Teaching English in Uruguay

By | January 26, 2014

Uruguay is one of the most developed and prosperous nations in South America. It shares its borders with both Argentina and Brazil. The country itself is the second smallest in terms of landmass after Suriname and it has a population of only 3.3 million people. Around half of the population lives in the metropolitan area of Montevideo, the nation’s capital city.

Uruguay is a Spanish speaking country after Montevideo was used a military stronghold by Spain. Although the country got independence early in the 19th century there is still a strong Spanish influence in the culture of the country.

The weather in Uruguay is fairly mild throughout the area, the humidity is high and fog is commonplace. The weather can change quite quickly and it can be quite windy at times, but the temperature is fairly warm all year round.

Read more about Uruguay from Wikipedia.

Why Teach English in Uruguay

Mansa Beach

Mansa Beach – Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Uruguay has one of the lowest crime rates anywhere in South America and it is very safe place to live. On top of this, Uruguay is a very forward thinking country, it was the first country in Latin America to allow same-sex marriage, and it was also the first country in the world to legalise marijuana.

There is also a growing demand for native English speaking teachers. Many Uruguayans want to learn English for a number of reasons and there are a number of private language schools opening up to fulfil this demand. As a result, qualified and experienced teachers should find it quite easy to find a job in the country.

Uruguay has some beautiful beaches, stunning cities and a really laidback lifestyle. If you like food, this is a perfect destination for you. With huge steaks and delicious wine on offer, you certainly won’t go hungry!

Where to Teach English in Uruguay

As is common with most countries in the world, you will find the most teaching opportunities in the larger cities. The capital city, Montevideo will have the most jobs available and other cities like Salto, Ciudad de la Costa can also be popular destinations.

Types of Teaching Jobs in Uruguay

Public School System

Montevideo - Rambla by night

Montevideo – Rambla by night

The Uruguayan government employs native English speaking TEFL teachers to teach in the public schooling system. They do require that teachers have at least a bachelor’s degree, but they don’t often pay as well as private language schools.

Private Language Schools

There are private language schools dotted all over Uruguay and they have varying requirements for qualifications and experience of their teachers and all offer different salaries too. It is this type of school that gives the most teaching opportunities for native English speaking TEFL teachers.

Business English

Fruit stand

Fruit stand

You might find that you can find work in businesses in Uruguay, especially in one of the three free-trade areas in Montevideo, the World Trade Center, Aguada Park and Zonamerica. There many international companies that have call centres and they will often employ native English speaking teachers to train their staff.

Private Lessons

You might also find that taking a few private lessons is a good way to supplement the income you receive from your day job. Unless you have taken the time to build up a good customer base and you are well known with a good reputation, it’s unlikely that you will make teaching private lessons your full time job.

One of the biggest problems with private lessons is the unreliability of students. Often students can cancel at very short notice and you won’t get paid for your time. So usually, this is more of a way to supplement your income rather than be your main source of income.

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Teaching Requirements and Qualifications

Enjoying a sunset in Salto, Uruguay

Enjoying a sunset in Salto, Uruguay

To work in the public school system as a native English speaking ESL teacher you will need to have at least a bachelor’s degree and you’ll also need a teaching certificate such as a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA.

Private language schools all have different requirements for their teachers. It is possible to work as a teacher in Uruguay without a degree as some private language schools don’t require one from their teachers. They might also not be too worried about you having a teaching certificate. Others will require one but not the other and some schools will require that you have both!

To give yourself a better chance of securing a well-paid job with a respectable employer and a higher salary, it is better that you have both a degree and a bachelor’s degree.

Expected Salary and Living Costs

[sociallocker id=”1451″]Most teachers could expect to earn between $600 and $800 a month and for this you would usually have around 20 to 25 hours of teaching per week. Some teachers earn more than $800 but it really depends on a number of factors including the school where you work, your qualifications and experience.

Although, this average salary isn’t a lot, it should be enough money to pay your living expenses each month. It won’t, however, be enough money to save a lot each month.

Your cost of living can range anywhere from around $500 – $800 per month depending on your choice of lifestyle. Although it isn’t as cheap as other countries in the region, it is still cheaper than most Western European countries.

For more specific information about the cost of living in Uruguay, take a look at Numbeo.[/sociallocker]

Visa Requirements

ParkedEven though it is illegal, many teachers in the country decide to work without a valid word permit. It is never recommended to work in any country illegally as you don’t know what will happen if things take a turn for the worse.

If you want to get a work permit your employer must arrange this for you. This is done when you are already in the country. Unlike other South American countries, if you enter the country on a tourist visa, you can still arrange the appropriate working documents without needing to leave the country.

Generally speaking, working visas are not hard to obtain. For more information see WikiTravel.

How to Find a Job Teaching in Uruguay

Faking itIt’s unusual to be offered a job in Uruguay before you arrive in the country. Although you might find some teaching jobs advertised online, most will want you to complete the recruitment process in person with a face-to-face interview.

When you arrive in Uruguay there are a few things that you can do to look for work. Firstly, ask any friends and acquaintances if they know of any vacant positions. There are often expat Facebook groups and forums to join and members can often help you find work or at the very least will enable you to make some contacts and connections with other people working in Uruguay. Do a quick search and you’ll find lots of places online where expats in Uruguay like to hangout.

Finally, you should just try asking for a job. Get a list of schools in the local area and contact them directly. You can either telephone or email, but it’s often better to go in person. Dress smart, prepare some CVs and go and ask for a job directly. Try to speak to the person in charge of recruitment and if they are not available leave your CV at the reception, but ensure that you get the name and number of the person responsible for recruitment and follow up your visit with a phone call.

Teach English in Uruguay

Uruguay is quite a small country and you won’t find thousands of teaching opportunities, but you will find some. It isn’t a country where you are likely to make a lot of money and save each month, but you can make enough money to have a fairly comfortable lifestyle.

If you’re looking for somewhere in South America that is away from the popular teaching destinations then Uruguay might just be the place for you.

You don’t necessarily need to be well qualified and experienced to find work in Uruguay but it does always help.


Although I have never worked in this country, every effort has been made to ensure that this information is correct. This blog post has been written after extensive research online, interviews with teachers who have worked or are working in the country, and local schools have been contacted. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. If you have worked or are working in Uruguay, we would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and share your experiences with us.

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