If the lure of Latin America is becoming irresistible, making the move to teach English in El Salvador might just be the best port of call. With its incredible geography, El Salvador boasts both amazing beaches and volcanoes, as well as bustling, vibrant cities and immense countryside.
A country with a changing economic and cultural landscape and a real reverence for its past, El Salvador an is utterly fascinating place to teach English. The country combines cultural nods from both its indigenous past (including Mayan culture) and a colonial past; the Aztecs and Spanish have both made an indelible mark on the landscape.
With a population of 6.5 million, El Salvador borders Guatemala and Honduras, two other upcoming TEFL destinations in Central America. It’s a country perfect for those into surfing, rafting, swimming and other water activities, despite its relatively small size; over 300 rivers flow through the country, with the Pacific Ocean close by. This lends itself to an unbelievable selection of beaches and a coastline which has to be seen to be believed.
What’s it like for TEFL teachers? The country punches well above its weight in terms of English proficiency, ranked 50th out of 111 nations by EF. That’s above India, where English is very widely spoken, and China, the biggest TEFL market in the world. El Salvador has bilingual private schools, as well as international schools, where English is taught from an early age. However, in part due to lack of funding, the public education system only really features English when volunteers come in to teach.
A diverse, fascinating and deeply underrated country in which to teach English abroad, let’s have a look at El Salvador: you might just fall in love with the place!
El Salvador: An Overview
Teaching opportunities are rife in El Salvador, and the doors are open for English-speaking talent who can reach kids and adult learners alike. While in the public school system job opportunities are scarce, there are international schools and private schools where English is widely spoken. The official language is Spanish, so it would definitely help to have some phrases in your arsenal before teaching in El Salvador.
As an emerging economy, El Salvador is unlikely to offer the highest TEFL wages in the world. However, there’s a very prevalent interest in Business English. Adult learners, who want to advance their careers or increase their eligibility for new jobs, are very keen to learn English. This means the opportunities in language schools, for private tutoring and for language exchange are vast. With English-speaking North America close by, El Salvadorians looking to get into the business, hospitality or even sporting world are aware of how important English proficiency can be.
The majority of teaching jobs in El Salvador will be in the bigger cities, much like the rest of Latin America, including the capital, San Salvador, where around a third of the whole county’s citizens reside. San Miguel, Santa Anna and Delgado are also excellent options to teach English abroad in El Salvador.
So, what will you need to find jobs in El Salvador? Let’s go through the requirements you’ll need to meet if San Salvador, Delgado or anywhere else in this fascinating country is calling your name!
A TEFL certificate is a must if you have designs on teaching English abroad in El Salvador. For paid teaching jobs in El Salvador, especially in an international, private or language school, having a TEFL certification of at least 120 hours is especially important. It’s also demonstrable proof of both your ability and enthusiasm to teach English, which is vital for a visa application.
You could probably get by teaching English without a TEFL certificate if you were planning on volunteering short-term in El Salvador, but it’s not something we’d recommend.
To have any hope of landing permanent work teaching English in El Salvador, a bachelor’s degree is necessary. Since 1995, El Salvadorian educational reforms have placed real importance on higher education and employing teachers with internationally recognised certifications.
In some institutions, or for some particular jobs, a master’s degree might be required to teach English. It’s rare that employers would ask for a PhD, but in particularly advanced university roles, it may be necessary.
Broadly speaking, experience is helpful for finding teaching jobs in El Salvador, but it’s not always necessary. El Salvador’s high demand for English teachers means that a lot of employers won’t be overly fussy about the level of teaching experience you have.
Again, some teaching jobs will be more specific and require experienced teachers. This is especially true in for-profit international schools and universities. In terms of getting started, though, El Salvador is a great place to begin your TEFL adventure!
Depending on where you’re from, getting a visa for teaching abroad in El Salvador might not be a problem. 141 nations and territories can enjoy visa-free travel to El Salvador, including Ireland, France, Jamaica and Italy.
If you’re not from any of the listed countries, you’ll need to apply for a long-stay visa, which needs to be renewed annually. This process is relatively simple, and if you have a solid job offer, an employer will handle the majority of the responsibilities.
To be eligible, you’ll need to have a passport that’s valid for at least another six months from the time of application, a completed application form, health insurance, proof of residence, civil status documentation, proof of address (hotel or permanent dwelling), a flight reservation, photos and a bank statement.
