How to Get a Job Teaching English in Colombia 2019 Guide

    Teach English in Colombia

    Importance of the English Language

    You see someone in a new country, not sure how to approach them? Don’t know anything about their language or how to speak it? The one language that will come to your rescue is English.

    • Global language – The English language is spoken as a second language in most countries now. It now rules the Global village and is used to converse in most parts of the world. It does not matter if you do not know a lot of languages if you know English, it should get you by in most places.
    • Teaching English as a foreign languageWith the increasing popularity of the English language, it is self-explanatory why so many countries are eager to learn the English language from native teachers themselves. Being a fluent English speaker gives you the opportunity to exploit your basic skill of language and make a living out of it. Since you are teaching it to non-speakers, it is a very basic language level that would be easy for you to teach.
    • High DemandESL has been getting popular in every country since the past few years. So getting a job in English teaching is easy compared to other professions since countries are now actively hiring fluent English speakers to teach. There are many different job levels to teach in; hence more positions to fill in which also, in turn, creates plenty of job opportunities for ESL teachers.

    Why teach English in Colombia?

    Colombia happens to be a country full of flowers and coffee beans if that does not appeal to you; here are a few important things that might convince you otherwise

    • Easy Job Availability – Colombia happens to be a safe haven in terms of the job market for prospective English teachers. The demand for native English teachers in Colombia is pretty high which not only makes it easier to find work but also provide more options to choose from according to your suitability, and also increases the probability for job stability on the miles’ radius.
    • International ExperienceGoing abroad to teach counts as something great on your adventure scale and adds to your international experience as an English language teacher. In Colombia, you gain said international experience white sipping on fine coffee and smelling fresh roses, which sounds pretty promising.
    • Learn SpanishTeaching in Colombia provides you the opportunity to re-learn Spanish as part of your personal development; Spanish is a widely spoken language so an opportunity to brush up on it doesn’t sound all that bad.

    What do I need to become an English teacher in Colombia?

    • Bachelor degree – Fortunately for people that are looking to teach English without having to go to college, you do not necessarily need a Bachelor’s degree in order to each in Colombia. It might be preferred but is mostly not necessary. However, having a degree will increase your chances of getting a higher paying job.

    However, some higher level jobs like high school and university level jobs require some sort of Bachelor’s or master’s degree depending on the job title/description.

    • TEFL or TESOL certification – Good news for prospective teachers, teaching ESL in Colombia is easier in the sense that you do not necessarily require a TEFL or TESOL certificate in order to apply for most jobs. This by default saves you from the hassle and cost of getting one. Of course, even though it is not mandatory, having a certification will improve your chances of getting jobs by making your resume stand out.
    • Visa – In order to work as an ESL teacher in Colombia, you need an M- visa or Migrant Visa. It is not legal or possible to work on a tourist or visit visa which only lasts for 90 days.

    An M-visa allows you to work and stay in Colombia for a period of 3 years. Fortunately, it is not that tedious to get one.

    • The Visa Process
        • If you already have a job confirmation, you can apply for the M-visa online on the official website of the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Most teachers enter the country with a visit visa in order to seek employment and then apply for an M-visa in Bogota once they have a job.
        • Documents required for visa application
        • Photographs with the dimensions 3 cm x 4 cm
        • A photocopy of the information page of your native passport
        • A letter of motivation/ recommendation from your employer
        • A copy of your employment contract
        • Your bank statement of the past six months
        • Cost
        • The cost of M-visa is 217 Euros for people living in Europe or Cuba and $282 for all other countries.
        • After getting a visa you shall receive a Cedula, a foreign ID within 15 days of getting a visa after registering at your local Immigration office.

