You might think that, to work in Russia, you need to be able to speak Russian. And, while it’s undeniably an advantage to have a good grasp of the language, it isn’t absolutely vital for you to be able to talk Russian to work in this country – there are actually quite a few jobs in Russia for English speakers if you know where to look.
If you don’t speak any Russian at all, then probably the best option open to you is to look for a job teaching English in Russia. There are many opportunities for people whose first language is English to teach English in Russia, and English language schools in Russia are cropping all over the place, from big cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg, through cities right across the country, from Kaliningrad in the West through to Vladivostok in the East. Depending on the school, you will be teaching either children, independent students, or business students, or perhaps even a mix of all three.
Most reputable schools, particularly in the major cities, will insist that you have a TEFL certificate or a CELTA certificate before you work for them. There may be a few exceptions to this, but you have to ask yourself – if they are prepared to short-change their students with an unqualified teacher, how will they treat their employees?
Here is a list of some of the biggest, most respected English language schools in Russia, with links to their websites.
Salaries in English language schools aren’t great, but are usually more than enough to live on, particularly if you are outside of Moscow (and even in Moscow if you don’t have grand expectations of your ex-pat life). Salaries vary from employer to employer, and most schools drive a bargain – we recommend visiting a few EFL forums to find out what a fair salary is before you sign any contracts.
Most of the language schools in Russia have a fairly high turnover of teachers – not because they’re rubbish, just because English teachers don’t tend to stay in once place for long. The advantage of this for you is that they are usually very good at helping you to get settled into your new city, and many will offer you an accommodation and salary package, which means you don’t need to go out and find your own apartment.
If you don’t want to teach, then jobs for people who don’t speak much Russian are limited. Some of the major international firms often send their employees on secondment to Russia, particularly law firms. These firms often aren’t too worried about your ability with the language, but of course, you need to have a job with them in the first place. And most of them will insist that you learn some Russian while you are there, so that you can be more effective in business.