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Teach English in Chile (The Country Guide)

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Have you been dreaming of teaching English in Chile?

Or perhaps you want to live somewhere in Latin America but you’re not sure where to go or what to do yet.

Read on to find out what it’s like to live and teach English in Chile!

We’re breaking down all the nitty-gritty details including what the visa process is like, what job opportunities and salaries there are, and which Chilean cities are the best for living and finding work in.

Short Info
Types of JobsPublic schools, universities, international language schools, private tutoring (freelance). Full-time and part-time positions.
Visa
Requirements
University degree, background check, work contract, letter from your employer
Average Teacher Salary$1,000-$1,500/month
Average Living Costs~$1,200/month in Santiago
Peak Hiring MonthsFebruary-March and July-August

The Rundown on Chile

Chile: it’s home to the Andes, Patagonian volcanoes (including the tallest active volcano in the world!), and coastline as far as the eye can see. If you love outdoor adventure, beaches, and hiking, you’ll love living in Chile.

Chile is the world’s number two producers of avocados, and there’s also great lots of fishing and agriculture here. That means oodles of delicious food. Avocado toast, anyone?

As one of the most politically stable countries in Latin America, Chile is known for being safe and welcoming. It also has a vibrant economy and lots of universities, which means that there’s no shortage of things to do: in Chile you’ll find world-class museums, great nightlife, interesting history, and more.

There are also tons of students and professionals trying to learn English in Chile, so you can find a job here easily.

Colorful houses in Valparaiso, Chile

Basic Requirements to Teach English in Chile

In order to teach English in Chile, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree, a TEFL certificate and a little bit of startup money — between $1,000 and $4,000 to be on the safe side. You’ll want money to pay your first month of rent and living expenses before your first paycheck, as well as some cash for a work visa.

Besides a TEFL certificate and startup money, you’ll also need a work visa and a Chilean residence card if you want to get a bank account (and work here legally).

Otherwise, you’ll be dodging immigration control and standing in long lines to cash checks every month — not an ideal situation.

You don’t need to be a native English speaker to work in Chile, but it certainly helps. You also don’t need to have previous teaching experience to find jobs here.

TEFL Courses in Chile

If you decide to get TEFL certified in Chile, the course will take 4 weeks and cost around $2,000, but you’ll meet other foreign teachers in Chile while you’re doing it — and who knows? They just might become your new best friends.

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Overall, the options to take a TEFL course in Chile are limited.

If you decide to get TEFL certified at home or online there are a range of options to choose from.

With International TEFL Academy, you can take a university-level TEFL course in more than 25 locations worldwide.

To obtain your TEFL certification online, we recommend the accredited 120-hour Let’s TEFL online course.

Look to our TEFL guide for more information on choosing the course that’s right for you.

See the section below for more information on what you need to get a Chilean work visa.

What Kind of ESL Jobs Are Available in Chile?

There are four main kinds of ESL job opportunities available in Chile:

  • Public school teacher
  • Tutor at an international language school
  • University instructor
  • Private tutor

Let’s dive into the specifics and average teacher salary of each kind of job:

Public School Teacher

As an ESL teacher at a public school, you can expect to work around 20-30 hours a week and make around $10 an hour or $800-$1,200 a month.

Work hours at public schools generally go from around 8 am – 3 pm, and teachers get regular school holidays off. The Chilean school year goes from March to December.

Public school teachers need a TEFL certificate and a bachelor’s degree.

Private School Teacher

nido-international-school
Career Website of the Nido International School in Santiago de Chile

Teachers at private schools make a fair bit of money, but private school jobs are hard to come by and you’ll be best off looking for them in Santiago.

If you want to be a private school teacher, you’ll most likely need a master’s degree or a teaching certificate in your home country.

Tutor at an International Language School

Private language institutions tend to pay $10-$20 an hour, but there’s much more variance in this type of job than there is at public schools.

As a tutor for an international language school you’ll have a more flexible schedule — but be prepared to work odd hours. You may work until as late as 10 pm tutoring students after their school day ends and going around the city to teach professionals in various offices.

Teachers at international language schools also have more flexibility regarding time off: you’ll probably be able to set your own vacation dates as long as you get someone to cover all your classes while you’re gone.

Many but not all international language schools also offer their teachers housing.

Requirements for teachers at international language schools vary, but most require teachers to have TEFL certification as well as a bachelor’s degree — and prior teaching experience always helps.

