Study Abroad Work in Italy
More Than 100 Schools Hire Teachers and Administrators
by Michael P. Gerace
Downtown Seoul, South Korea.
Study abroad is a promising road to finding a job in Italy where its more than 100 American schools all hire people to teach courses and administer their programs. Work in study abroad offers more stability and (frequently)
better pay than other types of jobs open to foreigners in Italy.
How does one find such a job? There are a few strategies that can lead to success, but persistence and patience are the keys.
First, know about job postings. While many openings are never advertised because they are filled quickly, the best place to look for those that are is Wanted in Rome,
an English-language magazine read by the expat community in Italy. Job postings are free on its website. Another good prospect is the NAFSA (Association of International Educators),
which posts many international jobs. The Chronicle of Higher Education’s job section occasionally posts something for Italy as well.
Mine the AACUPI (the Association of American College and University Programs in Italy) website. AACUPI represents American
study abroad programs in Italy and has about 90 members, most in Florence and Rome. The website lists all of its member schools and most of the names and email addresses of the schools’ directors. Write a cover letter explaining your interest,
attach a resume and email it to a director. You may be ignored, but you may also get some interesting responses.
Consider starting as an intern, which could lead to a paying job. The positions may not pay but may offer housing. The best way to find an internship is to email program directors and ask. Even if a school does not have
an internship program, you could suggest they try you. Study abroad programs in Italy are just coming around to the idea. It is free labor and it is easier for them than hiring someone who may not have the right to work legally in Italy.
The single best strategy to land a job in study abroad in Italy is to take the risk and go there and seek a job after you have arrived. Once you are there you can visit schools in person. This proves to a prospective employer
that you are willing to leave the comforts of home and show up at a job site in a foreign country. Finding reliable people is often difficult for a school, especially for those located outside of Florence and Rome. If you make yourself familiar
and available, you might get hired temporarily, which could lead to a full-time job.
Like all countries, Italy has legal requirements for foreigners who want to work and live there. Simply to reside in Italy for longer than seven days requires foreigners to obtain official permission to stay (called
a permesso di soggiorno). If you are traveling around the country as a tourist, you do not need a permesso. This is only for someone who will stay at a specific address for a period of time. The permesso is obtained from the
local questura (police department) in the city where you live. A permesso can be granted to you as a tourist (the easiest), as a student (requires a study visa), or as a worker (requires a work visa).
Many Americans stay in Italy without a permesso, and Italian enforcement of this is sporadic to nonexistent. Ignoring the law, however, might put you at a disadvantage. The rental agency or landlord who owns the
apartment that you want may require that you get one. You will also need it if you go to the hospital or deal with the government or police for any reason. If it is your first time in Italy, then get a permesso as a tourist. You will
only need your passport for this and, if you are an American you will be granted an automatic 90-day stay in Italy. People from other EU countries also need permessi to reside in Italy.
The Work Visa
Legal work in Italy as a foreigner requires a work visa. The hassle involved in getting one is a story in its own right, but the major hurdle is getting sponsored by the school that will hire you. Many Americans work “under
the table” without a visa. The usual procedure is to get hired first, then, sometime later, apply for a visa. The trick is finding a school that will hire you this way. A school will rarely sponsor you for a visa without your first having
a track record of employment with them.
If you already know Italian, this will help you. Programs in Italy always need people who can speak both Italian and English. If you do not have good Italian skills, acquire them.
If you have an advanced degree, you could teach. Course offerings at U.S. schools and programs span the disciplines and are mostly taught in English. Art history, Italian literature, and Italian cinema teachers are always
in demand, but there are also many people with these degrees looking for jobs. If you have a degree in business, psychology, or economics you may find it easier to obtain a position. Visit the websites of the schools listed in AACUPI and look
at their course offerings to get an idea of their needs.
If you do land a teaching job in Italy, pay is by the course and can vary from $2,500 to $5,000, depending on where and what you teach. Once you learn the ropes you could end up teaching three or more courses per term at
one or more schools.
If teaching is not an option, then there are administrative positions that may not require any special education. These jobs are usually full time and offer a salary, though the pay can vary greatly. Most non-teaching jobs
involve office work, housing, and student services. Some jobs require significant language ability and a lot of local knowledge, but you can learn. You might get a job leading students on trips around Italy, for example. You would have to know
how to charter buses, contact hotels, and create itineraries for the students.
Any experience in American higher education is a plus. Programs need people who can function effectively in Italy, but they also need people who understand American-style academic or student service standards.
If you have dual citizenship or can qualify for it, you have a huge advantage. If you can get Italian citizenship or citizenship in any other EU country, you have no need for a visa (nor for a permesso if you have
Italian citizenship). If you have Italian ancestors, you might want to visit the Farnesina Italian government site, which describes all of the ways that a person could qualify. If your
ancestors are from another EU country, visit that country’s consulate and embassy websites in the U.S. for information on qualification.
Michael P. Gerace lived and worked in Italy for four years. He taught political science and economics in the cities of Perugia and Florence. He currently lives in Massachusetts.