How to Get a Job Teaching English in Portugal 2019 Guide

    Teach English in Portugal


    English has earned the status of lingua franca by being one of the most extensively used languages worldwide. It is commonly used for oral and written correspondence in more than 55 countries. Most of the published literature including books, magazines, and newspapers are in English. Some of the most leading universities in the world are located in native-English speaking countries. In short, from academics to professional careers, language English is considered an important tool for progress and growth. Therefore, learning English and becoming fluent in it is considered an extremely important aspect of an individual’s education. The need to learn English has created a great demand for English teachers in non-native countries and among non-native speakers living in native-English countries. The requirement of language teachers, in all parts of the world, is growing rapidly.

    Portugal the center of flourishing art and languages, also offers a great many opportunities for language teachers. It is also significant to know that Portugal allows the people who intend to settle here, a low-budget way of living. It also offers a high standard of living.

    Why teach English in Portugal

    • A thriving job market for English Teachers – Demand for English teachers in Portugal has gone higher in the past few years. The increase in demand is also the result of many new language schools that are sprouting across the country. With increasing competition among schools, the salaries and facilities are getting better. There is also a lot of scope for private teaching and door to door services.
    • Teacher Training – Most of the institutions offer training to their new teachers, which is great for your resume. This is a great benefit as these training programs allow you to get familiar with the teaching culture in Portugal and you can learn new methods and techniques to improve your teaching skills.
    • A reasonable salary – The salary of English teachers ranges between US$1,080-1,270 per month. You can earn as low as US$760 or as high as US$1,530 per month. Your salary will mostly depend on your qualifications. The salaries of English teachers, in general, are not as high as compared to some other countries such as Japan, Korea, and a few European countries. However, the low cost of living in Portugal can help you save some money. Moreover, the trend of private teaching is also on the rise, which can help you earn extra and make up for lower salaries.
    • Reasonable working hours – The working hours range between 20 to 30 hours per week and there is a possibility of teaching in the morning, afternoon and evening classes. However, in language schools, you get more flexibility as the classes are usually held after regular school hours, mostly in the evening and even afternoons.
    • A colorful culture and friendly people – The people of Portugal are friendly and very welcoming, which makes it easier for expats to settle down well and form acquaintances. The culture is also very rich with interesting customs, traditions and lots of festivals, which will keep your social calendar full.

    Cons of Teaching English in Portugal

    It is never an easy thing to leave everything behind and move to an entirely new country. Therefore, before you make the big decision, you should consider both the positives and cons of moving. Just like every country, Portugal, too, has a few cons that you should think about before accepting a job.

    • Some of the teaching programs may not be too organized The bitter reality is that most of the schools are not very well-organized. They lack a lot of facilities and many of the benefits they offer are not delivered. People working in Maia, Gaia and several other schools also mentioned disorganization in these places. The contracts may also contain many loopholes, which can later create problems for you.
    • Most of the employers use short-term contracts known as green receipts to offer temporary jobs to English teachers. These jobs do not offer many benefits and are mostly offered so your employer can get out of paying social security and taxes for you. Therefore, you must be very clear about what is being offered to you before you sign a contract because you may have to pay these expenses yourself.
    • Not all schools are a good choice There are international schools that offer a lot of facilities to both their teachers and students. However, there are many schools that may offer you benefits such as accommodation, but it may not be exactly what you expect. Therefore, if you can, you must visit the place and your accommodation before you sign a contract.
    • Cost of living is mounting – Yes, the cost of living is not as high as other European countries or Japan but it is not as low as you would like, especially in the bigger cities. Considering the lower salaries, this could make it difficult for you to save and lead a comfortable lifestyle. You may have to take up extra work such as private tuitions to earn a reasonable salary.

    What are the requirements for teaching English in Portugal?

    • Bachelor’s degree In order to get better job opportunities, a bachelor’s degree is required. The degree is not mandatory but it will help you get higher salaries and more offers. Your degree has to be from a recognized institution.
    • TESOL, CELTA or TEFL Certificate – These certificates are not mandatory but they will help you get noticed. If you are a native speaker without any experience, then a TEFL, CELTA or TESOL may help you get the job.
    • Experience – Most of the schools, especially the reputable ones or higher education institutions, will require you to have at least one year of teaching experience. Moreover, you should also mention any other experience of working with children, it does not necessarily have to be in the field of teaching. If you do not have any experience, you can still get entry-level or teacher assistant jobs, however, securing them may not be that easy if you are not a native speaker.
    • Native English Speakers – Being a native speaker may not be a mandatory requirement but almost all the schools will prefer native speakers to non-native English teachers. As mentioned before, being a native speaker may make your employer overlook many other aspects such as lack of experience, no certification or even, in a few cases, the absence of a degree.

