How to find English teaching jobs in Turkey?

by Fay

Knowing how to find English teaching jobs in Turkey can be difficult. Jobs are seldom posted on international teaching or job websites. In fact, often jobs are not posted at all. Also, there aren’t many recruiting agencies dedicated to finding English teachers in Turkey. However, don’t be fooled. The teaching jobs are there. You just need to look in the right places. I’m going to show you how to find English teaching jobs in Turkey and, using this strategy, possibly elsewhere. I have also added some updated information about ESL teacher salaries and benefits. Lastly, I have some important information about important guidelines to follow after getting hired as an English teacher in Turkey.

International ESL job sites and Turkey Job sites

So you have probably checked for English job postings on Dave’s ESL Café or Glassdoor with little or no luck. Perhaps you found ads on less known sites that are expired or outdated. Instead, try using Turkish job sites like Kariyer or Yenibiris. While these platforms are in Turkish you will be able to search jobs using the Google Translate extension. You are bound to find a lot more English teaching jobs advertised on these sites than on international sites. Maybe you made lots of online applications and sent tons of emails with not a single reply. This is not a problem. Some job posts are out-dated. And sometimes, sites think it’s cool to show that they have a list of jobs available. They do it to keep their traffic, even if these jobs are long gone. That is really not cool but that’s the world we live in. You will have to try some other strategies to find jobs.

University teaching jobs in Turkey

English ESL teaching jobs in Istanbul Turkey

Finding university English teaching jobs in Turkey can be tricky so this is what you need to do. Even though you feel alienated during this arduous process you are not alone. Chances are that others are in the same position as you. Search reviews on Glassdoor and ESL teacher Turkey forums on Dave’s for any talk about universities that hire expat teachers. At this stage, you are just looking for university names. It doesn’t help to read all the details of and personal squabbles of teachers yet. First, you want to get in touch with universities and get a response or an interview. Thereafter, you can go and read what upset teachers have to say, and take it all with a pinch of salt.

Next step…School of Foreign Languages

Now that you have made a list of universities in Turkey that you can approach you have to find connections or possible openings at these respective universities. Again, keep the Google translate tab on throughout your search, even if the university has the small British flag in the top corner (the option to browse in English). The reason I say don’t opt for the English webpage is because more often than not, the English pages are incomplete or defective in some way.

Most universities don’t have a separate page with current openings and if they do, it’s empty. What you need to do is scroll through the Academic departments, schools, centers, and so on until you come across The School of Foreign Languages. For some reason, all Turkish universities use this name, even if they only offer English or Prep English. If you are seeking employment in another specialised discipline like engineering, for example, then find that department’s page and follow the same steps outlined here.

On this page, you are going to find several important tools to aid your job search. Sometimes they have a tab for Employment opportunities. If this is the case then you are in luck, see Bilkent University. If not, check the section on the school page dedicated to Announcements. This may be the place where job posts are announced. Scroll through announcements over the past year. English teaching jobs are generally posted around March through July, which is the end of the academic year. Schools and universities claim that this is when they do their recruiting but in reality, you may only hear back from them in September.

Private International Schools

There a number of private international schools in Turkey that you need to consider. If you are looking for an ESL job in Istanbul, you have loads of options. I suggest looking at the top private schools and contacting them one by one until you get what you are looking for, a good English teaching job.

Your chances of getting hired as an English teacher

how to find an english teaching job in Turkey

If you are still unlucky, have a look through the staff page. Here you want to try and guess how many foreign teachers the university or school currently has. If you only see Turkish names (names that have these non-English letters: ç, ğ, ö) among the staff then this means that your chances of getting in are harder. I guess some universities find it easier to take on local hires. It’s also less paperwork for them. Also, the number of foreign staff members may also give you an idea of how good the salary and benefits for expats are.

This is not the most scientific method to go about things but I know from my experience that teachers who took the trouble to travel across the world tend to look for the best offers. I know I would. By looking at the teacher profiles you can also see how you measure up with respect to qualifications and experience. For example, if all the foreign teachers have Doctorates and you don’t, you won’t have your hopes up and can find a place that is better suited for you.

