Teaching English in Mexico: A Guide
Mexico isn’t just a dream place for holidays, many people teach English in Mexico and enjoy the beaches, culture and nature. In this post, teacher trainer Liz Fishwick, who has been working as an English teacher in Mexico at The Anglo for several years, tells us all about teaching English in Mexico.
What kind of jobs are there for English teachers there in Mexico?
Mexico offers a diverse range of jobs for English teachers. This can range from positions in private/bilingual primary, secondary and high (prepatoria) schools and also private universities such as Iberro and Tec de Monterrey. There are also a lot of private language schools which are well established throughout Mexico.
There is high demand for English in Mexico whether this is for getting ahead in business in urban areas or to be more effective in tourism in beach towns. English is also part of the school curriculum and for some private schools this is linked to successful taking Cambridge ESOL Suite and usually to B2 level by the age of 18.
There are possibilities to teach freelance and also to move into examining IELTS and Cambridge ESOL suite. Mexico is a major customer for Cambridge exams. For experienced teachers, there are opportunities for becoming teacher trainers/educators, academic management and coordination and to work in ELT publishing.
What cities are most jobs in?
Most ELT jobs in Mexico are concentrated in Mexico City as this is the capital and with a population of 8.8 million people this is to be expected. There is also a demand due to multinational companies having their Latin American Headquarters in Mexico City and also, the flagship schools for The Anglo, International House and British Council.
Queretaro also has a decent amount of ELT work for both adults in language schools and with younger learners in mainstream schools. The same could be said for Guadalajara, Puebla and Monterrey as both are major cities with sizeable populations.
If living by the beach is your goal, Merida has options and also famous beach towns such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen for both private language schools and mainstream schools as well as universities.
What qualifications do you need to be an English teacher in Mexico?
Like a lot of countries, there is an underbelly of unqualified teachers where a passport from an inner circle English speaking country can lead to employment as well as demonstrating proficiency in English if an L2 user. However, these may not be the most reliable employers and may recruit teachers illegally or lack stability.
The situation is changing for the better and to find more stable and professional employment in either mainstream schools or language schools, teachers would benefit from an initial certificate such as CELTA or Trinity TESOL and a degree though this doesn’t need to be related to teaching.
For more on what these certificates are, see our post on What TEFL Qualification should you do?
As for the international and/or bilingual schools, it is preferable to hold a PGCE or equivalent depending on your country especially for the more prestigious schools. An initial certificate or in-service qualifications such as ICELT are accepted as long as the teacher will continue to work on their development through taking a PGCE.
It is beneficial to have a command of Spanish or have a willingness to learn especially in private/bilingual schools or universities where some staff may have limited English though you won’t be expected to teach English through Spanish.
What is the visa/work permit procedure?
A professional school in Mexico will support the process of obtaining temporary residency with the move to permanent residency after 4 years. The required documents are an apostilled birth certificate and apostilled and officially translated degree and teaching certificates.
Under Mexican labour law, an immigrant cannot take a job away from a Mexican national so your qualifications serve as evidence that you are a specialist in education.
One disclaimer for teachers from different nationalities who wish to work in as an English teacher in Mexico is to check that the employer will ensure that you are employed legally. Working under the table is not to be recommended and will result in deportation if caught.
Is there a maximum age to teach English in Mexico?
The maximum age is 65 years old to find teaching work as fitting the retirement age in Mexico.
Can non-native speakers work teaching English in Mexico?
There are lots of opportunities for L2 users of English to teach English in Mexico and in fact, the field has a high proportion of Mexican English teachers with in many cases, a high level of language proficiency and teaching degrees and/or qualifications and/or the potential to take them successfully.
While there is some discrimination based on (faulty) learner perception, this is changing and there is more balance in recruitment and a focus on professional competency and qualifications.
Read more on where to teach as a non native English speaker
How do most people find work as English teachers in Mexico
For language schools and bilingual schools, most recruitment is local and via Facebook Groups such as English Teachers in Mexico. There are also some positions posted on LinkdIn. This applies for The Anglo and British Council which has less global contracts now than before, though will still offer full time and part time work with a local contract.
For help with applying for TEFL jobs in Mexico, check out our guide to writing a TEFL c.v and cover letter.
International House posts on IH World for teaching work in Mexico. One way to find work in Mexico is to take a CELTA course through either The Anglo or International House. While they don’t offer a placement scheme, the newly qualified teacher will have access to if positions are available at that time.
For the prestigious international schools such as Churchills and Wingate, the Times Educational Supplement will advertise openings and The American School Foundation will recruit for positions through their website and job fairs.
