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Teaching English in Turkey (The Country Guide)

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Do you want to live comfortably while working around 25 hours a week?

Are you looking for a job that lets you see the world and improve children’s lives?

Try teaching English in Turkey.

Famous for its exquisite mosques, beautiful coastline, and delicious cuisine, this Eurasian country is a favorite destination for expats and travelers alike.

If teaching English in the land of Turkish delight and turquoise minarets sounds good to you, read on to find out how you can land a job teaching ESL in Turkey.

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Quick Info: TEFL Jobs in Turkey
Available JobsPrivate language schools; universities
RequirementsBachelor’s degree; TEFL certificate
Monthly Teacher Salary
$1,000-$1,800
Monthly Living Cost
$700-$1,000
Peak Hiring MonthsJune-September

All About Turkey

Picture this: you emerge from a Turkish bath, rested and refreshed, and order a Turkish coffee, nibbling a Turkish delight as you sip. 

Turkey is a wonderful destination. It’s been inhabited by humans for over 25,000 years, so it has a rich and varied history and lots of cultural relics. It also spans two continents, Europe and Asia, giving it a unique feel and a culture all its own. 

This country is also beautiful: lots of coastline, amazing architecture, and lush nature make it an enviable destination for anyone. 

If you’re interested in teaching English abroad, you should definitely consider going to Turkey. While you won’t get rich teaching here, you’ll be able to live more than comfortably. And there’s a rising demand for English teachers in Turkey, meaning you’ll be able to find a job easily.

Hot air balloons over Cappadocia, Turkey (Daniela Cuevas, Turkey)
Hot air balloons over Cappadocia, Turkey (Daniela Cuevas, Turkey)

What are the Requirements to Teach English in Turkey?

In general, you need a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate to teach English in Turkey. A passport from an English speaking country is also a plus, though it’s not totally necessary.

Some schools will hire teachers who don’t meet these requirements, but you need to meet these guidelines if you want to get a work visa and work legally.

TEFL Courses in Turkey

A TEFL certification is a must for teaching abroad, and it’s also a great way to learn more about teaching and get comfortable in the classroom.

There are many kinds of TEFL courses: CELTA, DELTA, TESOL, and CertTESOL are a few variations you might see. These are all specific kinds of TEFL courses, and while certain schools might require teachers to have one kind specifically, most will accept any of these variations as long as they’re certified courses administered by reliable course providers.

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There are tons of options for TEFL courses these days, too: you can take a course online or in person, as a 2-week intensive or on weekends over a longer period, in your hometown or your teaching destination.

The advantage of taking a TEFL course in Turkey, should you decide to teach there, is that you’ll have a chance to get acquainted with the country during the course before you get thrown into teaching. You’ll also learn about teaching in Turkey specifically, and you’ll meet teachers during the course who might become your friends. 

And if you don’t have a job already before you arrive in the country, you’ll more than likely find one through your TEFL course! Many courses offer guaranteed job placement assistance, in fact.

TEFL Classes in Turkey:

If you’d rather take your TEFL course online, we’ve got you covered. This guide to online TEFL courses helps you choose the right TEFL course for you, and it includes links to some competitively priced, well-regarded courses.

Job Opportunities and Salaries

While Turkey isn’t the most popular teaching destination, there are lots of good job opportunities here for qualified teachers – you just need to know where to look. Universities, public and private schools, language schools, and individuals all need English teachers.

Your salary, benefits, and workload will all vary based on where you work. Some schools (but not all) offer compensation for accommodations, visa expenses, and/or airfare. Be sure to check the terms of your contract before signing so you know what you’re covering and don’t get blindsided by unexpected expenses!

Universities and private language schools pay on the higher end of the spectrum – over $1,000 a month.

Public and private schools tend to pay a little less than that, and the amount private tutors charge varies widely based on experience and situation.

You can expect to work 25-40 hours a week in Turkey, depending on where you’re working.

Resources for Finding Jobs in Turkey:

Searching for Facebook groups and finding expats in Turkey online is also a great way to find jobs in Turkey – you can even look for Facebook groups specific to the city you’d like to teach in! 

Teachers in those groups will be plugged in to which schools are hiring, as well as which ones are legit and which you should stay away from.

Hiring and Application Process

Private language schools hire year-round, but universities as well as private and public schools tend to hire in the summer months (June-September) so that teachers can begin at the start of the school year.

There are also English summer camps you can work at while school is out of session.

Visa Requirements for Teaching in Turkey

It’s best to get a visa at home before you go to Turkey, and the visa process can take 3-4 months. You need to get the visa in your home country at an embassy or consulate.

You also need a work permit, which can either be done from your country of origin or upon arrival in Turkey.

