Teaching English in Mexico
Whether you’re looking for stunning beaches, a kick-ass street food scene, or some incredible historical monuments, Mexico will deliver! Unsurprisingly, many people have fallen in love with this vibrant country and if you’re one of them, teaching English in Mexico is a great way to make living there more than just a pipe dream.
What’s more, Mexico has one of the largest demands worldwide for foreign ESL teachers so you’ll be able to find a job without too much hassle!
This also means that ESL teachers who are just starting out and have limited experience can easily find a position, and if you’re thinking of making a career out of teaching English abroad, getting a teaching job in Mexico is a great way to get your foot in the door.
The salary for teaching can be quite low, but this is balanced out by the low cost of living, and living well within your means is possible if you’re sensible.
If you’re ready to throw caution to the wind and start your next big adventure living and teaching in Mexico, then keep reading, as this handy guide will tell you ALL you need to know!
Why Teach English in Mexico?
Not only does Mexico have a tonne of opportunities for ESL teachers, but they are also extremely varied, so whatever you’re looking for, you will most likely find! There are jobs available teaching adults as well as children, and positions aren’t limited to the major cities – you’ll find jobs in rural areas too.
Mexico also has relatively lax requirements compared to other countries such as Japan and Taiwan when it comes to teaching. So, if you’ve been having trouble finding an English teaching job abroad due to your lack of a degree, for example, Mexico could be the answer to your prayers! In fact, many countries in Central America offer more lax requirements, such as teaching English in Costa Rica.
Here are some of the top reasons why you should seriously consider teaching English in Mexico:
Pros | Why you NEED to Teach in Mexico
- No Degree Needed: Big whoop! You do NOT strictly need a Bachelor’s degree to teach in Mexico. That being said, nowadays, many private schools would prefer if you had one, but that doesn’t mean you can’t land yourself a teaching gig without one! You’ll just need to be prepared to look a little longer.
- Low Cost of Living: Living in Mexico is very cheap compared to living in the West. You’ll find that even with your lower salary, your money will take you a long way and you won’t be lacking any essentials.
- Non-Native Speakers Accepted: Being a native English speaker is another requirement that isn’t strictly required! You may get some extra brownie points if you are one, but as long as you can demonstrate a level of fluency, you should be fine.
- Kick-ass Cuisine: Forget Taco Bell, you’re in MEXICO now baby! And you know what that means?? Real. Mouthwatering. Delicious. Mexican food!
- Incredible Culture: Mexico has a rich blend of cultures incorporating its Maya, Aztec, and European influences. If you want to experience awe-inspiring cultural celebrations (like Candelaria, Cinco de Mayo, or Dia de Muertos), or learn about ancient civilizations, then this country will certainly keep you busy.
Cons | What to Consider before Teaching in Mexico
- Low Salary: Hold on a second… but didn’t I just say that the cost of living in Mexico was low? While that’s true, if you are thinking of teaching English abroad and saving some money to pay off student loans, teaching English in Mexico won’t be the best fit for you. Maybe consider teaching English in Japan or South Korea if you want to earn mega bucks.
- Work Visa Fee: To be an ESL teacher in Mexico you will need a work permit/visa, and this will cost you around 150 USD. There is also a lot of documentation needed for the application process (more on that later).
- Unfamiliar Customs: Like every country, Mexico has its own etiquette and customs which can be useful to learn about before you arrive. These of course are what make Mexican culture so wonderful and unique, but they can be a little confusing if you’re none the wiser! For instance, women usually greet each other by patting one another on the shoulder, whereas men shake hands!
How Much can Teachers Expect to Make?
Time to get right down to it, how much can English teachers in Mexico actually make?! The average salary for an ESL job in Mexico is between 500 – 800 USD (10,200 – 16,300 MXN). Now, this IS an average so you could get lucky and make more, or you could be unlucky and make a little less.
The main types of teaching jobs you can find in Mexico are teaching in private language schools, international schools, universities, or giving private lessons as a tutor. International schools have the strictest requirements, and you will need to be a licensed teacher in your home country.
Most schools also prefer candidates with at least a year’s worth of teaching experience. These types of schools can be found in Mexico’s major cities and thriving tourist areas such as Cancun. Expect these jobs to pay higher than average due to the stricter requirements and experience.
Most ESL teachers will find themselves teaching in a private language school/center. These cater to both adults and children, so you could end up teaching a variety of students. The cons of private language schools are that the schedule is often erratic and inconsistent, with teachers working during odd hours to accommodate the work/school life of their students.