International TEFL Academy has training schools in Mexico as well and provides job support. One of the teachers we interviewed for our reviews of the ITA course blog post is teaching English in Mexico.
What is the academic year and when is the main hiring period?
The main hiring period for mainstream schools is from May/June with the view to start the school year in August. There is also a period in November/December for starting in January. Language schools tend to have rolling recruitment as well depending on staffing levels and the demands of the schools.
What are the salaries and benefits?
What you earn in Mexico is dependent on qualifications, experience, and the type of educational institution. For a language school or private/bilingual school for a less experienced teacher, this can range from 12,000 to 18,000 MXN peso per month. This increases with experience though and gaining more qualifications at in-service level in institutions such as The Anglo and British Council.
In terms of benefits, under Mexican law, the institution should offer government health insurance (IMSS) as a minimum, a minimum of 12 days’ vacation and an additional up to a one month salary at Christmas (Aguinaldo).
Some institutions such as The Anglo, some mainstream schools and universities may offer supermarket cards (food only and no alcohol) called Vales and private health insurance plus a saving fund which is paid back at the end of the year.
Global hires are becoming less common due to more professionalism in English teaching in Mexico though these positions are available through international schools such as Churchills, Wingate, Greengates and Edron which include flights and flat.
Many teachers will also supplement their income through private teaching especially if you have experience with business, exams or younger learners and can charge 200 peso and above per hour.
Read Erick’s New Teacher Tales story of teaching English in Mexico
How does the salary compare to the cost of living?
As is happening in most countries globally, Mexico is experiencing inflation and the salaries are behind. However, it is possible to live here and have a decent lifestyle on a teaching salary.
Rents are rising especially in Mexico City, Guadalajara and beach areas such as Cancun. It is possible though to rent a room in Mexico City and near a metro station which is essential for around 6000 peso a month though not in a trendy area such as Condesa or Roma Norte or very upscale Polanco. This will be in a safe and convenient neighborhood.
In Mexico City, public transport in very reasonable and safe to use with women only carriages and buying fruit and vegetables from markets is also still affordable as well as healthy and supporting local business.
Museums and art galleries are free for locals on Sunday and this applies if you have temporary residency as well as cultural events in cities. You can still enjoy Mexico City nightlife especially with cheaper and arguably less pretentious bars and live music throughout the city.
What is good about living and teaching there?
For me, I live in Mexico City and even after 14 years, I am still in love with the sheer variety of what there is to do here in terms of culture, nightlife and just walking around and discovering a new place or part of time.
There is so much to see in Mexico and states and cities to discover and this needn’t be expensive through taking the excellent long distance bus services and budget airlines. This is more than just beaches which are beautiful and there are mountains, forests and deserts and ‘Pueblo Magicos’ which are protected towns.
In terms of teaching and teacher training, learners are very motivated to learn for the most part and enjoy learning and classes can be lively and interactive. As teacher training and professionalism is taken more seriously, teachers are a pleasure to develop and are open to new ideas.
What do you not like about living and teaching there?
Money can be an issue here especially with rising prices and teachers may have to take on extra work and this can have an impact on work-life balance. For teachers with Business English classes or with schools in the outskirts of the city (CDMX), this may involve long commutes on crowded public transport.
While a lot of ‘Mexico is dangerous’ can be seen as exaggerated, you do need to be mindful of surroundings and also as this is a seismic country, there is a threat of earthquakes especially in some parts of the country.
In terms of teaching, the learners while are very keen on learning English can at times lack autonomy and may expect the teacher to be ‘the sage on the stage’ though this is changing. Schools may have unnecessary bureaucratic experiences and especially in private/bilingual mainstream schools, there can be issues with parents who may get involved with teaching and pedagogical issues.
Not sure Mexico is the place you want to live and teach English? Read more of our Country Guides for more ideas.
What schools do you recommend working for?
Teaching English in Mexico is very diverse along with the variety in Mexico itself, the key point is to find out what you want and what, who and where you want to teach. Some English teachers are happy to purely teach online and to take advantage that this can be financially beneficial though they may miss out on a teaching community and continual professional development.
In Mexico City, The Anglo offers full time local contracts and with benefits and British Council have part time or even full-time work with guaranteed hours. Both offer CPD and also the chance to upgrade qualifications notably The Anglo through offering career plans for teachers by offering part payments for in-service development, DELTA and a Masters Degree in ELT through Norwich Institute of Language Education.
If you are a PGCE holder, schools such as Churchills and Wingate offer a benefit package and in some cases, global recruitment and also humanistic education philosophies embedded in the curriculum. As I’ve always said about Mexico, there really is something for everyone whether that is teaching, where to live and what to do after work.