Required documents for work visa and permit:

  • A Passport that stays valid at least months past your visa’s expiration date
  • Completed application form 
  • 1 passport-sized photo
  • Signed copy of your work contract
  • Notarized Turkish translation of your passport
  • Notarized Turkish translation of your diploma and TEFL certificate plus original copies
  • Residence permit or any previous work permits if you’re applying from within Turkey

You also need a residence permit to work in Turkey. Don’t worry about this step too much, though – your school should help you with this. 

Beware of people who tell you that you can work on a tourist visa – that used to be the case, but restrictions are much tighter than they used to be, so you really should get a work visa if you don’t want to get into trouble.

Visit the website for Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for more information about the visa process and to find out if there are any special requirements for your country.

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Accommodation in Turkey

Accommodations are pretty reasonably priced in Turkey. You can rent a one bedroom apartment for around $300 a month in Istanbul’s city center, and you’ll spend around $100 less if you get a room in a shared apartment. 

Outside of Istanbul’s city center and in other cities around the country, rent is even cheaper, making living in Turkey super affordable. 

Some schools will provide teachers with housing or housing stipends, but don’t count on it. As always, be sure to double check your contract before making any assumptions about what your school provides.

Resources for Finding Housing in Turkey:

How Much Money Can I Save as an ESL Teacher in Turkey?

Istanbul is a major city, and as such it’s more expensive than anywhere else in Turkey, but it’s still much cheaper than the average midsize city in the United States. 

You can rent a single bedroom apartment for around $300 a month in Istanbul’s city center, and you’ll spend around $100 less if you get a room in a shared apartment. 

Elsewhere in Turkey, though, you can expect to pay much lower prices for everyday purchases than you would in Europe or the United States.  

Travel and food are generally pretty reasonably priced in Turkey, so unless you’re balling out regularly you’ll be able to save quite a bit living here!

Check out Numbeo’s guide to the cost of living in Turkey for more information about what daily expenses look like. You can use the guide to help figure out what your cost of living in Turkey might be!

The Best Cities for Teaching English in Turkey

Istanbul

The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey (Adli Wahid, Unsplash)

This city of 15 million is a hotbed of history and culture. Straddling Europe and Asia, it’s a mishmosh of past and future, beauty and grit. 

Jobs are abundant in this city, and you’ll find plenty of Turkish and foreign friends here, as well. Beware that this city is pretty busy and traffic is wild, so your commute might get a little hairy. For many the tradeoff is worth it for a city full of adventure and excitement, though.

Ankara

Hiking nearby Ankara, Turkey (Febian, Unsplash)
Hiking nearby Ankara, Turkey (Febian, Unsplash)

A city of 4 million located in the heart of Turkey, Ankara is definitely a destination worth visiting – or living in. Turkey’s capital has fantastic public transportation, relics from ancient history, museums worth visiting, and a much chiller vibe than Istanbul.

You’ll also surely find a job in this city, especially with so many international politicians and high-powered figures wanting to learn English!

Izmir

Urla Beach, outside Izmir, Turkey (Volkan Cozcun, Unsplash)
Urla Beach, outside Izmir, Turkey (Volkan Cozcun, Unsplash)

This town of 4 million sits on the Aegean Sea, making it the perfect destination for teachers who crave the coast. If you’re looking for a Turkish city with beautiful nature and a more Mediterranean vibe, this is the destination for you. 

Izmir also has a great arts scene, and is home to an annual Jazz Festival, a Short Film Festival, and multiple art museums.

Classroom and Work Culture in Turkey

People in Turkey are friendly and welcoming for the most part, and this country is also unique in that Turkish and foreign coworkers tend to commingle and socialize instead of separating into distinct groups.

However, if you’re in a small town beware that the culture can be super conservative. That means you should make sure to dress really modestly in and outside of work and make sure there’s nothing in your lesson plans that might offend.

Another aspect of Turkish culture that shocks some people is that being late is really normal here, both in and out of the classroom. Try not to be too harsh on students who arrive late, and speak with your administration to find out norms for handling lateness if it’s too much of a problem in your classroom. 

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Your students might also be used to lectures rather than discussion-based classes, and thus shy to speak up in class. Do your best to create a welcoming “brave space” in your classroom, but also work to be understanding of students for whom speaking in class might be a much bigger deal than you think it is. 

Students may also be unused to group work, so don’t be surprised if they need some extra coaching and coaxing to help them out.

Conclusion

It’s not as easy to find a job in Turkey as it is to get work in, say, China or South Korea. But there are still plenty of jobs here, and if you get one of them you can live comfortably and learn all about Turkish culture.

Turkey is a fabulous destination for anyone interested in immersing themselves in a new culture because people here are welcoming and friendly, making it much easier to integrate here than in many other countries. 

Turkey also straddles Europe and Asia, giving teachers here the best of both worlds and allowing you to travel to destinations on both continents easily.

Here is our guide about the best countries to teach English abroad.

If you’re looking for a job that allows you to travel, make a decent living, and live somewhere spectacular, look no further than Turkey.

Good luck on your job hunt, teacher!

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