Russia, or more technically the Russian Federation, is the largest country in the world and spans 11 time zones. Its population is relatively small and unevenly distributed with the majority of the population in the European and Ural regions.
It is a popular destination for TEFL teachers and growing in popularity. Despite a cooling in relations between Russia and the west in recent years, English is still considered to be a passport to improved job opportunities and English teachers are in demand; in schools English de facto compulsory and new schools are springing up in all major cities.
Although British English speakers are preferred, there are still a lot of jobs for American and other English teachers.
English teaching positions are available across the board from university positions to state schools to smaller private schools. There is also a strong demand for English teachers in growth industries (oil, tourism, service industries, etc) where experience in teaching Business English can pay dividends.
Private language schools, where most of the jobs are, dot the country in all major cities and towns. They usually employ a mix of local teachers and native speakers. Often these schools will run a variety of courses for local teenagers, adults and then business courses as well so if you can show experience and knowledge of teaching all kinds of classes this will be to your advantage.
Generally speaking the bigger the school, the better in terms of help with bureaucracy, accommodation, healthcare and so on. Also you need to consider the size of Russia and if you are offered a job there, research well the location as it can be quite easy to end up many, many miles from the nearest other city.
The standard minimum qualifications are a degree plus a TEFL Certificate. If you don't have these but have determination and a little luck you may still be able to find work though, especially in the less popular places where there are English teachers working there solely because they happen to speak English. Having said this, the Russian authorities are clamping down on unqualified teachers and are less willing to provide visas for them than before.
Peak hiring times are in September and January.
Pay will depend very much on the type of school and the location. A salary of about 55 - 60,000 rubles is the norm and equivalent to $1950 USD (€1543, £1241) per month. However, this does not include accommodation which can be quite expensive and difficult to arrange, especially in the major cities.
Often, however, schools will arrange accommodation (sometimes shared or with a host family so this should be checked) and offer alongside it a reduced salary of about 30 - 35,000 rubles per month or $1000 USD (€791, £636).
Better paid jobs will go up to 1000,000 per month - $3100 USD (€2453, £1973) although bear in mind that cities like Moscow are quite expensive with food costing the same as the US and nightlife not cheap at all.
Though it is potentially much more lucrative than working in a regular school, private lessons can be had although a decent knowledge of Russian is a great advantage as many of the jobs come through word of mouth and socialising within the local community.
Hourly rates for private lessons vary from $20 USD (€16, £13) for individuals to $60 USD (€47, £38) for small groups. Schools will sometimes offer small 'private' groups to their tutors however they will often take a cut.
Classified Jobs for TEFL Teachers - the vacancies page of the Expats Russia site which often has a number of TEFL jobs advertised.Image © PnP!