How to Teach English in Mexico: Salary, Visa, & Job Requirements


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Mexico Overview

About Teaching English in Mexico

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.  Filled with an abundance of career opportunities, it’s easy to land a job or even get trained upon arrival to teach English in Mexico.

Positions are diverse and 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.  Also, while most people will get their first jobs with a private school or university, it’s quite possible to supplement your teaching income with private tutoring lessons.

Mexico has a rich culture and 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.

All you need to obtain your 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.

Teaching abroad in Mexico is a life-changing experience and an opportunity 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 for more prestigious positions

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In order to teach legally in Mexico, 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 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.

If you’re interested in earning your TEFL in-person while in Mexico, check out ITTO – they offer regular courses with guaranteed job placement assistance.

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.

For example, 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 also 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 of any teacher is how much you can make and 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 and even if you’re close, there’s always tutoring.  The bad news is that most schools pay below what you can make in Asian destinations.

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

When you apply for a job with a school, like in the United States, you’ll find more opportunities if you have at least a bachelor’s degree. The highest-paying positions will be looking for candidates with previous teaching experience, a bachelor’s degree, and a TEFL certification. Lower-paying positions are available for people who only have a TEFL certification.

The lower end of the salary spectrum is 4,000 pesos per month, or about $210 USD. This is a wage that candidates without previous job experience or a degree can expect, especially if they teach in rural schools as rural schools tend to have a lower rate of pay than inner-city ones.

The upper range of salaries is around 20,000 pesos per month, or about $1,070 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. The upper range of salaries for university teaching jobs is 20,000 pesos per month, or about $1,070 USD, and most universities will require you to have a college degree and possibly previous teaching experience.

Factoring in the cost of rent and living, low-paid teachers can expect to save around $500 USD per year, while highly-paid teachers might save as much as $6,300 USD.

Private Tutoring

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, ESL tutors charge between 100 and 400 pesos an hour, or $5 to $22 USD per hour and use it to supplement the income from their regular school job.

It is important for teachers to make sure their 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.

Freelance Teaching

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.

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

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 in some other countries, you’ll still need a TEFL certification, an official letter offering employment, and $90 to cover the application fee.

In addition, there are no restrictions regarding age, nationality, or college degree and all nationalities are eligible except for citizens of Iran and North Korea.

How to Apply for the FM3 Visa

The process for how to get a work visa in Mexico is fairly simple:

  1. 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.
  2. You’ll find the official application here, with the virtual form here. You will need to have the most recent version of Acrobat Reader installed to fill it out.
  3. After you finish and submit the application, you’ll receive a confirmation from the immigration office. Usually, you’ll wait a period of 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 in your passport
  • For people already residing in Mexico, a copy of the tourist visa
  • 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

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. Processing should take around 5 to 10 days, and then you’ll receive your clearance.

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. When you arrive, you’ll need to bring $290 with you.

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.

When you pick 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
  • Three renewals of the FM3 will grant you residency in Mexico
  • Some schools cover the visa cost but you should contact your school to see if they will reimburse you
  • Visas processed in Mexico must be picked up from a consulate abroad, most commonly the one in San Antonio, Texas

How to Get a Job Teaching in Mexico

FAQs about Teaching 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?

Many teaching jobs will prefer that you to have a bachelor’s degree in addition to your TEFL certification. If you can, obtaining a college degree will open the door to many more work opportunities.

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.


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16 Responses

  1. I would like a job teaching English , but I don’t Have a degree.I do have a ESL certificate. I am from Toronto Ontario, .I also have, High School and college. I know I we would be an excellent teacher..I would be happy if you would considering me for a teaching position. Thank you. Birgit Hansen

  2. I am receiving my TEFL certification soon. I would like to come to Mexico to live, work , and teach esl. How can I go about getting employed in Mexico? Is it fairly easy to get work in Mexico?

    1. Hi Elizabeth – it’s like any other job hunt – you will likely need to apply to a few places to hear back but from everything we’ve read there are plenty of jobs available, esp in big cities – good luck!

  3. The best way to find a job teaching English in Mexico is to get a list of all the language schools in the area you want to live in and visit them. You can go in person and meet with the staff and establish a relationship with them. Once they find out you are a native of the language that won’t want to teach, they will almost always hire you. I have done this several times and they have hired me to teach. In Mexico personal face to face contact is very important as well as who you know. I am TEFL certified but before I became certified, I always found a job teaching just because I am a native. I hope this information is helpful.

  4. Helo,
    My name is Divine. I want to apply for Mexico teaching visa but i want to be clear if my TOEFL result of six years ago can still be valid for my application. Thank you in anticipation.
    Best regards.

  5. Hellow, I would like to know how much can i earn to teach english abroad with a diploma, PGCE, TEFL certificate and 4 years experience?

    1. Please what’s the meaning of TEFL?
      And where can I sit for that exams. Is it in my home country or after arriving in Mexico.

  6. Hi Quincy, can you get me a comprehensive list of schools where l can apply for a teaching job in Mexico. Look forward to hearing from you soon.

    1. Hi Andy – I’m sorry but we don’t have a list on hand, you’ll likely have more luck using Facebook groups and asking for first-hand recommendations as most schools don’t have any online presence.

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