We met up with Jan M, who is a certified teacher living with her family in Mexico and teaching in a private school there. Jan is an American citizen who made the move to Mexico with a higher purpose. Find out her amazing story.
Teach and Travel
Teach English in Mexico
Latest Jobs in Mexico
Why Teach English in Mexico?
With an abundance of ancient ruins, mouthwatering cuisine, and more than 9000km of coastline, Mexico offers ESL teachers incredible opportunities to explore this magical place, meet genuinely friendly locals and gain valuable teaching experience.
Teach English in Mexico: Fact Sheet
|Header Column||Data Column|
|Education Requirements||Bachelor Degree Preferred|
|TEFL Certification||120-hour TEFL Certification Required for FM3 Work Visa|
|Citizenship Requirements||USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa Preferred|
|Typical Contract Length||Varies|
|Peak Hiring Seasons||Year-round|
|Hiring Process||In-person interviews|
|Visa Requirements||FM3 Work Visa|
|Typical Students||Adults, Children|
|Average Monthly Salary||$500 - $800|
|Average Monthly Cost of Living||$400 - $600|
|Types of Jobs||Language Schools, Private Tutoring|
|Teaching Hours Per Week||30 - 40 hours|
Top 5 Reasons to Teach English in Mexico
1. Learn Spanish and Open Doors to Opportunities in the Vast Spanish Speaking World
You won’t save buckets of money teaching English in Mexico, but could there be a better way to become fluent in Spanish than to immerse yourself in Mexico? That would definitely be hard to top. If one of your main goals is to become a proficient communicator in Spanish, you can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle in Mexico and learn Spanish while you teach English. Spanish is the second-most widely used language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese, and being able to communicate in Spanish opens you up to the Spanish-speaking world, which includes most of Central and South America, and the United States, where it is a de facto second language.
¿quieres aprender español? ¡Ven a Mexico!
2. Get Your Fill of Authentic Mexican Cuisine. Yes, the Real Stuff.
You might think you know Mexican food, but do you really? Authentic Mexican food is something you can truly get to know while living in Mexico. Mexican cuisine is largely influenced by its diverse history. An fusion between Native American and Hispanic traditions, you’ll experience real Mexican food that you can truly boast about.
Beyond the taco, Mexico is famous for its wide range of seafood dishes. Owing to its shorelines along the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and Pacific Ocean, Mexican cuisine has no shortage of seafood choices. There are also meat and vegetarian options, but if you’re a straight-up lover of tacos and enchiladas, you won’t ever feel sorry trying the real stuff here.
3. Teach in Mexico. Teach Online. Travel.
Mexico is a popular destination for ESL teachers even though what teachers earn here is far less than what they can earn in Asia. This is because of the very low cost of living Mexico has to offer, along with its beautiful landscape and culture. Mexico has everything from small charming towns to beautiful beach resorts, and it’s just a step away from the USA to the north, and Central America to the south.
Many ESL teachers double down on the low cost of living by teaching private lessons or online outside of their day jobs, enabling them to work and travel while saving some extra money. Teaching in Mexico with a valid work visa also affords you access to various benefits including public health care and a path to residency.
4. Sample the Beautiful Beaches of Mexico
If you are a lover of the beach life, Mexico has some really nice beaches in store for you. Tulum beach is a short drive away from Cancun, where you can enjoy both the beach and Mayan ruins from the 13th century. The water is crystal clear, and the white sand beaches are palm-fringed. Or, visit Akumal Beach where you can catch some snorkeling and diving among large sea turtles. Akumal is famous for its beautiful coral beds, but also its bars, hotels, and restaurants. Playa Las Gatas is another white-sand beach that’s perfect for snorkeling and rocky coves. These are just a few of the many beaches Mexico has to offer. Whether you love swimming, snorkeling, diving, or simply enjoy seafood, you can’t go wrong in Mexico. Enjoy a beer or sip away on a glass of sangria on one of Mexico’s pristine coastlines.
