For young ESL professionals looking to teach English in Poland, this flowering EU bloc, post-Soviet gem offers multiple benefits to attract new residents.
Let’s get into the benefits of teaching English in Poland, what the experience is like for ESL teachers, and what you can expect salary-wise.
About Teaching English in Poland
Located right in the heart of Central Europe, Poland (“Polska” in the native tongue) is home to a mesmerizing cornucopia of historical sites. With a merger of cultural influences from Eastern and Western Europe, Poland has been at the center of European development since its initial founding as a kingdom in 1025.
After joining the EU Schengen Area in 2007, Poland’s economy has attained consistent growth, including within the education sector. ESL teachers, consequently, are in high demand.
Pay-wise, depending on the school type (with more prestigious private schools paying the most), you can expect to earn between 70-100zł/hr ($17-$25 USD/hr).
The easiest-to-find and highest-paying ESL jobs in Poland exist in the large cities. The major urban centers in Poland (which also tend to be full of historic sites for culturally-enriching day-trips) include:
Of course, smaller cities and towns dot the countryside, many of which have at least one private language school delivering ESL education to the local population. If the quiet village life is more your cup of tea, those jobs are available in Poland as well.
Good news: potential ESL teachers looking to Poland are wading into a ripe job market favorable to employers. As a (relatively) newly minted EU member, demand for English instructors is high due to a growing economy, increasing foreign investment, and requirements for Polish students to study English and pass proficiency exams.
So the odds of finding the ideal job for you here are high.
What Are the Requirements to Start Teaching English in Poland?
The requirements to teach English in Poland are similar to those around the global ESL market. These include:
- Bachelor’s level degree in any field (university positions may require a master’s degree)
- Native English teaching status*
- TEFL certification from an accredited, reputable provider**
*This is highly preferred but not necessarily a deal-breaker if you come from a non-native background and have a strong grasp of the language. My Ukrainian fiancée (w/ a TEFL certificate and a master’s degree) taught English in Poland at a private language school quite successfully.
**For a quick, pain-free TEFL certification process, check out TEFL Hero’s $99 self-directed, fully-accredited 100%-online course.
What Visa Do You Need to Teach English in Poland?
The type of visa you need (or don’t need) depends on the type of passport you hold:
- If you are from an EU member state (within the Schengen Area), you have free reign to travel, live, and work in Poland hassle-free (one of the perks of political integration).
- If you are from a non-EU member state (including the UK, Ireland, North America, Australia, NZ, etc.), as most of our readers are, you’re going to need a work visa.
So, let’s assume that, like most of us, you need to apply for a Polish work visa. Your employer (the school that hires you), is responsible for applying for this on your behalf, but they need your cooperation to supply at least some of the necessary documents, which include:
- A completed application form
- Proof of payment of application fees
- Contract w/ company
The entire process should take about 10-12 days. Because navigating any foreign bureaucracy – even one as relatively well-organized as Poland’s – is difficult by its nature, it’s imperative that you make sure your school is able and willing to take care of the process for you.
Ask anyone who has tried to work a foreign immigration office system before: you need help. If a potential employer tells you the onus is on you, the employee, to apply and receive the necessary visa approval on your own, run the other way.
Fortunately, nearly every school will have a dedicated staff member for performing the visa paperwork, so it’s usually a hassle-free process, provided that you bring the following documents with you:
- Passport valid for at least 6 months after arrival
- Proof of professional credentials including academic transcripts, TEFL certifications, etc.
- Several photos (passport-sized headshots)
- Proof of health insurance
In addition to the work visa, foreign teachers may register for and obtain a Temporary Residence Permit (TRP) in Poland, the benefits of which include:
- Multiple re-entries (if you travel abroad while teaching)
- Placing you on the path to obtaining Polish citizenship down the road, if you so desire
- The opportunity for legal employment anywhere in the EU
- Buying a car, real estate, or other assets in the country
If you plan on staying in Poland for an extended period, getting a TRP makes a lot of sense.
Types of English Teaching Jobs in Poland + Salaries
You have several options for teaching English in Poland, some of which may be preferable to others depending on your preferences and qualifications:
- Do you want to teach adults, teenagers, or young children?
- Do you prefer working nights/weekends (as you often do at a private language school) or “normal” 9-5 hours (as you do at a traditional school)?
- What type of English do you prefer teaching (conversational, test prep, business English, etc.)?
- Do you have an advanced degree/TEFL certification/teaching license/teaching experience? If so, you might be qualified for higher-paying positions at, for example, an international school.
The ESL institutions at which you are most likely to land a job, in order from most plentiful to rarest, include:
- private language schools institutions
- private tutoring
- international schools (concentrated in Warsaw and Krakow)
- public (government) schools
- large companies
ESL in Poland Job Type #1: Private Language School
These types of jobs are a dime-a-dozen; they’re readily available with minimal requirements as you can see in the ad, but they also tend to pay less than some other, more lucrative options.
