I'm Cara. I'm an American, and I have been working in Prague since February 2009. I taught English in Prague for about a year and half after getting my TEFL certificate from TEFL Worldwide Prague, and I now work at TEFL Worldwide (teflworldwideprague.com). To take most TEFL courses, you do not need to have prior experience. And the same goes for getting a job here. Not all companies will require experience. However, to work in Prague and get a visa here legally, you will give yourself the best chance if you have a university degree. A lot of countries these days are requesting a university degree (in any subject) for their employees. It's usually related to the visa laws. Your best shots of working without a degree will be China, Africa, and Latin America.
Where exactly are you from? If you are from the UK, you will still have a shot of securing a job here since you will not need to apply a visa, and I have known UK citizens to teach in Prague without a university degree. However, if you are a non-EU citizen, most schools will want a degree. You may have one other option to work legally in the Czech Republic (something other than a working visa), but this process is much more complicated and is more costly.
I just wanted to clarify in my experience, I have really only seen EU citizens without a degree get a job here in Prague (since they don't require a visa). For non-EU citizens, it is much more difficult as many employers want the degree and want it for the working visa. I'm not saying it is impossible to get a job without a degree in Prague. However, it's much more difficult, especially if you're straight out of university and don't have much working experience. It's much more difficult than in China for example where it is not always essential. It is true that many employers in China will also want a degree, but I have also known of Americans to go teach there without a university degree, and this has happened just this year.
The above advice so far is a bit off and bit outdated.
Here's the scoop if you want to teach in Prague as a non EU and do it legally.
You basically have two options
Work Permit: This is what you get from your employer and you will use your work permit to get your visa. The current trend with work permits are that they are getting harder and harder to get. Not impossible, but it's a hit or miss type of thing. For a work permit you will need a degree. You will also need to get an apostille on your degree and then get it accredited at Charles University in Prague. This is new rule that has come into effect back in February/March. If you have a degree in education, your chances or getting your work permit accepted is greater.
Zivnostensky List: Otherwise known as a trade license. This is what I'm recommending all of our future students at least prepare to get. It costs money, but it more of a sure thing and will greatly increase your ability to find work in the city and the amount you'll be paid per hour. The Zivno itself costs about 250 dollars. You'll also need to purchase Czech healthcare insurance for a year. The biggest hurdle is that to get a legal you need to show proof of funds to the Czech government. This is ideally a signed or stamped bank statement by your bank with the equivalent of 120,000 CZK (6,500 USD) in it. It's good for 180 days, but I recommend my students getting the bank statement a week or two max before heading over.
To get your visa you will have to get all of your paper work (work permit/zivno) whatever you decide to do finished within about 45 days or so of making the move. You do get a 90 day visa once you enter into the country, but Visas take time to process and if you overshoot your stay, you're kind of screwed. Once you have your paper work complete you'll travel outside of the country (Vienna, Bratislava) and submit your papers to the Czech embassy. After that, it can take weeks or months for them to clear it, where then you return and pick it up.
There's a bunch more things, but that's kind of the crux of it all.
If you are planning on teaching abroad and this is the first time you've heard about any of this, please contact me at chris[at]thelanguagehouse.net. I'm not going to sell you a TEFL course, but you need to be aware of these things and many TEFL course providers either don't know about the new rules or don't really seem to worry about them. You should.
Thanks for correcting that, Chris. Since the visa rules are always changing in the Czech Republic, it's always best to research the most current visa laws before moving abroad. All of Chris's information is correct. A degree is essential for a working visa in the Czech Republic, and must be submitted with your application for a work permit. And this degree must be apostilled from your home country, and then translated into Czech and sent to a Czech University (usually Charles University) to be certified that it is the equivalent to a Czech degree.
Actually, these days the Trade License is a great option regardless of how long you plan to be here since less paperwork is required and a degree is not required for this. Needless to say though, you can of course still apply for a working visa if you prefer as long as you have a degree. It is true though that you will need to enlist a Czech speaker to help you with the Trade License since you will need to register at different offices in the Czech Republic.
