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Teach English in Russia (The Country Guide)

Teach English in Russia

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Have you been dreaming of life in the land of borscht, mushroom domes, and the Bolshoi Ballet?

Whether you’ve had your heart set on teaching English in Russia for ages or you’ve just started entertaining the idea of living abroad, you’ll find adventure and a nice life here.

Read on to find out everything you ever wanted to know about teaching ESL in Russia — the requirements, job opportunities, financials and more!

Short Info
Types of JobsPrivate schools, international schools, teacher in a company, private tutoring (freelance)
Visa RequirementsA valid passport, a visa application form, 3 passport-sized photos, a letter of invitation from the school you’re working at, a medical check showing you’re HIV negative
Average Teacher Salary$500-$1,400/month
Average Living Costs$500-$1,000/month
Peak Hiring MonthsYear round (especially September and January)

Country Info

As the world’s largest country, Russia spans 11 time zones, borders 18 countries, makes up almost 11 percent of the world’s land mass and its area is even bigger than the surface of Pluto!

On contrary, Russia is one of the most sparsely populated countries. The major part of the roughly 140 million inhabitants live in the big cities of the European country part.

Russia has some beautiful scenery, and its varied landscape means that you can do a lot of exploration here. In addition to the stunning Black Sea coast, the country is home to 40 national parks that attract spades of visitors annually.

Russia also has a long, vibrant history, world-class theater and art, and truly iconic architecture.

If all these things sound boring, you’ll also find great nightlife in Russia’s big cities, fueled, of course, by vodka.

If you love traveling, history, or architecture, Russia is the destination for you.

Find other great places to teach English in Europe in this post.

The Saint Basil’s Cathedral at Red Square in Moscow, Russia.

Basic Requirements to Teach English in Russia

Because the demand for teachers is high in Russia, almost anyone can find a job here if they try hard enough.

Many schools require teachers to have a bachelor’s degree and be native English speakers, but there are definitely jobs out there for people who don’t meet either requirement.

And don’t worry if you’ve never taught before, either! There are plenty of jobs for new teachers in Russia.

No matter what, though, you should get TEFL certified before coming to Russia because it will make your job search much easier — and even places that don’t require TEFL certification prefer it.

You should have some money saved up to cover your living expenses upon arriving in Russia, but you don’t need to be rich to get a job as an ESL teacher here.

$1,200-$2,000 should tide you over until you get your first paycheck.

Apart from that, all you need is a winning attitude and a commitment to working hard! Oh, and a work visa. You’ll definitely need a work visa.

TEFL Courses in Russia

Take a 4-week TEFL course in St. Petersburg with ITA

If you decide to get TEFL certified in Russia, there are some great options out there. Our top recommendation is International TEFL Academy’s 4-week course in St. Petersburg.

It costs around $1,500 not including housing, but the course includes job placement assistance and will give you a great opportunity to meet other ESL teachers in Russia.

For a similar price, you can opt for the 4-week TEFL course of International TEFL and TESOL Training in Moscow, which comes including a package of great benefits, too.

However, there are also tons of options if you’d rather get certified before arriving in Russia.

For example, take the accredited 120-hour TEFL online course from Let’s TEFL. Although it’s completely online, you will receive personal support from experienced tutors and free shipping of your hard-copy certificate.

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Job Opportunities and Salaries

There are a number of different teaching opportunities in Russia, although which ones are available to you will depend on what your qualifications are.

International Schools

Many but not all international schools in Russia require applicants to have a teaching certificate from their home country.

The jobs at international schools are competitive, but if you get one you’ll find yourself with a high salary, free housing, and subsidized flights home. And might even get health insurance through your job!

Private Language Academies

If you work for a private language academy, you may need a specific kind of TEFL, like a CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL certificate.

These are simply TEFL certifications issued by specific institutions: Cambridge University in the case of the Celta, and Trinity College London in the case of the Trinity CertTESOL. Both certifications are relatively easy to get.

In addition to possibly needing a specific certification, you’ll probably need to have a bachelor’s degree and be a native English speaker to work in a private language academy.

These schools generally provide their teachers with accommodation and airfare reimbursement, and tend to pay $1,000-$1,200 a month.

As a private language academy teacher you may teach both children and adults, working odd hours in the evenings after school ends and sometimes on weekends, too.

Private Tutoring

If you choose to become a private tutor in Russia, you’ll set your own rates and working hours. You can make quite a bit of money tutoring: around $30/hour in bigger cities.

You don’t need any qualifications to tutor, but it’s best to do this as a supplement to a job through an institution because you can’t get a work visa without a job at an institution that’s qualified to hire foreign teachers.

Teaching in Companies (Business Clients)

If you teach in companies you’ll find yourself traveling around whatever city you’re living in, going from business to business teaching employees English.

Requirements vary in these types of jobs, and they’re relatively flexible in terms of working hours and vacation time.

Beware, though: you probably won’t get reimbursed for your airfare or housing if you decide to teach English in companies.

Website of the English International School in Moscow
Website of the English International School in Moscow

Hiring and Application Process

It’s best to apply for ESL jobs in Russia before your arrival in the country so that you can get your work visa sorted out at your Russian consulate and get everything in order before departing.

