Many people want to teach English in Mexico because costs are low, the living is easy, and ESL jobs are abundant – and because they want to brush up on their Spanish skills (or build them from the ground up).
If you want to explore what it’s like to live and teach in this beautiful country, you’re in the right place.
This article breaks down all the basics of life for ESL teachers in Mexico, and it also has links to some resources you can use to find work and amenities here.
You’ll learn valuable information about whether teaching English in Mexico is right for you and how to set up a life here in this post.
Our Recommendation: Get TEFL certified to teach English in Mexico with the accredited 120-hour Let’s TEFL online course, now available for an unrivaled price.
Check the course details here.
|Quick Info: TEFL Jobs in Mexico|
|Available Jobs||Language schools; company schools, bilingual classes; universities|
|Requirements||Bachelor’s degree, TEFL certification, and native English speaker status preferred|
|Monthly Teacher Salary||
|Monthly Living Cost||
|Peak Hiring Months||Year-round|
Why work in Mexico?
Mexico, a country of roughly 130 Million people located south of the United States, is a land of variety. While some parts of the Latin American country are admittedly dangerous, other parts are known for their resorts and parties. Tourists love coming to Mexico because of the balmy weather, delicious food, and rich culture.
Now is a great time to teach English in Mexico because there’s an educational reform mandating that English be taught as a second language here, which means more jobs for foreigners.
If you’re American, Mexico is also a great destination because it’s a new culture but it’s not too far from home. And teaching here is a fantastic opportunity to improve your Spanish by practicing it in real-life situations!
Just make sure to do your research to ensure that you’re traveling in a way that’s safe, respectful, and culturally sensitive before you embark on your journey to Mexico.
What are the Requirements to Teach English in Mexico?
If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, you’re in luck: you can teach ESL in Mexico without one, as long as you’re a native speaker and you have a TEFL certificate.
If you do have a bachelor’s degree, you’ll find jobs more easily and will be eligible for higher-paying positions at universities and international schools, but most everyone can find some type of work in Mexico.
If you aren’t a native English speaker, you can get a job if you pass an English exam. And you don’t need to be a native English speaker to get a visa in Mexico!
TEFL Courses in Mexico
While it is possible to find a job in Mexico without TEFL certification, being TEFL certified will certainly give you a leg up over other teachers and qualify you for higher-paying jobs. You can get your TEFL certification at home, online, or in Mexico.
Taking a course online or a weekend course at home will allow you to keep working while you take the course, and taking a course online is by far your cheapest bet. If you decide to go that route, check out this guide to online TEFL courses to find some great, affordable options!
Getting TEFL certified in Mexico, however, is a great choice because it gives you a lay of the land and lets you get acquainted with the place you’ll be living in before you dive into teaching.
Getting certified on location is also great because the course often will include information specific to teaching students in your location — and it gives you an opportunity to meet other expat teachers who just might be your friends!
The best part of getting certified on location, though, is that your TEFL course will most likely offer you job placement assistance — and some courses even include guaranteed job placement!
TEFL Courses in Mexico
International TEFL Academy (ITA)
ITA caps classes at 12 students, so you’ll get plenty of personalized instruction.
Note that accommodations are not included in the cost of ITA’s classes in Mexico.
International Teacher Training Organization (ITTO)
This 4-week 140-hour TEFL course in Guadalajara costs $1495, though you can elect to pay a higher price for an all-inclusive package that includes convenient accommodations during the course.
Graduates of ITTO’s TEFL course will receive lifetime job search assistance anywhere in the world, as well as guaranteed job placement once you get your certification.
You’ll also get a free week of Spanish classes when you enroll!
International TEFL and TESOL Training (ITTT)
The CELTA is Cambridge University’s TEFL course and is accepted (and sometimes preferred) by employers that require TEFL certification.
Both of ITTT’s courses in Mexico are 4 weeks long and include job placement assistance. The course cost in Chiapas also includes a free homestay!
Job Opportunities & Salaries
Teachers in Mexico can choose to work at a number of different kinds of places. In fact, many teachers choose to work part-time at more than one institution to piece together a full paycheck.
Here are a few of the learning institutions you can work at in Mexico:
Language schools usually operate on the weekends and in the afternoons and evenings after school lets out. You can teach students of any age, from preschoolers to adults, at language schools.
There’s a huge range of quality and compensation when it comes to language schools, so it’s worthwhile to do your due diligence and make sure you’re coming into a good situation before you start work.
Some schools are more like conversation clubs or fun after-school activities that just happen to be in English, while others are much more formal, with a set curriculum, tests, and grades.
You can make anywhere from $5 to $20 an hour working at a language school.