5. Venture Deeper into Mexico and Experience its Diverse History
Mexico’s history is ancient and complex. Dating back several millennia, with a history interspersed with the rise and fall of complex indigenous civilizations, Mexico is not only the heart of Mesoamerica, but also a country whose history and culture has been greatly impacted by the Spanish conquest and European colonialism. Mexico’s rich, diverse history is present and visible throughout the country. Living in Mexico, you will find opportunities to visit historical sites like Chichen Itza, a complex of ancient Mayan buildings, Tulum, a Mayan site in Mexico’s Quintana Roo region, and Tenochtitlan, the capital city of the Aztecs once ruled by the famed Aztec ruler Motecuhzoma II. These are but a few of the many historical sites that will give you a glimpse of this country’s glorious past.
Requirements to Teach English in Mexico
Recommended TEFL Certification to Teach English in Mexico
The TEFL Academy
While preferred by many schools, a university degree is not required to work legally in Mexico. However, to obtain the FM3 visa as an ESL teacher, you will need to have a TEFL certification along with an offer of employment from a Mexican school.
Obtaining the FM3 Visa
The FM3 work visa is relatively simple, though the process can take some time, especially during holiday seasons. Plan ahead and allow for at least one month to process the visa. To qualify for the visa, you will need the following:
- TEFL Certification
- Offer of employment on the school’s official letterhead
There are no other requirements or restrictions to obtaining the visa, except that citizens of Iran and North Korea are ineligible to apply. It is possible to apply for the FM3 visa before arriving to Mexico, though many people first enter Mexico on a tourist visa, then apply for the FM3 visa after they have gained employment within the country. If you choose the latter route, you will need to pick up the visa from a consulate abroad. The nearest consulate and most common choice is located in San Antonio, Texas.
Be sure to confirm with the school who will be responsible for the visa costs beforehand, as many schools do not cover this cost.
Having the FM3 visa will enable you to utilize the national healthcare system.
Opportunities to Teach English in Mexico
Though not a place one goes to earn and save a lot of money teaching English, Mexico nonetheless attracts thousands of English speakers who want to teach English and experience its magnificent landscape, people, and culture. Aside from alluring the wanderlust who seek a cultural experience, Mexico has a high demand for English teachers, so there are plenty of jobs to go around, many of which do not require you to have a university degree.
There is a wide range of jobs for English teachers, but most opportunities for ESL teachers are with private schools or universities. Many teachers supplement their regular incomes with private tutoring, which is common practice in Mexico.
Although a university degree is not required, you will need a TEFL certification and a job offer letter to obtain the FM3 work visa. The FM3 work visa allows you to stay and work in Mexico for one year, and provides access to other benefits such as public health care.
Each school will have its own set of requirements to hire ESL teachers, and many schools will only hire teachers who have a university degree. Anyone who is a fluent English speaker can find work teaching English in Mexico, though many schools have a preference towards English speakers who are citizens of USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, or South Africa.
Still, due to the large demand for learning English, there are ample job opportunities for English speakers who haven’t completed a university degree but have a TEFL certification.
Mexico is an ideal destination for English speakers seeking a cultural exchange, opportunities to travel in and around Central America, and for those who want to learn Spanish in an immersive environment. You’ll be able to enjoy a relatively comfortable lifestyle due to the low cost of living, but probably won’t save much.
Let’s take a look at the opportunities to teach English in Mexico.
There are numerous private international and bilingual schools in Mexico, from pre-schools all the way up to colleges. Because these schools are private, they are typically the fastest and easiest way to gain employment as an ESL teacher in Mexico. One significant advantage working with a private school is that you will have a more direct relationship with the school directors, and work in a more close-knit environment, where you can get to know your colleagues and students. If you teach at a private school, you will most likely be teaching specific grade(s).
There are many language schools in Mexico, typically offering lessons in English as well as a variety of other languages. Teaching at a language school typically means you will have several classes throughout the week with small class sizes or one-to-one lessons. The main distinction of working at a language school in Mexico are that you’ll likely have more flexibility with your schedule and the number of hours you teach. However, your classes will most likely consist of a variety of age groups and levels, which means you’ll need to be versatile as a teacher from one class to the next. Language schools offer courses at all levels, from basic to advanced, and many will also offer business English courses as well.