For the job below with Blue Pencil language school in Warsaw, you can get 100zł for a 90-minute lesson, which translates into about $17/hr.
Blue Pencil, like other language schools, leaves open the possibility of bonuses in their contracts, which might include those for end-of-contract completion, overtime pay for hours beyond those listed, contract renewal, and performance incentives, among others.
Also – and this is huge – many schools lure teachers in by offering free housing, free meals, or other giveaways to sweeten the deal. Rent in Poland, even in the big cities, doesn’t compare to expensive Western European or American rents, but they are generally a few hundred dollars per month.
So, if you can shave those expenses off of your monthly budget, you can take home potentially hundreds of extra dollars in net income every pay period.
ESL in Poland Job Type #2: International School
International schools are the zenith of ESL jobs – the highest pay, the most stable employment, the most administrative support, etc. But the benefits come at a cost as well: teacher requirements are high, you’re expected to perform well, and the competition can be tough.
If you don’t have at least a bachelor’s degree, are not a native speaker, or don’t have advanced certification to teach English, you’re probably not going to make the cut. But if you do meet these basic requirements and have the right strategy, snagging these lucrative positions is possible (see more on how to get hired in a later section).
Consider the ad below from International Trilingual School of Warsaw.
Some things to highlight about this job (and other international school positions):
- Long commitment (2 years, 7 months)\
- Must have at least 2 years of prior teaching experience
- Responsible for teaching an additional subject (in this case, social studies)
- Housing provided by school
- Tuition waiver for your children
- Transportation allowance at the beginning and at the end of the contract
- Health care provided
- Fully supported work visa/resident card application process
ESL in Poland Job Type #3: NGOs
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) perform non-profit (sometimes called “charity”) work in the field of human development, among others. Many focus on delivering education to disadvantaged populations, given the immense importance of formal learning for upward economic mobility and social development.
This ad is from an NGO called Center for Civil Communications.
The pay for this one (100zł/hr or about $25hr) is on the upper end of the spectrum for these types of jobs, so that may not be typical of most NGOs, which tend to operate on shoestring budgets. Many, in fact, rely on volunteer teachers, so this is somewhat of an outlier.
How to Find an English-Teaching Job in Poland
Landing your ideal ESL job — teaching the age group that you like in the perfect setting with optimal pay – depends on taking a broad survey of available opportunities and, then, snatching up the one that best fits your needs. Here’s how to make that happen.
Where to start
If you’re applying from abroad and hoping to land a job before arriving in Poland (the route most teachers take), then you want to hit the online ESL job forums where most Polish English-teaching jobs are posted. These include:
How to get hired
Here are a few tips to make your job search in Poland a success (many of which also apply to other ESL destinations):
- It’s best to start looking in late spring/early summer as the school year starts in September, which is when most schools are recruiting most intensely.
- If you can afford it and have time on your side, consider physically relocating to Poland to look for work “on the ground.” Many employers give priority to applicants who are already in-country, as it shows work readiness and commitment.
- Make a plan to send at least two applications/intro emails per day to the schools you are interested in. Place reminders, either physical or digital, to hold yourself accountable.
- Follow ESL in Poland online forums to stay updated on the latest developments in the industry.
What’s It Like Being an English Teacher in Poland?
The ESL teacher in Poland experience is a dichotomy in the sense that life in the major urban centers (Warsaw and Poland) is bustling cosmopolitan modernity – “bright lights, big city.” On the other hand, you can also find work (especially in language schools) in smaller cities and villages, which still hold the old-world Polish charm that enchants many visitors.
What you get out of the adventure, accordingly, will depend on whether you’re in the city or out in a more remote location.
Teacher Laura takes you on a tour here of her daily life in Warsaw.
Work-wise, the web is full of resources to help you get a feel for the English-teaching life in Poland as well as to get specific questions answered. Check out the Facebook group English Teachers in Warsaw, Poland!.
There, ESL teachers, many of whom have years of experience in Poland under their belts, regularly post about current issues within the field, salary and visa questions, common workplace problems, etc. – even lesson plan ideas!
These types of forums are great for getting an idea of what to expect on your own journey.
FAQs about teaching English in Poland
Here is a sampling of the most commonly asked questions regarding teaching English in Poland.
Do you need to speak Polish to teach in Poland?
No. Although a working knowledge of the Polish language is helpful for daily life, you don’t need it to teach English there.
Do you need a degree to teach in Poland?
Not necessarily, but many schools require one (the major area usually doesn’t matter – it could even be electrical engineering).
Do you have to be a native speaker to teach in Poland?
No. But, if you are not a native speaker, you must have an impressive, strong grip on the language with a neutral accent.
Do you need a TEFL to teach English in Poland?
Probably. Some schools don’t list it as a requirement, but TEFL certification is quickly becoming a global standard for ESL applicants.