What are the qualifications for an English teacher in Turkey?

This article covers the qualifications and other requirements for different types of jobs in the field of teaching English in Turkey.

Although it is considered to be fairly easy to get a job in Turkey, the ESL job market is not as open as places like Thailand perhaps where simply being a native speaker is enough to get you hired.  It is essential to have a decent teaching qualification and some experience if you want to work as an English teacher in Turkey.

requirements

This being Turkey there is always a way around things!  If the school likes you and wants you for whatever reason (desperation, looks, other talents), they will find a way to take you on.  However, you are unlikely to get very good pay and conditions and even less likely to get a legitimate work permit.

In simple terms, to obtain a work permit you need a university degree and a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate.

If you really want to get a job teaching English in Turkey, these are the minimum requirements:

  1. A well designed and well written CV
  2. A TEFL teaching certificate, ideally a CELTA but minimum 120 hour online course
  3. A university degree
  4. Outstanding interview skills
  5. Good contacts and networking skills (which you can get via this website!)

*NB*  I couldn't justify putting this in the minimum requirements list but it is worth noting that having a residence permit is a huge advantage.  See below for more information about this.

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Native Speakers

The best  teaching jobs in Turkey are reserved for native speakers from the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand with a 3 or 4 year university degree in English, Education or a related field plus a CELTA, DELTA or Masters.  International schools look for experience, a teaching license from your home country, and / or a Master's in a related subject.

If you are just looking to spend a year or so teaching English abroad and you are not considering a longer term career here you will be fine with any degree, any decent online TEFL certificate and ideally some experience.

Non-Native Speakers

If you are a non-native speaker of English looking to teach the language, then it is going to be harder for you to find work. There is a strong preference towards ‘native English speakers’ and if you are not one then it will mean you need to do a few things differently in order to succeed.  See my post for non-native speakers here.

Non-native speakers need to do some extra work to make their CV stand out.

Employers need to be given extra reasons, extra motivation, to take (what some might consider) a gamble on you.

If your CV, cover letter and accompanying emails are not written in grammatically perfect, high level formal English and completely error free, you have got next to no chance.

Don’t forget, you are applying for a job as an English teacher.  The most important skill required for that job is the ability to speak English extremely well!

 


Qualifications for an English teacher in Turkey

learning to fly

Qualifications

If you are a native speaker and have a CELTA qualification, you are at a significant advantage. The Turkish authorities recognize the CELTA as sufficient grounds for a work permit, (provided you have a University degree of any kind) and the better schools will expect this as a minimum requirement.

Although the CELTA is preferred by employers, you can still get a work permit with a quick online TEFL like this one.

We encourage everyone to get in touch and let us guide you to the most suitable jobs for your qualifications, personality, goals and timescales.  We will review your CV for free here.

For higher education institutes you will need an MA or DELTA.

Teaching English without a TEFL certificate of any kind is not really possible.

Residence Permits

Most places now try to only hire people locally with particular preference for those who already have residence permits.  Many places do conduct Skype interviewers and offer jobs on that basis, but you will still be expected to get yourself here and find your feet on your own.  Very few places offer flights as part of the deal these days.  As long as you can support yourself while you are looking for a job, it makes sense to be here in person during the job hunt.

The preference for local hire is a symptom of the system.  Work permit applications require proof of a residency permit. It's a catch 22.  The residence permit process can take several months in total, and decent employers don't like having illegal workers on the premises for that long.  In addition, there might eventually be a problem with your work permit application and the employer could be forced to replace you, leaving them to start the whole process from the beginning with someone else.

If you already have a residence permit the school can immediately submit your work permit application file to the Ilce (local council) for first stage approval.  This means they can get a fairly good early  indication whether or not your work permit will be approved further down the line. 

By the letter of the law you shouldn't be working, and you cannot be shown on any payroll, until you have a work permit.  Therefore, the institution will have to find a way to pay you in cash which involves another level of risk and complication.  The shorter this limbo period is, the better.

 


Overview of the top three employer types.


  Language Schools

There are literally hundreds of language schools all over Turkey, and they have the highest level of demand for teachers. For this reason, language schools are the easiest places to find work. However, there are a number of unscrupulous employers and a wide variety of pay and conditions.

Don't waste your time and money finding out the hard way, get in touch with us now.


 Private Middle/High Schools

If you have some experience and are happy to teach kids, you will find better pay and longer holidays here! We can offer invaluable first hand advice about what to expect and how to handle the challenges to make your life easier. We work with the best of the best in this category and we can fast track your application with our special contacts. You will need at least a CELTA and a couple of years experience teaching English to children.


 Universities

Universities require higher levels of qualifications and ideally some experience in teaching at university level.

Unless you have a PHD or Masters degree in the specific subject you intend to teach then most ESL teaching work will be in the form of prep courses. This is a one year intensive program taken by students wishing to study a course which is delivered in the English language, and although their other academic requirements are in order they need to bring their English up to speed.

