Teaching English in Turkey

Turkey Overview

With huge demand for English tuition, pleasant weather, interesting culture, cuisine and history, Turkey is an extremely popular TEFL destination and, unlike many countries in the region, treats EU citizens and non-EU citizens in exactly the same way. This makes it a great choice for Americans, Canadians and Australasians. For a first year of teaching English it is a good choice but salaries are not huge and opportunities for professional development are fairly slim. TEFL teachers in Turkey report mixed experiences when it comes to dealing with employers of language centres. Needless to say, it pays to do your research before signing anything. Most teachers say Istanbul is by far the most interesting location to be based in. There are tons of other teachers in Turkey so you should be able to have a great social life with locals and foreigners alike.

Type of Institution Typical salary (USD/month) Typical hours Typical annual leave
Language centres 1,000 – 1,500 Various but often evenings and weekends 2 weeks plus national holidays
International schools and universities 2,000 upwards 8am – 4pm Monday to Friday plus some weekend work 10 weeks plus national holidays

Main places for jobs

Istanbul, Gaziantep, Ankara, Izmir.

Typical requirements

Degree, TEFL certificate.

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1. Even if you begin work on a tourist visa (as most do) it is essential that you obtain the proper work and residency permits as soon as possible. This process can take several weeks and it should always be paid for by your employer. Get everything in writing.

2. Experienced teachers should consider finding in-house Business English work via an agency. The payment is often much higher than if you sign a regular contract with a language centre.

3. Basic Turkish language skills will go a long way and will endear you to the locals however poor your pronunciation is.

Red tape

The level of bureaucracy encountered during the application process for the work visa is rather high. One of the good things about Turkey is that native English speaking teachers who are not holders of EU passports are able to work in the country just as easily as those from Britain and Ireland.

Cost of living

Reasonably low – accommodation, food and transport. This is reflected to some degree in the salaries but certainly not enough to enable the average TEFL teacher to save much money each month.

Tax and salary information

Employers generally pay your income tax for you and as usual you should expect to be paid on a monthly basis. Some teachers decide to become self-employed tutors as the profit margins and flexibility can be attractive when compared to working for a typical language centre. Bear in mind that you will have to deal with the paperwork required for paying taxes as a self-employed individual.


High demand for English tuition Rather high level of bureaucracy for those sensible enough to be unwilling to work illegally on a tourist visa
Wonderful people, food, culture and weather and a relaxed pace of life Language centre managers are a very mixed bag in Turkey and it can be hard to predict to what extent you can trust them
One of the best countries in the region for non-EU citizens wanting to teach English Rather low salaries and not much opportunity for professional development

Directory of Recommended Schools, Language Centres and Recruitment Agencies

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Qualified English teachers please register with World of TEFL and we will contact you with relevant vacancies as they come in. This is a free service for teachers.


  1. SoxGolf00 says:

    I am finding it hard to get a straight answer as to what the proper steps are to get a work visa. I will be attending a CELTA cert course in Istanbul. Once completed, find work. I will be on a tourist visa, so….Do I need to come back to get my work visa or does the employer offering me the position help me get it once I accept their offer? I find it pointless flying back and forth to the states to just get a work visa. I could also lose the job if the process time is 6-8 weeks.

    Anyone experience this recently? I am trying to decide on if I will go in September or wait until the February class. Any thoughts on this as well?

  2. riokerr says:

    You may want to check out turkeycentral.com if you haven’t already. I’m planning to take a CELTA this summer and am dealing with the same predicament! The consulate tells me I must fly back to the states and apply for my work permit there.

    If you take the course in September you will be too late to apply for jobs unless it’s starting in January semester. If you do the course in February, you would at least have ample time to apply to schools for the fall semester. You’d just need some sort of work in the states. It’s frustrating eh?

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