Kazakhstan is the world’s largest landlocked country and the prevailing economic power of Central Europe. Having only recently gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Kazakhstan has gained footing as it’s own nation but still has a long way to develop on many fronts of education and human rights. An ethnically and culturally diverse nation with growing prospects on the global stage, you will be in for great adventure if you decide to teach abroad in Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country by land area on the planet, but with a population hovering around just 17 million, it is also one of the least densely populated. An archetype of the immense diversity that is present in Central Asia, Kazakhstan is home to some 130 different ethnicities, the most populous of which are Kazakhs and Russians (which are also the country’s two official languages).
Astana, the capital and second largest city in the country, is a very popular destination where you can teach abroad in Kazakhstan. Having for long been a key strategic settlement, Astana just became the country’s capital as recently as 1997. Astana is a planned city with very modern architecture, and is becoming a growing force in Central Asia.
Almaty, the country’s largest city and former capital, also remains a preeminent destination where many choose to teach abroad in Kazakhstan. Almaty is a global city with nearly 2 million citizens that serves as the country’s primary economic and cultural center. Though witness to countless regime changes, Almaty has been a continuously occupied city for over 1,000 years.
Although Astana and Almaty are the country’s two major cities, there are several other destinations you can teach abroad in Kazakhstan throughout the countryside (such as Oskemen, a smaller city near the Russian border in the east). Take your time researching what location in Kazakhstan feels like the perfect fit for you!
Teaching Jobs in Kazakhstan
As with most countries around the world, the easiest positions for international educators to obtain in Kazakhstan are teaching English as a second language. Many language academies and locals schools throughout the country will expect you to be accredited with an TEFL or TESOL certificate in order to be considered for employment in one of these positions. Prior teaching experience can certainly help, but is not typically required if you are certified.
There are also a growing number of international schools in Kazakhstan that look to employ international educators within subjects outside of English. These schools can be highly competitive and often boast trilingual environments where pupils are expected to learn Kazakh, Russian, and English in order to attend. At an international school you can move beyond ESL to teach abroad in Kazakhstan in other subjects such as math, science, and art as well.
International educators are welcomed year-round in Kazakhstan, though the best time to look for a job is typically in July or August before the beginning of a new school year. Education is compulsory in Kazakhstan through the secondary level, so it is possible to find positions teaching all different age learners!
Salaries & Costs
Your salary will largely depend on the type of school where you teach abroad in Kazakhstan. For example language academies or public schools will typically pay less than the private or international schools. Initial salaries will also often depend on your prior teaching experience.
The good news is that living expenses are fairly cheap in Kazakhstan, so you will not have to be overly worried about spending money while you teach abroad. The local currency is the tenge, which exchanges at about 360 KZT to $1.
Accommodation & Visas
Most international educators choose to secure their own apartments while they teach abroad in Kazakhstan, in which case living with roommates is generally the most affordable option. Some teach abroad programs in Kazakhstan will offer their own accommodations which are usually group housing situations, or else will offer to help you secure an apartment nearby to your school.
Kazakhstan’s visa policy varies significantly depending on the country you are coming from, though you will almost certainly be required to obtain a work visa if you plan on teaching abroad in Kazakhstan for an extended period of time. For more information on what specific type of documentation you will need, consult your host employer or check out our Kazakhstan Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Go Central. Central Asia is a very sparsely populated region of the world, but one that is home to a tremendous diversity of peoples and geographical landscapes. Kazakhstan itself is larger than all of Western Europe.
Be Different. Let’s be frank, Kazakhstan isn’t the most popular travel destination in the world. Teaching abroad here will be an incredibly unique experience that will expose you to an incredible culture and set you apart from the crowd.
Learn a Language. Dozens of different languages are spoken throughout Kazakhstan; unless you are already fluent in Kazakh and Russian among others, then odds are you’ll have the opportunity to develop some new language skills yourself.