Teaching English in Guatemala

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Guatemala Overview

Guatemala is a beautiful country of superb volcanoes and other natural scenery. The city of Antigua is one of the top tourist destinations in Central America. The level of demand for native speakers is rather low but most TEFL-qualified teachers can find jobs in Guatemala City. Unfortunately, TEFL salaries are relatively low and despite very low living costs you certainly won’t be able to save much, if at all. As in most Latin American countries the students are lively and sociable and therefore a pleasure to teach. Guatemala has a poor reputation when it comes to crime to make sure you do your research on how to stay safe. There is a high turnover of staff at many language centres across Latin America which says a great deal about the pros and cons. Employers can be unreliable and have unreasonable demands such as the common one that you are effectively ‘on call’ from 8am to 8pm or similar. You are rarely paid for travelling from one location or class to another and this can take up a significant chunk of your daily schedule. There are plenty of other native speakers looking for short-term employment but many leave after just a few months due to the poor pay and the fact that many private students cancel at short notice (and therefore don’t pay you). If you are experienced, persistent and hard-working then you may be lucky to find one of the few well-paid positions, such as those at bilingual schools. For the majority, however, TEFL in Guatemala is a fun experience for a short period of time but certainly not a serious career option.

Type of Institution Typical salary (USD/month) Typical hours Typical annual leave
Language centres 500 – 1,200 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

Guatemala City, Antigua.

Typical requirements

Degree, TEFL certificate, local interview preferred.

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Tips

1. It is much better to find a job before arriving in Guatemala but in reality the vast majority of newly-qualified TEFL teachers looking for starter-jobs arrive on tourist visas.

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. Bring as much teaching material with you as you can because resources may be very thin on the ground.

3. American and Canadian teachers may be at a slight advantage. Those who can speak Spanish will find integration much easier.

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. Top employers will actually go through the troublesome process of making your employment legal. Without this, you are always at risk of being deported.

Cost of living

The cost of living in Guatemala is very low but expect to have to share accommodation with other teachers 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.

Summary

A gorgeous country of volcanoes Generally low pay and many employers are reluctant to offer proper, full-time contracts
Fantastic, sociable students Teachers are usually expected to work split shifts
Very low living costs A dangerous country to live in

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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.

2 Comments

  1. KEEA says:

    Basically very accurate. The intenational bilingual schools in the capital will offer provate paid for accomodations and a salary beginning at $1500.00 with no experience. (2013)That makes it easy to save at least $900.00 every month even with extensive travelling. Work days are 7 – 4 pm M – F normally, but expect extreme disorganization from all school and never get paid on time, or deductions from your salary for no reason and no help at all getting a work visa. School administration is sketchy, but the students are great. It’s only dangerous to be outside as a female after 7:30 at night, otherwise, it’s perfectly safe if you have common sense.

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