Teaching English in Uruguay

University of Toronto
Uruguay Overview

A small, low-lying, mainly undeveloped nation of ancient traditions, Uruguay is a great country for the adventurous. The level of demand for native speakers in Uruguay is moderately high and the crime rate is one of the lowest in Latin America. Unfortunately, TEFL salaries are relatively low and despite low living costs 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. Employers at some language centres can be unreliable and have unreasonable demands such as the common one that you are effectively ‘on call’ from 8am to 8pm or similar. You are rarely paid for travelling from one location or class to another and this can take up a significant chunk of your daily schedule. If you are experienced and hard-working then you may be lucky to find one of the few well-paid positions, such as those at bilingual schools. For the majority, however, TEFL in Uruguay is a fun experience for a short period of time but only rarely a serious long-term career option.

Type of Institution Typical salary (USD/month) Typical hours Typical annual leave
Language centres 500 – 1,000 Various split shifts and evenings and weekends 2 weeks plus national holidays
International schools and universities 2,500 upwards 9am – 4pm Monday to Friday plus some weekend work 10 weeks plus national holidays

Main places for jobs

Montevideo.

Typical requirements

Degree, CELTA (or equiv.) preferred, local interview preferred.

Tips

1. A CELTA or TEFL certificate is not strictly necessary, but you will find that if you have one you are eligible for better jobs and better pay. You’ll also be a more confident teacher.

2. Given the low salaries, you may need to supplement your income with extra, private one-to-one tuition. Contacts are essential and found via word of mouth and through local adverts and websites. Bear in mind that punctuality is less important in Uruguay than in the West so it is quite common for students to turn up late!

3. American and Canadian teachers may be at a slight advantage. Teachers with Spanish language skills will find settling in a lot easier.

Red tape

Your employer is responsible for obtaining your work permit. However, in reality, many work illegally. Despite the flexibility this allows, this is not recommended for obvious reasons. Most teachers arrive on a tourist visa which can be converted into a work visa without having to leave the country.

Cost of living

The cost of living is low but you will probably have to share accommodation with another teacher to begin with. Transport is especially cheap and efficient in Montevideo.

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.

Summary

Reasonable demand for English tuition Generally low pay and many employers are reluctant to offer proper, full-time contracts
Fantastic, sociable students Teachers are sometimes expected to work split shifts and spend a lot of time travelling (which is unpaid)
A wonderful country for the adventurous It is very difficult to find work unless you are already in the country

Go to Latin America jobs board

4 Comments

  1. Allen Bauman says:

    Interested in knowing how I can earn my TEFL certification, and how I can teach English in Uruguay. Is a college degree a prequisite?
    Thanks

  2. Nick says:

    Obviously I didnt write the article :P, but I have been told numerous times that a degree is NOT required. Just a tefl certificate…but many places will hire you illegally and say that you being an Englishspeaker is good enough for them to hire you!

  3. Interesting article. I write a blog about Uruguay and am getting more people writing me about specific places for Jobs in Uruguay. If you ever write a piece on that please let me know and I will link to it.

  4. Michael says:

    I’ve heard that CELTA is much more preferable to TEFL by many institutions. Would people agree that this is the case? I see that doing a CELTA course is considerably more expensive than a TEFL course.

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