Finding a Job Teaching English in Colombia at a Private School

Teach English in Colombia
Ana Horseback riding with friends in Sanat Fe de Antioquia, Colombia.

Teaching Traveling: Considering teaching English abroad? Intrigued by Colombia?

Check out this inspiring story by Ana Karina. Ana, tell us about yourself.

Ana: Hi, I’m Ana, a 27 year old born and raised by Colombian parents in New Jersey. I’ve been teaching foreign languages (Spanish and English) since 2009 in both the USA and in Colombia. Originally, I went to school and got a Bachelors degree in Spanish and a K-12 teaching certificate.

After teaching Spanish for a few years in the states I started to lose my passion for teaching. My students didn’t value learning a second language and I wasn’t really valued as a teacher because I was a special area teacher. With all of the changes taking place on teacher evaluations and the focus being more than ever on standardized testing… I wanted out.

I’m currently living and teaching abroad in Medellin, Colombia where I work at a bilingual private school as a 1st grade English teacher.

English teacher Colombia
A co-worker and Ana celebrating their Colombian heritage.

TT: Interesting! Tell us what paved the way to teach in Colombia.

A: I got my passion for traveling from my mother at a very young age. Growing up, our yearly summer vacation was sacred and we would spend it either visiting family in Colombia or traveling to other Spanish speaking countries. In college I decided to take that love for travel and use it to further my education so I did a semester abroad in Spain.

Studying abroad opened up my eyes to the world of teaching while traveling because many of my professors where doing just that. That trip to Spain changed my life… in a sense it actually changed my perspective as to what type of life I wanted to live.

Teaching English in Colombia
The amazing mountain views of Colombia.

TT: How did you transition into teaching English in Colombia?

A: Like I mentioned above, I found out that teachers could travel the world while working through some of the amazing professors I had while studying abroad in Spain. As to how I landed my current position in Medellin, Colombia… well that was pretty much chance. In 2010 I decided to move to Medellin, Colombia… jobless.

I traveled around Colombia for a bit and then decided to start looking for work. I asked around for bilingual and international schools and then just sent out a few resumes. Within a week or so I got called in to interview for the position I have now.

Hiking in the mountains of Santa Rosa de Osos, Colombia.
Hiking in the mountains of Santa Rosa de Osos, Colombia.

TT: Wow! Tell us one moment from your time teaching in Colombia that was powerful.

A: I was once walking through the Santo Domingo barrio, one of the tougher more poverty stricken areas of Medellin. I was headed to see “La Biblioteca de España” (the Library of Spain), which was built as a part of the city’s education development program and also built to try to pull in some tourism. A group of children walked over to give me a quick background on the barrio and on the history behind the library.

They asked me about myself and I told them that I was an English teacher. Their eyes lit up and they started calling over some of their others friends in the area. All of a sudden I had a group of 25-30 kids walking me over to the library. They kept asking me how to say this and that… and then I heard a kid say, “I’m so happy I’m learning English!”

This was such a powerful moment for me as a teacher and as a human being. Let me explain a bit… children in these types of areas are raised in homes where education has little to no value. Children are taught at a young age that they have to work and hustle in order to get by in life.

So… to have these children jumping for joy at the chance to learn a few words in another language was a sight to see! It was amazing to witness how much value and excitement they were placing on this brief and spontaneous English lesson.

Strolling through the streets of Cartagena, Colombia.
Strolling through the streets of Cartagena, Colombia.

TT: Such a powerful story. How have your travels impacted you as a teacher?

A: Traveling has definitely opened my eyes to the importance of learning foreign languages and about foreign cultures. It’s great to be able to share some experiences with my students… to explain to them how I’ve gotten through some situations because I am bilingual. Having some fun yet useful travel stories is just what a teacher needs in her bag of tricks!

Ana's first time scuba diving in San Andres, Colombia.
Ana’s first time scuba diving in San Andres, Colombia.

TT: What advice do you have for teachers who are dreaming of travel, or travelers dreaming of teaching?

A: The best advice I can give traveling teacher hopefuls is… JUST DO IT! Don’t over think things… I did this and it almost ate me alive! I thought about how much I would miss my family and friends… then I realized I could Skype and Face time daily.

