Teaching English in Russia

By | November 10, 2016

Russia is the biggest country in the world and is located in northern Eurasia. It shares borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. Spanning 9 time zones, Russia has one of the most diverse ranges of landscapes and environments out of any country in the world.

Rich in natural resources, Russia boasts the 8th largest economy in the world in terms of GDP, it is also a member of many international groups including the United Nations Security Council, the G8, G20, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Eurasian Economic Community, the Council of Europe and more.

Russia was the first country to become a socialist state and during this time the Soviet Union saw some of the world’s biggest technological achievements such as the first spacecraft. In 1991, however, the communist state came to an end and the Soviet Union became known as the Russian Federation.

Read more about Russia from Wikipedia.

Why Teach English in Russia

Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed Red Square, Moscow

Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed, Red Square, Moscow. WikiMedia.

It can be notoriously difficult to find work in Russia, if not impossible for most people. However, many Russians are looking to learn English and there is a huge demand for native English speaking TEFL teachers.

Native English teachers are very sought after and they will employ just about anybody who is a native English speaker. Even if you are unqualified and inexperienced, you should have no difficulties in finding a teaching position, especially in Moscow or St. Petersburg.

When you’re not teaching there is a huge amount of things to see and do in the country. Russia has some stunning scenery, old cities littered with history and culture, huge mountains, beautiful coastline and more! You certainly won’t be bored for finding things to do when you’re not teaching.

Where to Teach English in Russia

There are teaching opportunities all over, but you’ll find most jobs located in Moscow and St. Petersburg. There are even some schools and a few opportunities in Siberia! As Russia is such a big country, we’ll soon be publishing specific posts about the various places to teach in this huge and diverse nation.

Types of Teaching Jobs in Russia

Private Language Schools

Kazan temple and Historical muzeum

Kazan Temple and Historical Museum

There are many language schools across the country and some have a good reputation whereas others are not so good. In the past there have been many reports of schools not paying their teachers, but this seems to have gotten better in recent years. Still, it’s advisable to do some research before accepting any contract that you are offered.

Contracts will vary between 9 and 12 months and they usually require that you teach between 25-30 hours per week. If you’re teaching 30 hours a week, you should expect to be busy because this doesn’t usually contain preparation time.

Some schools provide accommodation, some will provide an accommodation allowance and others might not provide you with anything. Make sure that you carefully look at your contract, your salary and see exactly what is being offered.

It’s important to note that sometimes schools don’t see their employees as a valuable part of their business. You might be moved around a lot, paid late and expected to carry out a number of extra tasks that aren’t in your contract. Be sure to do your homework and find out what other people have to say about a particular school.

Teaching English to Businesses

Красная Плошадь через глаза у рыби (Red Square through a Fisheye?)

Red Square

In some cases companies hire English teachers to provide language lessons for their employees. You might be offered a contract or you might be offered freelance work. It’s important to note that if you work as a freelancer, you won’t actually be working legally.

Businesses will generally require that you have a good education and that you have an internationally recognised teaching certificate, but the most important thing is that you are professional and you can teach English related to the business that you are applying for work.

However, if you decide to take a job in a business, you might find yourself to be the only teacher working there. As a result, you might find it harder to meet other expats and teachers.

Private & International Schools

DSC00979, Catherine’s Palace, Pushkin, St. Petersburg, Russia

Catherine’s Palace, Pushkin, St. Petersburg, Russia

Russian private schools are also keen to offer English classes taught by a native English speaking teacher. They will pay you a lot more than language schools, but they will require that you are very well qualified. This doesn’t only mean having a degree and a TEFL, but it will usually require that you have a postgraduate certificate in education and some recent and relevant teaching experience.



Private Lessons

You might also find some opportunities in taking private lessons and usually teachers go down this route to supplement their income rather than a primary source of income. Usually, the best way to find students is by word of mouth and after you have been in the country for some time and made a few contracts, you should be able to find a few students.

If you are serious about freelancing full-time, there are some advantages. Firstly, you can command quite a high hourly rate, especially if you have good experience and qualifications. Moreover, it can be a very flexible job and you only need to work when you want to.

