Most schools stipulate a minimum required teaching qualification on their web sites, often a CELTA or similar entry-level certification. Actually, the demand is so high that you may come even without the proper certifications and teaching experience. In most cases a university degree is more than adequate, especially if it is in a language- or business-related discipline.
The demand for English in business is particularly high. When you come to private schools they may sent you straight to their client’s places. The ability to discuss business comfortably is essential.
On Your Own
Bypassing the schools and going straight to the businesses yourself can be very profitable, but finding your way in takes time and patience. The tactics when you just come and say without any prior announcement that you are an English teacher and you want to work here may not work. Consider working through a school at least to begin. You must try to influence your students in order to set example for them as a strict but just teacher.
Good references are more important than qualifications. You should do your best to get a good recommendation; working good is a sole ways to get the proper one. You never know whose parents major investment bankers are looking for a reliable English teacher for their staff.
On or Off Contract?
If you don’t need to rely on a school to provide visa and other support, you may prefer to work as a freelancer. This may give you some more freedom and the possibility to earn more money, though deprive you of the stable contract conditions. All schools can be approached with enquiries about freelancing, even the big ones. For native speakers the most difficult thing is winter, as its very hard for most of teachers whop have not got used to frost. Small schools have been known to give unconditional offers of work over the phone, without even seeing the applicant.
It’s hard to find the information about small schools via the internet. If you know Russian, the Rambler (http://www.rambler.ru/) and Yandex (http://www.ya.ru/) search engines will turn up a seemingly endless number of small private institutions. A big number of small schools have no opportunity to be presented in the net. My own web site (http://www.visarus.co.uk/) contains a free and growing list of schools in Saint Petersburg and Moscow, with addresses and telephone numbers.
The Russia job discussion forum on Dave Sperling’s famous site, http://www.eslcafe.com/ is an excellent source of advice on all teaching-related matters. On the forum you can find people who are to help you in any difficulty. The eslcafe jobs board (www.eslcafe.com/joblist/) lists a number of teaching vacancies, mainly in larger schools.
One ESL cafe forum member, Jon D. Ayres, has posted a number of articles on http://www.escapeartist.com/ about his experiences in Russia. He tells how was for him to come and establish himself as a freelancer. His experience may be useful for other English teache4rs that come to Russia. Of all his advice, probably the most useful is not to put all your eggs in one basket.
Freelancing is akin to running a 1-man business. You should not rely just on one or two clients. Organizing your time effectively is essential, and maintaining a manageable client base will help to insure you against the losses which occur when one school, business, or private student cancels a few lessons or decides that your services are no longer needed at all.
Keeping an eye out for opportunities will pay dividends. English native speakers are not only capable to get the job of a teacher in Russia. Proofreading and editing are not necessarily well paid jobs, but they can usually be done from the comfort of home, provided you have a computer. Any contact is important, so try to make as many of them as possible.
Russia is not the easiest place for foreigners to work, but with a taste for adventure and some ambition, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.