Western Europe is a highly developed region of the world with a great education system for teachers to find work in. Whether you plan on teaching abroad temporarily through a short-term placement or seeking out full time employment as an international teacher, many countries in the region will offer you good benefits and salary if you are properly qualified. Teaching abroad in Western Europe is a great opportunity to enhance your career prospects while living in a culturally rich and highly influential region of the world!
The regional boundaries of Western Europe are vague by definition, although the area is commonly considered to encompass the northern, southern, central, and western parts of the continent. With a rough border running along the Scandinavian countries in the north down through Germany in the center to Italy in the south, most countries outside of the former Soviet sphere of influence are now considered to be Western European countries.
Though Western Europe is a relatively small region geographically, it boasts a large diversity of countries and cultures which for a long time have played central roles in the development of world affairs. England, Spain, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands are just a few examples of thriving countries in Western Europe where individuals can teach abroad quite easily. From Rome to Paris to Amsterdam, the opportunities to teach abroad in Western Europe are plentiful.
Keep in mind that the type of teaching job opportunities available to foreigners in Western Europe might be significantly influenced by the language barrier. If you are an English speaker in the United Kingdom then you will have no problem finding placements teaching a variety of subjects, but in other countries which use their native language as the medium of education, your options might become limited to teaching English as a second language.
Teaching in Western Europe
ESL teaching is the easiest placement to secure in most countries throughout Western Europe, because English is an increasingly valuable skill and native speakers are highly sought after to teach it. The amount of English teaching jobs in Western Europe will vary by population size and English speaking ability. For example, Italy, France, and Spain have some of the lowest levels of ESL proficiency in all of Europe, whereas Nordic countries, such as Denmark and Finland, perform very well.
Since Western Europe is understandably a competitive region in which to live and teach English abroad, those who have a college education and some sort of prior teaching experience are generally preferred for these English teaching jobs in Western Europe. You will likely also be required to possess a TEFL certificate, which can be obtained either online or through a month long instructional TEFL program. Many TEFL programs will offer the option to enroll in the one month training period in Western Europe, in the country of your choice, followed by a potential teaching job in the same country.
There are also openings to teach subjects other than English at international schools or private academies across the western part of the continent, though these typically require a higher level of qualification and experience. Still if you are considering moving permanently to teach abroad in Western Europe, then securing employment as faculty at such an establishment can prove very fruitful because of the increased benefits and salary.
Salary & Costs
Western Europe is generally one of the most expensive regions of the world to live in as an expat. Prices vary between countries, but for the most part these are highly developed economies with high living standards, so do not expect a cheap ride.
As an ESL teacher working through an international placement provider you will make enough to get by on a budget (usually somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 euros a month), while also potentially being compensated by other means, such as room and board. If you are pursuing full time employment at a local school, then the salary and benefits you receive will differ significantly between countries, so take compensation packages into account when deciding where to look for work.
Accommodation & Visas
Available accommodations depends on where you teach in Western Europe and whether you are living in an urban or small town environment. In most big cities, it will be cheapest to start by renting a single room in a larger flat, then potentially finding your own place to live as you stay longer and save up more money. In rural or small town environments your placement provider or host employer can most often direct you toward your most plausible living options.
Most countries in Western Europe are member states of the European Union and have similar visa policies. Teachers coming from within the EU do not need a visa to live and teach abroad in Western Europe. Coming from most other Western countries, you are generally allowed a stay of up to three months before needing to secure an employment visa. The exact visa restrictions will depend on the relationship between your home country and the country of your employment.
Due to its density of wealth, culture, and natural beauty, Western Europe is one of the most desirable destinations to work for teachers coming from all over the world. As such, do not expect securing a teaching job in Western Europe to be easy; many educators are enticed by the prospect of teaching abroad in Western Europe, so finding work can be competitive. However, if you set your mind to it you can locate tons of opportunities across the continent, and your dream of teaching abroad in Western Europe can almost certainly become a reality.