    Types of jobs in Colombia

    • Private international schools – These international schools follow the same education and school systems as international schools. For example, if you join a British school, the entire school system would be based on British standards and policies. These schools are quite expensive and offer great wages, however, they also have a very fierce job market.
    • Salary and Benefits
          • Private international schools are a big scale project countrywide so as their teacher you can expect to make around $700-$1000
          • Housing stipend or accommodation is usually provided
          • Airfare might be paid for
          • Some schools provide health insurance
    • Requirements
          • Valid Work Visa
          • Bachelor’s degree might be required by some schools
          • TEFL or TESOL certificate is not mandatory but it is better to have one.
          • Some schools ask for some sort of work experience in working with students or language teaching
    • Public high schools – The Colombian government has taken steps to improve the overall quality of education in its public school sector. This has created many new job opportunities for both locals and teachers from abroad. Even though the pay scale may not be as attractive as that offered by the private school sector, but you can still lead a comfortable lifestyle if you spend carefully.
    • Salary and any benefits
          • You can expect to earn around $400-$700 USD as a public school teacher
          • Schools might provide housing stipend and accommodation
    • Requirements
          • For the most part, you just need a valid work visa and the will to teach and learn in a new country. A bachelor’s degree and TEFL or TESOL certification is not usually required by most schools but having one is beneficial for your resume and increases your chances of getting a job.
    • Teaching at ESL schools – ESL schools are centered around helping students learn English as a second or third language, teachers help students learn by reading, writing and speaking the English language.
    • Full time and part time opportunitiesIn ESL schools, teachers can choose if they want to either work full-time or work part-time depending on their feasibility and if they are ready to commit to the full-time experience of teaching ESL yet.
    • Salary and Benefits
          • ESL jobs typically pay $700-$900 USD
          • You can choose if you want to work full time or part-time
          • The working hours are somewhat flexible
          • You can choose from a number of levels to teach in
    • Requirements
          • Valid work visa
          • A TEFL or TESOL certification is mostly required for ESL level teaching
          • Native level of English speaking is a prerequisite.
          • Some sort of teaching work experience might be required.
    • Government-funded teaching programs – TEC or Teach English in Colombia is a government-aided program that allows ESL teachers to teach in English school settings in institutions like SENA. It is a voluntary program and your main role is to conduct small group lessons and answer any questions that help students get a better understanding of the English Language.
    • Salary and any benefits
          • You earn more than you would in schools normally.
          • Salaries in TEC programs are usually more than $1000 USD
          • You get a month of training on teaching skills
          • There is an added benefit of improving your Spanish with the 80 hours of Spanish language classes they give you.
          • It is a voluntary program that is free for the students learning so there is a sense behind the program.
    • Requirements
          • Your main requirement to teach for the TEC program is a valid working visa and a certain amount of previous teaching experience.
    • Private tutoring – Private tutoring is a great way to get yourself a secondary source of income, especially, if you work in a public school. However, one downside is that independent private tutoring does not offer any additional benefits such as health insurance and accommodation.
    • Salary
          • A private tuition teacher in Colombia can charge around $12-25 USD per hour depending on what location you are teaching in and how much work experience you have.
    • Perks
          • You have total liberty in choosing your students; you can choose who you want to teach and how many students you want to teach. For the most part, your working hours are pretty flexible, which lets you pick up other part-time work or just explore the city while you are at it.
    • Language centers and academies – Language schools and centers offer a great many job opportunities and mostly prefer native speakers for these posts. The hiring is done throughout the year and your salary depends on your qualification and experience. The higher the qualification, the higher the pay.
    • Salary and benefits
          • The salary for ESL teachers in Colombia can range anywhere between $12-27 USD per hour or $500-900 USD per month.
          • Work hours are more flexible, you can choose to work in the evening if you have another job in the mornings. In some cases, you may be able to choose how many hours you want to work. It is a great opportunity to meet locals and explore the country through them.
    • Requirements
          • A valid work visa
          • Proof of accommodation might be asked for in some institutes
          • Some sort of qualification to teach, like a bachelor’s degree or a TEFL/TESOL certification
          • Native level English teaching
    • Universities – To teach at the university level, the requirements will be tougher than other institutions.
    • Salaries and benefits
          • University level jobs can pay more than $1000 USD per month or more depending on your work experience and job description.
    • Requirements
          • A valid work visa is required
          • A TEFL or TESOL  certification
          • A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree depending on where you are teaching
          • Work experience is required
    • Teach through AIESEC – AIESEC has a program for Colombia known as HFC or Heart for Change, which brings international volunteers from all over the world to Colombia to teach the English language to locals and work for government-aided institutions.
    • Salary and Benefits
          • Jobs with AIESEC pay around $500 USD per month
          • You get health insurance worth $80 per month
          • You do not have to work on the weekends
          • Food is provided so you save money in that area of groceries
    • Requirements
    • A valid work visaYou will need a valid work visa to qualify for the program.
        • Bachelor’s degree – Generally, you do not need a degree to teach ESL in Colombia but for AIESEC associated jobs you typically need prior education, preferably supported by a Bachelor’s degree since they are an international organization and require some sort of qualification to hire for their positions.
    • Prior experience in language teaching – It is not a prerequisite in most cases, but having work experience is obviously better since it is generally competitive to get these jobs due to the wide range of benefits they offer.
    • Basic computer skillsYou need a basic understanding of how to work with Windows and Internet usage since you will need those for job-related work.
    • Native level of English LanguageYou need excellent command over all components of the English language including speech and grammar.