I thought about how my pay decrease would impact my lifestyle… then I realized that there were people all over the world living great with half of what I’d be making. I even considered how this decision would impact my someday future children… then I realized I was just jumping too far ahead!

My biggest and best realization was one that my mother helped me see… life is meant to be lived to the fullest and if someone is dreaming of teaching and traveling then they are the only ones that can make that dream come true.

Reach out to other teachers who are currently traveling… we are all usually willing to help someone in need! Feel free to contact me if you’re thinking of teaching abroad in Colombia or anywhere else in the world!

English teacher Colombia
Ana and her mom enjoying “la Feria de las Flores” (the Flower Festival).

TT: Thanks, Ana! Readers, what questions or comments do you have for this English teacher in Colombia?

69 thoughts on “Finding a Job Teaching English in Colombia at a Private School”

  1. Hi Ana,

    Looks like I am starting a teaching job in Cartagena in a bilingual school in a few weeks. Was just wondering if it was ok to message you about day to day Q’s on life in that part of Colombia. I have no Spanish, so am rapidly learning some. Also Q’s on what I should being/suck up on that I may find difficult to get there?

    I am bringing my 15 year old son who will attend the school also. Wondering what he needs to look into to for in with Colombian teenagers.

    Kind regards,
    Rowena Kelly

  2. Hi I’m bobby I live in georgia in the United States and plan on moving to medellin in march would it be hard for me to find a job

  3. Hello!
    My wife and I (and 2 kids) are certified teachers with 5 years experience teaching in the US. We are currently teaching in Qatar, but just can’t seem to acclimate to the culture, weather, air pollution….. We both speak Spanish and would love to end up in Latin America somewhere. We’ve traveled and studied throughout Latin America (Mexico, Costa Rica and Argentina). Having heard so many good things about Colombia, we’d love to explore the options there. Do you have any connections with schools in Medellin that may be hiring for January/February of this year. We have competitive CV’s. I have MA Leadership, Special Education experience at the Middle School Level, Reading and Math Specialist, and lots of leadership experience with children. My wife has a BA in Spanish, MA in Education, Kindergarten, 3rd grade and Reading Specialist experience. Here in Qatar we are teaching at a Dual Language school. Although the money is good, it’s just not the lifestyle we are looking for. Can you put us in touch with any schools or organizations in the area? Thank you!

  4. My husband and I have been living in Medellin since Christmas, 2016. We are both certified teachers from the US and hoped to teach in Medellin. We quickly found out that we were too late for the new year start of schools. We still tried to contact schools. Then, we were stalled again with needing work visas, as most schools did not want to work on this with us. We started our own company and got the work visas and long-term stay visas we needed. Next, we we faced a block of only being able to work in private schools and not knowing anyone to get a foot in the door anywhere. We have become frustrated but are still looking for teaching work, in English, for classes on English or many other topics. Our emails are not being responded to, which I think is due to the large amount of other applicants, mostly without visas, experience, certification, appropriate education degrees and such because someone still has to look through all of the applicants to find out who qualifies and who doesn’t. Do you have any advice or ideas that we are not using, as we want to find fulltime teaching work in a private school or university this year, anywhere in Medellin. We live in Bello but are willing to commute within Medellin for good teaching work. Thank you for your article, your comments to others, and hopefully for your time to comment to us! Thank you!!! Lisa

    • Hi Lisa,

      I’ve observed over the years that Medellin has been flooded with foreigners looking for work as English teachers and it’s becoming tougher and tougher to find a good position without having someone on the inside help out. Have you tried calling schools directly? From what I know schools get bombarded with emails and unless they are desperately in need of new staff they might not even look through the messages they receive. Try heading out to local meet ups that are hosted by foreigners or language exchange events. These are great places to meet English teachers that are already working in schools and create friendships which might help you get a recommendation.

      Best of luck!

  5. I’m a Canadian who taught for 4 years in South Korea (two of those years were at the Universities) Easiest job ever! I had four months of paid vacation a year. Then I taught in China, including at an IB International school, and then for 3 months in Japan at a private company.

