Teaching English in Spain

Working for yourself as a private teacher

Does being your own boss sound good to you? Well, what sounds good and what makes sense are two very different animals. Keep in mind that there are a lot of pros and cons that English teachers need to consider before entering the world of self-employment.

The most attractive advantage of being a self-employed is obvious; more money. Self-employed teachers find classes on their own, so there's no agency skimming a percentage off the top. They take home everything they earn.

So, how do self-employed teachers find students?

The common thing to do it hit the streets with fliers; and in fact, fliers tend to be quite effective for language teachers. However, distributing them is quite time consuming. While most businesses hire distribution companies to get their fliers around town, private teachers try to cover the same areas on their own.

If you've ever gone on a flier campaign before, you know how physically exhaustive it is to carry around a bag of fliers with tape, tacks, and maps, for hours on end–trust me, I've done it.

One day while I was putting up my umpteenth flier under a hot Madrileño sun, with my feet blistering from so much walking around, the idea for creating an online database of private language teachers popped into my head. Check it out at MAPLanguage.com; academies, as well as individuals, use it to find teacher–create a teacher profile and you just might save yourself a lot of footwork.

Another good way to find work is by placing free classified ads online and in print publications. Try placing ads in:

What are the disadvantages?

Finally, if working for yourself had no disadvantages, everyone would be doing it. Keep in mind that being your own boss carries a lot of weight. Self-employed teachers are responsible for all of their own expenses, including books, videos, photocopies, and travel costs. In addition, if you work for yourself, you set your own hours. This creates a l heightened level of responsibility; for example, if you want to cancel a class because you have a hangover, well…you can. Therefore, the self-employment option is best for reliable, serious teachers. After all, if you can't keep up a good work ethic without the fear of reprimand from your boss, you'll likely drown out there on your own.

Additionally, self-employed teachers get no paid sick leave and no paid vacations. Unless they work completely under-the-table (which is actually quite common), they are responsible for filling out the proper tax paperwork with the government.

And as a general rule, self-employed people work much longer hours than others, work irregular hours, and are constantly worried about keeping a steady stream of income.

Go for it!

But don't let that get you down. If you are responsible and dedicated, enjoy the freedom of being your own boss, and want to make a good amount of money, going out on your own is absolutely the best option for you. The best part? If you succeed, you know you did it by yourself!

By Phillip Stark
Founder - MAPLanguages.com 
Spain's premiere search engine for private language teachers and academies.

Photo - Cervantes at Madrid's San Isidro festival 2006
Courtesy of MAP Magazine
Madrid's hippest bilingual Webzine 

Further reading

Does this article help?

Do you have any comments, updates or questions on this topic? Ask them here: