Teach English in Portugal

a world of opportunities

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Kirsten Colquhoun
August 22, 2023

Contents

Introduction
Why teach in Portugal
Best places for jobs
Teaching requirements
What is not required
Types of jobs
How to get a job
Salaries and benefits
Common benefits
Cost of living & culture
Saving in Portugal
Life and culture

Do you want to take your career to the next level? Are you looking for a career change? Wondering whether you should teach English in Europe, but don’t want to suffer through the freezing cold winters? Well, Portugal has all the European appeal with a mediterranean climate! 

Portugal is well-known as a country which offers an excellent work-life balance, which is becoming more and more important these days. Plus, with great weather, awesome food and friendly locals, teaching English in Portugal is a good idea no matter which way you look at it.

Why teach English in Portugal?

Relocating to a new country is a brave move. But you can take comfort in knowing that with warm weather comes warm people! The locals are friendly and welcoming, so you can expect to feel at home in the classroom and with your work colleagues too. 

There is a fairly large expat community in Portugal and it’s common to see lots of expats, especially digital nomads, all around the country, living their best lives!

If you aren’t basking in the sun on a beach on the Algarve, island hopping and dolphin-watching on the secret islands of the Azores, the city is where you will find historical architectural masterpieces. Fancy a trip to a palace, medieval cathedrals, or roman ruins? Portugal has got you covered.

Best places for English teaching jobs in Portugal

In Portugal, it’s a win-win situation no matter where you decide to put down roots. Be it a big city or a coastal town, living and teaching in Portugal is what TEFL dreams are made of. 

Lisbon 

A big city with a small-town feel

Lisbon’s city centre has a quaint small-town feel, with cobbled streets, markets, trams and gothic architectural buildings to admire. 

With Lisbon being the capital and largest city in Portugal, you will find the most teaching opportunities here –  as well as higher-paying salaries compared to the rest of Portugal. Accordingly, it is more competitive to find a position in Lisbon. If you like the hustle and bustle of city life, and don’t mind being immersed in crowds of tourists, you’ll enjoy Lisbon. 

Porto 

Best for surf-loving teachers

Porto has a lower cost of living than that of Lisbon. You can find considerable positions available at private language schools and public schools in this city. If you are looking for a not-so-crowded city on the beach, Porto is ideal. 

Braga and Coimbra 

Best for nature-lovers

These two cities are more inland and offer a more laid-back way of life. The cost of living is lower too, so that’s a plus! Coimbra is known as a student city, with a 7th century-old university and many museums and mountains to explore.

Braga is one of the oldest cities in Portugal, and much quieter than Coimbra. It’s also a university town, so you could find yourself giving private lessons to a whole host of students. The cost of living is low and eating out is cheap!

What will I need to qualify to teach in Portugal?

There are a number of different requirements to teach English in Portugal, from visas to qualifications to capital. 

Let’s have a look.

Degree requirements

A Bachelor’s degree is needed for a working visa for Portugal. 

TEFL certification

A TEFL certification of at least 120 hours is needed. The TEFL Academy offers a Level 3 120-hour TEFL certificate, as well as a Level 5 168-hour TEFL certificate which is just what you need to find a job teaching English in Portugal.

EU citizenship or a Working Holiday Visa

Portugal has become very strict with its admission of non-EU citizens into the country. This is because of the fact that an employer will need to sponsor your work visa for legal entry into the country. This can be a long, expensive and arduous process. 

Teachers within Portugal with a work permit, or teachers from a European country, are more likely to secure a teaching position.

If you are going to be studying in Portugal and have attained a student visa before entering Portugal, getting a part-time TEFL job on a student visa is possible. You’ll be able to work for 10 hours a week during the school term, and full-time during school vacations. 

Basic start-up costs

You can expect your start-up costs to be in the ballpark of €2,200 ($2,500).

  • Accommodation: First month’s rent and deposit (often shared).
  • TEFL certification: A TEFL course can cost between $100 and $500, depending on the length and level of the course and the course provider. 
  • Document fees: Any costs related to certifying and notarising your degree and TEFL certificate
  • Flight ticket: Variable. 
  • Visa application: The cost of getting a work visa is around €85 ($90).
  • Living expenses: You will need one month’s worth of start-up capital of about € 1,000 ($1,100), excluding accommodation costs.

What is not required to qualify to teach English in Portugal?

