Teaching in Panama
Teacher recruitment in Panama takes place between January and February, though hiring also usually occurs in time for summer sessions in May and June. Typical in-class hours are between 20–25 hours per week, plus prep time. Most schools typically ask teachers to commit to a minimum one-year teaching placement.
Options for teaching in Panama
Private schools – There are several private schools in and around the bigger cities in Panama, including Panama City, Tocumen and San Miguelito, where certified teachers can teach English as a subject or use English as the language of instruction for other subjects. Private schools require a valid teaching license from your state or country.
English language schools – There is no shortage of interest in learning ESL in Panama. In and around the bigger cities, language schools offer various programs to different learning groups, from teenagers to business professionals. Classes usually start in the afternoon and run into the evening. Weekend classes are also a possibility. Most language schools will require their teachers to have a TEFL certification.
Private tutor – ESL teachers interested in supplementing their in-class income can offer private English classes as well. The average salary for private classes is usually between $15 – 25 USD.
Salary and benefits when teaching in Panama
The average monthly salary for teachers in Panama is usually between $1,000–1,300 USD. While some schools offer housing allowances or assistance, teaching abroad in Panama often means that teachers are responsible for finding and paying for their own accommodation. Teachers will find, however, that rent costs are relatively low, and that even when paying rent from your take-home salary, it is possible to maintain a modest, comfortable lifestyle.
What you need to teach in Panama
To teach in Panama’s public or private schools, candidates will require a teaching license, as well as a Bachelor’s degree.
Most reputable ESL schools require their teachers to be TEFL certified.
Visas to Panama
Teachers interested in working in Panama will require a visa. To apply for this, you will need a copy of your contract, a criminal background check from your country of origin, and a health check. Visa applicants are also required to present two letters: one to Immigration requesting a work visa for a visiting expert and a second to the Labor Ministry.
Living in Panama
Panama offers both the delights of the exotic as well as the comforts of the familiar. With the perfect mixture of small surfer enclaves, modern skylines, cattle ranches, charming mountain hamlets, and lush rainforests all within a short trip, it really is the place to ‘choose your own adventure’.
Things for teachers to do in Panama
Though small, Panama is diverse. All within reach of major, modern cities are many natural wonders for those who seek outdoor adventure: beaches, mountains, caves, rainforests, and a diverse range of wildlife.
The capital, Panama City, has no shortage of activities for new residents. Visit historical Panama Viejo, a World Heritage Site and the remains of the older city founded by the Spanish in 1519. Casco Antiguo is currently a UNESCO-protected site and one of Panama City’s most popular tourist destinations as it hosts various art events and the annual jazz festival.
Very near to the city you’ll find tropical rainforests (Parque Soberania, Parque Chagres, and Parque Metropolitano), where some of the best bird watching, fishing, or spelunking (caving) awaits. If you’re interested in a more formal tour, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute offers tours to Barro Colorado Island, one of the most studied jungles in the world.
If you’re looking for an escape from city life for a weekend, Panama has many amazing beaches on both of its coastlines. Two notable beaches include Bocas del Toro, on the Caribbean side, with several islands to explore, and Boca Chica on the Pacific side, at the entrance to the Gulf of Chiriqui National Marine Park, with hundreds of uninhabited islands with white sand beaches.
TEFL Certification for Private School Teachers
Many private schools in Panama require applicants to possess a TEFL certificate. The University of Toronto’s TEFL Online Certificate can help you become a leading candidate for some of the top Panamanian private school positions.
Teach in Panama
Register for a teacher account to apply for teaching jobs in Panama.
Panama at a glance
Capital: Panama City
Government: Unitary presidential constitutional republic
Panama has a 100% tropical climate, with average temperatures around 80-90 degrees.
Panama City, the country’s capital, is the only capital city in the world with its own rain forest.
Panama has one of the largest duty-free zones in the world, second only to Japan.
Panama was the first Latin American country to adopt the US dollar as its official currency.
The Panama Canal is a huge source of revenue for the country, generating almost ⅓ of its GDP.
Panama is home to more species of bird than Canada and the US combined!
Panama has many pristine beaches, with more than 1,500 miles (almost 3,000 km) of coastline.