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fika in sweden

How to Teach English in Sweden: Advice From a REAL Teacher

I’ll be honest, when I first decided to teach abroad, Sweden never crossed my mind. 

Sure, I’d heard good things:

  • It ranks in the top 5 countries with the best quality of life
  • Everyone is blonde and beautiful (they are), and
  • Stockholm is the capital

So in January 2014, when a recruiter asked me if I had ever considered teaching in Sweden, I said yes (give me a break, I was still a student and I wanted a job in Europe when I graduated 🤷‍♂️).

I said I could see myself spending some time in Stockholm.

He said the position was in Gothenburg.

I looked at him with a blank stare and nodded.

After he left, I frantically Googled the city to make sure I hadn’t signed up to teach in the Arctic Circle. It turned out that Gothenburg was Sweden’s 2nd biggest city and was located on Sweden’s beautiful west coast. Whew! 

I moved to Sweden in July 2014 and I still call it home. I’ve fallen in love with this country – the breathtaking coastal archipelagos, vibrant music scene, delicious meatballs and pickled herring, and fika (Swedish term for coffee break), of course.

swedish flag on stockholm street

Photo by Linus Mimietz on Unsplash

This guide will walk you through the why, how, and what of pursuing a career as an English teacher in Sweden.

Why teach English in Sweden?

Sweden is known for its high-quality education system and standard of living. Swedes are proud of their language and culture, but they realize that learning English is crucial to thriving in today’s global world. 

Students learn English from elementary through high school. It’s also common that university courses at the Master’s level and above are taught in English. 

So, the demand for English speakers is on the rise, which means opportunities for those of you looking to teach in Scandinavia.

There’s also a reason why Sweden ranks in the top places in the world to live.

They take care of their people. 

teaching english in sweden

Photo by Lars Groenendijk on Unsplash

It’s a safe and comfortable place to live with a great infrastructure, holidays, and social benefits. 

It’s hard to quantify, but the best way I can put it is like this:

Even though I’m not a Swedish citizen, I have never felt that I would be out on the streets if my job, financial, or health situation went south.

Requirements to teach English in Sweden:

You’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree and, in some cases, teaching experience. Private schools will also require that you be a native English speaker to teach English, whereas public schools do not. 

As of 2016, public schools require you to have your Swedish teaching certification (“Svensk Lärarlegitimation”). To get your certification, you must have a teaching degree and speak Swedish at the C1 level (CEFR scale).

Get Certified to Teach Anywhere!

How difficult is it to find a job teaching in Sweden?

teach english in sweden

There are plenty of international schools in Sweden that recruit expat teachers to teach English and other subjects. They also span a range of different curriculums, like IB, American, and GCSE.

These schools advertise teaching positions on their websites and LinkedIn. They also attend teaching job fairs abroad (this is how I found my first job).

It’s also possible to transition into teaching at a Swedish public school once you’ve established yourself. I’ve found that public schools post job ads locally, rather than seek teachers from abroad. So being in the country will make it easier for you to find job listings.

Unless you have a Swedish background, chances are you don’t speak Swedish (it’s a requirement, as I mentioned) so you’ll also need some time to pick up the language. 

For more options to teach English in Europe, see our list of the 7 Best Places to Teach ESL in Europe in 2024.

Salary and cost of living:

The average salary for English teachers ranges from 25,000 to 40,000 SEK per month. 

The cost of living is high (you can expect to pay anywhere from 5,000 – 12,000 SEK for a 1-bedroom apartment in Sweden’s big cities), but efficient public services and a high standard of living offset the expenses. For example, you don’t need a car to commute to work in any Swedish cities.

swedish cityscape

Photo by Raphael Andres on Unsplash

Even during my first few years of teaching when my salary was on the lower side of the spectrum, I was able to live comfortably and I could afford to travel during my holidays.

For those who are truly seeking to save as much as possible while teaching ESL abroad, you may want to consider teaching in the Middle East or Asia. Teaching in Saudi Arabia and China is in huge demand and often offers a suite of benefits including free housing and tax-free or very low-tax salaries. 

Types of English teaching jobs in Sweden:

If you’re interested in teaching English in Sweden, you’ve got a few options:

Public Schools:

Salary Range: 25,000 to 35,000 SEK per month

Overview: Teaching in public schools will give you the most authentic teaching experience in Sweden. You’ll work in Swedish, teach and grade according to Sweden’s Department of Education (“Skolverket”), and your students will be more similar to true ESL learners. 

Requirements:

  • Teaching degree from your home country
  • Swedish teaching certification
  • Teaching experience preferred

Really want to teach in a public school but don’t have a teaching license? Consider teaching English in Spain

Private Schools:

Salary Range: 30,000 to 40,000 SEK per month

Overview: Private schools offer a more diverse teaching experience as schools have more autonomy over how they operate. For example, they may have smaller class sizes and unique curriculum structures. You will also have the pleasure of teaching with colleagues from around the world. Expect the English level of your students to be high at English private schools, even if they’re young. 

Requirements:

  • Teaching degree from your home country
  • Native English speaker (for English language classes)
  • Teaching experience beneficial

Folkuniversitetet:

Salary Range: 30,000 to 45,000 SEK per month

Overview: Folkuniversitetet provides a range of courses for adults, including language programs. Your teaching schedule may not follow a typical 9-5 day, as certain classes need to be taught after the workday for students to attend.