A DELTA or Masters Degree will give you a distinct advantage because most teachers don't go beyond the CELTA.

Start by applying to Sabancı Üniversitesi, if you want a well paid job. Özyeğin Üniversitesi and Bilgi Üniversitesi next.  Most teachers find it hard to get into universities as they are unable to talk the talk at interview, so prepare well!

It can be hard to get jobs at these institutions as they usually recruit through word of mouth.

If you have excellent credentials you should not encounter any problems getting an interview with the best of them.  It may just be a matter of timing.  Teachers with a good job don't tend to leave mid-year. Many stay for years. 

 

 


 

I hope you found this article useful.  Please ask any questions you have in the comments section below.

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12 Comments:


  • By debian 23 Jan 2015

    My brother suggested I would possibly like this blog. He was entirely right. This post actually made my day. You can not believe just how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  • By Yildiztekin 12 Nov 2015

    Hi I am originally from Turkey but lived in UK since I was 9 years old. I have dual nationality at the moment I wanted to do the TEFL course and teach English in Turkey but I have no university education and no previous experience what can you suggest me thanks

  • By Meenakshi 24 Nov 2015

    I have done masters in Law from India .Do I still need Tefl?

  • By Nihed Medbou 13 Dec 2015

    Hi, I am a native English speaker as I grew up in Ireland, I speak Arabic and French too. Currently, I am in my final year at univeristy, with a major in French and in Linguistics. I wish to teach English to students. I plan to study the CELTA or TEFL course over the summer but I have a question in regards to experience. How do I get experience if I am only going to graduate in May? Is it true that you need a 2 year teaching experience? How is that possible for a student who did nothing but studied for a 3 years in French and Linguistics? Thank you

  • By Fuseini Abdul-Mutala 12 Mar 2016

    hello, I am a BSc. in community nutrition graduate from Ghana-Africa, an english speaking country. i was -posted to a high school to do my national service and i taught science and mathematics for two years. i developed interest in teaching so i enrolled to do a post-graduate diploma in education at the university of education to become a professional teacher. after completion, i also had admission at the Tehran University of Medical Sciences to do masters in nutritional sciences which i am currently studying. i also had the opportunity to teach a high school (mathematics and science) and basic school students on part-time bases. my question is with all these qualifications and experience, do i have a chance to teacher in Turkey?
    Thank you.

  • By osuji 08 Feb 2017

    hi there, i am really glad to get this piece of info. really am considering enrolling for a teaching job at Turkey. i am a 1st Class Graduate of English and Literary Studies from Ahmadu Bello University in ancient town Zaria, Nigeria. i have 3years working experience in teaching based on my related field of core dual discipline English and Literature. i will really want to consider going for a teaching job esp English at Turkey. I am non native speaker of English. how can i enroll for a CELTA course and what are my possible chances of entry.

    • By Chris Poole 10 Feb 2017

      Hi there,
      I don’t think you’ll have any problem enrolling on a CELTA course. Just search for CELTA courses in the city that you want to take it.
      Prices are generally the same everywhere. Many non-native speakers take the CELTA without any trouble.
      You will find it difficult to get a well paid job with job security in Turkey though, due to your nationality I am sorry to say.
      There is an obsession here with hiring only native speakers and even well qualifed non-native speakers find it hard to get anything more than language centre level jobs.
      I wish this wasn’t the case.

      Good luck!

  • By vildan 09 Feb 2017

    Hi, I am originally from Australia but with a Turkish background. I am both an Australian and Turkish resident. I have a Integration/Teacher Aide certificate from Australia and I’ve also got a TESOL certificate. I do not have any sort of university degree. Will these be enough for a work permit?
    Thank you

    • By Chris Poole 10 Feb 2017

      Hi Vildan,
      Thanks for getting in touch.
      Usually my answer would be no I’m afraid. You would want to be hired as a native teacher for the better salary rates but in order to get a work permit as a non-Turkish citizen you need a university degree and a TEFL certificate.
      You might find a school that was willing to hire you as a Turkish person and register you on the books as something other than a teacher.
      This would be generally fine, and does happen quite often.
      It limits your options slightly but I think your additonal teaching certificate will help swing it in your favour.
      If you would like to send me your CV I can run it past a couple of my client schools for you.

      All the best,

      Chris

  • By Semra Korkmaz 28 Feb 2017

    Hi there,
    I’m really keen on completing the TESOL course and teaching in Turkey
    My background is Turkish but I’m Australian
    Just wondering will I have any difficulties finding a position without a university degree?
    Thanks

  • By Semra Korkmaz 08 Mar 2017

    Hi I’m from Australia with a turkish background
    I would like to know to find a teaching job in turkey do I need a university degree? Or is the tesol course enough?
    Thanks

  • By Sarah 15 Jul 2017

    Hello Chris, I am an Australian journalist with a degree in Mass Communication. I am currently doing my CELTA course in Indonesia and will be finished soon. I’ve been looking around but can’t seem to find much in the way of jobs over in Istanbul. How would you go about finding something? Thanks!

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