Native English teachers have a better chance of getting work at bilingual schools than other candidates, whether or not they have experience or teaching qualifications.
International schools, with their higher salaries and benefits packages including rent stipends, free healthcare, and paid vacations, are the creme de la creme of bilingual schools.
If you have a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate, then working at an international school is generally a great option. However, some international schools require teachers to have master’s degrees or teaching certificates in their home countries.
If you lack one or both of those qualifications, though, you’ll be able to get a job at some other kind of bilingual school as long as you’re a native speaker.
Teachers at bilingual schools can easily find after-school work tutoring their students for around $8-$15 an hour.
If you teach company classes you’ll have to travel from place to place to teach on-site at different workplaces, but you’ll be rewarded for doing so with some of the highest hourly rates you can get — $10-$25 an hour.
You’ll have to piece together classes based on location and what makes sense for you as a company class, and you’ll most likely find yourself working early mornings and late nights.
The schedule can wear on people, but you can combine company classes with other types of part-time work.
You can also make a good salary just teaching company classes part-time due to the high wages! For example, 15 hours a week of company classes at $15 an hour adds up to $900 a month, which is the same amount a school teacher working 40-45 hours a week would make.
You need a TEFL degree as well as a bachelor’s degree (and often a master’s, too) to get a job as a university teacher, and these sought-after positions usually go to people who have some type of in at the school.
If you are lucky enough to get a job teaching at a university, though, you’ll be in pretty good shape! You’ll have motivated students, a light teaching schedule, and a good salary: think $20-$30 an hour.
How Much Money Will You Make?
You’ll make more working per hour than you would working for a salary. Many jobs paying hourly wages are only part-time, so as mentioned above you can work a couple or a few. Companies, language schools, and bilingual programs all offer part-time opportunities that pay hourly.
International schools do offer high wages, health insurance, and paid vacation, but they’re one of the only employers that will offer teachers this kind of package.
In general, though, you needn’t worry too much about making high wages in Mexico because rent and other expenses are low enough that you’ll have plenty of money left over on the side.
Hiring & Application Process
The hiring and application process varies in Mexico, and you can apply for jobs and get a work visa before entering the country.
If you’re a highly qualified teacher and are looking for work at an international school or college, in particular, you’ll have an easier time finding work before entering the country.
You can look up ESL teacher forums for your city on Facebook to find work, and you can also search for individual schools and contact them (Oxford Seminar’s list is a great place to start).
However, there aren’t a ton of forums for English teachers in Mexico because the easiest and most common way to find work here is to arrive in the country and look for work on the ground. Schools prefer interviewing potential candidates in person, and interviewing in person will help you get a better sense of your potential employer, too.
You can travel to Mexico on a tourist visa to look for work and then exit the country and reenter on a work visa once you’ve found an employer to sponsor you.
You should allot a month or two for your job hunt (more if you plan on settling down in a smaller city where there are fewer opportunities). Thankfully, the cost of living in Mexico is relatively low, so a couple of thousand dollars should safely tide you over until you find a job.
If you want to ensure that you find employment quickly, you should consider taking a TEFL course in Mexico. Many of them include guaranteed job placement assistance, which will streamline and expedite your job hunt.
Visa Requirements for Teaching in Mexico
Visitors from North America and Europe get an automatic 6-month tourist visa upon arrival in Mexico.
You can’t legally work on a tourist visa, and you can’t get a work visa from within the country, so you can enter on a tourist visa, look for jobs, and then exit and reenter once you’ve found an employer to sponsor your visa.
You’ll go to a Mexican embassy or consulate somewhere outside the country to obtain your visa and then come back to the country all set to start at your new job!
Visa-wise it’s easier to find an employer and get a visa before you enter the country, but employment-wise it’s easier to interview at jobs in person.
Make sure that your employer is certified to hire foreigners before you sign a contract — only employers that can legally hire foreigners can provide you with a work visa.
Documents You’ll Need For Your Work Visa
- Birth certificate
- Immigration forms
- Letter from your employer
- Visa fee (around $350)
The process varies throughout Mexico: one teacher reported she had to return to the visa office in Veracruz literally 10 times and spent over $1,000 to get their visa, but other people do it more easily (and cheaply!)
Most schools in Mexico have teachers sign a one-year contract.
Accommodation in Mexico
Most schools in Mexico don’t provide their employees with housing or a housing stipend, but the low cost of rent in Mexico makes up for that.
While it varies depending on where in the country you are and what kind of housing situation you end up with, you can on average expect to pay somewhere around $80 for a rented room in a house or $250 for a modest 1-2 bedroom apartment, according to an ESL teacher who’s lived in Mexico.