You’ll most likely find yourself working in the mornings, late afternoons, and on weekends. You can expect to make between 500 and 800 USD a month, depending on how many hours you work and what school/region/city you are teaching in.
Universities in Mexico also hire ESL teachers. Generally, these are quite competitive and applicants with a Master’s degree as well as a teaching certificate will be more likely to get the job. University jobs tend to pay better than private language schools (around 1000 USD) and can even offer benefits such as Christmas bonuses, paid vacation time, and health coverage.
However, these positions sometimes have extremely variable salaries, and you might even find yourself getting paid less than at a private language school!
Tutoring students privately one on one is a very popular way for teachers to boost their income. These jobs are easier to come by in bigger cities or popular tourist destinations, so if you’re working somewhere quiet rural, don’t rely on finding students. English tutors generally charge between 7-15 USD per hour depending on their location. For instance, rates in Mexico City or Guadalajara will be at the higher end of the scale.
Requirements for Teaching in Mexico
Let’s dive right into the requirements for landing an English teaching job in Mexico! As I’ve said earlier, these are somewhat “chill” compared to some other countries, so this list is rather short, but I’ve also included some things you may want to take into consideration:
- ESL Teaching Certificate: Having an ESL teaching certificate (whether it’s a TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA) is a must for Mexico. The government has passed legislation stating that a TEFL qualification (or equivalent) is needed to obtain a work visa for teaching English.
- Work Visa: You will need an FM3 visa to legally work in Mexico. Luckily you can apply for it in the country, so if you’ve traveled into the country on a tourist visa and have successfully found a job, it’s no problem. The documentation you will need for the visa is a filled-in immigration application; original passport and a copy; the original immigration card you filled in when you arrived into the country; proof of residency (original and a copy); seven passport photos (four headshots and three side profile shots), your ESL teaching certificate, and a letter of employment on official letterhead from the school.
- Start-Up Money: Start-up money is not a requirement, but you want to do the smart thing here and make sure you have enough cash stored away to get you by while you’re looking for a job or waiting for your first paycheck. You’ll also probably need to put down a deposit and possibly two months’ rent upfront when renting a long-stay apartment. 1,300 – 1,800 USD is a good ballpoint figure, but you may want to budget more if you’re arriving without a job. Being over-prepared never hurt anyone, am I right?
Where to Get TEFL Certified
If you don’t have a TEFL certificate but have your heart on teaching English in Mexico, don’t despair. These types of qualifications are super easy to obtain in this day and age of modern technology, with many courses being offered online! The advantages of this are the ability to work around your schedule whether that’s work, college, or just life in general. These are also cheaper than in-person courses.
I definitely recommend a TEFL for ANYONE thinking about teaching English abroad, even if the country you’re eyeing up hasn’t made it a strict requirement. First of all, most countries DO require some sort of ESL qualification, and second of all, these types of courses really prepare you for what’s to come! Actually teaching English is a lot harder than simply speaking it after all!
Online TEFL Certificates
There are tons of places to get TEFL certificates online. Some of them are phoney. These are usually video-only courses where you don’t talk to someone or lesson prep on your own and they won’t help you teach English on the ground.
Here are some of our faves:
The MyTEFL 140-hour course is the gold standard of TEFL certificates. It is accepted by any country and prepares you to teach English abroad. This is an ideal course for those wanting to teach English online as it comes with an additional 20 hours dedicated to purely online teaching.
The 140-hour course covers all the areas of the English language you’ll be expected to teach such as reading, speaking, listening, writing, and phonics, as well as going into the fundamental skills you need to be an English teacher.
They also have a jobs board, so you can search for ESL teaching abroad jobs anywhere in the world. They also offer a 120-hour TEFL course for those that don’t think teaching English online is for you.
Let’s TEFL is the next best online TEFL certificate, and is the best for those needing a refresh of English rules themselves before hitting the classroom. If it’s been a long time since you’ve studied English at school, this TEFL course will help you brush up on your grammar and language skills.
It also covers classroom management and lesson planning, so you’ll be fully prepared to teach abroad and start your hunt for TEFL jobs.
It is a 120-hour TEFL certification that will have you ready and raring to share some knowledge!
TEFL Pros isn’t the most hands-on certificate, but their course is usually the cheapest. Plus, they’ve got a free trial so you don’t need to drop money to see what this is all about!
