other additional costs such as purchasing an Italian sim card, buying food and toiletries, public transportation, etc. 

What to Expect Teaching English in Italy 

You should reach out to schools and language academies prior to moving to Italy. However keep in mind that most Italian schools still want to interview you in person before giving you the job. 

Some may do this by Skype or Zoom. However many are somewhat old fashioned and will prefer to meet with you in person once you arrive in Italy. This is very different to say, going to teach English in the Far East whereby you sign a contract before you even leave your home country and your employer organises everything for you. 

Italian employers do not want the commitment of sponsoring someone to move to the country or agreeing to give them a job before they actually meet them. They will generally tell you to reach out once you land. 

Salary and perks 

The pay for teaching English in Italy is pretty good. If you are flexible about your schedule, you have the opportunity to make a decent living. 

If you are teaching at a public school or via a language academy, you can expect to receive 15 Euros an hour. For private classes, you can charge between 20-25 Euros per hour.

Teaching English in Italy offers less perks than teaching elsewhere in the world, notably east Asian countries. In some countries, your employer pays for your flights for you, assists you with your paperwork, and provides you with an apartment. 

This is not the case in Italy where you have to do everything yourself. It helps if you are flexible with all aspects of your move from the onset. 

For instance, you may succeed in securing a nice 30+ hour a week job. However, you should also be open to the possibility that you work effectively freelance, at least in the beginning. 

Perhaps you will need to spend a couple of hours in the mornings working as a substitute teacher somewhere. Then maybe you spend the afternoons offering private tutoring – at least until you find a long term, full time position. 

Speaking Italian 

Essentially, you do not need to learn any Italian in order to teach English in Italy. The entire concept of ¨ESL¨ (teaching English as a second language) is based on immersing the student in an environment where they are forced to learn and speak English. 

The idea behind this kind of teaching method being that students supposedly learn faster if they are put into a situation where they have to speak in their new language. You do not have to worry about learning Italian so that you can communicate with your students. 

However, it may be useful, for your own comfort and ease of settling into life in Italy, to learn a few Italian phrases. You may find that your colleagues and fellow teachers cannot speak English and without a basic knowledge of Italian, you cannot speak with them at all. 

When to apply for teaching jobs in Italy 

Hiring for teaching jobs in Italy usually begins in early spring. Most new teachers start work in September or October, along with the start of the new school year. 

It is a good idea to start browsing through job boards, forums and facebook groups in February/March. That said, you shouldn´t be deterred from searching for positions or making the move if you are looking to work outside of that time frame. 

Finding an apartment

It is a good idea to move into short-term rental accommodation when you first move to Italy. This is particularly true if you haven´t secured a teaching position prior to your arrival. 

Airbnb is a good place to search for a place for a couple of months or less. However keep in mind that the prices on this platform are often highly inflated versus what a ¨local¨ would actually pay. 

As such, you should try and negotiate the list price with the host, particularly if you are staying for 28 days or longer. You may also find short term rentals from private owners on Facebook groups. 

Immobiliare, Casa.it, and Mioaffitto are the main real estate websites in Italy. Both properties to buy, and properties to rent can be found here.If you are looking to share a house and want to find a roommate, you can try ¨Easy Stanza¨.   

Parting Words

Do you have any additional questions about teaching English in Italy? I spent six months teaching English in Naples.

I am happy to assist with any questions and concerns you may have. Feel free to reach out via the comments below or drop me an email at [email protected]

Safe travels! Andiamo! Melissa xo

Full Disclosure: This guide on teaching English in Italy may contain affiliate links. This means this if you opt to make a purchase through some of the links on this page, I may obtain a small amount of comission. This is charged at no additional cost to you. Thanks for understanding.


Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer and Blogger based in Athens, Greece. She writes for numerous high profile travel publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, Matador Network, The Times of Israel and The Huffington Post.

2 thoughts on “Teaching English in Italy: How to Apply & What to Expect in 2021”

  1. Hi Melisa, I love your articles, I was wondering if you can advise me. I’m extremely artistic and understand a lot of techniques in art. I have a fashion degree which was never used and now wor in insurance. However my creativity is mocking at my door really hard. Reading your articles has inspired me in ways I can use my skill. I understand you have experience in teaching English, however are you able to provide some guidance for me. I’m very interested in teaching in Italy. Looking forward to hearing from you. Best Viv

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