Discover further information regarding the requirements to Teach English abroad by delving into the details and exploring the necessary qualifications.
Salary and cost of living
How much does it cost to live in El Salvador, and how much can a TEFL teacher earn there? Good questions: let’s dive in!
Of course, salaries vary by experience, level of qualifications, the kind of institution you are working for, and how long you’ve worked there. However, with compiled averages across teaching positions, it’s safe to say a TEFL teacher can earn $1,000-£1,200/£800-£960 per month, with the US Dollar serving as the official currency of El Salvador.
Contrasted with the cost of living, which we’ll cover next, these salaries are more than ample to live well in El Salvador, and possibly save some money while you work.
Cost of living
El Salvador has a remarkably low cost of living compared to big Western nations. For example, living in San Salvador is nearly half the price of living in London, and rents are about 78% cheaper than in the capital of England, per Numbeo.
If you’re looking to live in central San Salvador, a typical month’s rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $616/$492, while it’s $514/£410 outside the city centre. If you’re moving as a family, or want to share accommodation, the monthly rent for a three-bedroom city centre apartment is $850/£670, and outside the city centre, it’ll cost $714/£570.
Public transport is a great way to zip around El Salvador’s major cities. In San Salvador, a monthly travel pass costs $22/£17. You can use public transport to get to the country’s incredible restaurants, cafes and diners, with an inexpensive solo meal working at around $8/£6. If you’re eating with another person, having a three-course meal in a mid-range restaurant, you can expect to pay $32/£25.
Very importantly: a pint of beer costs $1.50/£1.20, while monthly utilities are around $64/£51 monthly.
So, what kind of meaningful work can you find teaching English in El Salvador? The teaching of English is in a bit of flux. While it’s a massively popular language to learn, especially for adults who are looking to advance their career options, it’s not typically taught in public education.
Though it’s a growing country, with an increasing need for English (due largely in part to tourism), El Salvador doesn’t have a public school infrastructure which supports English. Spanish is the national language, and the resources simply aren’t there for expansive foreign language education in public schools.
As such, job opportunities in public schools are scarce. Volunteering is an option, especially if you’re travelling with a tourist visa. It’s a fantastic way to build experience, especially if you have designs on finding work teaching English elsewhere in El Salvador.
Teach English in San Salvador
Like every truly great capital city, San Salvador represents both the incredible past and thriving present of El Salvador. Full of attractions for visitors of any age, San Salvador – El Salvador’s biggest city – has it all for TEFL teachers and tourists alike. La Libertad might have the beaches, but San Salvador has the culture.
Filled with gorgeous fresh fruit and vegetables, locally-made handicrafts and all kinds of eye-catching offers, El Mercado Antiguo Cuscatlán is a little sample of “real” El Salvador. So, too, is Paseo El Carmen, a colourful and lively street filled with cafés, bars, restaurants and all the character you’d expect of a charming, off-centre neighbourhood.
In terms of must-visit locales, San Salvador’s historic old town is the place to go. Even if you’re not Christian, or religious at all, the scale and detail of Monumento al Divino Salvador del Mundo – remodelled in 2010 – are astonishing from any point of view. So, too, is the stunning and Gothic-style Rosario Church, as well as the Metropolitan Cathedral.
San Salvador represents a totally new way of life for TEFL teachers. Though it can be frantic and busy in the city centre, it won’t take long to find bars and cafés to while away and watch the world go by. Filled with amazing universities, international schools, language schools and more, the city is a fantastic place to teach English abroad, but also to lose yourself in any number of warm, long evenings.
In terms of job opportunities, you’ll find the majority of well-paid, permanent roles are in the capital city. The largest concentration of universities and international schools are based in San Salvador, meaning that if you have the requisite qualifications and experience, you can make as much as twice the average salary. Additionally, the cost of living is still comparably low, meaning you can enjoy all the capital has to offer while saving money.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How much do English teachers make in El Salvador?
While schools in El Salvador will pay different amounts, the average salary of a TEFL teacher in a full-time position in El Salvador is $1,000-£1,200/£800-$960 per month. Your pay will be in US Dollars, the official currency of El Salvador.
Q. What do I need to teach English in El Salvador?
For the vast majority of teaching jobs in El Salvador, and to gain a working visa, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate with at least 120 hours of training.
Q. Is there a demand for teachers in El Salvador?
Yes, English teachers are very much sought-after in El Salvador, from international schools in San Salvador to more rural areas where TEFL teachers are harder to find.