    Things to consider before moving to Colombia

    • Cost of living – The cost of living usually depends on how much you are earning and what kind of job you have, it also depends on how well you can budget your earnings. The cost also varies according to your place of residence and where you choose to live. Generally, it can range anywhere from COP 2000-3500 per month. This includes rent, groceries and other basic utilities.
    • AccommodationIf your job is not providing it for you, accommodation might be your main monthly expense. However, rents in Colombia are generally affordable and cheap; it can be COP 1200-1500 depending on a number of rooms, location, and furnished/unfurnished variants.
    • TransportationThe common modes of transportation in Colombia are taxis, motorcycle taxis, and buses. These are usually reasonable and cheap. Other domestic transportation includes buses and regional flights. Transportation via bus and taxis can cost around 2000 COP.
    • HealthcareThe public healthcare system in Colombia is a gener,ally high standard and well developed but as a private expat you will prefer to visit private healthcare since it is the better option of the two.
    • Food and groceriesGroceries and other food items are usually expensive since they have to be imported. Shopping at grocery stores is more costly compared to shopping at local butchers, farmer’s markets and stores, which are significantly cheaper.

    Best places to teach English in Colombia

    Mention three cities and explain why they are the best places to for English teachers

    • Bogota – Bogota is the capital of Colombia and one of the bigger cities hence it is better developed in terms of infrastructure and education creating more job opportunities and making it feasible for teachers to work in. Bogota is also better in terms of economy, so jobs in this city are high paying compared to the rest of Colombia.
    • MedellinMedellin is the second largest city in Colombia; located in Andes Mountain it has the advantage of being both a major tourist attraction and economically powerful due to the tourism influx. It is also known as the Metropolitan city of Colombia

    The rapidly developing businesses in Medellin attract more and more people each day, causing increase in number of language schools which in turn calls for more language teachers each year, increasing employment opportunities

    • Cali – Famously known as the salsa capital of the world, Cali is now a major place for new landing businesses in Colombia. ESL teaching is relatively less common in Cali for now but new language schools are now starting to pop  all over the city, making it an amazing prospective English teaching option.

    Is it safe to live and teach in Colombia?

    Colombia is known as an unsafe city due to the breakout of violence in the city in the early but things have significantly changed since then. It has become safer now. It also depends on where you live in Colombia; some neighborhoods are unsafe while some are completely safe. You must take the general safety precautions like you would anywhere else, be vigilant, do not walk in unsafe streets late at night, take care of your belongings, and befriend more locals so you know the dynamics of that city. Do your research beforehand, but generally speaking it is not that big of a concern now as it used to be.

    Can I teach English in Colombia without knowing the native language?

    It is not mandatory that you know the native language in order for you to be employed but there is a general bias between native and foreign teachers, the native Colombians are usually hired on a higher salary than foreign teachers. A higher level set of language skills are required for foreign ESL teachers for them to be considered

    Can I still teach English as a Foreign Language without traveling to Colombia?

    Yes you can. Moving to a new country all together seems very daunting for most, so if you are one of those people and want experience what it all it feels like to teach ESL in Colombia without actually moving to the country, teaching as an online tutor or teaching through VIPKID provide you that opportunity.

    What is VIPKID and how does it work?

    VIPKID is a website that serves as a virtual classroom that teaches English language to foreign kids abroad using a latest video call technology much like skype with the added feature of being able to  show lesson slides and enabling the student and teacher to be able to look and converse with each other. The lessons involve speaking activities from prepared lectures and fun activities that the teacher can plan using props, puppets and other material.

    Why should you consider teaching through VIPKID?

    • International experience – You get an international teaching experience with exposure to kids all over the world from many different countries that use VIPKID, with the added benefit of working from the comfort of your own home allowing you to carry out house chores with ease.
    • VIPKID does all the work for youThere is not much that you have to do as an English teacher at VIPKID except obviously, teach. They do all the middle work and connect you with the student directly, making the entire ordeal as easy as possible.
    • Flexible working hoursWorking hours are usually flexible; you can choose your own work hours from early mornings or weekend evenings according to your feasibility. If you work another job, you can adjust a VIPKID job in your schedule additionally to earn some extra cash.
    • You get paid handsomely and on timeThe salary is usually between 16-22 USD per hour, for two 25-28 minute classes. Being an international organization they are quite reputable and you do not have to worry about being paid, since they always pay you on time.
    • VIPKID provides you with the teaching materialYou do not have to spend your time and energies on developing materials to teach since VIPKID sorts that out for you, making it all the more easier for you.

    How to become a teacher on VIPKID


    • A valid work permit in USA or Canada
    • A bachelor’s degree
    • At Least one year experience in working with kids.


    To become a VIPKID teacher, you need to sign on the VIPKID website. Then you have to fill out a short questionnaire after that you wait for a couple of days until VIPKID gets back to you. Set up an interview slot using the VIPKID web interface. Then you can either schedule a live interview/demo class or give a demo class instead. After that you can get hired, sign a contract, and start teaching whenever they ask you to.


    Taking all aspects under consideration, Colombia is one of the most ideal countries to teach ESL in. It is relatively easy to get a work visa for Colombia and find ESL work and also have an unforgettable tourist experience in one of the most beautiful countries of South America.