However, you will find that it doesn’t come without risks. You will be responsible for your own visa, you’ll have to find your own accommodation and also find an appropriate place to take lessons, and pay your own tax. Moreover, you will need to be very flexible and arrange your time around your students as well as put up with regular rescheduling and cancellations.

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Teaching Requirements and Qualifications

Pink Snow / Novosibirsk / Siberia / 15.02.2013


One of the commonly asked questions is about teaching in Russia without a degree or a teaching certificate. There is such a demand for native English speaking teachers that some schools are willing to take just about anybody!

However, if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree or a teaching certificate such as a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA, you will limit the amount of opportunities that you will find, but you still shouldn’t have any problems finding a job.

Those with a degree and a teaching certificate will find that they get the better contracts that offer the higher salaries and other perks such as accommodation and health insurance.

If you’re looking to stay in Russia for just one year, and not planning on being a teacher for any longer periods of time, you might want to forget about getting a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA. But, if you want to be an ESL teacher for a number of years in Russia or elsewhere, you should really look into getting the appropriate qualifications.

Expected Salary and Living Costs

[sociallocker id=”1719″]When considering how much money you will earn in Russia, you need to take into account a number of factors including the type of teaching job you have, where you area teaching, the school you are working for, and your qualifications and experience.

It is possible that for you to earn anywhere between $1000 and $3000 per month.

Most teachers that work in language schools with no qualifications or experience will get a salary towards the lower end of this scale and maybe even less. As you are more qualified and experienced, you might expect to earn about $1500 a month. Most TEFL teachers working in language schools will earn between $1000 and $1500 a month.

People working as teachers in the business sector should expect to earn an amount that is around the middle of the pay scale. Usually, businesses will require that you have at least a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL, TESOL OR CELTA.

The teachers that will earn a salary at the top end of the pay scale will be those that work for private schools or international schools. However, they will usually need to be qualified teachers with a postgraduate certificate in education and experience.

You will find that some schools will provide extras such as flight reimbursement, accommodation allowance, and health insurance amongst other things.

You will also need to take into account that you will be liable to pay income tax and you should check whether the amount offered in your contract is before or after tax.

The cost of living in Russia can be very high or quite low depending on where you are living! Russia is such a big country that your monthly costs can vary drastically.

Get more information about the cost of living in Russia from Numbeo.[/sociallocker]

Visa Requirements

Sunset / Novosibirsk / Siberia / 27.04.2013

Sunset in Novosibirsk

You will need to apply for a visa before you arrive and your school will usually provide you with assistance during this process. You will need to have a number of documents including:

  • A Passport with 2 free pages and with at least 6 months validity left.
  • A job offer from your employer.
  • A negative HIV report dated within three months of your application.
  • Three passport photos.
  • A stamped, self-addressed envelope.

You will need to make this application in person at your nearest Russian embassy.

The school that offers you a contract would be in the best position to give you the appropriate advice about what you need to do to obtain a working permit.

How to Find a Job Teaching in Russia

Sunset / Novosibirsk / Siberia / 08.11.2012

Sunset in Novosibirsk

Most people will find a teaching job before they arrive and there are a number of things you can do to find work. Firstly, take a look at online job forums that advertise TEFL jobs. You will undoubtedly find a number of jobs being advertised. As you apply to the school, you should be careful to research what other people are saying about the school to ensure that they have a good reputation.

Secondly, you can try to contact the schools directly and send them a cover letter and your CV. You should try to follow up your email with a telephone call and you might find some success this way. Again, always make sure you try and do as much research about any school or institution that offers you a contract before you agree to take a job.

Teach English in Russia

The need for native English speaking TEFL teachers in Russia is huge and you’ll find that because there is such a huge demand for teachers, some schools will employ just about anybody.

Although most will find themselves working in the larger western cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, it is possible to find opportunities all over the country and you might even find yourself working in the deepest parts of Siberia!


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 Russia, we would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and share your experiences with us.

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