    I have a TESL and MA English Literature and will soon get my B.ed for Secondary High school Literature. I really want to make the switch to IB Internationl schools particularly in Latin/South America. I hope to teach in Colombia, Panama or Costa Rica. But I wonder what the pay is like and how difficult it is to break into? I’m use to quite a high salary in Asia.

    • And I should note, it’s quite easy to find teaching jobs in Asia. There is so much demand there. May be harder in other parts of the world…

  6. Hey there! i am thrilled in challenging myself in a private school around Colombia. I have got closed to Two years of teaching English experience in Colombia and wouldnt mind keep putting in more work. Any infos will be consider useful for my job search!

  7. Hello

    What is your advice for someone really wanting to teach English in Medellin ,
    but has no teaching experience . Or is that even required ?

    I have a BA in Business Management and 15 years of sales experience . I have been to Colombia 3 times last year and really fell in love . Ready to make the move.

    Any advice, website, would greatly be appreciated.

    Thank you kindly ,


    • Hi Clerison,

      Breaking into the English teaching field down here has become more and more competitive over the years as more and more native English speakers have flooded the city. For someone without any teaching credentials and no experience it’s a bit tough. I mean you can find a position but it will most likely not pay well… and by that I mean like 10.000COP an hour! Have you tried looking into other business opportunities? Maybe something that you have experience in?

      If not, you can always try private tutoring. You can find clients that will pay 30.000-50.000 per hour for tutoring however, once again with your lack of experience this may be tough.

      Best of luck!

  8. Hi Ana!

    I recently arrived in Medellin in hopes to teach English. I have recently obtained by CELTA and have an undergraduate Bachelor degree. Everyone told me to come in December – January in hopes to secure something before the semester starts. However, everything seems to be closed, any advice?

    • Hi Carley,

      December and January are a hit or miss down here as schools start looking to fill positions before the holidays. If you haven’t gotten offered a position I would say do some private tutoring for some time. Calendar B schools will begin looking to fill positions for their next school year around May so you have some time to kill.

      Best of luck!

  9. Hi Ana,

    I am currently in Medellin and loving it here! I am from Ireland and have been backpacking for a few months having started up in Mexico.

    I would like to stay longer in Medellin to see more sights and practice my Spanish.

    I was wondering if you knew of any short term position where I could teach english or give extar tuition to someone in need as a part time job?


    • Hi Sean,

      As you might have noticed by now, schools have been on holiday for the past month or so. Sounds like you might want to try private tutoring as it only sounds like your looking for part time temp work. Gigs like these you have to find in your own… maybe start by posting your info in you apartment building and others close by. You could also try posting ads at local coffee shops if they allow.

      You could try stoping in to some of the local language centers, but they should all be on holiday until about next week. Going in person is often better than calling or emailing here in Medellín.

      Best of luck!

  10. Hi Ana!

    Thanks for your blog. It was very interesting to read. My friend and I are currently traveling around South America and are planning to head to Colombia at some point in spring, 2017. We both have university degrees, I am certified in TEFL and have experience teaching English in Vietnam and my friend has experience teaching sciences at an international school in the DR. We would like to spend some time teaching English in Colombia and are wondering if it’s necessary to apply online and obtain a job beforehand or if it’s possible to do it once there and in person. Are there specific start dates for language institutes/schools or is it flexible. At this point we are hoping to teach in either Medellin or Cali. Any advice would be really appreciated.
    Thank you!!!

    • Hi Allison,

      Applying online isn’t as effective as applying once your down here. I’d say enjoy your South American adventure and look for a position once you get to Colombia. The Spring time might be a bit tricky as most hiring is done for the new year and mid year but you can find positions pop up year round.

      Hope this helps!

  11. Hey Ana

    I am coming back to Medellin after a year away, & am looking for possible Job contacts. I have 13 years teaching experience, with 3 years of that teaching English in South America & Europe. I am looking to settle in Medellin permanently, any contacts would be greatly appreciated. I am aiming to be there in 3 weeks, or so.


