Teacher Pay and Benefits in South America
The main benefits to teaching overseas are the enjoyment of teaching in an international school, the friends you’ll make, the adventure of living life abroad, and the travel opportunities living overseas brings you. Money should not be your main motivation for teaching abroad and you should know that you won’t get rich doing so. However, we know money is important, so here is what you can expect teaching in South America.
Salaries for international school teachers vary widely from country to country depending on the cost of living in each country and the desirability of the location. As such, when considering a teaching job abroad, the best way to compare salaries is to look at how much income is left after expenses. For example, if you want to teach overseas in a large and touristy city like Mexico City the salary will be higher because, the cost of living in those cities is higher and teaching jobs in those types of cities are in higher demand).
South America has one of lower average pay rates, but they also have an extremely low cost of living and a higher quality of life, with readily available (and inexpensive) goods from America. There is pretty much nothing you’ll go without here – from your Skippy peanut butter to your Oreo cookies. The monthly salary can vary greatly depending on the city where the teacher is living. The average salary is going to run $300-$1000 per month. The more established countries, such as Brazil and Chili, or large cities like Mexico City, will pay towards the high end of the salary range, while less developed areas, such as Honduras, pay toward the lower end of the pay spectrum. The jobs provide enough to live comfortably in South America, but most do not pay enough to save much extra, over a few hundred dollars a month although many teachers supplement their income by giving private English lessons. Oftentimes in South America airfare and health insurance are NOT covered, so it will be important to discuss those details with your school.
In addition to a teacher’s regular salary, most schools in the middle east offer the following benefits to hired teachers:
- Airfare to and from the host city for the teacher
- Health insurance*
- Housing or a housing allowance
- Summer vacation
- Assistance learning the country’s language
- Procurement of all appropriate visas and country permits
- Local taxes paid (but double check with the school when you sign the contract!)
In addition to the above, many schools offer some or all of the following benefits to teachers hired from abroad:
- Career development opportunities
- Retirement plan
- Life insurance
- Sick leave
*While it may sound like a given, some schools don’t provide health insurance for teachers. Fortunately travel health insurance can provide overseas residents and travelers extremely generous coverage for minimal amounts of money.