The job market for teaching English in Italy is good because of the high demand for learning English, and there are quite a lot of ESL jobs in country. The bad side of this is that there is also a high supply of teachers which has resulted in a stagnation in the salaries of English teachers.
For many, teaching English in Italy is a dream. Just to be in the country is enough – another reason for the low salaries. However, TEFL jobs in Italy generally provide enough money to live, and many English teachers enjoy their life in the country.
For many jobs no experience is required for teaching English in Italy, although it will help you, and it will open up better jobs for you. A degree is nearly always asked for. Without a degree you will, most likely, be looking at the very bottom of the barrel jobs. A TEFL certificate is almost always asked for, however, teachers with experience can still be hired without one.
While a TEFL certificate is not absolutely essential, it will allow you to apply to some of the better schools, and avoid the worst experiences of teaching English in Italy. Tefl training will also give you some ideas for the classroom. If you have no experience you are better off getting a TEFL certificate
Salaries range from under €900 to about €1,600, but you can find higher. For this you will be expected to work 25-30 hours a week. Privates pay around €15-€30 an hour. The cost of living is high in Italy, as are taxes.
Accommodation, healthcare and flights are seldom paid for, although if you are offered free accommodation, it may be worth considering, but it will mean that your home is tied to your job. Choose whether you want to live in the North or the South of Italy. Differences in salary are not always as big as the differences in the relative cost of living, and rents can be much lower in the south.
Finding ESL jobs in Italy is best done when you are there, although there are jobs advertised online. Send your cv and a cover letter to as many schools as you can, and follow up with telephone calls soon after. Start learning Italian as soon as you can. This can sometimes give you an advantage, this is especially true for setting up privates.
Schools begin looking for teachers from February or March, until just before term starts in September or October. Openings do occur at various times of the year. Remember that lot's of schools are closed, or the people doing the hiring will be away during August. Contracts run from September/October through to the following May/June. There's some work at summer camps during June/July.
For non-EU citizens it has become much more difficult to get a work visa. EU citizens don't need work visas. Therefore hiring British and Irish citizens is much simpler for language schools. Some schools will sponsor non-EU citizens for a work visa, if they are well qualified. The school will have to prove that you can do a job that no EU citizen can. It's possible, but anecdotal evidence suggests waits of up to 9 months to get visas.
The part of Italy you choose can also have an effect on your chances. Remoter regions, in the south, are reported to be easier. In the past many teachers would border hop, but with the Schengen Treaty there is now a rule of 90 days in (the Schengen Zone) followed by 90 days out (of the Schengen Zone). The zone covers most of Western Europe.
This way is not for everyone, but if you speak reasonable Italian, have a good business sense, and a lot of drive, you can set yourself up as a freelance teacher. This is a good option if you plan on staying in Italy for a longer period of time. If you market your services directly to companies you can charge more per hour. You will need to get your own tax number (partita Iva) and pay your own taxes. Of course, being freelance is the most precarious way of teaching English in Italy, but it can be the most lucrative.