Teaching Jobs in South America

The wide range of cultures available on the South American continent is one of the main reasons why it proves to be so popular for teachers looking for the next step in their careers. From Brazil and Colombia, to Chile and Venezuela, top-level schools are always searching for the best teaching talent around. Whether you are looking for a full-time, fixed role in a particular country, or hoping to travel around the continent using short-term contracts, the job opportunities are plentiful. Insurance, accommodation and travel costs are often included in generous salary packages, making it the perfect destination for teachers looking for an exciting new career move.

Popular countries:

In total there are 14 countries in South America, each offering a unique and fulfilling experience. Below is a sample of the types of salaries you can expect to receive in the region.

  Average salary p/m Top salary p/m
Peru £400 £550
Chile £875 £1300
Brazil £1350 £2500
Colombia £780 £1200
Argentina £700 £950

Generally, the highest paying country in South America for teachers in Brazil, earning anywhere from £16,000 to £30,000 a year. The cost of living is generally lower in South America compared to the UK, which is reflected in the wages on offer. Brazil is perhaps the most comparable, as it has the strongest economy in the region, although more cosmopolitan areas like Sao Paulo (Brazil), Lima (Peru), Bogota (Colombia) and Santiago (Chile) may be more expensive.

School requirements

A combination of work experience and teaching qualifications are the general requirement to work in international schools at varying levels. This includes things such as Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, along with relevant teaching experience in classrooms. Volunteer teaching in countries like Peru and Venezuela could be an option for some if you do not hold the requisite qualifications. This is especially true for English teachers, who can find TEFL-certification programs in any number of city locations, which can then set you up to find jobs after finishing the course. Some volunteer roles do not require any significant qualifications at all – simply being fluent in the language and having a passion to teach can be enough to get started. Business visas may not always be easy to obtain in some countries such as Peru, so you may have to work off a tourist visa, which lasts up to 183 days. Elsewhere, schools in Chile will provide a work visa for anyone with work already secured in the country. Alternatively, you could apply for a ‘visa de residencia temporaria’ which requires you to verify your degree in Chile, although this can take a while to complete.

School expectations

Classroom culture will vary across the continent, with some closely mirroring North American practices while others choose not to. Students in Brazil, for example, can be more outspoken compared to western student, as this is a reflection of the passionate nature of the country’s culture. Meanwhile, relationships between teacher and students can be more informal, working on a first-name basis. Depending on the type of school, uniform may also not be a requirement with the dress code sometimes more relaxed for students. Peruvian society is more conservative and modest, which is also reflected in classroom behaviour. Generally, time keeping in South America is not deemed as important as in the UK, which is more of a cultural difference than anything else, although it may take a little while to get used to.

Living and lifestyle

Thousands of people travel around South America each year and you can utilise your teaching skills to do the same. Whether on a volunteer, part-time, or contracted basis, there are so many different cultures to experience that you could spend a number of years exploring the continent. Living standards in cities are likely to be of a higher standard than rural areas, although this depends on what you are looking for out of working in South America. From travelling to Uruguay and Argentina, to venturing into Ecuador and Bolivia, will you enjoy the diversity on offer and see how safe the vast majority of countries actually are. However, be aware that some areas can be volatile, more recently Brazil and Venezuela, two countries that are recently undergone turbulent political periods, with society taking a little longer to return to normal.