Requirements:

  • No formal education required
  • English teaching experience beneficial
  • Knowledge of language teaching beneficial

Where to teach English in Sweden:

Luckily, Sweden isn’t swarmed with tourists like other European countries, so you can get a genuine Swedish experience even in big cities like Stockholm. Major cities such as Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö also offer the most teaching opportunities. 

What’s more, is that you’ll be able to easily get around major cities without knowing the language, which is convenient (unless you want to learn the language 😅).

If you’re keen on a true cultural immersion, you might be better off in a smaller town where the locals are more, well… local. You may miss out on the hustle and bustle of the city, but you’ll make up for it with some unique Swedish cultural experiences – having snaps (Andersson’s OP, of course) and sharing stories with some geezer named Ulf at your local krog (bar), perhaps?

swedish town

Photo by Ferhat Deniz Fors on Unsplash

How to find jobs teaching English in Sweden:

There are three ways you can find an English teaching job in Sweden:

1. International teaching job fairs

This is how I found my job, and I think it’s the most effective way to secure any teaching job abroad.

Why?

Because you get to meet (and charm) a recruiter in person (or online). However, this method depends on Swedish schools attending fairs near you.

You can find international education job fairs around the globe hosted by Search Associates here. Their job fairs are hosted in-person during peak recruitment season in Europe, Asia, North America, and Latin America (virtually). 

2. LinkedIn

You can search for job types (e.g.: “English teacher”) and filter them based on country and region (e.g.: “Sweden”; “Stockholm”). I’ve seen plenty of private and public job postings on LinkedIn over the years. You can also create job alerts that will send you notifications when new jobs that match your criteria are posted.

*If you take this route, make sure you invest some time into sprucing up your LinkedIn profile first!

3. Contact schools directly

Schools will often post job openings on their websites with instructions on how to apply. The challenge here is that you:

1. Need to find individual schools in a country that is foreign to you

2. The school needs to actively update its website (which often doesn’t happen)

Another thing that could help you find a teaching job is networking through local expat groups on platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, or certain message boards.

When and where to start:

The academic year starts in August, and the main hiring process runs between January and May. Schools look to fill teaching vacancies early so they can plan for the upcoming academic year during the summer months. 

Start your search by looking up any local job fairs in your area and do a quick search on LinkedIn to see if anything interesting comes up (you can refine your search later). 

Before reaching out, take some time to polish your resume and create a cover letter that you can tweak for different positions.

Visa requirements:

Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

EU Citizen:

EU citizens have the advantage of a straightforward process. Register at the Swedish Tax Agency, obtain a residency certificate from the Swedish Migration Authority, and you’re ready to teach.

Non-EU Citizen:

Non-EU citizens need to secure a work permit before arriving in Sweden. Ensure you have a job offer (it should be for at least 1 year ´+ 1 day), as your employer will play a crucial role in the application process. Learn more on how to apply for a work permit before entering Sweden here

How to get hired:

Craft a compelling resume highlighting your qualifications and teaching experience. If you don’t have any teaching experience, highlight the skills you gained from other jobs and how they will benefit you in a teaching role. For example, if you learned how to resolve conflicts while serving demanding customers at a restaurant.

Tailor your cover letter to each school by dropping in words from their own values and mission statements (find them on their website) and showcase your commitment to fostering language skills. 

Pro tip: International schools struggle with staff turnover. Do some research into Swedish culture and explain why Sweden (and the school) is a good fit for you and why they don’t need to worry about you running home after a few weeks!

Pro tip #2: Include a professional picture of yourself in your resume. It’s common practice in Sweden.

FAQs About Teaching English in Sweden:

Do I need a TEFL to teach in Sweden?

No, a TEFL certification is not required (though it may prove helpful in the classroom!)  That said, it’s common that a B.Ed. is required.

Do I need to know Swedish to teach in Sweden?

You don’t need to know Swedish to teach at international schools in Sweden. However, you do need to demonstrate a C1 level Swedish proficiency to obtain your Swedish teaching certification, which is a requirement to teach in public schools. 

Is a bachelor’s required?

Yes, a bachelor’s degree is a standard requirement for public and private schools.

Are English teachers in demand in Sweden?

Yes, the demand for English teachers is growing, especially in urban areas. 

Can I save money while teaching in Sweden?

Yes, you can. I’ve known teachers who’ve been able to save between 5,000-10,000 SEK per month. The amount will depend primarily on where you live because your biggest expense will be your rent. If you want to live in the center of Stockholm, you’re going to have a hard time.

Key Takeaways

Here are 4 key takeaways about teaching English in Sweden

  1. High Quality of Life: Sweden is renowned for its excellent quality of life, making it an attractive destination for teachers.
  2. Cultural and Educational Context: English is a significant part of the Swedish education system, with students learning it from a young age. This creates a strong demand for English teachers.
  3. Certification and Language Requirements: For teaching in public schools, a Swedish teaching certification and proficiency in Swedish are necessary. Private schools might require native-level English but have more flexible language requirements.
  4. Varied Teaching Opportunities: There are diverse teaching opportunities in Sweden, including public schools, private schools, and adult education centers like Folkuniversitetet, each with its own set of requirements and benefits.

About the Author:

Christopher Jacklin is from a small town in rural northwestern Ontario, Canada. He secured a job teaching abroad in Sweden in 2014, where he worked as an English teacher, Head of English, and Special Educator. He still calls Sweden home to this day.

Now, he shares everything he’s learned about teaching abroad to help teachers find their dream job in Europe. Here is Chris’ complete guide to finding a teaching job abroad in Europe in 2024.

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