Although most Russians study English during their senior school years the level of instruction is often poor. Because of this many people look to improve their language skills once they join the workforce as a way of moving up the employment ladder. An increasing number of parents also recognize the importance of English language skills in modern day Russia. As a result there is a huge demand for English language teachers across all age ranges in many parts of the country. Moscow and St. Petersburg offer the most numerous positions but there are also plenty of other towns and cities to consider if you want to stay off the beaten track.
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The monthly income of foreign teachers in Russia varies hugely depending on many different factors such as location, qualifications, experience, and number of contracted hours. Private language schools generally pay an hourly rate which averages around $650 USD per month for a first-time teacher. This figure can rise substantially with relevant experience. Many positions also include accommodation or a housing subsidy which can be a real benefit in the big cities where rental properties are often in short supply and prohibitively expensive. Full or partial airfare reimbursement is sometimes provided when jobs are secured from outside the country. Teachers who offer private tutoring either part or full-time traditionally have the highest earning potential in Russia. General conversation practice is typically charged at $15 to $25 per hour, while business English or exam preparation can bring in between $35 and $50 per hour.
The biggest employers of foreign teachers in Russia are private language schools which can be found in all the major cities. These cater to adults and children of all ages and are a good starting point for first-time teachers and those who are new to living and working in Russia. Moscow in particular has a large number of schools both international and locally run, all of which offer contract based and casual positions. A typical full-time position involves around 30 hours per week in the classroom.
Teachers who have experience and qualifications can also apply for jobs in universities, colleges, and international schools. These environments offer substantially better salaries than language schools but jobs are small in number and competition can be very strong. Another option for qualified teachers is the business English sector. This growing market generally involves travelling to the client's office to provide lessons that are specific to their individual needs. Lessons are often delivered before or after the normal day's work so the hours can be a little erratic, however, salaries are typically good in this field.
Regardless of the type of employer, the majority of ESL teachers in Russia also top up their salary by offering private tutoring in their free time. Word of mouth is the most common way of finding suitable clients and once they have as many as they can handle many teachers decide to go full-time. Private tutoring offers great flexibility as you can set your own schedule. It also provides plenty of opportunity for meeting local people and making friends and contacts in the wider community.
Although the cost of living has risen significantly in recent years, Russia is still a very affordable place to live for foreign teachers outside of the major cities. In Moscow and St. Petersburg everyday expenses are also relatively low with the notable exception of housing. Good quality rental apartments are often in short supply in the most popular areas so rental fees continue to rise year-on-year. The ideal solution is to secure a teaching position that includes accommodation or a housing subsidy in the contract. Failing that, many people without housing benefit choose to share an apartment with fellow teachers.