Teaching English in Guatemala

By | December 11, 2013

Guatemala is situated in Central America and shares borders with Mexico, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. The country is full of breath taking natural scenery and home to one of the most visited tourist destinations in Central America; Antigua.

It is in Guatemala that the Maya civilisation thrived and this old culture can still be seen to day in the language, handicrafts and religious festivals.

Unfortunately, Guatemala has had a bloody history with a civil war, but the now peaceful country is gradually developing. There are a range of different teaching opportunities available for native English speaking teachers and it a country that is often overlooked by most, but will certainly provide a different and unique experience.

Read more about Guatemala from Wikipedia.

Why Teach English in Guatemala

La Antigua Guatemala

La Antigua Guatemala image courtesy of WikiMedia.

If you’re in it for the money, then look elsewhere because English teachers are not highly paid in Guatemala. If you’re looking to live in a country surrounded by natural beauty, absorb some of the fascinating culture and teach somewhere a little off the beaten track, then Guatemala might just be the country for you.

There is a very high demand for native English speaking teachers in Guatemala, and even teachers without a degree or any other qualifications will be able to find work there. It would suit ‘backpacker teachers’ down the ground.

Whilst there are paid positions available in the country, a number of teaching opportunities are on a voluntary basis.

As a developing country, the Guatemalan government see English as a way to improve their workforce. Coupled with a good tourism industry, many locals want to study English and as a result of this, there are many opportunities available for native English speaking TEFL teachers.

Where to Teach English in Guatemala

It is in the three major cities that you will find the most opportunities; Guatemala City, Antigua, and Quetzaltenango. We will be publishing information about finding work in each of these three cities in due course.

Types of Teaching Jobs in Guatemala

Grand Jaguar 2

Grand Jaguar 2

By far the most opportunities that you will come across will be voluntary teaching positions. There are so many NGOs in the country and they see English as a way for poor people to find their way out of poverty.

There are also many non-profit organisations that need native English speaking teachers and you will find that some of these also pay a salary, albeit a very small salary.

Private Language Schools

Private language schools are mostly located in the bigger cities. The pay is a bit higher than in other teaching jobs, and some will even provide other things such as subsidised accommodation. However, they will require that you work long hours with some requiring that you are ‘on call’ 12 hours a day.

Most of these schools have a very high turnover rate of teachers because of the low pay. You might end up going through a number of jobs before you find an employer that gives you a good salary, pays you on time and doesn’t expect you to work crazy hours.

Teaching Embassy Staff

Sometimes, you might find that various embassies from around the world employ native English speaking teachers to teach their staff how to speak English. There aren’t a lot of these types of jobs available, but there are some. These are usually high paying positions, but they are rarely advertised so you should contact the embassy for your home country and enquire in person.

Private Tutoring

Many teachers also take private lessons to supplement their income a little. You will probably find that you can’t get enough students to work as a private tutor full-time, but it will certainly add to the low salary that you will get from your day job.

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Teaching Requirements and Qualifications

Palacio Nacional

Palacio Nacional

One of the most asked questions is usually, ‘can I work in Guatemala without a degree?’ and the answer is yes. There is no requirement to have a degree or even a teaching certificate such as a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA to obtain a working visa or even find a job in the country.

Therefore, Guatemala can be a good option for the ‘backpacker teachers’ that are just looking for a few months’ work to tide them over until they get to the next place.

However, if you want to get a higher salary then it would be better if you have a bachelor’s degree and an internationally recognised teaching certificate such as a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA.

Expected Salary and Living Costs

[sociallocker id=”1259″]There is a huge range of salaries on offer, from as little a few dollars per hour to as much as $13-$15 per hour. You can expect to earn anywhere from $300 to $1000 per month. You might even more if you can find a job in a university or international school, but their requirements for qualifications and experience will be higher.

This obviously doesn’t sound like a lot, but the cost of living in Guatemala is incredibly low. You can find a cheap room to rent for $100 per month or less and you total living costs won’t be more than about $250 – $300 per month. This will obviously increase depending on your lifestyle, but you can certainly make ends meet on a teaching salary in Guatemala.

For more information about the cost of living in Guatemala, see Numbeo.[/sociallocker]

Visa Requirements

Guatemala Cathedral

Guatemala Cathedral

It is possible to work with just a tourist visa. A lot of schools and NGOs can get around the fact that you don’t have a working visa by paying you a ‘living allowance’ instead of a salary and they will pay in cash.

A tourist visa will expire every 90 days, and you can renew it the first time at the immigration office. If you want to renew it a second time you will need to leave and re-enter the country.

If you are planning on staying in the country for a long time, it would be better to obtain a work visa.

For more information about visas in Guatemala, click here.

How to Find a Job Teaching in Guatemala

You might find jobs advertised online, but it is very unlikely that you will be offered a position without interviewing in person. You can search online or find websites for organisations and schools and contact them directly.

Alternatively, it would be a good idea to try to find a job after you have arrived in Guatemala. Look in the local newspapers and visit the schools directly and you should be able to secure a job fairly easily.

Teach in Guatemala

You won’t get rich working in Guatemala, but you can make enough money to pay for your living costs. There are opportunities all over the country, but mostly you will find teaching jobs in the major cities.

The county has a very interesting culture and about 50% of the population are indigenous Maya. There are lots of attractions in the country to keep you busy when you’re not working and although it’s not popular for its beaches, you can find some beautiful spots to relax as there are stunning mountain lakes and volcanoes to keep you busy.


Although I have never worked in this country, every effort has been made to ensure that this information is correct. This blog post has been written after extensive research online, interviews with teachers who have worked or are working in the country, and local schools have been contacted. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. If you have worked or are working in Guatemala, we would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and share your experiences with us.

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