TEFL Pros also offer a 120-hour course that covers the fundamentals of the English language and classroom management techniques.
However, it is solely online. This is great for people who are already traveling, but if you want to gain in-classroom experience then this course isn’t for you. However, it will suffice to teach English in Mexico.
Getting your TEFL in Mexico
If you DO have some extra cash to splash and aren’t too hyped about navigating the course online, then don’t fret as there are plenty of great opportunities to get your TEFL certificate IN Mexico. In-person courses are great for hands-on learners who want the extra guidance from a teacher and who would like to participate in practice classes to really get the hang of teaching! Here are a few recommendations on where to get your TEFL in Mexico:
International TEFL Academy
International TEFL Academy offers a TEFL/TESOL qualification in Guadalajara. The course lasts for 4 weeks and is full-time, with classes on Monday to Friday. The class sizes are small with a maximum of 12 students, giving you the full benefit of your teacher. The training center is in the heart of the city, so finding somewhere new and interesting to eat during your lunch break will be easy! The full course will set you back by 1495 USD not including accommodation, although they can help you find something suitable.
This in-person TEFL course is located in Ciudad Guzman, also called the “cradle of great artists”. As you can imagine, it is a city rich in history and steeped in culture, tucked away between two mountain ranges. The course is 4 weeks long and costs 1,998 USD. This fee includes all course materials, certification, and pick-up from Guadelejara’s international airport!
Where to Teach English in Mexico
As I mentioned earlier, one of the great things about getting an English teaching job in Mexico is the numerous options when it comes to wher to teach! You could find yourself in a thriving major city, a popular (and beautiful) tourist hotspot, or having an adventure of a lifetime in a small rural town or village!
Teaching in Mexico City
Mexico City is Mexico’s large and buzzing capital, and it is in the top five of Mexico’s most expensive cities in terms of the cost of living. That being said, living well with your teacher’s salary is very doable, and there is a next-level street food culture there with dishes as cheap as (or sometimes less than) two USD!
Teaching jobs can be found almost anywhere, but some of the most popular neighborhoods to teach are Chapultepec, Polanco, Santa Fe, Zona Rosa, and Xochimilco. Some of these neighborhoods are quite affluent, such as Polanco, so if you’re not willing to commute too far, consider somewhere more affordable on your salary! Private tutors in Mexico City can charge as much as 20 USD an hour, depending on the socio-economic background of the student, and ESL salaries can be as high as 1,500 USD.
Teaching in Guadalajara
Guadalajara is in the top 10 of Mexico’s most expensive cities to live in. The average ESL salary here is between 500 – 800 USD a month. However, the cost of living will be less than your monthly salary. In fact, decent accommodation can be found for around 150 USD a month!
Teaching jobs are available year-round, but following the recommendations above, looking at key times may make your chances of success higher. Check out the Guadalajara Reporter for job listings!
This city is full of culture and is known for its mariachi music and tequila (get me on a plane, NOW). You’ll find plenty of rich history and can spend some fantastic and free days out exploring its historic center and admiring the architecture.
Teaching in Cancun
If you love the beach, then Cancun may be your dream teaching destination. There are international schools, private language centers, and universities. There are also world-famous beaches that draw in tourists in their millions each year, all flocking to enjoy the turquoise blue waters and white sand.
This resort city is unsurprisingly in Mexico’s top five when it comes to the cost of living, but it is on average cheaper than Mexico city. With tonnes of nightlife, restaurants, and things to do, Cancun is definitely perfect if you’re looking to have a good time!
Teaching in Rural Mexico
If you’re one to go off the beaten path then teaching in rural Mexican towns and small cities not on the tourist trail may be exactly what you’re looking for! Expect the salary in more rural parts of Mexico to be on the lower end of the scale, however, don’t be afraid to ask for benefits like included housing, as rural schools will be more likely to oblige.
Living in Mexico and Teaching Online
Living in Mexico and teaching online income-wise is totally doable due to the low cost of living. However, if you don’t have the correct visa, this is technically illegal. That being said, lots of freelancers live in Mexico and work remotely on tourist visas by making visa runs every six months or applying for temporary residence.
How to Find a Job in Mexico
The best way to apply for an ESL job in Mexico is to head there on a tourist visa and go into a tonne of schools with your resume and turn on the charm. Work culture in Mexico means you should be respectful and well-dressed.
