Work and Travel in Iran
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN IRAN FOR TRAVELLERS
Iran is often in the news for all the wrong reasons. However, if you look past the political nonsense you’ll find that those who travel in Iran often refer to it as one of the friendliest countries in the world. The conservative Muslims in the country are in a firm minority and they tend to give a negative view of the country from the outside.
If you want to visit a land of history, a land of culture, and a land filled with warm people then work and travel in Iran could be for you.
Read through our travel guide to Iran (https://www.lonelyplanet.com/iran) for more information on how you can make it happen.
1. Teach English in Iran
Understand that it’s difficult to work in Iran, as a result of the government’s distrust of foreign NGOs. However, teaching English in Iran is one option on the table.
Many young Iranians take a great interest in Western culture. They also want to further their careers, so they want to learn English. It’s not easy to teach here if you don’t already have qualifications, so make sure you possess at least a TEFL before attempting to secure this type of project.
2. Help with Childcare in Iran
One of the most common volunteering opportunities in Iran is in childcare. This could involve working in an orphanage and helping children with their homework or working in a private home.
A lot of private childcare programmes are also combined with homestay projects. During your stay, you’ll be able to learn about the local culture and find out more about the country.
3. Work in a Sports Camp in Iran
Iranians are football crazy and kids love to play the game. Most schools have some kind of sports camp and volunteers are always welcome to teach the children how to play and to manage games.
You don’t need qualifications to work in Iran with children in this capacity. You just need to be fit, healthy and be charismatic enough to work with children.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR IRAN
Iran has been effectively closed off since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. However, they have opened up to tourism in recent years. In January 2018, they opened a new visa-on-arrival service (http://e_visa.mfa.ir/en/visa-arrival/), where travellers from a range of countries can get a 30-day visa at the airport.
These include all European countries, other than the UK, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. There are plans to extend this facility to a 90-day visa in the near future.
However, UK, US, and Canadian citizens are officially required to apply for a visa from an embassy (http://en.mfa.ir/index.aspx?pageid=2136&p=1) and must be accompanied by a guided tour at all times. In reality, this is not enforced and many travel agencies will privately enable you to independently travel once you cross the border.
The problems with Iranian immigration end the moment you get through the border. Ignore the stories about police arresting Americans, British, and Canadians because they’re not with a guide. This is simply not true.
Generally, for anyone who wants to work and travel in Iran they should apply for a visa (https://www.lonelyplanet.com/iran/visas) as the current visa-on-arrival length is insufficient for most projects.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN IRAN
Iran is one of the few countries in the world with a distinct four seasons every year. Spring is one of the best times to travel in Iran because the temperatures aren’t high but the weather is great. There are so many volunteering opportunities in Iran in spring.
For a start, you’ll have the chance to work in schools. You’ll also have the chance to teach English. Some backpackers even venture into the rural areas to stay with farmers and help them with the main planting season.
The summer brings extremely hot temperatures, so it can be unbearable at this time of year. It’s possible to work within sports camps, but the temperature may be too much for you.
A better option may be to work in a clinic or teach a language as part of a homestay. Childcare is always a good option in the summer because many families need the extra help whilst the schools are out for the summer.
The autumn can get colder, with some rains, but it’s the perfect time to work in sports camps. These camps may be part of a school or may be part of a community centre. You’ll be able to get to know the locals and make connections that will stay with you after you have left the country.
Other than that, there are no specific seasonal skills available at this time of year.
Despite appearances, Iran does get cold in the winter. As mentioned, it’s one of the few countries that has four actual seasons. You can even get snow in many areas of the country.
For this reason, there are no specific seasonal skills available in winter. It’s still a great time to travel in Iran, but volunteering positions can be hard to come by.
You may be able to find work in the healthcare sector, but you will need to have solid qualifications to secure these positions.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN IRAN
There are so many misconceptions about Iran. The media is constantly filled with stories about the oppressive government and the farcical Morality Police. However, most of these stories are overblown. Iran is one of the safest and friendliest countries in the world.
Whilst women should stick to the dress code of the country, tourists are not bothered by the authorities. What the locals experience is not what you will experience.
It’s quite common for backpackers in Iran to be invited into the homes of ordinary Iranians and asked to stay the night, without any expectation of payment.
Once you get across the border all the trepidation and all the stories become irrelevant.
If you want to work and travel in Iran, now has never been a better time!
- Edited on Dec 10 2018 by Marichka