There are so many countries to teach English as a foreign language, but none are quite like Mexico.
A North American must-see, Mexican culture and history is uniquely fascinating. Truly, from its carnivals and celebrations to everyday delights, like food, sport and beaches, Mexico stands alone. With 126 million residents, stretching from Juarez in the north to Tapuchula on the southern border with Guatemala, there are a cacophony of sounds and an array of sights that should keep anyone with a sense of adventure very much sated.
There are also opportunities for TEFL teachers. As it is, Spanish-speaking Mexico ranks poorly for English proficiency: 19th out of 20 Latin American countries, despite its proximity to the United States. That’s surprising, given efforts the Mexican educational system has made in recent decades. Mexico was the 18th largest English teaching market worldwide in 2016, with nearly 24 million Mexican citizens are learning English to some degree.
Mexico is stunningly diverse, and has always been. The differences between distinct areas of the country, and between cities, is vast. This is particularly reflected in English abilities – while more affluent and densely populated areas have a higher English proficiency, the language isn’t nearly as widespread in rural areas, and even in cities that are somewhat off the beaten track. Guadalajara, for example, has much higher English proficiency than Saltillo or Valladolid. ESL teachers, then, are needed all across Mexico.
This is reflected in the salaries for ESL teachers. The best opportunities to make a living are in the areas where there’s already better infrastructure for learning English, and more variety in terms of schools. International schools, private schools and other non-state institutions are easier to find where there are more people – as you might expect.
Requirements to teach English in Mexico
Firstly, what do you actually need on your CV to teach English in Mexico? Before we explore how much you can earn, we need to discuss some fundamental factors that will impact your salary.
You don’t need to have a degree to teach English in Mexico. This is extremely good news if you’re considering changing your career path, or you’d like to retire in Mexico, but you don’t hold a degree. A note, here: there are certain types of jobs where you will likely need a degree, including international schools, private schools and universities.
You will need to be TEFL certified to get a job teaching English, though. At least 120 hours of TEFL training will leave you equipped with all the theoretical understanding you’ll need to be a successful teacher, whether in Mexico or anywhere around the world.
Finally, experience isn’t strictly necessary for teaching jobs or for securing a working visa. Although certain employers will insist on experience, in the main, you can start working in Mexico as an English teacher without teaching experience on your resumé. In terms of salaries, you’ll likely be able to command higher compensation for your skills as a teacher if you do have some teaching experience, but it isn’t necessary for getting started.
How much can you earn teaching English in Mexico?
In general, the average salary for teaching English in Mexico is in the region of 8,000–20,000 pesos (£300–£730/$400–$1,000) a month. The usual pay for freelance or hourly work is 45-120 pesos (£2–£4/$2–$6) per hour up to 250 pesos (£9/$12) for a private lesson.
However, what you earn can be hugely dependent on where you’re working – both geographically, and the kind of institution where you’re teaching English. Let’s break it down by the type of place you’ll be working if you land a job teaching abroad in Mexico.
Public schools salary
There are various factors in play when it comes to public school salaries in Mexico. Again, geography is a major one: public schools in bigger cities are going to pay more than in rural areas, or less densely populated metropolitan areas. The level of experience an ESL teacher has is also important, as are qualifications. ESL teachers don’t need a university degree to teach English in Mexico, but applicants with relevant qualifications are going to demand higher wages than counterparts without at least a bachelor’s.
With all this said, you can expect to earn between £440-£1,120 ($550-$1,400) teaching in public schools in Mexico as an English teacher. These wages are unlikely to include anything significant in terms of bonuses, but still compare well to the overall cost of living, even in big cities like Guadalajara or Mexico City.
How much money can you save teaching English in Mexico?
So now we know how much can be earned from English teaching jobs in Mexico, but a crucial question arises: can a TEFL teacher actually save money working there?
The answer depends on a few factors: what kind of lifestyle do you want to pursue in the jewel of Latin America? Any outgoing, party-ready TEFL teacher can thrive in Mexico, a country known for its incredible festivals and nightlife. The food is also world-famous, and while it has spawned imitators worldwide, there’s nothing quite like the real thing.
So, there’s the lifestyle element. It also depends very much on where you are in Mexico. Rents and living expenses are higher in big cities like Mexico City and Cancun than in say, Puerto Vallata. Location really is everything – just as it’s more expensive to live in London if you’re a Brit, or New York City if you’re in the US.
