Perhaps the safest of all Latin American nations, the small country of Panama is a great place for those who are worried about living in the more dangerous countries in this region of the world. There are strong ties between the USA and Panama, to the extent that the currency is the US Dollar. No surprises then that English is spoken fluently by 20% or so of the inhabitants. The level of demand for native speaker teachers is moderate and most TEFL-qualified teachers can find job openings. Unfortunately, TEFL salaries are low to moderate and you certainly won’t be able to save much, if at all. As in most Latin American countries the students are lively and sociable and therefore a pleasure to teach. If you are experienced, persistent and hard-working then you may be lucky to find one of the well-paid positions, such as those at local universities and bilingual schools. A large American expatriate population means that you can expect a decent social life. In addition to visiting the famous Panama Canal, there are many interesting places to spend your weekends exploring.
|Type of Institution||Typical salary (USD/month)||Typical hours||Typical annual leave|
|Language centres, local schools and universities||800 – 1,500||Various||Various|
|International schools||2,500 upwards||9am – 4pm Monday to Friday plus some weekend work||10 weeks plus national holidays|
Main places for jobs
Degree, TEFL certificate, local interview preferred.
1. It is much better to find a job before arriving in Panama but in reality the vast majority of newly-qualified TEFL teachers looking for starter-jobs arrive on tourist visas. If you have a degree and some experience you should be able to find work at local universities.
2. Given the large expatriate population there is considerable competition here for teaching posts. Experience and qualifications matter.
3. American and Canadian teachers may be at a slight advantage. Those who can speak Spanish will find integration much easier.
Your employer is responsible for obtaining your work permit. Without this, you are always at risk of being deported.
Cost of living
The cost of living in Panama is low to moderate. Expect to have to share accommodation with other teachers to begin with.
Tax and salary information
You should expect to be paid on a monthly basis. Make sure you actually have a contract or else you may have problems when it comes to payday.
|Perhaps the safest country in Latin America||Considerable competition for teaching positions|
|Friendly, sociable students||Teachers are sometimes expected to work split shifts and may need to take on private classes to make ends meet|
|Reasonable level of demand for English tuition||Not easy to find work from outside the country|
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