Mexico is packed with an abundance of ESL career opportunities and it’s easy to land a job or even get trained upon arrival, even without prior experience.
As one of the most beautiful and culturally rich places in the world, it should be no surprise that thousands of English speakers flock to Mexico every year in order to teach English abroad.
ESL positions across Mexico are diverse. They range from teaching second-graders basic phonetics to explaining conversational English to adult employees.
All you need is an FM3 visa which provides twelve months of access to this gorgeous country and all of the ESL opportunities within. FM3 visa holders also enjoy access to the national healthcare system.
All that’s needed to obtain your FM3 visa is a TEFL certification and a job offer. Many schools will hire you without a bachelor’s degree as long as you have your TEFL certificate, although higher-paying jobs will require a university degree.
Mexico has no shortage of students who are eager to learn. You’ll be able to learn more about the local history and heritage from the students living there, not to mention the language-learning opportunities you’ll have yourself! Even if you aren’t fluent in Spanish, there are still ample job opportunities — and immersion is the best way to learn a language.
Teaching abroad in Mexico is a potentially life-changing experience that shouldn’t be missed!
What Are the Requirements to Teach in Mexico?
The Mexican government has recently passed legislation allowing people to obtain work visas if they have a TEFL certification, even if they haven’t yet acquired their bachelor’s degree.
Let’s examine the basic requirements to teach in Mexico as well as what schools expect in the way of credentials for more prestigious positions.
In order to teach legally in Mexico, again, you’ll need an FM3 work visa. This type of visa has a number of benefits, the most notable of which is access to the national healthcare system.
These are the two basic requirements to obtain your FM3 visa:
- You have received your TEFL certification
- You have a written offer of employment to teach English from a Mexican school, printed on the school’s official letterhead
In short, you only need to prove that you have the ability to teach English and that you have a job offer already lined up.
(Most schools will help teachers navigate the bureaucracy to apply for their FM3.)
Teaching Requirements by School
Every university, school, business, and private student seeking an ESL teacher will have slightly different requirements. In many cases, the requirements will depend on the level of English being taught and the location of the school.
For example, here are some general rules of thumb pertaining to teacher requirements:
- If you’re teaching very basic English skills to students between the ages of five and ten, you’re less likely to need a college degree. As long as you have your TEFL certification, you should be able to apply.
- Rural schools are more likely to have relaxed teaching requirements, but their rates of pay tend to be lower than city schools.
- Universities that teach English at a high level will generally require you to have a bachelor’s degree, as do most private schools and companies. Some prestigious and high-paying university jobs may even require you to have your master’s.
How Much Can You Make Teaching English in Mexico?
One of the main concerns that any teacher has is how much you can make.
The average monthly salary for an ESL teacher in Mexico is $500-$800. You may earn more if you are highly credentialed.
The English teaching salaries in Mexico vary widely depending on the type of job, the hours required, and the level of teaching you’re doing.
The good news is that you won’t go broke. Even if you’re pressed for money, there’s always tutoring. The bad news is that most schools pay below what you can make in Asian, European, or Middle Eastern destinations.
According to the employment website Glassdoor, “the average salary for an English Teacher is MX$12,871 per month in Mexico City, Mexico.” (MX$12,871 is about $700 USD.)
On an hourly basis, most teachers can expect to make $7-$15/hour.
Types of Jobs & What They Pay
Different jobs have different salary ranges. The main types of ESL jobs you’ll find in Mexico are:
- Teaching English at public and private schools
- Offering private English lessons
- Teaching business English to employees of Mexican companies
- Private language schools
The highest-paying positions will be looking for candidates with previous teaching experience, a bachelor’s degree, and a TEFL certification.
However, lower-paying positions are available for people who only have a TEFL certification.
The lower end of the salary spectrum is approximately $10,000 pesos per month, or about $500 USD. This is a wage that candidates without previous job experience or a degree can expect, especially if they teach in rural schools as they tend to have a lower rate pay rate than ones in urban centers.
The upper range of salaries is around 20,000 pesos/month, or about $1,100 USD. This is what teachers can expect to be paid if they have previous job experience and preferably know a bit of Spanish.
You’ll be paid significantly more money if you teach at a Mexican university rather than at a grade school or high school level.
Factoring in the cost of living via Numbeo, low-paid teachers can expect to save around $500 USD per year, while highly-paid teachers might save as much as $6,300 USD.
The bottom line: as an ESL teacher in Mexico, you’ll make enough to live comfortably, earning a higher salary than most locals, but you won’t get rich.
One-on-one English lessons are generally paid by the hour and teachers who are fluent in Spanish, as well as English, can charge more per hour than teachers who lack Spanish fluency. Typically, native-speaking foreign ESL tutors in Mexico charge between 100-400 pesos an hour, or $5-$22 USD per hour.
Many teachers use tutoring income to supplement the salaries they receive from their regular school job.
(An important caveat: Always check to ensure your school is okay with them offering private lessons as it’s common for some schools to express concern about private tutoring stealing their students. A school has the ability to get your visa canceled, so you need to make sure you adhere to their policies.)
Becoming a freelance teacher is one way to be hired by Mexican businesses. You’ll act as a contractor who sets their own rate of pay, though a good baseline is charging the higher end of tutoring rates, or $15-$20 an hour. Many teachers find that doing this will yield more pay than a job as a school teacher, but you may also have unpredictable hours and limited non-financial benefits like housing assistance.
