TEACH ENGLISH IN COSTA RICA

Everything you need to know to get a job teaching English in Costa Rica

About Teaching English in Costa Rica

Known for its stunning tropical beauty, world-class beaches & the warm hospitality of its people (affectionately known as "ticos"), Costa Rica represents one of the hottest job markets for teaching English in Latin America.

A solid hourly wage enables teachers the opportunity to live a comfortable lifestyle while in Costa Rica and traveling the region. With a low cost of living, start-up costs for transitioning into the country are extremely affordable, especially for Americans because the cost of the flight is relatively low.  

English teacher in Costa Rica with her students English teacher in Costa Rica in his classroom


English language schools in Costa Rica offer approximately 20 to 25 hours of work per week, allowing for plenty of time to travel and explore. While a Bachelor's degree is not required to secure a job in Costa Rica, it still can be strongly preferred by employers. If you do not have a degree, you should be prepared for a more competitive job search.

San Jose, Costa Rica's largest city, concentrates the bulk of teaching positions, though opportunities can be found scattered throughout the country.

To teach English in Costa Rica, you will need a TEFL certificate. A 4-year college degree is not required but is strongly preferred. Native English proficiency is also expected to find a TEFL job. The average salary for an English teacher in Costa Rica is about $700- $900 USD per month.

How to Become an English Teacher in Costa Rica: Requirements

TEFL Certification

A TEFL certification is required to teach English in Costa Rica. You do not need professional teaching experience but earning your TEFL certification will provide you with the training and qualification you do need to get hired. 

English teachers in Costa Rica typically interview in person. Therefore, it is most common for students to take one of our TEFL course options listed below.

Read more: What are the requirements to teach English in Costa Rica?

Native English-Speaking Proficiency

You do not need to be a native English speaker to teach English in Costa Rica. However, you will be expected to be fluent in English and speak at a native level to be considered for teaching jobs.

Degree Requirements for Teaching English in Costa Rica

While a Bachelor's degree is not required to secure a job in Costa Rica, it still can be strongly preferred by employers. If you do not have a degree, you should be prepared for a more competitive job search.

How to Find Teaching Jobs in Costa Rica

Teaching Jobs in Costa Rica

The most common TEFL jobs in Costa Rica consist of:

  • Teaching adults or children in private language schools.
  • Private tutoring both children and adults.
  • Teaching Business English to adults.
  • Teaching English Online.

Although teaching children is an option, the market for teaching adults is particularly outstanding.

Finding English teaching jobs in Costa Rica: Hiring & Visa

English teachers in Costa Rica can expect to find jobs year-round. Interviews are conducted on the ground, in-person for most schools with some schools interviewing in advance over the phone

You enter Costa Rica on a tourist visa - this is the most common type of visa for English teachers working in Costa Rica. Your tourist visa will need to be renewed every 90 days - to do this, you will need to leave the country before your tourist visa expires by visiting a neighboring country (this is known as "border-hopping"). Upon entry back into Costa Rica, your passport will be stamped with a new tourist visa. Working on a tourist visa in Costa Rica is different from most countries as it is legal to do so because teachers are allowed to “sell their professional services” without getting a work visa.

Teaching in Costa Rica: Hours

English language schools in Costa Rica offer approximately 20 to 25 hours of work per week, allowing for plenty of time to travel and explore. 

Teaching Costa Rican Students

It is most common that your students will be adults/business professionals, but depending on your job, you may find yourself teaching children.

TEFL Costa Rica Salary & Cost of Living

Start-up Costs

Start-up costs will range from $1,200 - $1,800 USD. These are expenses you will incur from your arrival in Costa Rica until you receive your first paycheck and may include things like rent, apartment supplies, transport, groceries, getting your new local cell phone number set up, etc. 

Teaching in Costa Rica Salary

A solid hourly wage enables teachers the opportunity to live a comfortable lifestyle while in Costa Rica and traveling the region. Teachers can expect to make $700 - $900 USD per month. It is common for teachers in Costa Rica to also teach English online to supplement their income.

There are no flight or housing benefits/stipends provided so you will need to remember to account for accommodation or temporary housing for your first few weeks in your start-up costs until you find an apartment to rent. 

Cost of Living & Savings

The cost of living typically ranges between $700-$900 USD per month.

English teachers in Costa Rica can expect to break-even month over month. This means you can cover your rent and bills, support yourself, live comfortably, and enjoy your life abroad to the fullest, but you shouldn't expect to save money at the end of the month. If you are hustling and taking on private tutoring lessons and/or teaching English online in addition to your regular teaching schedule, you may increase your ability to save.

 

What is It Like to Teach English in Costa Rica?

Watch ITA alumna Morgan Engle show us a day in her life living and teaching English in Heredia, Costa Rica.