Generally speaking, the wages for English teachers in Mexico don’t seem like the most lucrative in the world. However, that’s met with a cost of living that compares extremely favourably to other nations. According to Numbeo, the cost of living is 37% lower than in the United Kingdom, while rents are 56% cheaper. That should leave you with a decent amount of cash to store away, and we’ll expand on the cost of living shortly.
Theoretically, if you’re near the average wage of £300-£730/$400-$1000 per month, you really could put away a couple of hundred into a savings account every time you’re paid, and still live an exciting, adventurous lifestyle while teaching abroad in Mexico.
Living costs in Mexico
We told you about some national averages for the cost of living in Mexico, but let’s get into specifics, and we’ll show you what we mean when we say that location is everything.
In Mexico City, for example, accommodation is cheap compared to the US or the UK. Sure, a 1 bedroom apartment will cost roughly £677 ($839) per month, but if you’re willing to live just outside the city centre, that cost nearly halves, to £387 ($480). A three-course meal between two in a medium-price restaurant will set you back around £35 ($44), a pint of cerveza is around £2.20 ($2.76), and your monthly utilities will cost about £41 ($51) per month.
Sure, you want to teach English abroad, but what if you’re also a beach enthusiast? You’ll like La Paz in Baja California Sur. With coastal views that beggar belief, you might think it’s as expensive as it gets for a Mexican lifestyle. That’s not the case; a month’s rent in a central, one-bedroom apartment is just £401 ($498), but if you’re willing to live a more suburban life, you can rent for as little as £205 ($254). A three-course meal in a mid-priced eaterie will cost you a little more than it would in Mexico City, but utilities average at around £43 ($53) and if you’re looking for a monthly travel pass, expect to pay around a tenner!
So yes, the wages might be lower than you could earn elsewhere, but in beautiful, sunny Mexico, you can live cheaply and still experience everything your adventurous soul could dream of.
What benefits do employers offer?
Although teaching wages in Mexico are unlikely to make you a millionaire, teaching jobs often include a range of benefits that can help keep costs down.
The first, and perhaps most important, is the cost of your visa. Getting a visa can be an expensive task, adding around £50/$50 to the already costly sums of moving country. Mexican employers – after they’ve offered you a job – will often pick up that bill.
Depending on the length of your teaching contract, you can expect some kind of paid holiday. This typically ranges between 1 and 4 weeks and is taken in accordance with the school’s calendar.
Some employers will offer either free accommodation or some kind of accommodation allowance. If you work for a university, it’s not uncommon to hear of teachers being moved into apartments owned by the institution. Private schools and international schools, meanwhile, commonly offer an allowance to help with rent and utilities.
Health insurance is also an incentive offered by many Mexican employers. Healthcare in Mexico isn’t universal, costing most residents around £405/$500 per year. It’s different, however, for people coming into the country, but Mexican employers will generally help out English teachers with coverage from the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How much can an English teacher make in Mexico?
English teaching salaries in Mexico vary depending on where you are in the country, and the kind of institution you work in. The average full-time salary for an English teaching position in Mexico is in the region of 8,000–20,000 pesos (£300–£730/$400–$1,000) a month, but you can make as much as £1,120-£2,240 ($1,400-$2,700) in international schools, and £1,120-£1,560 per month (equivalent to $13,40-$1,940) in private universities.
Q. Is it worth teaching English in Mexico?
Yes, teaching English in Mexico is very much worth it, and the country should rank with the best teach abroad destinations worldwide. With a growing English teaching infrastructure and plenty of jobs, you’ll find rewarding work in Mexico. When you’re off work, you can enjoy stunning beaches, incredible nightlife and incomparable food and drink. Most ESL teachers who’ve been to Mexico for teaching jobs would surely agree that Mexico is worth exploring.
Q. Is it hard to get an English teaching job in Mexico?
No, it’s not hard to get a job teaching English in Mexico. As long as you have a TEFL certificate, you should be able to find work from Monterrey to La Paz!
Q. Can you teach English in Mexico without a degree?
Yes! You can get a job teaching English in Mexico without a degree. However, some employers will insist upon at least a bachelor’s degree for certain English teaching jobs, especially in universities and international schools.
Q. Are English teachers in demand in Mexico?
English teachers are very much in demand in Mexico. With English’s status as the lingua franca of business and Mexico’s poorly-ranked English proficiency, there’s plenty of room for English teachers to raise the level of English in Mexico.