A Note on Teaching Benefits
Most teaching jobs don’t include healthcare, but your FM3 visa will give you access to the national healthcare system. Some schools will also cover your $290 visa fee requirement.
How to Get a Work Visa to Teach in Mexico
As we’ve mentioned previously, if you intend to teach English in Mexico, you’ll need to get an FM3 work visa.
While the requirements for the Mexico work visa aren’t as extensive as they are in some other countries, you’ll still need a TEFL certification, an official letter offering employment, and $51 USD to cover the application fee.
There are no visa restrictions regarding age, nationality, or college degree.
How to Apply for the FM3 Visa
The process for how to get a work visa in Mexico is fairly simple:
- The first thing you need to do is secure a job. You cannot receive a visa until you prove that you already have a job lined up. Your offer of employment should be written on the school’s official letterhead and delivered to you in letter form.
- You’ll find the official application here. You will need to have the most recent version of Acrobat Reader (or other PDF-reading software) installed to fill it out.
- After you finish and submit the application, you’ll receive a confirmation from the immigration office. Usually, expect to wait between 5 and 15 days before you get their request for paperwork.
Paperwork Required for Teaching Visa in Mexico
You’ll file the electronic application first. When you receive the paperwork request, you’ll need to submit the following:
- A copy of every page of your passport
- Proof of US legal status (for non-citizen US teachers)
- A copy of the tourist visa (if you are already residing in Mexico)
- Three black-and-white photos from your passport
- Proof of current residence; if you’re already in Mexico, the address of your hostel or hotel is acceptable
- A copy of your TEFL certification (must be apostilled)
Steps to Follow After You Submit Your Visa Paperwork
When you submit your paperwork, Immigration will give you a NUT Number. This allows you to track your application’s progress online.
After being cleared for your FM3 visa, you need to contact a Mexican consulate in your main country of residence. They’ll schedule an appointment for you to pick up your Visa.
After you receive your approval, you only have 15 days to get your visa. If you’re late, you will need to go through the whole application process again.
Once you’ve picked up the visa, you’ll have 30 days to move to Mexico.
Other Important Facts about Mexican Work Visas
- Your initial visa expires after 12 months, but you can easily renew it in Mexico
- Your employer may be willing to reimburse you for your visa expenses. Discuss the issue with them during employment negotiations.)
- Visas processed in Mexico must be picked up from a consulate abroad (most commonly for Americans the one in San Antonio, Texas)
How to Get a Job Teaching in Mexico
The easiest, most convenient method to get a job teaching in Mexico is to browse online job boards. Most schools are willing to do the whole recruitment process remotely, including your job interview conducted via Skype or similar software.
The job boards I most highly recommend to begin your search are:
If you have the means, of course, you can physically relocate to Mexico before getting hired (you can easily switch a tourist visa over to an FM3 visa after finding work) and do the old-fashioned “pound-the-pavement” routine, but this method is more inefficient and resource-intensive.
What’s It Like Teaching English in Mexico?
With an estimated 1.6 million American expats calling Mexico home, there must be something really great about living in Mexico, right?
Regarding the teaching experience in Mexico, Lindsey Dara describes her personal experience, which mirrors many accounts:
Of the experience living in Mexico more generally, life in Mexico differs in a few substantive ways from life in Canada or the United States, such as:
- Lower cost of living. The average cost of living in Mexico compared to the United States is 64% lower. Food, rent, electricity, and other common expenses are much more affordable.
- Affordable healthcare. Healthcare is so much more accessible in Mexico that many Americans visit just to take advantage of the prices.
- More individual freedom. The lack of a rigorous civic infrastructure isn’t all bad news, as you have much more individual autonomy in Mexico than in the West, broadly speaking.
- Higher crime. The overall crime rate in Mexico is higher than in the United States, but the devil is in the details. Some areas are very high in crime while others (such as the Yucatan Peninsula) are safer than many American cities. It really depends on where specifically in Mexico you’re talking about.
- Slower pace of life. Life in Mexico is noticeably more relaxed than the “hustle and grind” atmosphere fostered in the United States.
FAQs about Teaching English in Mexico
Let’s run down a few frequently asked questions (FAQs) pertaining to the English-teaching experience in Mexico.
Do I need a college degree to teach English in Mexico?
You can get your FM3 visa even if you don’t have a bachelor’s or master’s degree. However, you will need to complete a TEFL course and receive an offer of employment from a Mexican school.
What are the typical minimum requirements for a teaching job?
TEFL certification is the baseline credential you’ll need. A bachelor’s degree or higher will open up doors in the higher rungs of the Mexican ESL industry.
What are the chances of receiving a job offer in Mexico?
Mexico is incredibly popular for ESL teachers with thousands of teachers moving to the country every year. Though it’s a competitive environment, the ability to teach without a degree means you’re likely to find plenty of job postings that you’re qualified for regardless of your experience.
Are English teachers paid well in Mexico?
Teacher pay in Mexico is generally lower than it is in the United States. Most teachers make $500-800/month.
Can I teach English in Mexico if I don’t speak Spanish?
Yes. Spanish skills are an asset for obvious reasons but are not required.
Is it safe to live and work as a teacher in Mexico as a teacher?
Safety varies by region. Some areas that are hotspots for cartel violence are not safe while others, such as the Yucatan Peninsula, are actually very safe.
Do I need a college degree to teach English in Mexico?
No. A college degree helps in the job search but is not necessary.