Teaching English in Mexico City: How Much Will I Earn?

Factor your travel time into your hourly wage. 
Hey folks, it's reader question time. Bethany wrote me and asked:

My biggest question has to do with how much you can earn teaching ESL in Mexico City. 
Is it possible to save money, teaching ESL in D.F.?

The short answer is no, you can't save money teaching English in DF.

You can certainly support yourself and make a decent living but you won't be able to pad your bank account with insane amounts of cash. If that's your goal, countries like Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Vietnam, Taiwan, China, Oman and the United Arab Emirates provide impressive teacher packages that include healthy salaries and perks.

Mexico City is a better ESL option if you have one of the following goals:
  • You don't want to move far from the United States
  • You don't have a TSL certificate or other qualifications
  • You want to live in a low-cost country with bang for your buck
  • You're interested in easy access to beaches, archeological sites and Central America
  • You want to learn/perfect your Spanish
  • You don't know what to do with your life
OK, so what can I earn?

Chain English Schools

I'm talking about places like Interlingua and Harmon Hall. A few teachers told me that places like this pay as low as 40 pesos an hour. This is truly atrocious. You may end up working six hour days in their office with back-to-back classes which would be really draining. Some places charge you for training while others simply don't pay you at all during that period. For these reasons I wouldn't even bother applying at these places.

I worked at Interact in Polanco and I made between 80 to 100 pesos an hour at their school. It can be hard to get a robust schedule, though. You need to be around for a couple of months to rack up enough classes. They did pay me for training, though. And the payment was in cash and prompt.

It was a good place to learn how to teach since I didn't have a certificate but it definitely wasn't lucrative. And a lot of teachers burned out from the early morning/late night-heavy schedule.

Corporate Classes

Some language schools, such as Interact, have classes at company offices. For this I earned 150 pesos an hour. So, much better but travel time could be a concern.

Contact English Work

You'll find plenty of this type of work on Craigslist: people who find students and then hire teachers to go to their offices or homes to teach them. You're usually paid in cash or via a Mexican bank account (my husband comes in handy here). I've been paid between 180 to 225 pesos an hour. As you can see the pay is much better. You can also get substitute classes and do consultations.

However, you have to be careful about what classes you accept. Several of my bosses tried to send me to impossibly far locations. This would have been a complete waste of time. It can also be hard to get a robust schedule. You may end up juggling a couple of bosses plus some privates on the side.

Private Classes

I charge on a sliding scale. If my student is strapped I charge 200 pesos per hour for two 1.5 hour classes a week. On the higher-end, I charge 225-250 pesos an hour for two 2 hour classes a week.

Privates can be great but students come and go. Seriously, sometimes people just disappear. So this type of work can be really unpredictable.

Factor In The Travel Time

Your hourly rate actually depends on how long it takes you to get to a given class.

Say I make 150 MXN ($11.76 USD) per hour for a 1.5 hour class. I live in the south and the class is in the north. It takes me two hours each way to reach the class (not unrealistic in DF). So my real hourly rate: 56.25 MXN ($4.18 USD). Oh hell no.

Check out these resources that helped me when I moved to Mexico City:
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Hope this was helpful! Please post your comments or questions below.

3 comments:

Helen said...

I heard about teaching in China. There you can earn like 1500 dollars per month even when you don’t have pedagogic education. But you should have TOEFL certificate to work as English teacher in China.

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