English may have once been a foreign language reserved for diplomats, but today all of Russia is yearning for the ability to speak English for the purpose of both business and travel. Teaching jobs in Russia vary from language schools, to business tutoring, to freelance work, providing plenty of opportunities to become immersed in this internationally-minded culture. While you probably won’t be able to save much, considering the increasing cost of living, teaching in Russia is still an incredible professional opportunity.
Dynamic for its blending of Western influences and traditional Russian values, teachers will find that most teaching jobs in Russia are based in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Whether it’s a teaching internship position with an international language school, or teaching English to a local family, Moscow and St. Petersburg are thriving destinations to teach English in Russia.
Moscow has long been Russia’s political and economic center, and the city’s historical architectural sights, like Saint Basil’s Cathedral, the more modern Seven Sisters skyscrapers, or the famous Tretyakov Gallery, make for plenty of sites to explore outside the classroom. Do keep in mind that Moscow has consistently made the list of the world’s most expensive expat cities for the past ten years, so keeping an eye on your budget is vital!
Further north and situated at the head of the Gulf of Finland and on the River Neva, teachers may opt to call Saint Petersburg home, where the demand for international educators, like foreign language assistants, is just as high. The Neoclassical architecture and hundreds of bridges are also worth getting to know firsthand while teaching in St. Petersburg.
For those seeking different locales, teaching jobs also exist in other locations throughout the country, from Siberia to Chelyabinsk and Novgorod, and to smaller towns. In terms of adjusting to climate in any of these locations, teachers should note that Russian winters can dip as low as -30 degrees Celsius, so pack accordingly depending on the time of year you plan to teach English in Russia. Hot summers will also be typical, and Moscow has been known to hit temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius during the month of July.
Teaching Jobs in Russia
There’s no shortage of English teaching jobs in Russia, though teachers should keep in mind that employment needs to be secured in advance of arrival in country in order to secure a legitimate work visa. However, after your first contract is completed you can be more choosy with your employer and school. Generally speaking, the academic year in Russia will commence in the beginning of September and finish around the end of May.
Language Schools are the most common employers. These are the easiest teaching jobs in Russia to arrange in advance, and the schools will work with you to finalize contracts and all the necessary paperwork. Some language schools will also let you take a Russian language course on the side. Teaching jobs at language schools are somewhat more casual in Russia, business dress is not required and schools are often flexible with teaching styles and curriculum.
Teacher Placements are another convenient and easy way to teach English in Russia. There’s usually a cost involved, but the third party organization will have vetted the placement, provide orientation materials and advising, and organize most of the logistics. Some teaching program providers will pair prospective volunteer teachers with a family, in which the tutor/nanny spends 15 hours a week helping tutor the kids in exchange for the accommodation and cultural immersion.
Teaching at a school encompasses teaching children for the most part. These opportunities to teach English in Russia can be both very challenging and incredibly rewarding. Some teaching jobs in Russia will even combine theoretical training with firsthand observation and application.
Tutoring is usually arranged via networking once in country. Word of mouth is a great way to secure this type of English teaching job in Russia. Do be aware, however, that poaching clients from your day job is strictly forbidden (not to mention bad karma!). Tutors can expect to earn $10 to $30 per hour, depending on the client. Some schools may also hire teachers part time and refer to this as tutoring, usually paying around $15 per hour.
The TEFL and Job Placement combination is another great way to teach English in Russia. A TEFL course with certificate followed by placement in a major Russian city is common. TEFL programs in Russia usually consist of 100 hours of instruction followed by six to ten hours of observation. In addition to the certificate, you will actually learn how to teach English as a foreign language. Jobs are not 100 percent guaranteed, and since you are present for your interview you have to ultimately earn the job yourself.
Teaching Qualifications: A bachelors degree plus a TEFL certificate is recommended for anyone who wants to teach English in Russia. There are great advantages to completing a TEFL course in Russia, including possible links to employers on site and a focus on the Russian classroom.
Salaries & Costs
Teachers can expect to make from $650 to $2,000 per month, depending on the teaching placement and the specific location of the position. Entrepreneurial teachers can expect to make more via private tutoring in Russia. Bonuses and reimbursement for airfare or visa costs usually come at the end of the contract, if this has been stipulated in advance with the school or organization. It’s possible to make a living off of a teaching income alone, particularly if you accept a contract with housing included.
While Russia at large can be a cheap place to travel, Moscow and St. Petersburg can be expensive cities to live in, so it’s essential to live according to a budget that best suits your lifestyle. Living outside major metropolis areas is one way to live more affordably and comfortably, this cuts down on accommodation costs, which tend to be the highest cost, allowing for more of your budget to go towards food and transportation. Teachers will likely find that though the overall cost of living in Russia has increased, everyday costs are reasonable and comparably low when you make smart financial decisions.
As a basis for comparison, teachers can expect that utility costs will range around $40 per month, local telephone and land-line calls will be free, and cable TV and internet can cost around $50 per month.
Accommodation & Visas
Housing for teachers, if provided, can sometimes be modest, consisting of a studio type room/apartment, a bathroom, and small kitchen area. Many teachers choose to share flats in order to further divide costs. In terms of the interior of these spaces, you’ll find a variety, with some being renovated in a more Western-style, while others keep with an old-fashioned feel and appliances.
For those seeking to live outside the main city centers, housing options can include recreational spaces geared towards accommodating families. If you do to choose to live outside the city boundaries of Moscow or St. Petersburg, keep in mind that a daily commute to a language school or teaching position in the city may take upwards of an hour. Fortunately, public transportation is easily accessible, as well as a cheaper and faster method of commute.
You will need a completed Work Visa form with one passport photo to apply for a visa to legally teach English in Russia. You’ll also need an original invitation letter from the school/employer. This means the only way to get a job on the ground is to complete a TEFL course in Russia. You will also need a HIV test completed within the last three months, so be ready to apply for your visa once you’ve completed the test.
Benefits & Challenges
Savings. Many schools provide accommodations with a contract, others will provide a housing stipend.
Contracts. Flight reimbursement may be included at the end of your contract. Some employers also reimburse for visa costs. Contracts can be for nine months to two years. Renewing after a one year contract may mean an increase in pay and possibly a bonus.
Lifestyle. Life in the smaller far flung cities can be a bit slower. Moscow and St. Petersburg are as cosmopolitan as any European city. A good percentage of Russians enjoy a night out and those that don’t often enjoy vodka at home. For non-drinkers, the cultural life is rich particularly in the performing arts (symphonies, opera, and theater). Russian museums vary in quality but none lack in history and artifacts.
Transport. Public transportation is the preferred means of travel and in the big cities you can get anywhere you want to go affordably while teaching in Russia.