Finding the right person to approach

Now that you have exhausted all other options, I suggest getting in touch directly with the head of school or director. If there’s a phone number, call him or her and politely ask if they have any positions available. This is a good way you can get a push in the right direction. If you are already in Turkey, request to schedule a meeting or interview. Try your best to convince them to have you over for an interview in person or online. This can put you are on the right track. If you don’t get to speak to someone on the phone you will have to send them an email and hope for the best. Still, nothing stops you from making a follow-up call to show them that you are proactive and eager to work. 

I would strongly advise you to get in touch with someone in upper-management rather than someone in HR or admin. The reason is simple. I know from personal experience that many HR and admin staff, even at good universities or schools, speak little to no English. If you call them the best they can do is tell you to call back tomorrow. However, try whatever options are open to you, you may get lucky and find your ESL dream job in Turkey.

Recruiters and Agencies in Turkey

I have seen a few English teaching job ads on social media posted by recruiters. I have met recruiters who seemed quite honest but I have also come across sites that ask for membership fees, application fees, and other forms of payment. Regarding these sites and agencies, I say be careful. I do not know of any teacher, anywhere in the world, who has successfully got a job from any of these sites. Furthermore, recruiters cannot guarantee any person a job. All they can do is forward your details to their clients. Personally, I don’t think this is something anyone should pay for. The general rule is that recruiters are paid by their clients to recruit good employees.

Last but not least, Social networking

Finally, you can try to find connections who are working at schools that you are targeting on Linkedin, Facebook groups, and other platforms. You may find that you already know someone who is working in Turkey. Referrals are the easiest way to get interviews and job offers. Get a friend to recommend you. If you don’t know anyone in Turkey, try to link up with friendly people that are keen to help.

Salary and benefits for English teachers in Turkey

I often see job ads and salary offers online for ESL teaching positions in Turkey that just aren’t true.The truth is that salaries in Turkey are low, especially more so now, with the weak Lira. Those ads that you might have seen offering 3000 USD a month at some unknown private school are either 10 years old, or fake altogether. With the current USD/TL rate, consider yourself lucky if you can find a job that pays 1000 USD monthly, around 7000 Turkish Liras. From personal experience, I would say that English teaching jobs pay from 500-1000 USD. This is what I know as a fact. It is possible that there are few exclusive private schools and universities that pay more. However, these jobs are highly sought after and not easy to bag. Although the salaries are low in Turkey, you will still be able to live comfortably on a teacher’s salary, if you are single. If you are married with kids it will be a bit harder.

Foreign teacher benefits in Turkey

Teaching jobs in Turkey won’t offer you the great benefits that people expect in China or Saudi Arabia. Turkey is a totally different market. Often, Native ESL teachers get the same salary and benefits as local teachers. Accomodation, transportation, flight allowances and long paid vacation are not guaranteed here. If you do get offered any of these, you are one of the fortunate ones.

Work permits for foreign teachers in Turkey

So you managed to get a job, well done. Next, you need to get the necessary documents so that your company can apply for your work permit. This process can take time. Also, there are different ways that you can go about getting your work permit, depending on your school or univeristy.

Once you accept a job offer, your school will need to send your degrees to the Turkish Department of Education for approval. This process can take about 2 months. Once you have been approved, you will receive your work permit card. Only then can you legally begin work. It is important to note that if your company applies for your work permit then you do not, legally, require a residence permit to live in Turkey, the work permit is good enough.

Validity and cost

Your work permit is usually renewed anually. Your public medical insurance is also included with your work permit. Therefore, you can get treatment at any public health facility or hospital for free. For teachers, the work permit costs around 1000 TL per year. This fee may not necessarily be covered by your school. This fee may not seem like much but when accompanied by the cost of the required translated and notarized documents, it does make a dent in your salary.

The Bottom line

While Turkey is a beautiful place to live and is relatively cheap, you won’t save much money there as an English teacher. Nonetheless, living and working in Turkey could be rewarding in many other ways.


Nasreen October 1, 2020 - 12:15 pm

Very informative! Thank you! It will definitely help in the future.

Fay October 1, 2020 - 12:43 pm

You are most welcome Nasreen!

Mouna December 24, 2020 - 4:11 pm

You have saidcut all. I was offered a position at TED University but they kept me on stand up until my visa expired and had to pay penalty at the airport. Even though I translated all the documents, they kept waiting instead of sorting my work permit…

Faheem December 25, 2020 - 1:05 pm

Hi Mouna. That’s so unfortunate. Waiting for a work permit can be long and tedious. Thank you for sharing your experience with us, all the best.


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