Teaching English in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Overview

A land of beautiful beaches and a laidback lifestyle, Costa Rica is one of the most popular Latin American destinations for TEFL teachers. The level of demand for native speakers in Costa Rica is reasonably high. TEFL salaries are relatively low but more than cover the low cost of living. As in most Latin American countries the students are lively and sociable and therefore a pleasure to teach. Costa Rica has a mixed reputation when it comes to crime so make sure you do your research on how to stay safe. More generally, there is a high turnover of staff at language centres across Latin America. If you hold a TEFL certificate, are experienced, persistent and hard-working then you may be lucky to find one of the more well-paid positions, such as those at bilingual schools. For the majority, TEFL in Costa Rica is a fun experience. You can get TEFL certified in the beautiful beach town of Playa Samara, Costa Rica and begin teaching local Costa Ricans throughout the program.

Type of Institution Typical salary (USD/month) Typical hours Typical annual leave
Language centres 800 – 1,300 Various split shifts and evenings and weekends 2 weeks plus national holidays
International schools and universities 2,500 upwards 9am – 4pm Monday to Friday plus some weekend work 10 weeks plus national holidays

Main places for jobs

San Jose.

Typical requirements

TEFL certificate, local interview preferred.

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1. A TEFL certificate is not strictly necessary, but you will find that if you have one you are eligible for better jobs and better pay. You’ll also be a more confident teacher.

2. Given the low salaries, you may need to supplement your income with extra, private one-to-one tuition. Contacts are essential and found via word of mouth and through local adverts and websites.

3. American and Canadian teachers may be at a slight advantage.

Red tape

Your employer is responsible for obtaining your work permit. However, in reality, many work illegally. Despite the flexibility this allows, this is not recommended for obvious reasons. Most teachers do visa runs to Nicaragua and back every three months but top employers will actually go through the troublesome process of making your employment legal.

Cost of living

Public transport is cheap. Food is moderately-priced. Accommodation can be expensive in San Jose and you will probably have to share with another teacher to begin with.

Tax and salary information

You should expect to be paid on a monthly basis. Make sure you actually have a contract or else you may have problems when it comes to payday.


High demand for English tuition Generally low pay and some employers are reluctant to offer proper, full-time contracts
Fantastic, sociable students Teachers are sometimes expected to work split shifts
There are plenty of other teachers in San Jose so you should have a good social network with both foreigners and locals alike You need to take care after dark if you are out on your own

Directory of Recommended Schools, Language Centres and Recruitment Agencies

Would you like your school, language centre or recruitment agency to be listed here? Please contact us.

Qualified English teachers please register with World of TEFL and we will contact you with relevant vacancies as they come in. This is a free service for teachers.


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