Non-native English Speakers are eligible to teach English in Portugal. Showing proof of English fluency through completing an IELTS test, or proof of being educated in English throughout your schooling career will suffice as proof.

You will not be required to take a drug test or health check to teach English in Portugal.

Types of teaching jobs in Portugal

Experienced and qualified teachers looking to teach in private and international schools will find opportunities in Portugal. Schools often look to hire teachers with a minimum of two years’ worth of relevant teaching experience.

For those interested in teaching jobs in Portugal, you’ll have the opportunity to work in either a public or private school setting. As with most opportunities in Europe, these positions are competitive and local and international schools generally look to hire teachers with a Level 5 TEFL certificate and a minimum of 100 classroom hours.

Private language schools

Positions in language schools are in high demand for TEFL teachers, so finding a job shouldn’t be difficult. You can expect to work around 22 hours a week. Your teaching hours will be after school, in the evenings and over the weekend. Salaries vary widely with each school, so it’s best to peruse through jobs boards to see what’s on offer.

Public schools

Finding a TEFL job at a public school will prove difficult as they are very sought-after positions. The application process is lengthy and you will need to know basic Portuguese to communicate with students and staff. You can expect to teach an average of 22 hours a week, go on field trips and attend end-of-year meetings (which you are not usually paid for). On the plus side you’ll receive a health insurance benefit.

Private international schools

English teaching jobs in an international private school in Portugal requires more teaching experience and sometimes a higher university qualification. The benefits are great too, where you can receive, depending on the school, competitive salaries and benefits packages, including health insurance, housing allowances, and retirement plans.

Private Lessons

Many TEFL teachers in Portugal supplement their income with teaching private lessons. You’re in charge of your rates, schedule and curriculum. It is advised that you keep in mind that the average cost per hour for a private lesson is €10 ($11).

How to get a job teaching English in Portugal

The best way to get English teaching jobs in Portugal is through scouring jobs boards. Searching for schools online and emailing them directly is another option.

If you’re already in Portugal, the likelihood of getting hired increases tremendously, as the paperwork will be minimal for employers. This also gives you bargaining power when it comes to your salary and benefits.

What is the average salary for teachers in Portugal?

The average salary of a TEFL teacher is not as high as in countries like Japan, South Korea or the UAE. You’ll be able to live comfortably and many teachers teach on the side for extra income.

You can expect to make an average salary of € 1,200 – €1,600 ($1,300 – $1,850) a month. This will be enough for you to cover the basics in terms of rent, utilities, transport and food – plus eat your fair share of pasteis de nata!

What are the common benefits for teachers in Portugal?

The majority of TEFL jobs do not offer flight or housing benefits. If you’re working legally and have a residence permit you will have access to state healthcare called the SNS. Dental and GP visits are not covered.

What's the cost of living in Portugal?

The cost of living for an English teacher in Portugal will vary depending on your salary, location and spending habits.

Let’s look at what you can expect from an average cost of living in Portugal: 

Accommodation:

  • Apartment (1 bedroom) in city centre:   €750  ($820) 
  • Apartment (1 bedroom) outside of centre:  €575 ($630)

Utilities: 

  • Gas, electricity, water, garbage disposal: €90 – €120 ($100-$130)

Transport: 

  • Monthly pass: €40 ($43)
  • One-way ticket: €1.70 ($1.90)

Food and groceries:

  • Monthly shop: €110 – €145 ($30 – $40)
  • Meal at a local restaurant: €9 – €13 ($10 – $15)

Internet:

  • Unlimited: €33 ($37)

Entertainment: 

  • Gym, cinema, clubbing: €250 ($275)

Is it possible to save as a TEFL teacher in Portugal?

If you live frugally, set a budget and supplement your income with private tutoring, saving is possible.

Living in the major cities (Lisbon and Porto) will increase your cost of living, whereas Braga, Coimbra and Aveiro have lower costs of living.

What's it like to live and work in Portugal?

Life is easy in Portugal. Teaching local students is rewarding, the people are warm and hospitable and each city is steeped in rich cultural architecture and attractions. 

The average salary is not high, but Portugal’s lifestyle will make up for that. Portugal offers an affordable cost of living and many opportunities to explore its rich heritage sights

If you are teaching Young Learners in Portugal, you might find yourself in regular communication with their parents. This is why though Portuguese is not required to teach English, it is beneficial for your relationships with your employer and your students’ parents. 