University Instructor

As a university instructor you’ll have smaller class sizes than a public school teacher would, and your working hours will vary more. You’ll get regular school holidays off and can expect to make $750 or more per month.

University instructors need a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate.

Private Tutor

While private tutoring can be incredibly lucrative (think $15-$30 per hour), it’s best used as a supplement to regular teaching hours. This is because you need to work at an institution in order to get a work visa and teach in a country legally.

Many teachers do some private tutoring on the side, teaching adults or students at their school. Private tutoring can give you some extra income, and since you set your own hours and rates it’s incredibly flexible.

There aren’t any requirements for private tutors, because as a private tutor you’re your own boss! All you need to get started is some connections — and a reputation as a good teacher won’t hurt you.

Tips for Applying for ESL Jobs in Chile

Face-to-face meetings are very important in Chile, so many employers want to meet in person before hiring teachers.

You can get hired through a recruiter or through email and Skype communication before you enter the country, but you can also find a job by dropping off your resume in person and asking to speak with the director of different schools once you’ve arrived in the country.

If you’re trying to find work online before you enter the country, look at Teaching Chile or just ask Google. There’s are jobs in heaps, you’ll just have to search a bit.

February through March and July through August are peak hiring season for regular schools in Chile, but international language schools hire year-round.

However, it’ll be hard to find a job anywhere in December and January. (Remember: Chile’s seasons are opposite from the U.S. and Europe’s).

Visa Requirements of Chile

You can apply for a work visa in the Chilean embassy in your home country (click here to find the embassy nearest you), or come to Chile on a travel visa and then get a work visa from the Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Santiago.

Find the nearest Chilean embassy on embassy-worldwide.com

The amount you’ll have to pay for your visa and work permit varies based on your nationality. For Americans, a temporary residence visa costs $470 and a work permit costs $250.

Your school may sponsor some or all of the cost of these, but be sure to have some money put aside for these expenses just in case.

To get a work visa, you’ll need the following documents:

  • A notarized and translated work contract as well as a letter from your employer justifying your hiring (your employer will know about both of these and provide them)
  • A diploma from a 4-year university
  • A police report or FBI Criminal Background Check
  • A valid passport
  • A visa application form
The visa application form

You need to have a job before you get a work visa, so whether you get a work visa at home or in Chile you’ll have an employer to help you through the process.

If you’re American and you come to Chile on a tourist visa, you don’t need to do anything at all to prep (or spend any money)! You’ll be issued a 90-day Tourist Card upon entry. This is true for most countries, but make sure that it’s true for yours before you depart.

Is Teaching English in Chile Without a Degree Possible?

The short answer is: no.

If you’re prepared to work illegally and try extra hard to find work, then you’ll be able to find work in Chile without a bachelor’s degree. However, it will be harder for you to find work and there will be many places that won’t even consider hiring you.

Finding Accommodation

Some teaching companies and schools, especially international language schools, provide housing for their teachers. However, there’s a good possibility that you’ll need to find your own accommodations in Chile.

You can find apartment listings on sites like HomeUrbano, Vivastreet, and Portalinmobilario — but be warned that you might have to rely on Google Translate or a Spanish-speaking friend to navigate them if you don’t speak Spanish.

Find apartment listings online on portalinmobilario.com

Depending on where you live, you can find a one-bedroom apartment in Chile for around $350-$450 a month.

On top of that you’ll typically pay a deposit worth one month’s rent and somewhere around $18-$100 in utilities per month, depending on the size of your space and your usage.

If you rent a single bedroom in an apartment you can find housing for even less.

While there are countries with cheaper housing than Chile, you’ll definitely be able to find an apartment that’s well within your budget here.

For more information about the requirements and process of renting an apartment in Chile, read this guide.

Can I Save Money as an English Teacher in Chile?

Salaries are decent in Chile, but they’re not as high as they are in places like parts of the Middle East and China where ESL teachers are in sky-high demand.

Also, because Chile is a country with a better economy, you’ll find yourself paying more than you would on food, going out, and other expenses here than you would in some other places.

A breakdown of the average prices for everyday items in Chile, on numbeo.com

So if your main aim as an ESL teacher is to make as much money as you can and then leave, Chile might not be the country for you.

However, if you’re just trying to make enough money to live comfortably and save a little bit every month, you’ll be perfectly happy in Chile.

And of course, in the end, how much you save is up to you. If you cook your own food and take advantage of the many free museums and outdoor wonders in the country you’ll save a lot more than if you go out for dinner and drinks every night.

