I moved to Germany without a visa and without a job lined up. Before I moved I completed the CELTA course (you can read about that here) to ensure that I would be able to find a job once I arrived in Germany. Even after completing the CELTA I was still nervous that I wouldn’t be able to find work, but I did! Here’s how I found jobs and what the working experience was like.

To find work I looked through the extensive list of English schools on ESL Base. ESL Base is great because they list every school by city. I went through and emailed my resume and cover letter to every single school in the city I was living in. I didn’t pay attention to if their websites actually said they were hiring. I just needed to get myself out there, and it worked! In my city there were about 25 English language schools and I heard back from about 8 of them within 2 weeks. Yeay! Things were looking up for me.

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I then went and interviewed at every school that contacted me. At this point, I did not have a work visa or residency permit (you can read about my visa experience here). The schools that were interested in having me work for them gave me a letter of intent so that I was able to get my freelance work visa. Once my visa was in order I started teaching at about 3 different schools. I had to weed through the schools because some only wanted someone to work crazy hours or they seemed a little sketchy and I was worried I wouldn’t be paid.

All of the school I interviewed with wanted someone to work on a freelance basis. This meant that I got paid only for what classes I taught. I had to pay for my own insurance and my own travel costs to classes throughout the city.

In the beginning, I took whatever classes were offered to me. I needed to build up my reputation as a quality teacher. Most of my classes were at 8am or in the evenings, which left me with huge gaps in my day. Also, these classes were at various international businesses throughout the city. Meaning a big chunk of my day was spent traveling to various locations. If it sounds horrible it’s because it was. It was very difficult for me to make friends because my only contacts were my students. I had to plan all my lessons at home with very little support from most of the schools I was working for. Most of my classes consisted of 5 to 10 students that took place in meeting rooms at their companies. Some groups were really motivated while others looked at English class as a way to take a break from their working day.

After about 6 months I got a job at a really great school. In Germany, the government provides free business English classes to people who are unemployed who could benefit in improving their English as a skill to put on their resume. This new school had classes at businesses throughout the city like I had been teaching, but they also had classes at an actual school for people who were unemployed. Working there turned out to be the best decision I could have made.

This company actually had a teachers lounge for all the teachers to gather and plan lessons as well as socialize. I finally started to make friends, and even better, they were all in the same situation as me. I also loved this company because I finally was able to get enough classes during the day to keep me busy and making money.

Overall, teaching English was not bad. Some classes were horrible and others were amazing. Some days I had no motivation to stand in front of a group of adults and teach them all day and other times I had so much fun. Over time I built myself up to be a trusted teacher and could be really selective of what classes I took on. I made enough money to travel often and live comfortably.

If you want to teach English in Germany it is totally possible, but I would caution you to be aware that the beginning will likely not be easy. It will take time to feel truly comfortable in the profession and to build yourself up as a trusted teacher. Also, you should move with plenty of money saved up because it might take awhile before you are making a consistent and steady income.

If you have questions please please leave them in the comment section. I’m so happy to help you out. It’s a really difficult process to go through on your own and I so wish I had someone to provide me with advice during the process.




  1. Some nice advice about teaching in Germany. It’s kind of like anywhere I think-it’ll be hard to get started at first, but then you’ll start to figure things out and make some friends. Heck, I even found moving back to Canada difficult and it’s my home country.

  2. Hi Sarah, your post has really come in handy for me. Thank you so much for sharing your experience!
    I am planning on taking CELTA in Hamburg or Berlin, so I can teach English in any of these cities or wherever in Europe. The thing is, I’m a little insecure, as English is not my native language (Portuguese is). Do you think it would be more difficult for me to get a job over there? I am already an ESL instructor for 4 years, does my experience count? I hold some proficiency certificates and a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. And no, I don’t speak any german.
    I have already gone through an interview and got accepted at a Hamburg center, although it made me wonder if they’re only interested in having students applying or if they will truly support the candidates in finding jobs.
    I appreciate any help you can provide! Thanks 🙂

    • Hi Heloisa, You should email me and we can talk. sarah.thewanderlanders@gmail.com I’m pretty sure The Hamburg School of English is the only school in Hamburg that offers the CELTA (correct me if I’m wrong) and I used to work there and can confirm they are wonderful. Seriously, email me though. I can give you all the insider tips on how to get jobs in Hamburg. 🙂

    • A teaching degree is not necessary, but I would definitely suggest taking the CELTA course or you will not have much like finding a job

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