  12. Hello,

    I am a 24 year old girl from Norway. I am wondering if you have any advices for me regarding working at a school in Cartagena. I speak a little spanish (want to learn fluent) and understand everything.My english is very good, and I have a bachelors degree in pedagogics from Norway. I was in Cartagena in 2012 and worked as a volunteer english teacher, but now I am looking for work at a school since I am planning to stay there for a while. I like all kinds of people, and would like to work with both adults and children, whatever is needed. Hope you can get back to, as I am very interested in working. I am going to Cartagena in september, and I am very flexible when it comes to working hours. I have an oppurtunity at voluenteer english teaching, but since i am planning to stay for a while, i am looking for a paid job. I really hope there is someone here who can help me :)

    Kind regards,


    • Hi Kristina,

      Cartagena is an amazing city, I can see why you´re looking to make a move out there! I don´t have any contacts in Cartagena however here´s a list of schools that you might want to begin your search with: Colegio Bilingüe de Cartagena, Gimnasio Bilingüe Altamar, Colegio Montessori de Cartagena, Colegio Britanico de Cartagena, Colegio Jorge Washington.

      Hope this helps and best of luck!

      – Kari

      • Thank you so much! I will definitly check this out. I asked someone who worked at a school in Medellin, and he told me that they did not work with the schools in the coast cities anymore because of the slow response and “lazyness”. Do you think there is any truth to that? I can imagine it, but he also told me that would probably make it a bit harder for me to find work there. But I will absolutely try my best :)

        Kristina :)

  13. Hi Ana-

    I currently teach finance/business courses at the university level here in the states. I was thinking of changing my routine from teaching a summer session here to teaching abroad during next summer. My question is do the Colombian universities have summer sessions in theJune-August time frame or is the June-August period a portion of a longer semester/session ? I will be in Cartagena in two week, for two weeks, with my son and was thinking of contacting UniCartagena to set up a meeting to explore the possibility of teaching finance/business topics in English to undergrad business students but thought I might ask you about the university academic year structure prior to contacting the university.
    Many thanks

    • Hi Steve,

      From what I’m familiar with its not very common for people to get hired for such a short period of time. Universities are usually on break during our summer months. However, you should go ahead and reach out to some of the universities in the area that you’re interested in living.

      Best of luck!

  14. Hi Ana, I am so envious of you, because you live the life I want.
    I don’t have a website and I am not really a qualified teacher.
    I am a master’s student getting my masters in NGO development and management, in California USA.
    I am from India, but have been traveling around and now I reside in the USA. I have been here for 4 years.
    I want to request you to help me find a job/volunteer work in Colombia, I can teach English to non-English speakers. Or work for Non-Profit organizations. I am learning Spanish. I speak English, Hindi, Urdu and Telugu fluently.
    I was fortunate to visit Colombia in the month of May for a month and I absolutely fell in love with the country, people and the culture. So my plans have changed since then, I want to come live in Colombia for some time and therefore I need help.
    I will send you my resume if I can get your email.

  15. Hey! I loved your advice. I’m planning to move to Colombia next semester or In January.
    I applied for a teacher trainee position with AIESEC (25hs per week – 700usd/1.700.000COP aprox). The thing is that the program takes place in Bogotá, and I’d rather find a full-time job in a different area (Medellín or something close to the beach).
    I’m 24, argetinean and I’m a College graduate EFL teacher. Though I’ve never taken any exam to prove my real level of English, I’m somewhere in between C1 and C2. I have plenty of experience, and I’ve lived abroad for some time.
    Do you think it’d be easy for me to find a well-paid job? I mean, I can live on little salary, but I won’t have big savings to survive until I find a job.
    Any information will be appreciated,

    • Hey Angie,

      You won’t regret moving out here! Finding a good job out here is a combination of skill/ experience and luck! Taking one of the English exams to determine your level of English is really only necessary if you don’t have any sort of official certification but if you have a degree in EFL you should be able to find a position. Hope this helps!!

    • Angie
      We are a school in Santa Marta, sea shore located with a beautiful mountain surrounding us. We might have a position starting August/15, only if you have a teaching degree and are fully licensed to teach. Can you please post your email (if this website allows it) so we can get in contact for you to sendvus your cv?

      • Hey, I’d love to teach in Cartagena. My e-mail is . Currently I’m living and working in Bogotá. My contract ends in early December, but I’m staying for longer. If you still need teachers for next semester, don’t hesitate to contact me.

