Working conditions in Cancun

Updated 2022-05-25 13:16

Cancun and surrounding areas are popular destinations for both tourists and expatriates alike. Cancun is the largest city in the Mayan Riviera, a jungle coastline of tropical beaches and peaceful communities. Other major destinations in the Mayan Riviera include Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Cozumel.

The labor market in Cancun

Cancun is, above all, known to be one of Mexico's prime tourist destinations. The tourism industry is the region's leading job creator, attracting a large number of young professionals every year. Jobs in Cancun are also available in the teaching field, mainly for foreign languages like English or French. You can apply if you have the required qualifications and strong language skills.


Candidates having multiple language skills have better chances of being recruited in Cancun due to the city's tourism. Thus, foreigners who speak English, French, and other languages may be preferred in some specific fields, especially hospitality. But if you wish to apply for a job in a big firm, you must have a strong knowledge of Spanish.

In order to be hired, it is essential to bring original copies of your birth certificate and all documents from higher education, such as university degrees and transcripts. You have to be able to show a work permit if you want to apply for a legit job. If you want to know more about how to get a work visa, you can read all about it in our article “Visas in Mexico.”

Apply for a job in Cancun

As for elsewhere in Mexico, it is much easier to get hired in person than by email. Searching for jobs online is an excellent way to find job opportunities in Cancun, but don't expect your queries to be answered, as this is rarely the case. It is better to print your CV in Spanish, put on a suit, and visit the company yourself.

What information should your CV include:

  • Your full name
  • Former work experience
  • All your degrees and educational history
  • What software programs do you have knowledge of
  • Languages
  • Any extra info you think makes you stand out

Formal and informal jobs in Cancun

A working visa is required to work legally in Mexico. The first step is to receive a job offer, and then you can apply for permission to work.

However, many hospitality jobs in hotels and restaurants in the Mayan Riviera will not provide a formal job offer. Instead, they prefer to hire foreigners for 'informal' positions, which means they will be paid in cash and will have no legal rights. Be aware that working these types of jobs, although common, is illegal and can put you in danger of deportation.

Cost of living in Cancun

Because of tourism, the cost of living is higher in Cancun and the Mayan Riviera than in other parts of Mexico. In general, the closer you are to the beach, the more expensive accommodation, restaurants, and other services will be. The cost of living is much cheaper in a modest apartment in downtown Cancun on the mainland or ten blocks from the beach in Playa del Carmen.

Before moving to Cancun, it's a good idea to do some traveling around there and nearby communities beforehand. You can get an idea of the different regions, costs of living, and job opportunities available.

Cancun has been the primary tourism host since the beginning of prosperity on its turquoise blue coasts. For 12 years, these coasts have received millions of tourists per year. Many job opportunities related to tourism and construction have opened the door to many expatriates. The kilometric number of 5-star hotels overwhelms you when traveling along its main road.

There is great competition, and the staff's experience in the service sector has increased in parallel with the visitors. In addition to knowledge of the customer experience, tour workers have gained some tricks that have been imposed on the local culture. It is usual for some merchants to alter the prices of the amenities and improvise non-existent rates, especially if you do not speak Spanish or if you do not consult specific details of the service and ignore the processes with blind trust.

On the other hand, many expatriates have successfully benefited from gastronomic investments, as well as restaurants serving typical foods from their countries.

It is regional knowledge that the development of Cancun is linked to all-inclusive proposals. The packages include all services, from transportation to beach clubs, nightclubs, golf, water parks, spas, etc.

Compared to other points along the coast, such as Playa del Carmen and Tulum, Cancun is a destination with little or no small-town feel, wider streets, longer distances, larger supermarkets, and industrial zones. In addition, the difference between the center and the hotel zone has a significant contrast.

Cancun remuneration

Mexico's minimum salary per day is $172.87 (USD 9). However, near the coast and with a constant tourist flow, wages are usually higher for those who choose a profitable company and perform competitively.

There are examples of people who, positioning themselves in hotel zones or busy avenues, achieve basic salaries of between MXN 6,500 and MXN 8,500 added to daily tips that can add up to between MXN 9,000 and MXN 10,400.

According to the Minister of Tourism of Quintana Roo, in 2021, 12,548,582 tourists arrived, and it was noted that foreign tourists outnumbered the domestic market. Cancun and the Riviera Maya were the chosen destinations.

There are large groups of associated companies that manage hotels and restaurants, and these often contain human resources offices where they receive and make job offers. This can open up possibilities for transfers to other destinations, such as the town of Tulum, a place that has become very popular due to its concept of unique tourism and its real estate boom.

