Guide to TEFL in Austria
Austria is a beautiful country and there truly are few better countries in the world to teach English as a foreign language. Teachers are usually well-paid, well-respected and well-looked after. Education is of high importance in Austrian society and therefore well-qualified teachers are extremely sought-after – providing you are willing to work hard and maintain high professional standards.
What do I need to teach English in Austria?
To teach English in Austria, in a school or an academy, you will almost certainly need a bachelor’s degree. You will also need a TEFL teaching qualification, whether that be a Cambridge CELTA or a Trinity CertTESOL. A TEFL 120-hour certificate may suffice in some places, but not in schools. Most schools or academies will ask that you have at least some level of previous TEFL experience and you will almost certainly need to be a native English speaker. It is extremely difficult (but not impossible) to get a job teaching English in Austria as a non-native speaker. Some companies may ask for a certain level of German too, but this is less common.
Where can I teach in Austria?
Vienna is where the bulk of the opportunities lie, TEFL or otherwise. It’s the capital, it’s the biggest city, and it’s a fantastic place to live as a foreigner. Salzburg is smaller but is still another great option. This is mainly because of its high student population (there are three universities packed within a small-ish city). Students represent a fantastic opportunity for private lessons, and the universities quite often look to hire native teachers on a contract too. Graz is another picturesque city that is well worth considering, and there are some teaching opportunities in Linz too, another university town. Innsbruck is a very expensive city to live in, but this is balanced by the opportunity to earn decent money there. It’s also the best city to live in for skiing opportunities, being the capital of the Tyrol region.
How do I find a job teaching in Austria?
There are not swathes of Austrian TEFL job opportunities posted online, in comparison to bigger countries like Italy and Spain at least, but they are out there for those who are willing to look long and hard enough. This very website has had job adverts for Austria in the past, and you should regularly check the ‘Austria Jobs’ page here. There is also the ‘Native English Teachers in Austria’ group on Facebook, which is well worth joining. As well as having the occasional vacancy posted there, there is also plenty of helpful information about TEFL and Austrian life in general. It’s a group full of friendly teachers who either are or were in the same position that you are in now.
If you can though, I would strongly recommend going to Austria first. Austria still has quite an old-school working culture and quite often vacancies are still not even posted online. Additionally, schools and academies tend to look favourably upon teachers who are already in the country, for several reasons.
When should I look for a job?
The school year starts in September, and ideally you should start looking well before that. It’s a good idea to aim to be in Austria for the summer, if you can, to be available for in-person interviews. Austrian schools and businesses are quite old-fashioned in some senses and tend to favour meeting people face-to-face. The fact is, though, that there should be plenty of private tuition/business English opportunities throughout the year if you are proactive enough and therefore it doesn’t make a huge difference when you arrive in the country.
Do I need a visa?
If you are an EU citizen, no you don’t. However, if you intend to stay longer than three months, you will need a ‘registration certificate’ (Anmeldebescheinigung). To obtain the Anmeldebescheinigung, you will need the following documents:
- A current passport or ID Card
- Confirmation from your employer
- Proof of adequate means of subsistence/funds
You can start applying for permanent residency after living in Austria for four months. If you are not an EU citizen, and you are planning to stay in Austria for more than three months, you will need to apply for both a visa and a work permit. The work permit comes in the form of a ‘Red-White-Red’ card. This works on a points system, with ‘skilled workers’ given priority. You need to score more than 70 points on the authority’s scale to be granted the card.
How much will I earn teaching English in Austria?
If you are working in a full-time job in an academy or school in Austria, you can expect to earn a minimum of 1300 euros (per month). Hopefully more, because you could earn as much as 3000 euros if you are willing to combine jobs and work plenty of hours. However, this would require a lot of meticulous planning and even then, there will always be the risk of the occasional clash in hours between jobs. You are likely to find higher-paid positions in the big cities like Vienna and Salzburg, even in Innsbruck, to reflect the higher cost of living. Some academies or schools may offer you a significantly lower salary, but with free accommodation. If this is the case for you, I would advise checking out the property first!
What’s the cost of living like?
The cost of living in Austria is significant. Rent prices are high, and if you’re looking to buy a place, I would start saving now! Obviously though, the cost of living will vary slightly depending on the city or town that you decide to settle in. If you choose to live in Vienna, for example, you shouldn’t expect to have much money left over at the end of the month once you’ve paid your rent and bills. You will probably find the rent to be slightly cheaper in cities such as Graz or Linz, however. The average national rent for a one-bedroom apartment anywhere in Austria currently stands at somewhere between 700 and 800 euros.
The price of food and drink is also high. Some supermarkets (Penny Markt for example) are slightly cheaper than others, but Austria has amongst the highest food costs in Europe. Similarly, when it comes to eating and drinking out, you should also expect to pay more than you would in most other countries.
How many hours will I be teaching?
If you are working in an academy or in a school as a ‘native speaker’ teacher or as a language assistant, you are likely to be offered a contract of between 20 and 25 hours a week. You will almost certainly be working mornings. Many teachers choose to supplement those hours with private students, due to the high cost of living previously mentioned. However, if you were to start building private classes of more than 5 students, you would need a license to do so. It is also advisable to ask your employer before taking on any potential private students.
Any other advice?
Take your teaching seriously. Austrians are quite serious people in general and tend to take great pride in their profession. They will expect the same from you. Grammar is very important to the Austrian style of teaching and learning, so make sure you know your stuff before you start any potential role! Be assertive with your students, especially if they’re kids. Austrian students are used to quite stern teachers who don’t take any messing.
Outside of work, make the most of being in Austria! It really is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Politeness and respect are important and the Austrian greeting ‘grüß Gott’ (literally ‘greet God’ but essentially ‘good morning’) is one you will need to get used to both hearing and saying. The food is great, the beer is great, and the countryside is wonderful. Bring your walking boots! And enjoy being in beautiful Austria.