    What are the visa requirements to teach English in Portugal?

    If you are a non-EU citizen, then you will need to have a work permit to legally teach English in Portugal. If you have secured a job before moving to Portugal, then your employer can apply for your work permit. The application, on your behalf, will be submitted to the local Labor Office.

    You will also need the following documents to apply for a work visa:

    • Duly filled & signed Visa application form.
    • Two photographs
    • A passport with a three-month validity
    • Your signed work agreement and other documents that have been approved by the Portuguese Ministry of Labor.
    • If you have a spouse or any children their educational certificates will be required.
    • Your employment letter from the Portuguese company
    • Accommodation proof
    • Copy of your flight booking
    • Both the copy and original of your travel insurance, which should be at least worth 30,000 Euros. The insurance policy should give you hospitalization and medical coverage for the duration of your stay in Portugal.

    Once you enter the country on your work permit you will have to apply for a Residency Card, which is mandatory for all the residents of Portugal. You will contact the Portuguese Immigration Office to apply for your Residency Card.

    If you do not have a job, then you will have to first get a tourist visa to enter the country. Your visa validity will be 90 days, which can be renewed if you failed to secure a job. In case you find a job on your visit visa, then your employer can help you get the work permit. However, you will then have to exit Portugal and return to your native country to start the work permit application process.

    Types of jobs for an English Teacher in Portugal

    • Private Schools – There are many Private Schools that are always looking to hire qualified native English teachers. Remember, these schools are privately owned and, therefore, have their own selection policies and rules.  You will be asked to put in about 20 to 30 hours of work each week. Classes for teenagers are usually 90-minutes long whereas children mostly have 45-minute classes. Your full participation in extracurricular activities will also be expected.
      • Salary and benefits – Some of these schools may offer you accommodation but it may not always be a good place to live. The more established and reputable schools may offer you better housing in more developed areas.
      • You can expect to make somewhere around $788 to $1,530 per month.
    • Public schools – The public school system in Portugal is not as good as the private sector. The salaries are not that great and the administration is also very disorganized. However, the government is doing its best to rectify the situation and is investing money to offer more facilities and increase the quality of education. It may not be the best option in terms of money but it will offer you a fairly steady job. However, getting a job in public school is not that easy as you will be asked to pass a Portuguese proficiency test. The biggest benefit offered by the public school is the complete health insurance coverage that will be given to you.
    • Private versus public schools which is the better option? – As a teacher, you always have to decide whether to apply for a job in public or private schools. Public schools in Portuguese are not as organized as some of the private schools. Even though there is not much difference in their salary packages but the perks offered by both the sectors are slightly different. Public school, as mentioned above, offer complete health insurance whereas some private schools may offer you accommodation consisting of a one-bedroom apartment. It may also be slightly easier to secure a job with a private school because the public school system requires you to pass the native language proficiency test.
    • Bilingual Schools – Bilingual schools are privately owned institutes where half of the curriculum is developed and taught in both the Portuguese and English languages. The aim of these schools is to make the students fluent in both languages by the time they leave school. Most expats enroll their children in these schools. As a teacher, you can not only teach English in these schools but can also take up other subjects such as history and science. The salary offered by bilingual schools is on the higher side of the salary spectrum, especially if you are an experienced and qualified teacher. It may not be mandatory but you may be preferred if you have the basic-level knowledge of the Portuguese language.
    • International Schools – International schools follow the international system of education. For example, a British school follows the British school system. These schools offer some of the best salaries and benefits. Some of them may offer accommodation or a housing allowance along with paid vacation leaves.

    Some of the international schools include the following:

      • Carlucci American International School
      • The Oporto International School
      • Oporto British School
      • The Nobel International School Algarve
    • British Council – The British Council has been working in Portugal for the last 80 years or so. It is one of the hubs for learning English in the country and offers many job opportunities to English teachers. If you get hired as a teacher, the British Council will also provide you with proper training, teaching material and other facilities that will help you become a better teacher. Benefits can include health insurance and professional support and development.

    You will be required to have the following qualifications:

      • A teaching certificate such as TEFL or TESOL.
      • At least two years of teaching experience.
      • A valid degree.
      • You can earn anywhere between $1,601 to $2,071 per month.
    • Universities – You can also teach at the university level but you will need to have teaching experience, a recognized degree and possibly a TEFL certificate. The salaries offered are good and you may also get benefits such as on-campus accommodation and health insurance.
    • Private tutoring – Private tutoring is quite a popular job for teachers in Portugal. Since the salaries are not that high so many teachers take up private students. You can earn anywhere between $15-$19 per hour as a private teacher. It is a great way to earn and save the extra cash and supplement your regular job. However, private tutoring will not offer you any benefits such as accommodation, airfare, health insurance, and paid vacation leaves.
    • Volunteering – Volunteering is one of the ways to teach English in Portugal. There are many programs that hire qualified teacher or teacher assistants from different countries and deploy them in underprivileged areas. Most of these programs may not offer any salary while others may offer a little stipend. However, if you are looking to gain international experience than volunteering to teach English in Portugal is a great option.

