Working in Italy through English Companies: a very useful guide
Living and working in Italy is a dream for many, but the question that most often pops up is: What would I do? More often than not you will see articles about people who moved abroad to teach the English language, but are there other things to do? There is always an alternative. Finding a job is always difficult, no matter the country, so why not be somewhere beautiful?
So, what else can I do?
If you have some experience in another field, you can check out multinational corporations with offices in Italy. This might be a limited route however as they will often require applicants to be fluent in Italian as well as English. Knowing Italian, even at a basic level, is somewhat of a necessity. Not only will trying to speak the language endear you to your colleagues, but it can demonstrate a desire or willingness to assimilate to the culture (which goes a long way when dealing with the bureaucratic side of things).
Location is important. Many, if not most, of the opportunities for foreign workers are in the larger cities: Milan, Rome, sometimes Florence or Naples, but there is a tendency for the unemployment rate to rise as you head farther south.
If you have high quality writing skills, a lot of the newer startups (and even some long-established companies) look for younger copywriters and content creators, but this is a competitive field which requires a high amount of creativity—and generally an established portfolio. On a similar note, there are tons of positions for social media managers across the board.
Up until COVID, customer service jobs and jobs in the hospitality industry were booming. They are slowly starting to recover in 2021 and are a good choice for native English speakers. The downside to these jobs is that they are often shift-based and offer little flexibility while being a stable source of income. There is also the possibility of becoming a tour guide, provided that you know (or are able to learn quickly) about Italian history within the city you choose.
If you happen to work in a technology related field such as software engineering, then there are plenty of opportunities for work, the only downside is that the job is not nearly as highly paid in Italy as it is in the United States or even in other EU countries. These tech jobs adapted well to the new smart working procedures adapted during COVID and experienced lower levels of unemployment than jobs which required an office presence.
When you manage to land a contract, try to get a long term/permanent (tempo indeterminato) one in the negotiations. In Italy it is common to offer short term (tempo determinato) contracts that can be renewed yearly; the type of contract will be clearly specified as required by law. Check about this our article about contract work in Italy.
Let’s take a quick look at English language teaching and why the appeal remains the most popular choice.
Teaching English to Italians:
The most common way for English speaking natives to work in Italy is by teaching English, especially those coming from the United States. This is partly because the job itself is one of the few that does not have an acceptance quota within the Italian system as many other types of jobs coming from abroad do. English teachers can generally do pretty well despite some of the shady opportunities that sometimes appear online: it is always a good idea to look into a company or language school before applying.
In most cases employers will be looking for CELTA (Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults) certified teachers as the course itself is more intensive, but will sometimes make exceptions for TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certified teachers provided that they already have a year or two of teaching experience. One of the benefits to this job, however, is that it is one of the few that does not require communicating with a high level of Italian. Most of the time, if you find a job in English elsewhere, the day-to-day activities will still be carried out in Italian.
Most language schools look to employ a range of native speakers so that the students are exposed to multiple accents, and, given the difficulty of obtaining a working visa as an American citizen who wants to move to Italy, this is a big advantage when looking for work and is a viable short term option. Of course, if you don’t want to teach English there are other opportunities. One final point before we conclude, many jobs require their Italian workers to be fluent in English or close to it, if only for emails, which helps keep English teachers employed at a stable rate—just something to keep in mind.
Moving to Italy is a big decision. It won’t always be easy and the sooner you learn the language, the more possibilities will be open to you. While you’re doing this (learning Italian), being an English teacher can be a gateway to finding other jobs in Italy.
For more informations about this check our article about working time in Italy, calculating Italian salaries in Italy, what is the average salary, and business etiquette in Italy.
After moving back to Italy from the United States in 2013, I realized how much an accounting and tax firm was needed to help expats living in Italy to comply with the local tax regulations.