But if you have problematic students (or parents!), the weather in Portugal more than makes up for it. Portugal is said to have over 300 days of sunshine a year!

Contents

Do you want to take your career to the next level? Are you looking for a career change? Wondering whether you should teach English in Europe, but don’t want to suffer through the freezing cold winters? Well, Portugal has all the European appeal with a mediterranean climate! 

Portugal is well-known as a country which offers an excellent work-life balance, which is becoming more and more important these days. Plus, with great weather, awesome food and friendly locals, teaching English in Portugal is a good idea no matter which way you look at it.

Why teach English in Portugal?

Relocating to a new country is a brave move. But you can take comfort in knowing that with warm weather comes warm people! The locals are friendly and welcoming, so you can expect to feel at home in the classroom and with your work colleagues too. 

There is a fairly large expat community in Portugal and it’s common to see lots of expats, especially digital nomads, all around the country, living their best lives!

If you aren’t basking in the sun on a beach on the Algarve, island hopping and dolphin-watching on the secret islands of the Azores, the city is where you will find historical architectural masterpieces. Fancy a trip to a palace, medieval cathedrals, or roman ruins? Portugal has got you covered.

Best places for English teaching jobs in Portugal

In Portugal, it’s a win-win situation no matter where you decide to put down roots. Be it a big city or a coastal town, living and teaching in Portugal is what TEFL dreams are made of. 

Lisbon 

A big city with a small-town feel

Lisbon’s city centre has a quaint small-town feel, with cobbled streets, markets, trams and gothic architectural buildings to admire. 

With Lisbon being the capital and largest city in Portugal, you will find the most teaching opportunities here –  as well as higher-paying salaries compared to the rest of Portugal. Accordingly, it is more competitive to find a position in Lisbon. If you like the hustle and bustle of city life, and don’t mind being immersed in crowds of tourists, you’ll enjoy Lisbon. 

Porto 

Best for surf-loving teachers

Porto has a lower cost of living than that of Lisbon. You can find considerable positions available at private language schools and public schools in this city. If you are looking for a not-so-crowded city on the beach, Porto is ideal. 

Braga and Coimbra 

Best for nature-lovers

These two cities are more inland and offer a more laid-back way of life. The cost of living is lower too, so that’s a plus! Coimbra is known as a student city, with a 7th century-old university and many museums and mountains to explore.

Braga is one of the oldest cities in Portugal, and much quieter than Coimbra. It’s also a university town, so you could find yourself giving private lessons to a whole host of students. The cost of living is low and eating out is cheap!

What will I need to qualify to teach in Portugal?

There are a number of different requirements to teach English in Portugal, from visas to qualifications to capital. 

Let’s have a look.

Degree requirements

A Bachelor’s degree is needed for a working visa for Portugal. 

TEFL certification

A TEFL certification of at least 120 hours is needed. The TEFL Academy offers a Level 3 120-hour TEFL certificate, as well as a Level 5 168-hour TEFL certificate which is just what you need to find a job teaching English in Portugal.

EU citizenship or a Working Holiday Visa

Portugal has become very strict with its admission of non-EU citizens into the country. This is because of the fact that an employer will need to sponsor your work visa for legal entry into the country. This can be a long, expensive and arduous process. 

Teachers within Portugal with a work permit, or teachers from a European country, are more likely to secure a teaching position.

If you are going to be studying in Portugal and have attained a student visa before entering Portugal, getting a part-time TEFL job on a student visa is possible. You’ll be able to work for 10 hours a week during the school term, and full-time during school vacations. 

Basic start-up costs

You can expect your start-up costs to be in the ballpark of €2,200 ($2,500).

  • Accommodation: First month’s rent and deposit (often shared).
  • TEFL certification: A TEFL course can cost between $100 and $500, depending on the length and level of the course and the course provider. 
  • Document fees: Any costs related to certifying and notarising your degree and TEFL certificate
  • Flight ticket: Variable. 
  • Visa application: The cost of getting a work visa is around €85 ($90).
  • Living expenses: You will need one month’s worth of start-up capital of about € 1,000 ($1,100), excluding accommodation costs.

What is not required to qualify to teach English in Portugal?

Non-native English Speakers are eligible to teach English in Portugal. Showing proof of English fluency through completing an IELTS test, or proof of being educated in English throughout your schooling career will suffice as proof.

