Situated in the southwest corner of the continent, Portugal presents an alluring prospect for English teachers aspiring to work in Europe. With its balmy weather, one of the lowest costs of living in Western Europe, and a leisurely lifestyle, it is an positive, yet rather underexplored segment of the TEFL globe.
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Typically, TEFL-certified teachers in Portugal can anticipate earning around $1,300 to $1,850 USD monthly at a private language center. A substantial number of teachers boost their income by providing private tutoring during their off hours. Private lessons can rake in between $11 and $22 per hour, and with groups of two or three students, your rate can rise as costs are divided amongst the participants.
For non-EU teachers, legally working in Portugal can be challenging due to the bureaucratic hurdles and expenses, which often deter employers from sponsoring non-local teachers. Assuming you are authorized to work in Portugal, your employment opportunities will likely center around private language schools or private tutoring roles. Private tutoring is a common method to supplement a language school salary or could be considered full-time once you have established a regular client base.
Obtaining a work permit can be complex for non-EU citizens, as the administrative burden often discourages employers from sponsoring teachers. Unless you have a legal right to work through a familial or partnership connection, most employers prefer the simpler route of hiring teachers with an EU passport. For non-EU citizens, a viable option might be a student visa, allowing you to work up to 20 hours a week during term time and full time during holidays. This visa can be applied for through your nearest Portuguese embassy or consulate before departure. Processing takes one to three months, so initiating the application early is crucial.
Also read: Can I teach English abroad in my gap year?
Since a minor percentage of jobs are advertised online, it is usually advantageous to land in Portugal during the prime hiring seasons of September or January. Once in the country, visit as many schools as possible in your chosen area. Lisbon and Oporto boast the highest number of language schools, though smaller cities such as Coimbra and Braga also offer worthwhile prospects.
Your income and monthly expenditures will heavily depend on your location within the country. Lisbon and Oporto offer the most competitive salaries, but they are also the priciest places to live in Portugal. Generally, a monthly budget of around $1,300 to $1,700 USD should suffice to cover living expenses such as housing, groceries, and transportation. It is advisable to have a substantial amount saved up before arriving in the country to cover initial costs until your first paycheck. A minimum of $2,000 to $3,000 is recommended, but having more set aside is always better.