There are a number of online resources you can use to apply for ESL jobs in Russia, including Dave’s ESL Cafe and Overseas Job Centre.

However, if you take your TEFL in Russia through International TEFL Academy, you can stay on and apply for a job with their help after your course.

The job application process varies by school, but you should start looking for teaching positions at least two months before you plan on leaving for Russia so you can make sure to find a job you like and get your visa all sorted out with them before you go.

Schools will generally want to see a copy of your diploma and TEFL certificate, and they may require a short video introduction and teaching demo if you have one, too.

Visa Requirements

The visa process in Russia is strict and foreigners sometimes get stopped and asked to show proper documentation, so it’s very important to have a work visa in Russia.

However, you may enter the country on a travel visa and then convert it to a work visa once you’ve found a job.

Entering the Country on a Travel Visa

If you choose to enter Russia on a travel visa and then convert it to a work visa, you’ll still need to apply for it in advance — so make sure to allot at least six weeks for processing before your departure.

There are a small number of countries whose citizens can enter Russia without procuring a visa ahead of time, but the list is small.

For the travel visa, you’ll need the following:

  • A passport with at least two blank pages left that will be valid for at least six months after the date you intend to depart from Russia
  • A completed visa application form
  • A passport-sized photo of yourself
  • Proof of a hotel booking or other temporary lodgings in Russia

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Keep in mind that visa requirements change regularly, so it’s advisable to check thoroughly on current regulations well before you plan on leaving for Russia.

Getting a Russian Work Visa

If you’ve already secured a job in Russia, you’ll be able to get a work visa with the assistance of the school you’re working for.

Keep in mind that Russia issues both single- and multiple-entry work visas, and you’ll want to have the multiple-entry kind if you want to be able to travel from the country during your stay there.

The requirements for getting a work visa in Russia are as follows:

  • Valid passport
  • Visa application form
  • 3 passport-sized photos
  • A letter of invitation from the school you’re working at
  • A medical check showing you’re HIV negative

You’ll need to apply for a work visa at the Russian consulate in your home country.

Accommodation

Many schools in Russia provide their teachers with housing or at least a housing stipend, but it’s entirely possible that you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’re taking care of housing on your own.

In that case, you can expect to pay between $200 and $700 per month (more in Moscow’s city center and other highly populated areas). You’ll also likely have to pay a deposit and around $40 per month in utilities.

Most people in big cities share apartments with roommates because housing prices can get so prohibitive in Russia.

If you live in Moscow, check out this Expatica guide to housing resources for expats in the city. Otherwise, check out your local paper or ask your school for leads on housing where you are.

Can I Save Money Teaching English in Russia?

If you work at an international school or somewhere else with a high salary and live with roommates outside of the city center, you’ll definitely be able to make money as an ESL teacher in Russia.

However, living in the big cities can be quite expensive here, so don’t be surprised to spend most of your paycheck each month if you’re not careful.

A list of the average prices for everyday items in Russia, on numbeo.com

On Numbeo, you’ll find a detailed breakdown of the average living-costs in Russia.

The Best Cities to Teach English in Russia

Although you can find work in smaller cities and towns in Russia, the bulk of the jobs are to be found in the country’s two biggest cities.

Let’s talk briefly about what life and work are like in each:

Moscow

Moscow State University
The Moscow State University

As the capital of Russia and its most populous city, Moscow is full of things to do — and teaching opportunities. It’s more expensive than other places in Russia, but you’ll also find higher paying jobs here.

You’ll also find plenty of nightlife, world-class art and ballet, and delicious food here.

If you love the cosmopolitan lifestyle, teaching English in Moscow is the best option for you.

St. Petersburg

russia-saint-petersburg-hermitage-pavilion
The Hermitage Pavilion in St. Petersburg

Russia’s second biggest city and its cultural capital, St. Petersburg is a buzzing, metropolitan wonderland. It’s home to the Hermitage, one of the biggest art museums in the world, and it also has a large tourism industry and a rich history.

You’ll love St. Petersburg because it’s a little more relaxed than Moscow but still has no shortage of things to do — and there are tons of ESL jobs to be found here.

Classroom and Work Culture

The classroom culture in Russia varies widely from school to school: some students may be super engaged and attentive, while in other schools you may have to be a little more strict to make sure students are engaged.

In general, though, you’ll find yourself teaching engaged, eager students in Russia.

Some teachers complain that their coworkers are unfriendly or unwelcoming when they first join a new school here — just keep your head up and remember that it’s not personal if it takes people a little while to warm up to you.

The dress code in Russia is generally more formal at international schools and a little more relaxed otherwise, but double-check on what’s appropriate at your specific school before you start teaching.

Conclusion

With a quickly growing job market and many business people and students trying to learn English, Russia is a great place to go if you’re looking for an ESL job.

It’s also a great place to live, with an abundance of things to do, a thriving expat community, and some really beautiful scenery.

We hope this article helps you to take the first steps to teach English in Russia today!

More thirst for information? Browse our resources to learn how to teach English abroad and make money while traveling the world.

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