You will not be required to take a drug test or health check to teach English in Portugal.

Types of teaching jobs in Portugal

Experienced and qualified teachers looking to teach in private and international schools will find opportunities in Portugal. Schools often look to hire teachers with a minimum of two years’ worth of relevant teaching experience.

For those interested in teaching jobs in Portugal, you’ll have the opportunity to work in either a public or private school setting. As with most opportunities in Europe, these positions are competitive and local and international schools generally look to hire teachers with a Level 5 TEFL certificate and a minimum of 100 classroom hours.

Private language schools

Positions in language schools are in high demand for TEFL teachers, so finding a job shouldn’t be difficult. You can expect to work around 22 hours a week. Your teaching hours will be after school, in the evenings and over the weekend. Salaries vary widely with each school, so it’s best to peruse through jobs boards to see what’s on offer.

Public schools

Finding a TEFL job at a public school will prove difficult as they are very sought-after positions. The application process is lengthy and you will need to know basic Portuguese to communicate with students and staff. You can expect to teach an average of 22 hours a week, go on field trips and attend end-of-year meetings (which you are not usually paid for). On the plus side you’ll receive a health insurance benefit.

Private international schools

English teaching jobs in an international private school in Portugal requires more teaching experience and sometimes a higher university qualification. The benefits are great too, where you can receive, depending on the school, competitive salaries and benefits packages, including health insurance, housing allowances, and retirement plans.

Private Lessons

Many TEFL teachers in Portugal supplement their income with teaching private lessons. You’re in charge of your rates, schedule and curriculum. It is advised that you keep in mind that the average cost per hour for a private lesson is €10 ($11).

How to get a job teaching English in Portugal

The best way to get English teaching jobs in Portugal is through scouring jobs boards. Searching for schools online and emailing them directly is another option.

If you’re already in Portugal, the likelihood of getting hired increases tremendously, as the paperwork will be minimal for employers. This also gives you bargaining power when it comes to your salary and benefits.

What is the average salary for teachers in Portugal?

The average salary of a TEFL teacher is not as high as in countries like Japan, South Korea or the UAE. You’ll be able to live comfortably and many teachers teach on the side for extra income.

You can expect to make an average salary of € 1,200 – €1,600 ($1,300 – $1,850) a month. This will be enough for you to cover the basics in terms of rent, utilities, transport and food – plus eat your fair share of pasteis de nata!

What are the common benefits for teachers in Portugal?

The majority of TEFL jobs do not offer flight or housing benefits. If you’re working legally and have a residence permit you will have access to state healthcare called the SNS. Dental and GP visits are not covered.

What's the cost of living in Portugal?

The cost of living for an English teacher in Portugal will vary depending on your salary, location and spending habits.

Let’s look at what you can expect from an average cost of living in Portugal: 

Accommodation:

  • Apartment (1 bedroom) in city centre:   €750  ($820) 
  • Apartment (1 bedroom) outside of centre:  €575 ($630)

Utilities: 

  • Gas, electricity, water, garbage disposal: €90 – €120 ($100-$130)

Transport: 

  • Monthly pass: €40 ($43)
  • One-way ticket: €1.70 ($1.90)

Food and groceries:

  • Monthly shop: €110 – €145 ($30 – $40)
  • Meal at a local restaurant: €9 – €13 ($10 – $15)

Internet:

  • Unlimited: €33 ($37)

Entertainment: 

  • Gym, cinema, clubbing: €250 ($275)

Is it possible to save as a TEFL teacher in Portugal?

If you live frugally, set a budget and supplement your income with private tutoring, saving is possible.

Living in the major cities (Lisbon and Porto) will increase your cost of living, whereas Braga, Coimbra and Aveiro have lower costs of living.

What's it like to live and work in Portugal?

Life is easy in Portugal. Teaching local students is rewarding, the people are warm and hospitable and each city is steeped in rich cultural architecture and attractions. 

The average salary is not high, but Portugal’s lifestyle will make up for that. Portugal offers an affordable cost of living and many opportunities to explore its rich heritage sights

If you are teaching Young Learners in Portugal, you might find yourself in regular communication with their parents. This is why though Portuguese is not required to teach English, it is beneficial for your relationships with your employer and your students’ parents. 

But if you have problematic students (or parents!), the weather in Portugal more than makes up for it. Portugal is said to have over 300 days of sunshine a year!

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