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.
Degree, TEFL certificate, local interview preferred.
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.
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.
|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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