You can teach English nearly all year round in Nicaragua except during the Christmas holidays. Schools usually run on 6-week class schedules and hire native English speakers with a TEFL certification. There are opportunities to either teach in language schools or give private lessons. Having previous experience and basic knowledge of Spanish can be quite helpful in finding an English-teaching job.
Because this is a popular field for expats, there is a lot of competition. Being certified and having at least some previous experience is a huge plus when looking for a job.
Teaching requirements and qualifications
Many schools will require that you have some experience, or speak English at a native level. However, those with a Bachelor’s degree and TEFL, TESOL or CELTA certifications are more likely to find opportunities that are highly rewarded. International and bilingual schools have much higher standards, sometimes even requiring a Bachelor’s degree in education or a related field. Therefore, although it is possible to teach in Nicaragua without a degree, the opportunities and salary will often be less than those with the appropriate qualifications and experience.
Types of teaching jobs
There are schools that only teach English and, since native speakers are preferred, they tend to be the biggest employers of TEFL teachers. You will usually work between 4 and 5 hours a day and have a few days off each week. They don’t offer the same salaries you would get in an international school, but they have fewer requirements in regard to qualifications and experience.
International schools will offer the best salaries, but will require more credentials. A bachelor’s degree in education plus a teaching certificate are the norm. Sometimes they will even require that you are a qualified teacher in your home country. English teachers typically find work throughout most of the year, except during the Christmas holidays.
Most schools require face-to-face interviews in order to hire, so make sure you arrive in Nicaragua with enough time to look for a job before the school year starts.
Once you have been in the country for a while and made contacts, it becomes easier to give private lessons. These can be a great addition to your set income. Students who take private lessons usually have limited resources and you should expect to be paid approximately C$80 (2.5€) per hour.
Full time teachers tend to take a few extra private lessons around their normal schedule. The biggest problem with these students is that it’s easier for them to cancel on short notice or not show up at all.
Salaries and schedules
Wages for English teachers in Nicaragua are modest, but the local cost of living is extremely low compared to other places, meaning that you can afford a comfortable and enjoyable lifestyle. You might be earning between C$11,220 and C$19,250 (350€ and 600€) per month, depending on your qualifications and the type of institution you choose to work for.
For C$4,100 (130€) a month you can rent a modest 2-bedroom house. Basic necessities such as food and public transportation are very affordable. Schools will usually offer 20 to 25 hours of work per week, leaving plenty of time to travel, explore and pursue other interests. The best time to find opportunities for employment are in June and July or January and February because of the way the school year is set out.
If you are well prepared and have plenty of experience, you might want to try searching for jobs at local universities and bilingual schools.
Under normal circumstances, your employer is responsible for obtaining your work permit; however, many expats work illegally on tourist visas. Despite the flexibility this allows, it is not recommended for obvious reasons. Top employers like universities and well-known international schools will go through the process of making your employment legal. Without this, you are always at risk of being caught and deported.
In Central America, obtaining a working visa can be quite difficult due to the long time it takes to process and the amount of documentation that you are required to present. On the plus side, if you find a proper English teaching job at a school with a one-year signed contract, your employer will make all the arrangements for you and, in nearly all cases, pay for the legal fees.
Where to look for teaching jobs
You will often see schools or agencies actively recruiting online. Some schools will advertise online but require a face-to-face interview; others will complete the recruitment process over the internet. Online websites such as Gooverseas.com and Encuentra 24 are great places to look for employment.
It is easier to find a job when you are already in Nicaragua, as you can visit different schools and introduce yourself. Look for the schools’ websites and check if they are recruiting native English speaking TEFL teachers. A lot of smaller schools don’t have an online presence, so visiting them in person and asking about vacant positions is a great way to start.