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Teaching English in Ecuador (The Country Guide)

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Teaching English in Ecuador is a great way to fund your travel experience in South America and build relationships with locals while you’re at it.

Why Ecuador?

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If you’re interested in teaching English in a place off the beaten path, full of adventure, natural beauty, and delicious food, look no further than Ecuador.

Also, you will be able to land a job here, even if you don’t have a 4-year degree or a passport from a “native-speaking” country.

Read on to learn what it takes to teach English in Ecuador and how to get started.

Short Info
Types of JobsPublic schools, private schools, international schools, private tutoring (freelance)
Visa RequirementsPassport that will be valid for the next 6 months or longer, a medical check and a negative HIV test, FBI Criminal Background Check, copy of your contract and authorization to work both okayed by the Ministry of Labor, certificate of payment to the Ecuadorian Social Security Office
Average Teacher Salary$400-$1,300/month
Average Living Costs$400-$800/month
Peak Hiring MonthsFebruary-March and July-August

What Is Ecuador Like?

Ecuador is strange, wonderful, and full of life.

Lots of life.

Home to the Galapagos Islands, it’s one of the world’s 18 megadiverse countries, meaning that you can find more species of flora and fauna here than almost anywhere else.

Ecuador also has mountains, rainforest, and lots of coastline, making it the ideal spot for dreamers and adventurers alike.

There’s lots of traditional music, historic architecture, and delicious food here, so you’ll never be bored.

Ecuador’s safe society and rising economic level also make it a great destination for ESL teachers as jobs become more prevalent.

Basic Requirements to Teach English in Ecuador

The requirements to teach English in Ecuador vary widely depending on what type of job you’re looking for, but in general they’re pretty lax.

An iguana warming itself in the sun, on Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Certificates

A TEFL course is pretty much always required for teachers, but if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree or aren’t a native speaker you’ll still find plenty of English teaching jobs in Ecuador. However, a bachelor’s and fluent English will definitely give you a leg up.

Teaching Experience

If you have teaching experience you’ll be able to find a higher paying job at an international school, but many places don’t require applicants to have prior teaching experience.

Visas

Many people work on a tourist visa in Ecuador, but the government has been cracking down on immigration recently so it’s a good idea to get a work visa if you can. You are able to enter Ecuador on a tourist visa and then convert it to a work visa once you’re there.

Note that Ecuador requires everyone who enters the country to have insurance — either a plan in your home country that covers Ecuador or travelers’ insurance will do the trick.

Startup Money

You’ll need a little bit of money in order to get started on your journey teaching English in Ecuador. To start, you should put away around $400-$700 for a plane ticket.

Note that it’s rare to find a school in Ecuador that reimburses foreign teachers for airfare.  

You’ll also need money for a TEFL course and $1,000-$1,200 to subsist on before you get your first paycheck. You’ll probably need to pay a deposit and your first month’s rent before you get paid by your school, and if you come to Ecuador before procuring a job you’ll want a little extra money just in case.

Last but not least, a work visa in Ecuador costs $400 plus $50 for the application fee. While some schools will reimburse you for part or all of your visa costs, you should have some money put aside to cover them just in case.

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TEFL Courses in Ecuador

If you decide to take your TEFL course in Ecuador, consider going through International TEFL Academy. They have an internationally accredited course in Quito that lasts 4 weeks and costs around $1,600.

With International TEFL and TESOL Training, you can take a 4-week course in Loja, which is known as the Music and Culture Capital of Ecuador. The tuition is around $1,500, but you can get a 10% off discount if you enroll through this link.

Getting your TEFL certification on location is a great idea because it will give you time to get acclimated to Ecuadorian culture as well as practice teaching in a classroom scenario. And, who knows, your classmates will be other ESL teachers who just might become your best friends!

However, if time or money doesn’t allow you to take a TEFL course in Ecuador, there are tons of other options out there.

With the accredited 120-hours Let’s TEFL course, you can get certified completely online within 2-4 weeks before you travel to Ecuador.

Check out our comprehensive guide to TEFL courses to see what option makes the most sense for you!

Job Opportunities and Salaries

There are lots of different ESL teaching jobs in Ecuador, so no matter what your qualifications are you’ll be able to find a job that suits you.

Note also that the teacher salaries in Ecuador seem pretty low, but you need to take into account that the cost of living in Ecuador is pretty low, too. For example, you can get a 3-course meal for 2 at a mid-range restaurant for around $28.00.