Finding Your Own Job
The best time to apply for an English teaching job in Mexico varies depending on the type of job you’re after. Of course, English classes happen year-round, but there are distinct patterns that make looking at a certain time more fruitful.
For private language schools, August in preparation for starting in September is the best time to apply. Whereas the worst time to look for a job is in the months leading up to the holidays (November/December) since many people will be off work during the holidays.
International schools/universities begin their term in the last week of August, so July is the optimum time to go looking, or in December/January for the second semester.
Scouting out the nearby schools and looking for vacancies on their websites, or keeping an eye out for job vacancies in your local Mexican newspaper can save you the hassle of going to a school that isn’t hiring. Before accepting any positions, it’s a good idea to check GlassDoor to see what former teachers say about the company.
Living in Mexico
I cannot recommend living in Mexico enough, what better way to experience the wonderful Mexican culture than by living in it day to day, hanging out with local friends, and enjoying delicious authentic Mexican cuisine.
Your mind may conjure up scenes of gang and cartel violence when you think of Mexico. While this is a reality in the country, gang-related violence largely concerns just that. Gangs. In fact, most popular areas and neighborhoods are generally very safe from extreme violence and the Mexican government works extremely hard to protect these areas and their residents/visitors.
The biggest concern while teaching English in Mexico is being a victim of petty crimes like pickpocketing and robbery. This is most likely to happen on public transport, so put your sensible hat on and avoid flashing your gadgets and cash, and don’t do anything silly like wandering off into dark alleys!
Especially in Mexico City – do not take any valuables out with you, just some petty cash to hand over if someone tries to rob you. Never take your phone out on the metro.
Month to month payments, no lock-in contracts, and no itineraries required: that’s the exact kind of insurance digital nomads and long-term traveller types need.
Cover yo’ pretty little self while you live the DREAM!
SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to work!
The monthly budget can vary a lot depending on where you’re living and of course, your spending habits. This is a rough guide for how much you’ll spend in Mexico’s popular areas to live, so expect rural prices to be even lower!
Flying to Mexico City (from the US) $90 – $350
Accommodation $200 – $500
Food $100 – $250
Transport $15 – $50
If you want to take your money further or are a bit worried about reigning it in. These tips can help you to save on certain aspects of your budget so you can splurge a little on others (I don’t know about you, but I CANNOT wave goodbye to my Netflix subscription).
Accommodation: Accommodation in Mexico is super cheap, but you can save a little extra by opting for somewhere outside of the center of cities, sharing your apartment, and doing some research on the cheapest (and safest) neighborhoods.
Food: There are a tonne of cheap eats in the country, so if you’re really craving not cooking for a change, try to eat local from a street vendor! Another safe bet when cooking at home is to work with local ingredients.
Transport: Most big cities have decent public transport, the metro in Mexico City, for example, is a great way to get around. Otherwise, Ubers are good in urban areas and are quite cheap.
Entertainment: I always recommend doing some research on free things to do in the area and balancing those out with other more expensive activities.
Speaking the Language
You do NOT need to speak Spanish to get an English teaching job in Mexico, however, in rural areas and smaller towns you will be grateful to know a little in your everyday life, and if you’re trying to make local friends. In bigger cities, this applies less, but I always recommend pocketing a few conversational phrases and maybe checking out some lessons whenever you move somewhere new.
FAQs on Teaching English in Mexico
Do I need a degree to teach English in Mexico?
No, you do not need a degree to teach English in Mexico. Having a degree will help you secure the higher paid, international school jobs though!
Do you have to speak Spanish to teach English in Mexico?
No, it is not required to speak Spanish. However, you might need to learn a few phrases if teaching in some rural towns in Mexico.
What do I need to become a teacher in Mexico?
A TEFL certification and the FM3 visa are pretty much the only things you need to teach English in Mexico. And a can do attitude!
Can I teach in Mexico as a non-Native English speaker?
Yes, you can! You might need to prove your fluency in English though.
Final Thoughts on Teaching English in Mexico
Mexico has a huge demand for English teachers so it almost seems a waste not to consider it as a stop on your ESL journey. Yes, the salary may be low, but the cost of living is low too, so you won’t need to worry about being able to pay your bills every month.
Another merit for teaching English in Mexico is the somewhat lax requirements and the range of teaching. Private language schools (Mexico’s biggest ESL employer) cater to both adults and kids, so if you’d rather teach older students, it’s no problem!
The country is also an amazing place to live! Good food, amazing sights, and fantastic culture, what more could you ask for?
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