Founded as the imperial capital of Russia by Tsar Peter the Great at the turn of the 18th century, St. Petersburg has been a central hub for Russian politics, industry, and culture throughout a large part of its tumultuous history. Today St. Petersburg is often considered the country’s most “Western” city, and as such is an exciting place to obtain a teaching job in Russia and experience Russian culture. From the magnificent cathedrals to the sprawling Winter Palace complex, those who teach in St. Petersburg will become truly inspired by the city’s tremendous beauty and prestige.
Teaching in St. Petersburg
Available teaching jobs in St. Petersburg will depend largely on qualifications, prior experience, and familiarity with the Russian language. The latter point is perhaps most important, because speaking Russian will obviously open up a whole other world of educational opportunities and teaching jobs in Russia which are not available to non-Russian-speaking teachers. However, there are some teaching jobs in St. Petersburg that combine Russian language training with the opportunity to practice your language skills while teaching in a classroom setting.
As a non-Russian speaker your options for teaching in St. Petersburg become somewhat limited to teaching English as a second language. There are many schools, both public and private, as well as language institutions and international academies that hire native English speakers teachers to teach english in in St. Petersburg to students of all ages. Private families may also offer English tutoring positions too.
Additionally, your prospects for teaching English in St. Petersburg will greatly increase if you have undergone teacher training and earned a TESOL or TEFL certification. Many TEFL programs in St. Petersburg will even combine a one month training period, during which you can earn your TEFL certificate and orient yourself to the city, that is followed by a guaranteed teaching job at a school in St. Petersburg.
The Russian school year begins in September and ends in May, with a one or two week break in November, January, and March. This makes summer peak hiring time for English teaching jobs in St. Petersburg. Whether or not you get paid vacation varies between positions, so take this into account when searching for the right program.
Life in St. Petersburg
Beginning with the obvious – St. Petersburg is cold. It is the northernmost major city in the world, and is regularly below freezing in the winter months. If teaching abroad in St. Petersburg it will likely be for at least one full academic year, so plan accordingly and pack warm clothes.
Now onto the city itself. St. Petersburg is located on the Neva river which flows into the Baltic Sea. It is Russia’s second largest city with over 5 million inhabitants and serves as a major commercial, cultural, and transportation hub of the area. The urban area is well connected by the St. Petersburg tram and St. Petersburg metro, and the capital city of Moscow is only a few hours away by high speed train.
A surprising amount of historical architecture has remained intact over the years (unlike Moscow where much was destroyed during the Russian Revolution), and the historic center of the city has been honored a UNESCO Heritage Site. There are also a large number of museums, theaters, and other cultural attractions which will prove to be great outlets for teachers during their free time. St. Petersburg is considered one of the greatest literary cities in the world, so try your best to dive into a Russian classic literature while teaching English in St. Petersburg!
There will certainly come a dose of culture shock as you adjust to life in St. Petersburg, but as Russia’s most Westernized city you will find the transition to be less rough than in other parts of the country. Overall you should expect a fun and fascinating experience teaching in Russia’s most iconic city and cultural center.
Salary & Costs
Teachers are not paid incredibly well in Russia, part of the reason that the profession has been struggling to attract talent in the post-Soviet era. However, if you live on a conservative budget then you will make enough to get by while teaching in St. Petersburg, and you may even save up some money too. Salaries for English teaching jobs in St. Petersburg tend to range from $750 to $1,500 per month depending on the position you obtain and the amount of hours you put in. Those with prior teaching experience and/or TEFL training certificates tend to gain access to the higher paying positions.
Accommodation & Visas
Housing in St. Petersburg can be expensive in proportion to your monthly salary, so it may be a wise idea to find at least one roommate to live with or rent a single room out of an apartment. Some good expat neighborhoods to start your search in include the Golden Triangle and Fontanka River. It is also possible that your employer may further compensate your teaching position by including housing, or at least help you secure a place to live.
Russian visas can be hard to obtain for many Westerners coming from outside the former Soviet Union, but with the endorsement of your employer or local school you should be good to teach in St. Petersburg. Communicate with your placement provider about what visa you need and the best way to go about obtaining it, and also check out GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory for more information from your local Russian consulate.
GoAbroad Insider Tips
Teaching abroad in St. Petersburg will be a grand adventure living and interacting with locals in Russia’s greatest city. Expect to be challenged, moving to another country is a big step and teaching abroad is a hard and time consuming profession at times, but expect that challenge to pay off as you immerse fully into one of the most unique and fascinating cities and cultures on the planet. It is hard to find a more interesting place to work abroad than Russia, and teaching in St. Petersburg is the perfect opportunity to dive in.
Read our comprehensive guide on teaching abroad in Russia.