      • Hello, my name is Nancy Kirk. I am looking for a position in January or February. I have my TEFL certification and will graduate college with a journalism degree in December. Please email me if you are interested in discussing a further opportunity!

  16. Hi Ana,

    Thanks so much for getting back to me. The programme requires you to pay a $400 deposit before you get your job which they return to you on completion of the contract. Does this sound suspicious to you, or is this a relatively normal procedure with these sorts of companies? It is effectively a voluntary job however they give you a monthly stipend of COP 1,500,000 a month to cover your living expenses. Is this a reasonable amount to live on in Colombia or will I end up spending a lot of my own money do you think? My own concern is that currently I cannot find any third party reviews of the company and am therefore not sure whether they are to be trusted. If I was to just get out to Colombia and job hunt are there any particular areas/cities you would recommend to a first timer?

    Many thanks, Huw

    • Hey, if it’s SENA , it’s safe. SENA is a public organization that seeks to develop man power, so they need a guarantee that you will fulfill your contract.
      =) hope it helps

  17. Hi Ana,

    I have just completed my CELTA here in London and have decided Colombia seems like a great place to try and work. I had flirted with the idea of Brazil but it seems incredibly hard to work there as an ELT due to visas etc. I have come across a large recruitment company that is part of Internships Colombia, they recruit exclusively for SENA, MinEducacion and Colsubsidio. Do such outfits tend to be a good idea or are there often catches with these companies. I would particularly like to work in Cartagena. In short whats my best bet of achieving this goal, should I travel there immediately and apply once there or what?

    Kind regards,


    • The MinEducacion has recently started a huge movement in schools to hire native English teachers across the country so I´m assuming that´s what Interships Colombia is offering. I´ve heard good things about the program, but from school´s perspectives… I haven´t met any actual teachers in the program yet. I´d say apply but try to get down here and apply for positions in person. It´s easier to land a position once here, altough you will have to deal with some visa issues… nothing too crazy! I recently wrote about it here…

      Best of luck!

  18. Hi Ana,

    How difficult would it be to teach English in Medellin with no certificate? I have a lot of international experience, including language immersion in several European countries, and speak American English.

    Thank you so much for your time and any advice you can give.


    • Hi Sean,

      I know a handful of people in Medellín who teach without any type of certification. The experience that you have sounds like it should be enough to get you started out here.

      – Ana Kari

  19. Hello, my wife is looking for an english certified teacher for private sessions in Medellín city, please provide info if you’re interested to emont-at-terra-dot-com

  20. I reside in Cartagena and would like to know which companies en Mmonal are seeking native teachers and or translators??

    thanks for assisting

  21. Hello I am currently an engineering student, civil engineering. My goal is to move to Colombia, have been there once and loved it, salsa music is a passion of mine and I also work as a percussionist in Latin groups here in Tuscon. Looking at jobs I see that teaching is very competitive salary wise with engineering in Colombia. I do love engineering but also would like to consider the less stressful life of a teacher, not saying that the job is easy only that in the end engineering a 70+ hour a week, high responsibility, high stress job. Here is the states a math teacher seems to be more highly valued. As you stated bilingual education in the states is deserving of a better status. My question is how does this work in Colombia? I seem to find that English teachers are the most sought after and my degree is math, science. That is what I love. Certainly money plays an issue as I want to have a family and the ability to provide for them. Do math teachers in Colombia do as well as English teachers? Thank you for the reading.

    • Hi Dustin,

      It’s exciting to hear that you’re considering moving down here! In my opinion, I think you’d be able to find a good position down here as an English math teacher. At my school there are a few primary and high school teachers that have math degrees but they were hired because they’re able to teach math in English. The salary for an English native teacher varies depending on the school you land a position at, but you’re looking at a range between 2.000.000-4.000.000 COP.

      I hope this helps!

      • Thank you for the reply. I am looking at TEFL certifications now for the summers, I would like to do one in Colombia and have noticed most are CELTA. I am looking at several that have 8 week or so sessions, I am wondering what your thoughts are on these Colombian schools and if CELTA or TEFL is preferred? Mostly I am looking at Bogota because I have some friends there.
        Thank you so much for all the advice!

