Teaching English in Estonia

By | November 25, 2016

Estonia is a Baltic country located in Northern Europe. It shares borders with Latvia and Russia and to the north across the water is Finland. It is a small country with a population of around 1.3 million. Considered to be an advanced economy, Estonia is very well developed and has the highest GDP out of any of the former Soviet republics.

If you go to teach English in Estonia, you will be living in a country that continually ranks very highly in the Human Development Index, and always performs well in measurements of education, civil liberties, press freedom and economic freedom. On top of this, Estonia is one of the most wired countries in Europe with a large number of the population having access to high speed internet and it is one of the world leaders in e-government.

The climate consists of four seasons with July being the warmest month and February being the coldest. Although situated in northern Europe, Estonia has a relatively milder climate than the Scandinavian countries to the north.

Read more about Estonia from Wikipedia.

Why Teach English in Estonia

Tallinn Skyline

Tallinn Skyline – Image courtesy of WikiMedia.

Estonia is full of interesting history and culture; it was neatly sat on the border of Nazi and Soviet empires that has left a lasting effect on the culture and architecture of the country. There are hints of both Soviet architecture and medieval German architecture all over this small but fascinating country.

There is a growing need for native English speaking teachers and at the moment the demand has never been higher. More and more Estonian citizens are learning English to help them improve their job prospects and as a result, schools are looking for native English speakers to teach them.

When you’re not working, you’ll be surrounded by deserted beaches, stunning forests and ancient folklore, so you shouldn’t be stuck for something to do when you’re not in the classroom!

Where to Teach English in Estonia

As is the case in most countries, you will find the most job opportunities in the larger towns and cities. Tallinn is where you most of the schools are located and therefore, where most of the jobs will be located.

Types of Teaching Jobs in Estonia

Private Language Schools

Tallinn Sunset

Tallinn Sunset

There are some private language schools around that provide a number of different English courses including general English, IELTS, business English and more. These schools are of varying quality and each will have different requirements for their teachers. Most will require a bachelor’s degree and an internationally recognised TEFL, TESOL or CELTA.

Primary/Secondary Schools

Government funded primary and secondary schools also provide English language lessons for their students. They usually teach general English and you’ll be teaching children from young ages to school leaving age.

Tallinn Christmas Market

Tallinn Christmas Market

To work for government schools, you will need to have at least a bachelor’s degree and an internationally recognised teaching certificate. The salary is usually less than private language schools and universities and you could be placed anywhere in the country.


There are a number of universities in Estonia that provide English courses for their students. Again, teachers would normally need to be well qualified and the salary would usually be higher than what you would expect in primary or secondary schools.

Private Lessons

A number of teachers also take a few private lessons to supplement their income. When you have been in the country for some time and you have made some contacts, it will certainly be possible to find a few students to teach privately. Usually, teachers will do this to supplement the income they get from their day job rather than making this their full-time job.

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Teaching Requirements and Qualifications

There is a growing demand for English teachers and there generally isn’t a lot of competition for jobs. Most schools, however, will require that you have at least a degree and a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA.

To work in government schools and universities, this is a minimum requirement and you’re also likely to need some recent experience to go with it.

Expected Salary and Living Costs

[sociallocker id=”1724″]As with most Eastern European countries, the cost of living has been steadily increasing since their accession into the EU. As a result of this, salaries for TEFL teachers have also been steadily increasing in recent years and most teachers can expect to earn an average salary of around €1000 a month.

You won’t often find that flights, accommodation or any other perks are included with most contracts, but a few of these things might be offered by some schools. It’s best to check with individual schools before you agree to any contract.

You will also be liable for tax on your salary and the current rate of tax is 22%.

The cost of living in Estonia is pretty cheap when compared with the Scandinavian countries to the north and you salary should be more than enough to afford a reasonably comfortable lifestyle, even after paying nearly a quarter of your salary in tax.

For more specific information about the cost of living in Estonia, click here.[/sociallocker]

Visa Requirements

Tallinn Estonia

The nation’s capital – Tallinn

As Estonia is a member of the EU, EU nationals won’t need a visa to live or work in the country. As a result, teachers from countries within the EU are often preferred.

If you do need a work visa, your employer should help you to make the necessary arrangements and you will need a number of documents including a job offer, health insurance and enough money to cover your living expenses.

For more information visit the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

How to Find a Job Teaching in Estonia

Medieval McDonalds

There are even medieval McDonald’s!

If you are a member of the EU, the easiest method to find a job would be to go to Estonia and start looking! You can contact schools directly and enquire about vacant positions. You can visit the schools in person or give them a call.

If you email or drop in a cover letter and a copy of your CV, you should always follow it up with a phone call.

If you are looking for work outside of the country you can use the internet. Schools often advertise for vacant teaching positions on various jobs boards, so be sure to look around and see what you can find.

Alternatively, you can also take a look at school’s personal websites as they usually advertise vacant positions on their own sites. Moreover, you can use the contact details contained on their site to contact them directly and enquire about vacant positions.

Teach English in Estonia

If you go to teach English in Estonia you will be living in a country with some old and beautiful towns and cities, lots of beaches and a rolling countryside that seems to continue forever!

You won’t get rich working in Estonia, but coupled with the low cost of living; you should easily make enough money to be able to afford a very comfortable lifestyle.

There is a big demand for English teachers and the competition for jobs is fairly low. So if you have a bachelor’s degree, an internationally recognised teaching certificate such as a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA, and some experience, you shouldn’t find it too hard to secure a job.


Although I have never worked in this country, every effort has been made to ensure that this information is correct. This blog post has been written after extensive research online, interviews with teachers who have worked or are working in the country, and local schools have been contacted. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. If you have worked or are working in Estonia, we would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and share your experiences with us.

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3 thoughts on “Teaching English in Estonia

  1. Kimberly

    I taught in Tallinn for a school year. It is difficult to find teaching positions there, so I would only plan on teaching there if you already have a contract set up. The school will help you with your visa (I’m from the USA). Pay is quite low for the high cost of living, so you’d better plan on having a roommate to split the rent. Otherwise, it is a beautiful country that is both modern and full of history.

    1. Adam Muchmore

      Hello Kimberly,

      I have been tirelessly looking online for ESL / EFL teaching jobs in Estonia with no avail.
      Do you happen to have any contacts or can you recommend where to look? I know it is difficult for non-EU citizens, but I would love to find an opportunity there. I would love to hear what you think.

      Thanks very much,


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