Every summer many holidaymakers fall in love with Turkey and develop a dream to return here but the only way they can sustain that vision is by finding work to support themselves financially. The article that I previously wrote about this subject received much attention because working in Turkey was a minefield to be negotiated with a lot of planning and patience, and unfortunately, many horror stories had emerged.
Now, pitching up at the airport and finding a bar job within a week is still not something I would recommend. However, readers will be glad to know that the Turkish government has warmed to the idea of foreign workers and every day I’m hearing of more and more people who have been granted a permit to work legally. So I have rewritten this post to get rid of the doom and gloom and instead give some helpful hints and tips on how to go about it.
Finding Jobs in Turkey: Holiday Reps, Teaching English & Internet Freelancing
Foreigners cannot do certain jobs in Turkey and these generally include hospitals, qualified trades, legal offices, etc. but there are other jobs when being a foreigner is actually an advantage. Each has their own set of criteria as to whether a work permit will be given and in bars/hotels; this typically depends on how many native Turks are also employed by the same establishment. However, there are other viable options.
Teach English as a Second Language
Hundreds of schools all over the country employ foreigners to teach Turkish students English, and they generally ask for a TEFL or TESOL qualification. Both are standard qualifications recognised all over the world.
To obtain them, students follow a set course with modules, lasting approximately 100 hours in which they learn how to teach English in the most proficient manner. In Turkey, private language schools are usually in the cities of Istanbul, Izmir, or Ankara and teaching jobs can be found by simply searching Google for the job boards.
Most of them need summer hotel and airport reps and this is how I supported myself during my first five years in Turkey. When I worked for them, my accommodation was also provided which was a great help, but this tends to differ from company to company as to whether they will include it.
The only downside of working for a holiday company was the long hours and the tendency to move reps around, therefore making it very hard to settle in one place. Otherwise, it was a good job that enabled me to visit many places in Turkey.
This is the job I do. It is a lifelong career choice that has taken off worldwide, and I think it will continue to be popular because it allows flexibility; hence, this is why many nomadic travellers do it.
As long as you have a laptop, and access to the Internet, you can source work such as writing, blogging, social media management, web design, and technology on websites like upwork.com. A similar concept is that of a virtual assistant and if you plan to stay in Turkey long term, you can officially register yourself as self-employed to pay tax, health care, etc.
Working Permits for Jobs in Turkey
So some jobs will maximise your chances of working in Turkey, but what about the work permits? The good news is that the process now seems more streamlined but more importantly timely with their responses. This newspaper article says “100,000 foreigners applied to obtain a work permit in Turkey between 2009 and 2013 and 64,279 of these applications were successful.”
I’ve never applied for a working permit because I registered myself as self-employed on citizenship basis, but further information on work permits is displayed on this official website, or your potential employer can refer to the website of the Turkish Ministry of Labour and social security.
Let me know in the comment box below if you have experience of working in Turkey as a foreigner. Would you advise against it or do you have a fail-proof method for anyone wanting to live and work in the sun?