I would also like to agree with the point that regardless of which option you choose, you must apply before your 90 days in the Schengen Territory are up. If you'd prefer you can also try to apply for a short-term visa while your long term visa is being processed. Unfortunately, you cannot apply for a bridging visa with your intial visa. The bridging visa applies to visa renewals. But you can apply for the short term visa instead.
You can also email me at english[at]teflworldwideprague.com for more info.
Neville, if you are having success with your graduates getting work permits without degrees, then more power to you. I would say from my experience people without degrees should sweat it, because they will be at a disadvantage. Not an impossible disadvantage, but they need to come to Prague ready to walk uphill for a bit. Expats with university degrees and a TEFL certificate are the norm in Prague and not having both of those qualifications (lacking a degree) means that they will have to work harder than the others. From the people that I talk to that handle visas for various schools and organizations, they are practically pleading with me to make sure everyone has their original degree with an apostille on it to avoid trouble. Can you get by with only a TEFL certificate for a work permit? You might, but it's not a gamble I would be willing to make with a potential student's future. It's too big of a risk and I usually tell them to just aim for the Zivno just in case.
Anyway, a lot of good information on here. For anyone who's not EU (I'm in that category myself) the best advice I can give you is to learn as much about the process as you can and meet/talk to as many teachers who have recently gone through the process. Visa rules/regulations can change depending on what office you go into in Prague and they seem to change yearly now. The smartest thing to do is to have absolutely no way for the government to question your documents, so bring everything, even if you might be able to get away with less. Why risk it?
The PDF information link ( quoted in above posts ) is not an official ministry of labor and social affairs document and there are some inconsistencies contained within this document.
We have contacted the home office and urad prace (the labor office is a section of the ministry) and were sent the following confirmation of the law (in Czech only) : portal.mpsv.cz/sz/obecne/prav_predpisy/akt_zneni/zakon_c._435-2004_sb.pdf
Nowhere does it specifically mention that a university degree is an essential document for the work visa application.
Here is the official word regarding what is required of a visa applicant (in plain English) : portal.mpsv.cz/sz/zahr_zam/zz_zamest_cizincu/zz_zamest_ciz
It was reconfirmed for us that EU nationals don't need to provide any proof of teaching-related education. Non EU nationals do. However, it is the interpretation of this law which is in question and in the Czech Republic visa laws can be interpreted in different ways by different offices sometimes.
The specific area in the law open for interpretation is:
"An officially certified duplicate of the proof of professional capacity for the business in which the foreigner will work in the territory of the Czech Republic (vocational certificate, secondary school leaving certificate, diploma of completion of higher education, etc.);".
If you go to the official job portal ( portal.mpsv.cz/sz/zahr_zam/prociz/vmciz ), choose jobs in education, you will get a list of teaching jobs that are approved to be offered to non EUs. There are requirements as well and they state that a teaching certificate is required (they don't state that a University degree in pedagogy is required).
State schools do require at least a Ba. However, private preschools and language schools (the places where you will most likely be teaching) only require at least secondary education. We recommend bringing with you your original diploma of highest achieved education.
Our graduates for example have been successfully granted work visas to date by providing proof of either their TEFL certification OR degree (or both obviously if they possess both).
However, we are going to begin making clients aware that they should bring notarized copies of their degrees as well, as a precaution because the way the law is interpreted could vary depending on which office you apply at.
For those wanting to know btw, the nostrification process is done here: Magistrát hl. m. Prahy, odbor kolství, Jungmannova 29/35, 110 00 Praha 1 Mgr. Martin Fučík, č. dveří 618, tel.: 236 005 214 Jana Neumanová, č. dveří 635, tel.: 236 005 266
As an additional precautionary measure, we are going to float a memo round the 100+ language schools in Prague just checking to see if they are aware that since January 2012 that the proof of education document submitted as part of the visa process (degree or TEFL certificate) does need to be notarized.
We don't recommend that clients apply for a trade license unless they are going to be here for more than 2 years. This is because of the expense and hassle regarding applying for the trade license and other minor annoyances such as needing to find and pay an accountant to do your taxes. We recommend that if you are going to be in Prague for a relatively short time then you should go for the work visa and let your language school worry about taxes, etc.
I hope this helps and have a lovely evening!
Last edited by ITTP TEFL Prague (17 May 2012 16:09:31)