Switzerland is located in Western Europe and it is shares borders with 5 countries: Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein. The 4 main languages spoken in the country are German, French, Italian and Romanish. On top of this many people in Switzerland can also speak English.
Switzerland has the highest wealth per adult out of any country in the world and is one of the richest countries in the world with a high GDP per capita. Moreover, the two cities Zurich and Geneva have continuously been ranked as having a one of the highest quality of life anywhere in the world.
This western European country is the home of cheese, chocolate, cuckoo clocks and Swiss Army Knives! It is also home to a famous secretive banking system and some of the most famous multinational corporations in the world including, Zurich Financial Services, Tetra Pak, and the Swatch Group.
Moreover, it’s also a very environmentally friendly country and produces nearly all of its energy from sources that don’t produce carbon dioxide. Switzerland actually generates more than half of its power needs from hydroelectricity.
Read more about Switzerland from Wikipedia.
Why Teach English in Switzerland
Although you will have a high rate of tax if you work in Switzerland, it does offer one of the best standards of living out of any country in the world. As a TEFL teacher in Switzerland, you can make enough money to live a fairly comfortable life and depending on your job, you might even save some money each month.
There is also quite a big demand for qualified native English speaking TEFL teachers. Teachers need to be well qualified because of the high standards expected by the Swiss population, but in return you will be offered some of the highest salaries out of anywhere in Western Europe.
When you’re not teaching, you can spend your time exploring some beautiful landscape on offer in the country. Switzerland is full of natural beauty. You can visit some stunning cities, swim in gorgeous lakes or even go skiing in the Swiss Alps in your spare time!
Where to Teach English in Switzerland
Although it is possible to find teaching work all over Switzerland, you will find the most opportunities in the bigger cities. Zurich, Geneva, Basel and Bern are all popular destinations for TEFL teachers.
Types of Teaching Jobs in Switzerland
There are actually many opportunities for teaching English in Switzerland. There are private language schools and academies, international schools, institutes of higher education, private finishing schools, hotel schools and opportunities for doing private tuition.
Private Language Schools
Usually private language schools try to be as flexible as possible for their students and as a result their timetables reflect this. You could have one week intensive courses, evening courses, and weekend courses. There might be small or large groups, mixed levels, early mornings, and late nights. The timetable can vary considerably from school to school.
There are many private language schools in the country and some pay quite low salaries and others can pay very well. The working conditions aren’t often the best because your schedule can change from week to week, but it could be a good starting point for new TEFL teachers.
Switzerland is home to the International Baccalaureate curriculum and most international schools in the country will use it. The standards in these schools are extremely high and therefore teachers need to be at the top of their profession to even be considered for a job. This means that you will need a bachelor’s degree related to education and be a qualified teacher. You will also need to have a lot of recent experience and proof of good career progression. To stand out, it would also be good to have a master’s degree that is also related to the field of education.
Quite often universities and other institutes of higher education have an English language faculty. However, jobs don’t often arise because they often have highly qualified and permanent teachers. Although when job vacancies do sometimes appear they are usually given to those have been in Switzerland for some time.
English is arguably the most important language in the tourism industry anywhere in the world. In Switzerland, hotels schools teach in English and therefore offer English classes to students to improve their language skills.
Timetables usually start at 8am and finish at 6pm and pay enough for you to live well and save money. They also require that teachers have at least a bachelor’s degree and an internationally recognised teaching certificate such as a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA.
Being a private tutor can be a lucrative business in Switzerland as there are many people willing to pay good money for a good teacher. If you can get enough students, you can make more money as a private tutor than you can from working in a school.
However, you must also understand that this type of job can often be unreliable. Student’s will cancel or rearrange lessons at short notice and this means that you might not get paid when you expect to get paid!
Teaching Requirements and Qualifications
The minimum requirements for English teaching jobs in Switzerland can vary considerably and it’s fair to say that the more experienced and qualified teachers are the ones that will earn the higher salaries.
Some language schools don’t require any kind of qualifications, but most will require that you have both a bachelor’s degree and some kind of teaching qualification like a recognised TEFL, TESOL or CELTA.
Established and popular schools and institutes might even have higher standards and require that their applicants have at least 3 years of experience.
Therefore, each school is different. Whilst it is possible to find a job without a degree or a teaching certificate, there won’t be many opportunities available and the salary will be significantly lower. If you want to work in Switzerland, find the most opportunities and make a decent salary, you should have at least a bachelor’s degree and either a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA certificate.
Expected Salary and Living Costs
[sociallocker id=”1619″]The salaries on offer can also vary greatly, starting from as little as $15 per hour and go all the way up to $60 per hour.
You will find the most opportunities in language schools, but most will offer you a salary towards the lower end of this pay scale.
Hotel schools and private tuition will pay higher, usually around the middle to higher end of the pay scale and international schools and higher education institutes will usually pay the most.
However, you will be required to pay tax on all your earnings and in most schools you will need to cover your own accommodation and travel expenses.
The cost of living in Switzerland is amongst one of the highest in the world. Zurich and Geneva provide one of the highest standards of living anywhere in the world, but this does come at a price. These two cities are 2 of the most expensive places to live anywhere in the world. In fact a salary of $2500 per month would hardly be enough to cover living expenses.
Therefore, to save money in this country you would need to be working a lot of hours or find one of the higher paying teaching positions.
For more information about the cost of living in Switzerland, see Numbeo.[/sociallocker]
In order to teach English in Switzerland you need to obtain a work permit. To get a work permit you must be qualified for the job and have a work contract already in place. Depending on the region that you want to teach in Switzerland the permits can take a long time to process, in some cases up to 3 months.
EU citizens are preferred because of agreements between Switzerland and the European Union on the free movement of persons. In other cases, only limited work permits are issued for qualified teachers of other countries.
For more information take a look at the official Swiss Federal Office for Migration website.
How to Find a Job Teaching in Switzerland
You will mostly be employed on a freelance basis and for this reason positions become available all year round. You might find that some full-time teaching jobs become available, but these usually require very high qualifications in the field of teaching ESL, either a DELTA or a MA TESOL.
Swiss schools often advertise for positions online on international and national jobs boards. Moreover, they will advertise on their own websites, and in local newspapers. So, do your research and actively seek out jobs that are being advertised.
On top of this, you can also use telephone directories and web directories to find details of schools and contact them directly asking for available vacancies.
Finally, networking with other ESL teachers in Switzerland will often produce results because employers in Switzerland like to employ relying on personal recommendations. Therefore, tell anybody who will listen that you are a TEFL teacher and that you are looking for a job!
Teach English in Switzerland
Teaching English in Switzerland can be a lucrative job as some schools will offer some of the highest salaries anywhere in Western Europe. On top of this, if you live in Switzerland you will have one of the best standards of living anywhere in the world, but this does come at a high cost. Monthly expenses in some parts of Switzerland are also some of the highest in the world!
There is a real demand for native English speaking TEFL teachers in Switzerland and if you have the appropriate qualifications and experience, you shouldn’t have too much difficulty in finding 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 Switzerland, we would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and share your experiences with us.