    Some of the volunteering programs include:

      • Frontier
      • International Volunteer HQ

    What is the general cost of living in Portugal, can I save money?

    Even though the cost of living is rising in Portugal but it is still not as high as some of the other European countries. The average monthly cost of living is between $1,521 and $1,555. Most of your monthly budget will be spent on rent, which may be around $425 per month. You will have to spend about $200 on utilities.  

    As for saving, if you only rely on your day job then it may be difficult for you to save or even break-even on your salary. However, if you have a private job with a private institute such as a language school or offer private tuitions then you will be able to supplement your regular income and save a decent amount of money on a monthly basis.

    How is the local transportation system in Portugal?

    The transportation system in the country is quite good and has an efficient network of trams, buses, metros, and taxis. A one-way ticket on a metro may cost you around $1.90 whereas a taxi ride of about 15 minutes may cost you around $12.50, which can go even lower if you split the ride with someone.

    You can also get a monthly pass for around $40, which will save you the hassle of standing in ticket lines daily.

    Do I need to learn Portuguese to teach English in Portugal?

    If you plan to teach in the public sector, then you will have to learn Portuguese as you will be asked to pass the Portuguese Proficiency test. For the private sector, learning the native language is not mandatory. However, it is always a good idea to understand the basics of the language as it will help you in your day-to-day activities and establishing a social network of friends and colleagues. Moreover, if you plan to rely on the local transportation system such as taxis, then your basic knowledge of Portuguese will come in handy because most of the cab drivers in Portugal do not understand or speak English.

    What is the alternate way of teaching English?

    There are many English teachers who either do not want to or cannot travel abroad but thanks to the internet, they can still get international teaching experience and teach English as a Foreign Language. The internet has many online language schools that hire a teacher to offer an English lesson to non-native students. However, when it comes to these schools you have to pick the one that is authentic and guarantees payment such as VIPKID

    What is VIPKID?

    It is the largest international online language school where over 500,000 Chinese students log in daily to learn English from 60,000 qualified teachers. Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy by teaching on VIPKID:

    • International experience – Yes, you can get international experience without having to travel abroad. you can teach English as a Foreign Language to students from China and improve your teaching skills. This will save you the money that goes into visa processing and traveling.
    • You get the teaching material – It is very difficult for private teachers to gather teaching material for their students as they have to spend hours to find authentic and relevant material. VIPKID, on the other hand, provides you with its own material before each of your lessons. You can spend your time planning creative lessons instead of surfing the internet for hours.
    • Great wages – VIPKID offers the best salary you can get online. Your lessons can help you earn anywhere between $7 to $22. Moreover, you can also get other incentives that can add more money to your basic salary. Since you can teach as many students as you want, therefore, you can earn a very good salary from VIPKID.
    • You get paid instantly – Getting paid instantly is a huge perk for any teacher. Instead of making you wait for an entire month you get paid at the end of your lesson. The money becomes available for withdrawal without any unnecessary delays and you can plan your weekly budgets easily.
    • Flexible hours – There is no strict schedule set by VIPKID that you have to follow, which is a great perk for teachers who have regular day jobs. You can work anytime you want and from anywhere you like.

    How to get hired by VIPKID?

    The hiring process is quite simple. You just have to fill out an application form and then your interview gets booked. The interview consists of a proper lesson, which you can either deliver live or pre-recorded. Once you get hired you can start teaching immediately.

    Requirements to teach on VIPKID

    You will need to have the following qualifications:

    • Year-long teaching experience or working with children.
    • A recognized bachelor’s degree.
    • Fluency in English.
    • A computer, good-quality headset and a good internet connection.


    Portugal is a beautiful country with many job opportunities for qualified English teachers from around the world. Even though getting a work permit may be very difficult for non-EU citizens but it is possible, which makes it legal for you to work in both private and public school sectors. However, in order to work in public schools, you will need to pass the Portuguese Language proficiency test. The overall salaries may not be as high as offered by some of the other European countries but the relatively lower cost of living may just help you save some money, especially if you take up private jobs and tutoring. However, if you do not wish to travel to Portugal, you can get hired by VIPKID as an English teacher and begin your TEFL career.