Check out this breakdown of some everyday expenses in Chile to get a fuller picture of how much money you can expect to spend each month.

The Best Cities For Teaching ESL In Chile

Santiago

Santiago Gran Torre, a 64-story tall skyscraper

Santiago is the capital of Chile, and beyond being the largest city in the country it’s the seventh largest city in the Americas.

With a population of over 5 million, Santiago is by far the hottest destination for expats in Chile. It has a great subway system, lots of museums and cafes, and beautiful architecture. You’ll never have a dull moment in Santiago!

Because it has such a giant population, there are tons of jobs to be found in Santiago. The salary here is a little higher than in other cities in Chile, but the cost of living is higher, too.

Viña Del Mar

Tourists enjoying the city beach in Vina Del Mar

This coastal city is only a short drive from Santiago, but it inhabits a totally different world from the country’s capital. With a population of around 325,000, the “Garden City” is a relaxed oasis and tourist haven.

The city doesn’t have as much to offer as Santiago, but if you’re looking for a slower pace of life and some good museums and outdoor space, Viña del Mar might be the place for you.

Beware that it is harder to find work here than in Santiago, but the cost of living is lower — and if you get a job here you’ll be living in a paradise of gardens and beaches.

Concepción

A town of almost 230,000 almost halfway up the coast, Concepción is most notable because it’s home to 4 universities, meaning there are tons of young people here.

Concepción is also known as Chile’s rock music capital. If you love music and a more low-key vibe, you’ll find a welcome home in Concepción.

Cost of living is a little lower than Santiago here, and due to all the universities you’ll be able to find a job in Concepción easily.

Classroom And Work Culture

The work culture in Chile isn’t terribly hard to get used to, but here’s a primer on a few things you should be aware of before you enter the classroom:

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The Dress Code

If you’ve taught ESL in other countries, you may be accustomed to coming into the classroom wearing ripped jeans and flip flops.

While that flies some places, be aware that you’ll generally need to dress a little nicer as a teacher in Chile: think khakis and a collared shirt, for example.

The Classroom

Many schools don’t have extensive materials, so you may have to make or provide your own — or ask parents to donate materials if you’re working at a tutoring center or somewhere with more affluent students.

Providing your own materials is a bit of a pain, but it does give you more control over your lesson planning and general teaching setup.

Some students in Chile may seem like they’re not paying attention or following along. If that’s the case, just be patient and keep teaching, making sure to illustrate and create an inclusive, cooperative classroom. You may be surprised at how much the students retain — even when it seems like their heads are in the clouds!

Family Involvement

Family is important in Chile, and while some parents aren’t super involved with their kids’ teachers, other parents take an active interest in their children’s education. So be prepared to communicate with the parents if you want a good reputation as a teacher.

Don’t worry if you don’t speak Spanish: other teachers can help you communicate with the parents if there’s a language barrier between you.

Workplace Culture

Although it’s of course always hard to make assumptions about different countries and cultures, many people find that they’re able to build warm, fruitful relationships with their fellow teaching staff.

If you’re warm and friendly when you arrive, you may find yourself with a school full of allies who can help you if you ever get in a sticky situation — and go to drinks with you after the bell rings.

Conclusion

While it’s not the place where you’ll make and save the most money in the world, Chile is an exciting country with a jaw-dropping landscape, bustling cities and sleepy beach towns, rich culture, and delicious food.

You’ll find it easy to find a good job and live comfortably in Chile, and it’s also easy to travel around Latin America once you’re here.

So pack up your bags and say ¡Hola! to Chile!

Explore other great places in Latin America to teach English abroad.


4 Comments

  1. Chi colins on November 3, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    Thanks for this wonderful information I will be longing for to applying.I am a trained English language teacher

    • MOLLY OBERSTEIN-ALLEN on November 11, 2019 at 5:41 am

      Glad to hear it! Good luck with your application 🙂



  2. Karen Kuhlman on March 25, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    Great information! However, there has been an update to Chilean immigration laws (in the summer of 2018 I believe) and you CANNOT change from a tourist visa to a working visa anymore. You must get a work contract BEFORE arriving in Chile, which with the Internet and Skype interviews isn’t that difficult to do.

    • Marcel Jimmy on March 27, 2019 at 9:52 am

      Hello Karen,

      thanks for your comment. I will check your info and update the post accordingly.

      Marcel



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