Sweden is a great country to move to and pursue a profession in teaching. However, as in other European countries, there are certain regulations and requirements when it comes to finding a job and working as a teacher.
In this article, you’ll find out how to get your teaching career started once you’ve moved to Sweden.
Teaching in general
If you have a general teaching degree which is not specialised in a language or a specific subject, you will have to speak Swedish fluently. Your degree will also have to be officially approved by the Swedish government for you to be able to teach in the country. However, if the school you are applying to is an international school, the language of instruction might be English. The same applies to other schools which are specialised to a particular language. This, however, does not excuse you from the requirement to speak Swedish at least to an intermediate level.
Teaching is regulated in Sweden
To work as a teacher in Sweden, you need to have an academic degree and a certification indicating in which type of schools you can teach. If you have a foreign teaching qualification, you can apply to the National Agency for Education (Skolverket) for a Swedish teacher certification. If you who want to apply for a teacher’s certification, you can do it at the National Union for Teachers. This union is the only one that represents qualified teachers in Sweden. If you want to become a member, receive support and advice, or ask any other questions you can read more about them here.
Requirements and assessments
As of 2011, separate assessments were introduced to ensure that a person is qualified to become a teacher. These include individual subject study, pedagogical methods and strategies, as well as practical training in schools. There are three different teaching specialisations: grades 1-3 (eight semesters), grades 4-6 (eight terms), and recreation teacher (six semesters). Specific subject courses can be pursued to qualify for grades 7-9 or high school. There is also a specific teaching qualification which has to be obtained after 3 semesters of studying.
Those who are already trained for a specific subject and want to teach in high schools, can just read the KPU pedagogical education for three semesters and acquire a teaching license. The KPU (Supplementary Pedagogical Education) is essentially a programme that allows foreign teachers to get their certificates recognised in Sweden.
Those who have a foreign teaching education and do not comply with the Swedish teaching requirements, can take the foreign teachers’ training (ULV) course which is available at six universities. There is also another programme that fulfils the same requirements, which can be found here. This is offered at eight different universities.
To be able to enter the programme, you will need to take the TISUS test in Swedish or Gymnasiet Svenska B (A-level). This is a minimum requirement for all teachers and University courses in Sweden. You can find information and sample papers here.
Teaching a specific language
If you are a teacher of a specific language, it is highly advisable to contact the schools in Sweden that offer the language that you are able to teach. Your best chance will probably be private schools, as in public schools a high level knowledge of Swedish is usually needed.
If you are interested in teaching English, the opportunities are not very plentiful if you are not experienced or a native speaker. This is because 85 percent of the Swedish population is fluent in English; hence there is no high demand for this profession. Swedes are taught to speak English from an early age, and teachers in Sweden are trained to teach two subjects, so many of them choose to study Swedish and English.
You might have better luck if you’re able to teach several languages or a specialised language that is in need in language schools. Think Mandarin, Japanese, Arabic, or any of the major European languages. Another option would be to start teaching private students. But even that is rather difficult in Sweden, since the demand is highly seasonal and due to the high level of taxation, it can be difficult to make ends meet.
So, what should you do to get a job?
The first thing to do when you reach the country and are interested in teaching, is to contact the Swedish National Agency for Education. They will review your foreign teaching qualification.
Contact Folkuniversitetet, as most Swedish people turn there to learn English rather than pay for private tuition. This school-university can be found in all the big cities in Sweden and they offer different languages to be taught. They can also help you with getting your Swedish up to speed, so that you have a better chance getting a regular teaching job in the country.
As soon as you arrive, start contacting the international schools in Sweden. A list can be found here.
Sweden can be tough for teachers
Finding a teaching position in Sweden can be tough when you don’t speak the local language. It’s especially challenging if you don’t have a widely recognised teaching certificate or your degree does not qualify for teaching in Sweden.
Another option to consider is to work as a Vikarie (substitute teacher). For this profession, Swedish is required but not at a fluent level. Substitute teaching is an easy alternative for those who want to teach but do not have the required Swedish qualifications: teaching certificate and fluency in Swedish. There are, however, some exceptions depending on whether you have experience and are a native speaker in the language you want to teach, so each case is assessed accordingly.
In any case, finding a teaching position in Sweden can be challenging and you should consider starting your job hunt even before you get to the country, contacting language or international schools. If you’re planning on staying for longer, you should also definitely consider taking Swedish classes to make the process easier for you.
This article was written by Maria P – our English and Greek teacher in Stockholm.