It is recommended to take a technical course as a waiter, bartender, or chef. Although technical degrees are not essential to simply getting a job, they can influence both the probability and the quality of the company obtained and, therefore, your salary.

Finally, a beneficial resource is the advice of fellow travelers that you find in hostels, bars, and meeting places. There will always be an acquaintance who knows where they are requesting staff or who has experience in a particular company.

Travel agency

It is probably the most sought-after option for recent graduates, along with the hospitality industry. While some skills acquired during the research period may be required, the scope of work in this area is extensive. It can be said that you do not need good skills to work in a travel agency.

If you are an average student, here are the growth opportunities. The essential requirements range from a good knowledge of the English language, willingness to serve, organization, understanding of the geography of the tourist and hotel location, software management, responsibility, and operability.

Tour operators

The purpose of the tour operator is to create a trip in collaboration with an appropriate service proposal. This product is the main product of these workers and is distributed through the network of agencies.

Restaurants and bars

The exceptional quality of tourism staff is the sense of customer service, which is mainly the ability to interact with people. For this reason, young people apply for the restaurant business while studying and are accepted almost 100%.

Work in diving institutions

The coasts of the state of Quintana Roo are home to a part of the Great Mesoamerican Reef, one of the most extensive reefs in the world.

Many diving institutes and offices offer the experience of contemplating the colorful beauty that resides below the water. These make incursions towards important points of marine fauna along the entire coast.

Certified foreigners and beginners arrive in Cancun with tourist packages associated with diving, where they make their first dive or perfect their knowledge in impressive cenotes with exotic animals and incredible depths.

If you have knowledge of diving or want to start a career, you can approach the offices to work as an administrator, assistant, or professional diver. There is a large market, and work is usually a very pleasant activity when it comes to diving.


It is positioning itself as the second-largest source of employment for tourism graduates, and the majority of national and international travelers will find opportunities in the hotel industry.

This is another sector in which first-time experience is required. If you don't have experience, the front desk is a good starting point. Again, a good command of English is required, at least informative communication, presence, knowledge, or willingness in customer service.

Like gastronomy, this industry is always going to ask you for the extra, so it can be tiring if you don't feel the vocation in customer service.

Museums in the area

Cities with major tourist influences always contain museums, including history, local and country art, science, archeology, etc. To get a job in a museum, you need to have good taste and vast knowledge of culture and reading.

As in each previous case, the skills you must have depend on the area you are targeting. So, if you want to get a job in a museum, educate yourself in administration and general culture.

Ministry of Tourism

Unfortunately, these government agencies do not usually have tourism graduates but lawyers, political scientists, economists, and administrators.

It shouldn't be that difficult if you have the necessary skills you need to fulfill a good tourism plan for the city. Therefore, it is advisable to start an internship in one of these offices or participate in its surroundings.

Work on cruise ships

Working on a cruise ship often refers to fortunate opportunities. However, since it is not something simple, in these internships, highly professional staff is required, as well as service and responsibility.

Occasionally, opportunities of this type are found for those who are attentive to new vacancies and constantly apply their proposals. If you really like to get these positions, we recommend that you start a career within the hospitality or food and beverage industry.

Commonly sought-after professions include the following: bussers, waiters, bartenders, chefs, area managers, or perhaps entertainers in a particular area.

These types of contracts are granted for seasons, and they are extended periods of extraordinary work commitment and a challenging and great experience. In addition, the salary is practically absolute because meals and accommodation are included in it.

Work for airlines

In addition to tourism students, many aspire to become flight attendants. Studying is not a bad thing, but it is better to learn precisely how to be a flight attendant. There are more and more institutes of this type.

Otherwise, if flying is not your thing, and you want to get a job at the airport, you can get a position that requires customer service. Duties include checking passengers and baggage, enforcing passenger policies, selling tickets, assisting passengers with boarding and alighting, and clarifying questions and concerns.

Plenty of options to work in Cancun

We would like to clarify that the opportunities are not just limited to professionals and institutions linked to the industry.

Although your search results will vary depending on your educational background, your natural problem-solving skills open doors for you in all sectors of administration and service. All you have to do is go out there and get what you want.

Working in Cancun can be an excellent opportunity to gain experience and make contacts since it is a strategic point to approach other locations. If your intention is to save money working in large companies, this is definitely a great place for you. Otherwise, if your purpose is to enjoy a spot while you work, Cancun is not the best candidate for your decision. It would be better for you to go to Tulum or Playa del Carmen.

Useful links:

Visit Mexico, Cancun

The Riviera Maya Times

Working in Mexico

Jobs in Tourism

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.