There are also many volunteer positions in Ecuador. If you choose to go as a volunteer teacher you won’t need to meet as many requirements as a paid teacher would.

Public Schools

Public schools pay around $3-$5 an hour, and you need to have a teaching certificate in your home country along with 1-2 years of teaching experience to be considered for the position.

There are many volunteer opportunities at public schools, however, and volunteer teachers don’t need a teaching certificate or experience.

A typical public school day begins around 7:30 and ends by 2. Class sizes range from 20-30 students.

Private Schools

At private schools, like public schools, you will earn around $3-$5 per hour. Private schools require paid teachers to have a teaching certificate in their home country along with 1-2 years of teaching experience.

Website of the Escuela Politécnica National in Quito (cec-epn.edu.ec)

International Schools

International school jobs pay $5-$9 per hour, higher than many other places in Ecuador.

You’ll need a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate to teach in an international school, but generally no teaching experience is required.

International schools also sometimes give teachers stipends, which sets them apart from other schools.

If you work in an international school you’ll probably work during normal school times, and your class sizes will be pretty small.

Private Tutoring

As a private tutor you’ll set your own rates and hours, but you’ll also be responsible for finding your own students and providing any materials you might need.

Private tutors in Ecuador generally charge $8-$20 per hour. Tutoring is a great way to supplement your income and make connections in the community.

Hiring and Application Process

As in much of Latin America, many schools in Ecuador prefer to hire teachers in person. However, it’s becoming easier and easier to get job online before you enter the country, too.

Applying for Jobs in Person

If you decide to look for jobs once you’re in Ecuador, check out the classifieds section in the local papers to find leads on ESL jobs.

Apply to schools in person, bringing the following documents with you:

  • Your resume
  • A cover letter
  • Copies of your transcripts and diploma
  • An FBI Criminal Background Check
  • A copy of your medical check
  • Proof of TEFL certification if you have it

Keep in mind that it may take 1-3 months to get hired in Ecuador. You should bring some money to tide you over, and you can also take on more private tutoring while you hunt for full-time work.

Applying for Jobs Online

If you decide to apply for teaching jobs before you arrive in the country, you should email schools directly to inquire about work. Attach the following documents to your email:

  • Your resume
  • A cover letter
  • A short introduction video
  • A teaching demo if you have one
  • Proof of TEFL certification if you have it

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Schools might ask for more documents and information once you’ve initiated contact, but this initial list will get the ball rolling and will show schools that you’re a serious candidate.

Notes

Whether you apply for jobs in person or online, use the International TEFL Academy list of Ecuadorian schools to find a treasure trove of schools to apply to.

Keep in mind that while the demand for teachers here is steady, it’s not a total hiring bonanza like it is in some other countries.

You can find jobs in Ecuador year-round, but February-March and July-August are the peak hiring seasons.

Visa Requirements for Teaching English in Ecuador

There are a couple options for getting your visa sorted out in Ecuador:

  • Enter the country on a tourist visa and do visa/border runs every 90 days.
  • Enter the country on a tourist visa and convert it to a work visa.
  • Enter the country on a work visa.

Doing visa runs is the easiest option by far, but crackdowns are becoming more common in Ecuador so you might want to consider whether it’s worth it for you. Imagine leaving the country where you’ve set up a life for 1 day and then not being able to reenter!

It’s much easier to get a work visa before arriving, but it’s possible to do once you’ve entered the country as well. No matter which route you go you’ll need an employer to get a work visa, so they’ll be able to help you through the whole process.

Visa information from the Ecuadorian embassy (ecuador.org)

Let’s discuss the requirements for each type of visa:

Tourist Visa

No documents are necessary for this besides proof that you have health insurance that’s valid in Ecuador.

Just show up to the airport and you’ll be granted a 90 day tourist visa. Easy!

Work Visa

In order to get a work visa, you’ll need the following documents:

  • A passport that will be valid for the next 6 months or longer
  • A medical check and a negative HIV test
  • FBI Criminal Background Check
  • A copy of your contract and authorization to work; both OKed by the Ministry of Labor
  • Certificate of payment to the Ecuadorian Social Security Office
  • A few other documents that your school will provide

Keep in mind that the visa application fee is $50 and the visa fee is another $400. Some schools will reimburse part or all of this fee, but plan on setting some money aside for this.

