Spanning two continents, Turkey has been home to at least four empires, and has, without a doubt, some of the tastiest food in the Mediterranean. From the balloons in the sky across Cappadocia to historic yet hip Istanbul, Turkey consistently fascinates and captivates individuals from all backgrounds. With an up and coming generation that longs to learn English, teaching English in Turkey has never been a better opportunity. Whether you’re looking to teach English in Turkey at a public school or an ESL institution, or simply want to feast on Turkish delight everyday, opportunities to get paid to teach and live in one of the most interesting countries in the world are endless.
From teaching jobs in more touristy western Turkey to the laidback Mediterranean coast to the Black Sea in the north, Turkey has no shortage of cities, large and small, to choose from across the country.
Istanbul has everything anyone could ever want in a city. Beautiful cityscapes, fascinating historical landmarks (the Hagia Sofia, Topkapi Palace, and Grand Bazaar, to name a few), and bustling, youthful neighborhoods. Those who decide to teach English in Turkey’s largest city will have no trouble finding jobs, as there is every type of school in Istanbul, from public to private to international. Rent is also reasonable, and the salaries for English teaching jobs in Istanbul are more than enough to pay for living costs. Just be sure to find a home close to your school, or you could end up in the unique situation of having to make a transcontinental commute to work everyday from Asia to Europe!
Ankara is the capital city of Turkey and located in the center of the country. As the seat of government, the need for English skills is at an all-time high, so both salaries and availability of teaching jobs in Ankara are generous. While some may complain that the “other” city in Turkey doesn’t have any of Istanbul’s showy Ottoman ruins, Ankara marches to the beat of its own drum, one that isn’t dragged down by the pull of history.
On the western coast of Turkey, there is the beautiful city of Izmir. Generally considered the most liberal city in the country, and still retaining a lot of its Greek, Armenian, and Jewish heritage, the feeling of Izmir is not easily replicated. Originally the ancient Greek city of Smyrna, Izmir is owner of the third largest seaport in Turkey and is a leader in Turkish commerce. Due to its relatively large size and educated populace, Izmir is a great place to find teaching jobs in Turkey as language and international schools abound.
Teaching Jobs in Turkey
From the west to the east, from the window to the wall, Turkey is full of relatively well-paid teaching job opportunities at a diverse range of institutions. Many schools will let teachers decide what type of class they want to teach, whether that’s group lessons, private classes, or conversation classes, making the opportunity to teach English in Turkey even more ideal.
The highest salaries and best benefits for teaching jobs in Turkey usually come from international schools, which have students aged kindergarten through high school. International schools are generally found in bigger cities, and will sometimes cover the costs of teacher’s transportation and/or housing. It’s important to note that international schools also require the highest amount of training and certifications, in most cases, so expect to be asked if you have previous teaching experience, a related degree, and/or a TEFL certificate.
The other in-demand market for teachers in Turkey is at private language schools set up specifically for foreign language learners. Those that choose to teach English in Turkey at language schools will have classes that vary from private tutoring to weekend courses to conversational classes. Private language schools also require formal qualifications, such as a TEFL certification.
There are other kinds of privately funded schools all over Istanbul, as well as most of the big cities, too. Teaching English in Turkey in a private school setting will allow for more lesson and schedule flexibility, and often that chance to take free Turkish language lessons. Private schools have students from kindergarten through 12th grade, and sometimes offer signing and end of contract bonuses. While the benefits of teaching at private schools are great, the salaries can be a little lower, but salaries still allow ESL teachers to live like sultans.
Salaries & Costs
One of the perks of teaching English in Turkey is the salary. Most English teachers get paid per month and their salaries (plus benefits) allow them to live very comfortably thanks to Turkey’s relatively low cost of living. Most teaching jobs in Turkey pay between $1000 and $2500 per month. However, salaries depend on two factors: the type of school and the experience or qualifications of the teacher. International schools have the highest salaries, but also require the most experienced teachers. ESL and private schools generally pay a little lower than international schools, but are ok with teachers that only have their certifications versus those with certifications and experience.
In general, the most expensive part about teaching English in Turkey will be the plane ticket. Once there, your salary and low daily expenses combine to let you save money and live comfortably. The last, and perhaps most significant cost, will be getting your TEFL certificate, if you are required to obtain one before you begin your teaching.
Accommodation & Visas
As boring as it may be to look for housing or apply for visas, these are incredibly important parts of teaching abroad in Turkey (that you basically can’t survive without).
Unlike a lot of other countries, most schools in Turkey will not provide accommodation for you, but they will help you find affordable housing. Rent is paid monthly and varies depending on the location of your placement. Thankfully, rentals are affordable, even in places like Karaköy, Istanbul’s hippest downtown neighborhood.
Visas are required for the employment of foreign teachers in Turkey, and the process can be quite tricky, so make sure to ask your host school for help. To secure a visa, an employment contract needs to be submitted to the Turkish consulate, meaning that your future employees are going to be a big part of the procedure. We recommend trying to get a placement before arriving in Turkey, so take a look at GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory to find the closest Turkish consulate or embassy.
Benefits & Challenges
Although not the most well-known destination when it comes to teaching English abroad, Turkey packs a punch when you consider the large number of pros involved in daily life. From the high quality of life to the low cost of living, travelers consistently rank it among the best places to travel. Whether you need to catch some rays on a beach after teaching classes or relax while eating baklava and drinking Turkish coffee overlooking a 2000 year old city, Turkey has it all.
While sunshine and coffee hold intense appeal for most people (we think you’re kinda crazy if it doesn’t), life in Turkey has some obstacles; most notably, cultural differences. Calls to prayer and some other religious aspects might be a little “in your face” for some, while others might find it interesting. There is also tension between the political parties, who are in hot debate on which path their country should take. Our advice is to steer clear of political discussions, and instead focus on making the most of your experience teaching in Turkey. One of the greatest things about Turkey is its diversity, so while it might cause tension, it has also created the spectacular nation that exists today.
From beaches to castles, from mosques to kebabs, from hookahs to coffee, from the Ottomans to the Byzantines, Turkey is the land of never-ending delights. Come, make yourself at home, teach young Turks the language of business, and savour all of the new flavours that come your way.