The above websites are great places to start looking for accommodations in more populated areas like Mexico City, but to be honest you’ll have a better chance of finding housing or roommates through Facebook groups or the old-fashioned way: trawling through neighborhoods in your area looking for “For Rent” signs.
You can also ask people at your TEFL course, school, or expat community to help you find a place to live!
How Much Money Can I Save As an ESL Teacher in Mexico?
You’ll probably make between $500 and $800 a month as an ESL teacher in Mexico unless you work at a really prestigious institution that pays teachers super well or find enough part-time jobs to work pretty constantly.
Most people pretty much break-even as ESL teachers in Mexico, making enough to cover all their costs and live comfortably but not enough to amass savings. If you’re mainly interested in teaching abroad to make money, you should consider teaching in one of these lucrative destinations for ESL teachers.
How much money you put away each month, of course, depends on how much you spend as well as on how much you make. We’ve outlined some basic expenses below to give you a better sense of how much you might spend on an average day or month in Mexico:
You can find great, cheap public transportation for next to nothing in Mexico! Taxis are relatively inexpensive, you can take buses all over the country, and there are tons of budget airlines you can travel on, to boot.
Medical treatment alone might make teaching ESL in Mexico worth it.
You can see the doctor for free at a pharmacy or for as little as $3-$15 for doctor’s appointments or visits with specialists.
If you see a doctor in the hospital or need an English-speaking one, though, expect to pay more.
Foods & Services
For the most part, food and services here are super affordable, so you can treat yourself without breaking the bank!
However, you’ll find that meat, fish, and packaged food are the same price as they would be in the U.S. (or more expensive!).
For more detailed information on what everyday expenses might look for you, check out Numbeo’s breakdown of the cost of living in Mexico!
The Best Cities for Teaching English in Mexico
Mexico is full of beautiful destinations, but be sure to do your research before you go to make sure you know what you’re getting into.
Below you can find more information about just a few of the stunning cities in this country.
Mexico City (sometimes called CDMX, or Ciudad de México) is kind of a big deal. With a population of almost 9 million, it’s the biggest city not only in Mexico but in North America. Mexico City is a cultural capital with a rich history and tons to do, right in the heart of Mexico.
As a financial hub and densely populated city, Mexico City is also a great destination for ESL teachers. There is an abundance of teaching positions available here and there’s a thriving expat community, which makes finding housing and getting situated a whole lot easier.
Guadalajara, the second most populous in Mexico, is home to over a million people and is a popular destination for teachers and tourists alike.
There are tons of ESL jobs here, as well as many resources like Facebook groups and housing forums for expats.
Situated in the western part of Mexico, Guadalajara is the capital of the state of Jalisco, where tequila and mariachi originated — so you can be sure there’s never a dull moment here.
Located in the southwest region of Mexico near a healthy strip of the Pacific Ocean, Oaxaca is the destination for you if you like beaches and a more laid back lifestyle.
Oaxaca has a population of over 3 million, making it a pretty sizeable city with tons of resorts, and other amenities. Oaxaca has lots of natural beauty and is home to a huge variety of different plants and animals. It’s also home to some indigenous groups, whose presence infuses this place with their unique food and culture.
If you’re interested in learning about different cultures and teaching in a place of natural beauty, then you’ll be quite happy in Oaxaca.
Classroom & Work Culture in Mexico
Mexican classrooms are much like those in the U.S, with students divided into primary school, junior high, and high school.
Schools here are generally more laidback than schools in the U.S., although international schools and private schools, with their wealthier students and more rigorous curriculums, are often a little bit more formal.
Mexican schools often emphasize group work and praise collaboration and cooperation. Students tend to be respectful of teachers in Mexico.
The drop out rate is high in Mexico, especially for poorer students, and the school days are generally a little shorter and less rigorous than school days in the U.S.
This means that your workload will be less rigorous but also that you may not get enough working hours from one job. Many teachers, therefore, cobble together a couple or a few part-time jobs to make a living in Mexico.
If you end up working in a business full or part-time, you’ll probably find yourself working odd hours and traveling long distances. You’ll want to dress more formally to teach in a business than you would in a school.
It’s hard to encapsulate Mexico because it’s such a large, hugely varying country. But I can say this: if you do your research and wind up teaching somewhere in Mexico, you’ll find yourself living a good life.
Teachers in Mexico are by no means millionaires, but they earn more than enough to make ends meet, they’re far from overworked, and they live in places full of natural beauty, friendly people, and tons of tequila.
Teaching ESL in Mexico just might be the move of your life.
If you have any further questions about teaching ESL in this country, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below.