Want more? We've got you covered! Visit our Video Library to watch day-in-the-life videos from our alumni and get a glimpse into what your life as an English teacher in Costa Rica could look like!

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Teaching English in Cost Rica FAQs

What are the requirements to teach English in Costa Rica?

To teach English in Costa Rica, make sure you understand what is and is not required:

Required:

  • A TEFL certification
  • Understanding of the types of English teaching jobs that are available
  • Savings for start-up costs

Not Required:

  • A four-year college degree is not required to secure a job in Costa Rica, however, it is still strongly preferred by employers. If you do not have a degree, you should be prepared for a more competitive job search.
  • You do not need to be a native English speaker, but you will be expected to be fluent in English and speak at a native level to be considered for teaching jobs.

Read more: Qualifications to teach English in Costa Rica.

Does Costa Rica need teachers?

English teachers in Costa Rica are in high demand. The market for teaching adults is particularly rich. You can find TEFL jobs in Costa Rica teaching adults or children at private language schools, private tutoring, teaching business English as well as teaching English online.

Do you need a visa to teach English in Costa Rica?

Tourist visas are the most common for English teachers to work on in Costa Rica. However, they have to be renewed every 90 days. To renew a tourist visa in Costa Rica an English teacher will need to leave the country before his/her tourist visa expires by visiting a neighboring country. Upon entry back into Costa Rica, the teacher’s passport will be stamped with a new tourist visa. Working on a tourist visa in Costa Rica is different from most countries as it is technically legal to do so because teachers are allowed to “sell their professional services” without getting a work visa.

For Americans, Canadians, and most citizens of Western European nations, you can obtain your tourist visa upon arrival in Costa Rica. To check if citizens of your country can obtain a tourist visa upon arrival, please contact the Costa Rican consulate in your country of residence.

Read More: What Type of Visa Do I Need for Teaching English in Costa Rica?

How much does an English teacher make in Costa Rica?

English teachers in Costa Rica can expect to make $700 - $900 USD per month. It is common for ESL teachers in Costa Rica to also teach English online to supplement their income. No flight or housing benefits/stipends are provided by schools, however. 

Do I need to speak Spanish to teach English in Costa Rica?

No, you don’t need to speak Spanish to teach English in Costa Rica. The classes you teach will be entirely in English to immerse your students fully in an English-only environment. However, learning Spanish will certainly make your life easier in Costa Rica, and your friends and colleagues will appreciate your efforts.

Recommended TEFL Classes for Teaching English in Costa Rica

Online TEFL Course

What's included 👇

  • 170-Hour Online Certification
  • 11 Weeks Part-Time
  • OFQUAL Level 5 Accreditation from TQUK
  • Live Office Hours with Your Instructor
  • Peer-Participation with Classmates
  • Lifetime Job Search Guidance
  • 20-Hours Live Practice Teaching

Heredia, Costa Rica TEFL Course

What's included 👇

  • In-Person 4 Weeks, Full-Time
  • OFQUAL Level 5 Accreditation from TQUK
  • University-Level Instructors
  • Lifetime Job Search Guidance
  • 6-10 Hours Live Practice Teaching
  • Small Class Sizes
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Reviews From ITA Students Who Now Do TEFL in Costa Rica

Sarah Garrett

Teaches English in Costa Rica

Sarah Garrett

I typed 'Teaching English in Latin America' into Google and ITA popped up. I was immediately impressed with them for many reasons: The extensive information that was readily available, the organization of the website, the opportunity to speak with an adviser for free, and their notable reputation with the industry. I knew it would be Latin America because I have always loved the culture and wanted to learn Spanish. After doing research, Costa Rica stood out to me.  I would recommend teaching in Costa Rica, for sure! It's a beautiful country and I've had the experience of a lifetime. 

Andrew Meigs

Teaches English in Costa Rica

Andrew Meigs

My ITA Advisor helped me out so much. I literally spent four months throwing all of my worries and questions onto them and they responded with love every time. I took my TEFL course here in Costa Rica and was incredibly lucky to have met some amazing friends I cherish during it. I did not realize how accepted the LGBTQ+ community would be in many parts of Costa Rica. I mean, I was expecting it to be a hidden topic with underground gay bars, and that's not the case at all! In the States, I felt so much pressure on myself to be a certain person, have a certain job and live a certain life to a certain standard.

Michael Fusi

Teaches English in Costa Rica

Michael Fusi

I knew that a TEFL certification is what a lot of employers are looking for in a teacher. My girlfriend Courtney discovered ITA and the success of its graduates led us to choose the program. The practicum was an invaluable experience. I was not a teacher before getting TEFL certified, so this was really my first time in front of a classroom. I taught a group of ESL learners at a local church and it was a great atmosphere and experience. Costa Rica is such a beautiful country and if you like the beach and nature I think you will be happy here. One of my goals is to learn Spanish and this is a great place to do it.