Also note that Ecuadorian visa laws change frequently, so you should double-check that you have all the correct documents and meet all requirements before you go to get your visa.

Accommodation in Ecuador

It’s rare for employers in Ecuador to provide teachers with housing, but rest easy because prices are cheap here: you can rent a 1-bedroom for $200-$400 a month. It’ll cost you even less if you live outside of a major city center.

Some private and international schools will help teachers find housing, but if you need to find accommodations on your own look to the local newspaper or make use of a Facebook group like Ecuador Expats.

A city district of Quito

And ask foreign teachers and other people at your school to help you out! Online and real-life expat communities will help you find accommodations — and maybe you’ll even end up living with one of your new friends!

Note that on top of rent you may have to pay around $40/month in utilities and a deposit in Ecuador.

Can I Save Money Teaching English in Ecuador?

Probably not!

The pay here isn’t high enough to amass sizeable savings unless you’re grinding super hard or working a seriously cushy job.

However, the low cost of living means that even with a normal salary you’ll be able to live a comfortable lifestyle here and have a little left over at the end of the month.

A list of average costs of everyday items in Ecuador (numbeo.com)

Check out Numbeo’s guide to the cost of living in Ecuador to get a more in-depth breakdown of average costs for basic items here.

The Best Cities to find TEFL Jobs in Ecuador

You may be able to find work in cities all over this small country, but the following three places have the highest demand for English teachers.  And they’re all fabulous places to live!

Quito

The Basilica del Voto Nacional in Quito

The capital of Ecuador and its biggest city, Quito is the place to be. You’ll find beautiful architecture, rich history, and a bustling social scene here. And there are tons of teaching opportunities to be found in this metropolis.

If you love big cities, teaching English in Quito is the option for you!

Guayaquil

Las Penas Quarter in Guayaquil (Photo: Martin Zeise, Wikimedia Commons)

This port city is an industrial and commercial center as well as a tourist destination, making it quite the hub for ESL teachers catering to adult learners.

There’s a beautiful waterfront, a promenade, and a delightful old town here, so when you’re not teaching you can relax, stroll, and enjoy the view.

Lots of travelers also come through here, so you’ll meet interesting people with wild stories wherever you go.

Cuenca

Historical Center of Cuenca (Photo: amalavida.tv, Wikimedia Commons)

This mountain city is also a popular tourist destination, and it’s also home to some beautiful cathedrals, museums, and ruins.

Soak up the scenery and the history here, and stock up on some of the Panama hats this region is known for producing.

The tourism industry here means that lots of locals want to learn English so they can cater to travelers. You’ll be sure to find a job and a happy life in Cuenca.

Classroom and Work Culture

Ecuador has an easy-going, laid-back culture. Family is important here, and while people can be slow to open up to outsiders, they’re extremely generous and welcoming once they’ve met you.

Classroom and work culture varies by place but, here are some general guidelines about teaching in Ecuador:

Work Hours

Teachers generally work 20-25 hours a week in normal schools in Ecuador, and supplement their regular school days with private tutoring.

Dress Code

Dress code varies by place: it’s more relaxed in public schools and more formal in private and international schools. If you’re doing private tutoring, feel out what’s appropriate based on your specific situation and who you’re teaching.

Community activity in Alao, Ecuador

Teaching Style

Some international schools are very particular about curriculum and will provide you with training and materials to ensure that you conform to their teaching standards.

In general, though, schools aren’t really fussy about how you teach, and you can design your own curriculum and conduct your classes in the way that works best for you.

You may have to provide some of your own school supplies, and you’ll probably end up spending time doing lesson planning off the clock if you’re working in a public or private school.

However, you’ll have the freedom to have control over your classroom!

Conclusion

Ecuador is a beautiful place to teach ESL if you’re looking for a relaxed lifestyle, beautiful scenery, and adventure.

You’ll make enough money to live comfortably here, and you’ll be able to travel around Latin America easily once you’re in Ecuador.

Read about other great places to teach English in Latin America.

If you are a non-native English speaker or don’t have a degree, unlike in other countries, teaching English in Ecuador is absolutely possible for you!

Jobs aren’t as abundant as they are in places like China and Dubai, but you’ll be able to find work here easily if you’re committed and qualified.

Jet off today, and get ready for your Ecuadorian adventure!

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