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.
What are the qualifications for an English teacher in Turkey?
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:
A well designed and well written CV
A TEFL teaching certificate, ideally a CELTA but minimum 120 hour online course
A university degree
Outstanding interview skills
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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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.
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
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.
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.
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 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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