Finding Jobs In Prague as an Expat
Regardless of what you know about Prague, there is one constant in this ancient city: the expat English teacher. I was an English teacher, and all of my expat friends (mostly native English speakers, two were from Singapore and Russia!) have taught or are still teaching English. Prague first draws you in with a month-long TEFL course, and then keeps you here to memorize the early morning tram schedules and the outermost suburban bus routes as you transform yourself into the ubiquitous, city-wandering English teacher. Or you might end up working full-time for preschools or high schools in order to avoid the endless daily treks across Prague.
Recent statistics put out by the Czech government state that there are only 3,000 Americans in Prague (at least legally) as opposed to over 40,000 Russians in the city. Some Americans, on the other hand, are being forced to leave due to EU Schengen visa regulations (see the Living in Prague article for more on this matter). But of those U.S., Canadian, or Australian citizens who have managed to get a long-term visa, most have come to Prague in order to teach English.
You can no doubt find a non-teaching full-time job in Prague; but why live the same life in Prague as you would have back home? It's true that most of expats in Prague aren't drowning in the money from a well-paying job with benefits. But due to the relatively low cost of living in the Czech Republic, expats can live pretty decently with an income that is often half of what is earned at home—and not even have to teach English unless they enjoy doing so.
What follows are some of your others options for work besides teaching:
Work in Call centers
These customer service hotspots always have high rates of turnover (this is probably a world-wide phenomenon), and are constantly looking for individuals of any nationality, but especially those who can speak English as well as one or more other languages. This position is often a good place to start for those seeking to settle into the city with a solid, secure income, which will allow you freedom to search for more fulfilling work in the meantime.
Be a Consultant
What do you have to offer? What skills or talents do you have? Cash in on all those years spent teaching yourself how to play the accordion or guitar or keyboard, and put up ads for music lessons. If you have classical training or professional experience, that is even better. What about dancing or cooking? Czechs (the younger generation especially), but also expats, are highly interested in learning about different cultures, so if you are a salsa or tango maestro (both are very popular in Prague at the moment), or are an expert cook, advertise yourself. These days, everyone is a consultant for something or the other. Take some time to think about the type of consulting services that you can offer: home decorating, dog walking, haircuts, manicures, gardening/landscaping, graphic design, sewing/knitting—the list goes on. Such services are especially appreciated by other expats who might feel more comfortable with someone who also speaks English and can easily understand their specific requirements.
Particularly in the busy summer season, hostels and even smaller hotels will be looking for receptionists, cooks, bartenders, wait staff, etc. However, you should be ready to work weekend and night shifts.
Tour Guide Jobs
Prague has several companies offering walking tours of the city. The free tours are popular with tourists, and you can make decent money from tips as long as you prove to be an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide. This is a great way to work outdoors, and meet people from all over the world. You can also try applying for a position as a guide for paid tours, but the qualification process is stricter. Try Sandemans, which hires regularly.
Babysitter/Au Pair Jobs
A job is for those who love to be around children, some families may also require you to have experience, especially if you will be taking care of infants. Usually, there is some light housekeeping, meal preparation, errand running, and maybe driving or walking the children to school or lessons, etc. involved. The many expat families in Prague are often in need of a reliable babysitter or au pair, and you can find ads posted in the classifieds section of Expats.cz or Prague.tv. Also, you might want to contact various embassies (especially if you are from that country or are skilled in the language of that country), whose employees are posted to Prague with their family and need babysitting or au pair services.
Working in Cafes/Bars/Restaurants
Like anyplace in the world, the restaurant industry is a constant source of work, albeit unsteady, stressful and/or low-paying. But there are certainly perks like free meals and drinks (less money to spend on groceries, less time cooking at home), making friends, learning Czech, and other various bonuses depending on what kind of establishment you find yourself in—fancy, touristy, business formal, student cool, or local casual. Your best bet for a fast hire is a touristy place, where they are more willing to take in foreigners who can speak English. But beware that these places will have more of a stressful environment. You will probably be paid anywhere from 70 to 120 CZK an hour, but don't expect tips. Customers, especially tourists, tend to leave tips, but there is no rigid tipping custom, and tips are not always distributed to the wait staff in any case.
Freelance Writing / Editing / Proofreading / Translating Jobs
If you are a wordsmith, you can offer to proofread items that have been written by a non-native English speaker, like restaurant/cafe menus, content for local publications (magazines, brochures, newsletters, etc) or advertisements for small businesses. Research the local and regional English language publications, both online and offline, and offer your editing, writing, proofreading or translation services. If you have experience, send them your CV (it's not called a resume here), and any previous work samples. One great way to discover English-language publications is to simply walk around the city, pop into various cafes, bars, restaurants, and hotels to see if they distribute any English-language magazines, brochures or newsletters.
The Not-So-Starving Artist
Before Prague was full of expats who came to teach English, it was brimming over with expats who came to write a novel. But you can still carry on the tradition of the Bohemian. Do you act, paint, take photographs, play an instrument, sing, dance? Then put on an exhibition, show your portfolio to a gallery, arrange a concert, join a band or performance group. Start by attending exhibitions or performances that interest you or seem to be something you could do. Talk to the artists, managers, anyone you meet there, make connections, exchange contact information and links to your portfolio, and hand out CDs or DVDs of your work. Offer an initial performance or exhibition for free—it could lead to a paying gig. If you call yourself an artist, then be creative in advertising your talents in the right places.
The Working Visa
If you are an EU citizen, you are legally permitted to work within the Czech Republic. If you are not an EU citizen, then it is up to the employer to decide to hire you without giving you a work permit or work visa—something that still happens often in Prague. Just as you don't need a working visa to engage in part-time English teaching at a language school or for teaching private lessons, you will find that most freelance and part-time work of the non-teaching nature will not require a working visa. If you are planning to go full-time however, then you will need the work permit and visa, which the company should usually help you to obtain—especially if it is a reputable and established business.
The main thing to keep in mind about job-hunting in Prague (this probably applies to any city) is that when you see an opportunity to network and to connect the dots, jump on it. Always be on the lookout for places where your skills could be useful—and you might just land the perfect job in Prague.
For More Information
- www.expats.cz: Daily postings of jobs, including call centers, hotels, hostels, babysitting and random freelance gigs; also a good place to post a free classified ad to promote your expertise and skills.
- www.prague.tv: Excellent events listings, which means excellent listing of performance venues, galleries, etc across the city where artists can present themselves for a gig.