Centrally located in Europe, Austria is a year-round magnet for tourists, and boasts spectacular alpine scenery, matched by the wonderfully overblown, baroque architecture of many of its cities.
Culture is a keynote, and music, art, and architecture reach their apogee in cities such as Salzburg and Vienna, the capital. Here, in the land of Mozart, there are plenty of large cities with strong cultural traditions, and Austria is a highly desirable location for anyone who seeks to combine a love of the arts and a passion for skiing, snowboarding, climbing or hiking.
The first language is German, though many young people are fluent in English. Minority languages in common use include Croatian and Turkish. It is a predominantly Roman Catholic country, and the currency in use is the euro.
Most TESOL opportunities are in academies catering to the business sector, though there are significant opportunities for seasonal work in summer schools. The majority of TESOL teachers in Austria are working on a freelance basis and work for more than one institute. Rates run at around €18 ($23) for a 45-minute lesson. It will take a very busy teacher to cover the high cost of living in a place like Vienna, however, living costs are very much less in the provinces.
Given that the market is slanted towards the business student expect to be ‘professional’, and to dress smartly. At interview and on your resume or CV it is important to stress any professional experience you may have. This, however trivial, will be seen as desirable by your potential employer, and will score points for you over the candidate who has no professional experience. As with most Western European countries, you will need a degree. You may find that a given institute requires a degree in the area in which it specializes - computing, for example. But this is not the case with summer schools, where you can expect more leeway.
You will find yourself teaching students who have many years of experience learning English. Hence, expect intermediate, upper intermediate and advanced students. Whilst it is exhilarating and rewarding to teach such students, it is important to prepare your classes well and make sure you are clear about the areas you are teaching - particularly with grammar. You don’t want to find yourself being corrected about tenses by your students!
Excellent English-language skills are seen as highly desirable by Austrians, hence you will generally find yourself dealing with highly-motivated students, really doing their best -very rewarding students to teach!
Visas and Regulations
Most schools are not prepared to go through the difficult process of hiring native English-speaking teachers from outside of Europe. However I-diom Professionelle Sprachprogramme claims it is easier to assist teachers from the US than from other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand.
One of the complications is the reciprocal social security system that exists within the EU. Schools are required to register their staff for a social security card and also pay part of their contributions, they are generally not willing to take on anybody who is ineligible. Fifteen percent of earnings are deducted at source for any teacher who earns more than €550 ($700) per month.
New arrivals are required to register with the police, organize a bank account into which their wages will be paid, and get a tax number from their local tax office.
For many the alpine resorts will be just as attractive as the big cities such as Salzburg and Vienna. This is not just for winter sports. Mountain biking, hiking and climbing are a big draw for many. In the big cities accommodation comes with a hefty price tag attached, but then, obviously, there is more work and it is better paid.
Getting a Job
Ninety percent of TESOL teachers in Austria are freelance, meaning that they work for a number of different institutes, get paid gross, and pay tax on their own initiative.
Those seeking employment in advance should contact the British Council in Vienna which lists about 25 English language institutes in Vienna.
Teachers with a business background of any description may find it worthwhile contacting the Austrian Cultural Forum in London. Those seeking work in the state schools should be advised that a teaching qualification is essential - i.e. a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education.
The Austrian on-line Yellow Pages are straight-forward and very useful for finding schools. The co-coordinating body for Volkshochschulen, adult education colleges, is Verband Osterreichischer Volkschochschulen, Vienna (1-216 4226).
The Austrian Embassy in Washington distributes a leaflet, Teaching English in Austria, which covers official teacher exchanges. About a hundred English Language Teaching Assistants are recruited annually from the US and the UK, for placement in secondary schools, by the British Council and the Fulbright Commission. This applies to those with a working knowledge of German.
Those seeking a job on the spot should visit a number of institutes and colleges in a bid to piece together a timetable. Working for between two and four institutes is manageable, but more than this can get quite complicated. It is also helpful to consult the English language newspapers, Austria Today and the Vienna Reporter.
Those interested in working with children in a summer camp should check out the links below.