Finding a job in your home country is tough enough, but what about landing a job in a new country? How to find a job in Mexico is a question we get often from our readers who live in Mexico as well as readers who are planning or considering a move to Mexico.
We went looking for an answer to this question and found great advice from Megan Fitzgerald, an expert on international careers.
“Finding a job in Mexico or anywhere abroad is much more challenging than finding a job in your homeland,” Fitzgerald said. “I think a lot of people think getting a job abroad is like getting a job at home, but there is just so much more research that has to go into it in terms of understanding market needs, visa requirements, language skill demands and other factors.”
Fitzgerald said you should not assume that the way the world operates where you are is the same elsewhere. She said it is how you access opportunities, how you apply for a job, how you build relationships and network, how you interview and how you negotiate salary. All these things can be very impacted by the culture and location.
“Insensitivity to culture and not understanding how the target culture engages are barriers that a lot of people just do not think about enough,” Fitzgerald said. “It is sort of the ‘Achilles’ heel’ for a lot of people. You need to keep an open mind and be receptive to learning how things are done in the country.”
Business psychologist and international career planning expert Wendy Kendall of Expat Job Success agreed but recommended you should have a game plan for finding a job in Mexico.
“Your game plan should include developing a local network,” she said. “Building professional and personal networks in your new area is a key part of establishing yourself professionally. Start with developing expat relationships and then leverage them to expand your network to others in the local community. This is a key strategy for not only finding a job, but also building a business.”
Kendall said one of the advantages of living in a connected world is the telecommunications infrastructure in most countries that allows businesses to be much more portable. She recommended that expats consider developing Internet-based businesses that match well with their passions and interests.
“If you can develop what I would call a ‘minimally viable’ business based on your skills and what you love before you move, it makes the transition much easier.”
Before we take a look at possible job options in Mexico, there are a few things you should know.
First, working in Mexico requires a temporary visa or a permanent visa and a work permit from the Institute of Immigration (INM). You cannot legally work without one. Requirements for visas and the work permit can be found in our Immigration section and our blog “How to Get a Work Permit in Mexico.” Embassies and Consulates of Mexico can provide you with more information.
Second, Spanish language competency will increase your chances of finding a good job in Mexico, although in many types of jobs, it is not a requirement. For example, many multinationals and start-ups have adopted English as their global work language. But many local jobs still require a working knowledge of Spanish.
If you want a job in Mexico, here are some of the best work opportunities for expats:
One of the best opportunities for expats is teaching English as a foreign or second language (TEFL/TESOL). Learning English as a second language in Mexico was accelerated in 2009 when the Secretariat of Public Education launched the Programa Nacional de Inglés en Educación Básica (PNIEB) to increase the English proficiency of public school students by offering English classes from pre-primary to the end of secondary school. To reach Its goal, the Mexican government must recruit and train over 80,000 additional English teachers.
Our article “Teaching English as a Foreign Language in Mexico” provides an overview of the TEFL/TESOL opportunities in Mexico.
There are a number of resources for those interested in teaching English in Mexico:
International Teacher Training Organization (ITTO). Located in Guadalajara, ITTO offers a four-week course for TEFL/TESOL certification. The program guarantees a paid job upon graduation.
The TEFL Academy. The TEFL Academy offers a TEFL/TESOL certificate and specializes in helping recent graduates find jobs.
The AHPLA Institute. The AHPLA Institute has job opportunities in Mexico City and Monterey and specializes in teaching English to business executives. A TEFL/TESOL certificate is required.
Many expats in Mexico have taken Wendy Kendall’s advice and are teleworking from their homes, either as remote employees for a company or as entrepreneurs with clients in Mexico and other countries.
Take expat Tom Lang, for example. Lang lives along the northern shore of Lake Chapala but works a few days each week teleworking for two U.S. companies as a health coach for employees who have weight problems, diabetes, heart disease or have difficulty managing stress.
Rob Sharpe in the Puerto Vallarta area set-up his own online business teaching English. Sharpe decided to use his English degree and TEFL certification to teach English as a second language online. His work is contracted through italki.com, which is based in China.
Couple Rachel Steele and John Moroney both telework, which allow them to sample many places in Mexico as digital nomads. Steele operates Steele Craft Consulting, which provides business consulting to small craft breweries in the U.S and Canada. Moroney operates JoMoCo Editorial, a writing service for the automotive industry. His main client is based in London.
Mexico has the second largest economy in Latin America, just behind Brazil, and has many Mexican and international company opportunities for those who transfer from other countries or seek employment while in Mexico. Many of the corporate positions are located in Monterrey, Mexico City and other major manufacturing and financial centers.
Marco Favila, who is fluent in Spanish, works for Banamex, one of the country’s largest banks and a subsidiary of Citibank. He is a vice president in the bank’s anti-money-laundering department.
“After five or six years of professional experience in New York, I started to really think about Mexico City,” he said. “Then in 2014 I was given the opportunity to lead a team of American attorneys to conduct an investigation in Mexico City. That lasted for about a year and a half.”
He returned to Mexico City last year and after a two-week search landed his current job. Favila used the major online employment services, especially Indeed, to find his job. It took about two months to get his work permit through the company’s human resources department. His salary is about one-third of what he earned in New York City, but he said it is adequate to meet his lifestyle needs in Mexico City.
Many expats find jobs in their local communities, often with companies owned and operated by other expats, especially retail and real estate businesses. Cities that depend heavily on tourism also are good sources of employment and often do not require Spanish language proficiency.
Kristin Bloomquist found her job in Los Cabos real estate before she moved full-time to Cabo.
“My husband and I visited Los Cabos for years before we finally decided to move there,” she said. “I had spent 35 years in the advertising business but had always loved real estate. My mom was an agent for years.”
When the couple purchased their home in Cabo San Lucas, their real estate agent referred Bloomquist to her current employer Engel & Völkers Snell Real Estate for a job as a real estate advisor.
“They told me it would be good to get my Arizona real estate license before I moved to Mexico, which I did,” she said. “They also handled all of the work permit paperwork, which took about two months.”
Real estate is a popular employment option for many new expats because many of the businesses are run by expats, Spanish fluency is not mandatory and a real estate license is not required in Mexico.
If you choose real estate, remember that it takes time to develop business, so having a cash reserve to draw from is important.
Job search strategies you can use in Mexico are similar to your home country. Industry associations are an excellent way to find out about opportunities in your field. Check job listings in local newspapers and online. Also, search both global and local online employment sites. Craigslist features job opportunities in 16 Mexican cities. Be sure to send unsolicited applications to targeted employers and contact temporary work or staffing agencies online or onsite. Most importantly, check out local online forums and bulletin boards. Local expats in Mexico can be a great source for opportunities.
Start your search online with these employment websites:
Megan Fitzgerald offered this advice to job hunters: “First, do not forget that culture affects every part of the job search, so really do your homework in understanding the culture. Second, focus on your online presence and profile because you do not have the luxury of face-to-face communication. And third, build a robust online network because it is the only way to begin to get the level of penetration that you need to land a great job.”