Public school opportunities for ESL teachers exist in the three tiers of the Mexican public education system:
- Primary Education (Preschool – Grade 6)
- Middle Education (Grades 7 – 9)
- Secondary Education (Grades 10 – 12)
ESL teachers employed in public schools will have a more rigid schedule than those working in language schools, and will typically be assigned to teach a specific grade(s). Public school jobs will usually come with an expectation or requirement for ESL teachers to have a university degree and a TEFL certification.
Universities and Vocational Colleges
In Mexico, there are both vocational colleges where students study a specific trade, and graduate with a technical qualification, and universities, which generally follow the American model, where students will major in a subject or field, and graduate with a university degree.
Universities in Mexico tend to offer the best pay amongst job opportunities for ESL teachers in Mexico, but this will also come with the expectation of having a university degree, a TEFL certification, and preferably some teaching experience.
Private Tutoring / Online ESL Teaching
Many ESL teachers supplement their school incomes with private tutoring or online ESL teaching. The pay rate for private tutoring ranges between $5 – $22 per hour. Location as well as the ability to speak both English and Spanish will be a factor in the rate you can command for private tutoring. If you choose to engage in private tutoring, make sure you gain permission from your employer to avoid any issues and potential cancellation of your work visa.
ESL Teacher Salaries
Mexico is indeed a popular destination for English speakers who want to teach English, but the earning potential for an ESL teacher is not one of the top reasons for people to choose Mexico. English teachers working in Mexico can expect to earn between $500 – $800 per month, with higher end jobs such as in universities paying in and around $1,000 per month. Salaries will typically be higher in major cities, and lower in rural areas. Due to Mexico’s low cost of living, you can expect to live comfortably within this income range. However, expect to save very little, or break-even.
How ESL Teachers are Expected to Dress
Every school will have specific policies regarding how teachers should dress for work, but generally, you should expect to dress semi-casual to business casual. Language schools typically have fewer dress code restrictions, and thus, teachers commonly dress casually. Teachers working at public schools, universities, colleges should expect to dress at least semi-casually, whereas private school teachers should be prepared to dress business casual.
As a general guideline, men should expect to wear long pants, a sleeved and collared shirt, and polished shoes. Have some ties and a suit blazer handy for occasions where you might need to wear them. Women should arrange a wardrobe with slacks, blouses, knee length skirts or dresses, and modest dress shoes.
Mexicans tend to be somewhat more formal than Americans in terms of business attire, and are typically well-groomed. While your workplace will most likely have few restrictions with regards to dress, you should appear well-groomed and clean shaven, and your clothes should be ironed.
Popular Cities to Teach English in Mexico
Mexico is rich in its history, culture, and landscape, and there are many places English speakers will be able to find work as ESL teachers. Here are three of the most popular cities to teach English in Mexico:
Teach English in Mexico City
Mexico City is the capital of Mexico, built on the ruins of the ancient Aztec city Tenochtitlan. It is a densely populated city of nearly 9 million residents. Among its many famous landmarks are the ruins of Templo Mayor, the beautiful Plaza del Zocalo, and the floating gardens of Xochimilco.
Mexico City is only a 5-hour flight from New York, so it’s a popular destination for urbanists and culture seekers looking for a weekend away.
Teach English in Cancun
Cancun is world famous for its beaches, drawing millions of tourists from around the world each year. If you like the beach, then Cancun is one place you will really enjoy living and working in. Surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, Cancun has beautiful clear blue waters you can enjoy during the days, and a trendy nightlife that won’t disappoint. If you want to relax on quieter beaches, skip the tourist magnets and head over to beaches on the Isla Blanca peninsula, a short drive away.
Teach English in Guadalajara
Guadalajara features historic buildings such as the Palacio de Gobierno, Plaza Liberación, and UNESCO World Heritage Site Hospicio Cabañas. This charming city also has a large indoor market, Mercado de Dios, famous for quality apparel. You can also enjoy tasty local dishes like quesadillas, chilaquiles, and tortas ahogadas.
Situated in Western Mexico, Guadalajara is the capital of the State of Jalisco, and is famous for tequila and mariachi music.