Teaching English in Costa Rica

Many Gringos (and Gringas) dream of living in Costa Rica, but lack the means to do so. Working in Costa Rica is problematic, but there are some options available.

A friend of mine, Kevin Cassell, has written an excellent piece about working as an English teacher in Costa Rica.

He has given me permission to excerpt parts of his blog. For the full blog, click here: http://www.kevincassell.com/blog/index.php?id=26&num=1

Kevin writes:

…most ex-pats teaching English in Costa Rica are hired from within the country by small language institutes–companies that provide (mostly professional) clients with on-the-spot training and practice.

If you are a native English speaker, have a bachelors degree, a professional demeanor, and a clear and articulate speaking voice you can probably nab a job teaching English within a week or two of being in the country. Yes, at the present time, it’s that easy. Even if you don’t have a degree–or TEFL certification for that matter, or even teaching experience–it is possible you may still find a job, but you’ll have to work harder at it.

Non-native English teachers and native speakers not from the U.S. and Canada will confront some bias. Because of the U.S.’s influence in the country, people with “North American” accents are sometimes preferred.

…most jobs are located in and around the capital city of San Jose–perhaps the least beautiful place in Costa Rica. While some schools actually have classrooms, many send their teachers off to companies where classes are taught in conference rooms. This involves traveling by bus–sometimes several buses–for long periods of time that you are not paid for.

Pay ranges between $400 and $800 per month. It is possible to live on this income, especially if you have a roommate or two. Because there is much demand for native-speaking English teachers, it isn’t hard to find a job. But one must be prepared to begin part-time in most cases. Once you “prove” yourself (that is, the students like you) then the possibility of getting more classes and, hence, a better salary increases. Some teachers rake in close to $1000 per month, but they also have killer schedules and usually work six-day weeks.

As of this writing, the majority of ex-pat English teachers in Costa Rica are undocumented laborers, working on a tourist visa and slipping into Panama or Nicaragua every 90 days to renew it. Authorities have for some time turned a blind-eye to this technically-illegal practice, probably because the demand for native-speaking English teachers is high and they are not seen as competing with Costa Ricans for jobs.

However… Increasingly, classified ads placed by casinos, tourist resorts, and even call centers seeking fluent speakers of English indicate that a work permit or work visa is “a must.” While some companies will help a potential ex-pat employee apply for a work permit–no easy task, due to bureaucracy and paperwork–many don’t.

Just to be on the safe-side, I suggest you bring the following documents with you to Costa Rica: (1) original copies of your university diplomas; (2) original copy of your birth certificate; (3) a recently processed police report (within six months); and (4) a CV with contact references. You should get these items authenticated by the Costa Rican Consulate in your country before arriving. These documents are essential should you be considered for legitimate employment by a company or school willing to help you obtain a work permit.

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Comments

  1. Wow! $400 to maybe $1000 a month? and i only have to work six days a week and travel long distances on buses?

    i would be willing to 'pay' for that experience!

    where do i sign up?

    however, i must let you know that i have a very, very attractive offer from a local cardboard recycling magnate.

    $14.75…that's it, not an hour, not a day or week….just $14.75…period.

    • Mr.JJ Pento says:

      Stay in the States if you can't survive on $1000.00 a month!!! Good luck finding a real job.