          • Hi Ana,

            I’m not sure whether you’re still active on this website and will see this message. Do you still teach English in Medellin? I am currently planning my move to Cartagena to teach ESL. However, I am really debating which type of ESL certification I should get. Are you familiar with Oxford Seminars? They do in-person mixed with online 100 hour certifications. Any ESL institutions you know of that you would recommend? I live in Washington, D.C. by the way. I am from there, native speaker, 31 years old and I have 5 years teaching experience at the pre-school level.

            Any help is much appreciated! Thanks so much :)

  22. Hi! Thank you very much for this post. I am interested in teaching in Colombia next year. This is my fourth year teaching in NYC as a Bilingual and Math teacher. I don’t know how to start the process. How do I contact a school directly for a position? Thank you!!

    • We are a school in Santa Marta, sea shore located with a beautiful mountain surrounding us. We might have an ELA position in Middle School starting August/15, only if you have a teaching degree and are fully licensed to teach. Can you please post your email (if this website allows it) so we can get in contact so you can send us your cv?

      • sam adam michael @ yahoo com

        I am qualified TEFL teacher in Santa Marta looking for English TEacher Position

        hablo Espanol
        300 450 0539

  23. Hey, your story is very inspiring… I’d like to know something, are the non-native English teachers also accepted in some of those schools? Im a non- native but i’ve been working in Turkey as an English teacher for a year. I have a bit of a Canadian accent and im TEFL certified.

    Id be happy if you can help :)


    • Hi Zaraah… thanks for your kind words! I know of a few teachers here in the city who are non-natives and they have found work in some of the private schools. I think you’ll be fine!

      Best of luck!

  24. I am about to move to another country too. It makes me a little bit nervousbut I think that’s a good decision.
    Just do it, and figure it out there. good post!

  25. Hi Ana,

    I’m moving to Medellin in early November of this year to teach English. I have a BA in International Relations, a Pass B in the CELTA, and now an MA in Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language. I also taught English in Thailand for two years at the Jr. High level. I would love it if you could suggest a few schools for me to contact before and after I arrive in Medellin. Ideally I’m interested in teaching at the university level or with adults, but I’m open to all opportunities. It’s so inspiring to read your interview! I’m really looking forward to living in Colombia soon! :)

    • Hi Karissa,

      It’s super exciting to hear that you’ll be moving to Colombia to teach! You’re going to fall in love with this country. Based on your qualifications I think it’ll be relatively easy to find a good position here in Medellin as a teacher. Here are a few places you should look into:

      1. Eafit University- They have one of the most well known language centers in the city.
      2. UPB University- This university has another well know language center.
      3. El Colombo Britanico- This isn’t a university, however it’s a very well know language center.

      Private Schools:
      1. The Columbus School- One of the top bilingual schools in the city.
      2. The Vermont School- Another one of the top bilingual schools in the city.
      3. The Marymount School
      4. The Montessori School of Medellin

      I hop this list helps you get started! Feel free to e-mail me @ with any other questions or concerns!

  26. Amazing story with regards to the kids in the tough neighborhood in Colombia. Sometimes it takes having nothing to truly value the important things in life.

  27. Hi!
    I am currently a fourth year Special Education teacher in North Carolina. I traveled to Bonaire recently and fell in love with the tropical waters surrounding the northern coast of South America. What do you think would be my best bet for researching special education jobs in this area? Any info would be helpful as I begin my search!
    Thanks so much,
    Jason G

    • Hi Jason,

      I don’t know much about that area but I will tell you the following about Colombia (which could apply in other South American countries)… special education students are placed in general ed classes… they are pretty much what we call “inclusion” classes back in the states. You should probably start off by figuring out which area you’d like to live in and then look for private schools in that area. I say private because they pay better than public and because they typically offer “bonuses” to American teachers. Most likely you will land a job as a general ed teacher where you might have some special ed students. In Colombia there are also a few private schools that specialize in special education, however not all of the students have learning disabilities. If you’re interested in the Medellin area let me know and I can send you over some school names.

      Hope this helps! Good luck!


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