How to Teach English in Peru: Requirements, Salary, Where to Start
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Peru, the land that was once home to the ancient Incas, is probably one of the most enchanting places to teach English in the whole of South America. Full of awesome historical and natural wonders, from the spectacular ruins of Machu Picchu to the magnificent Andes mountains, you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice outside of the classroom.
With tourism as the cornerstone of the country, there is a tremendous demand to learn English a strong and ever growing job market. In fact, Lima has emerged as one of the largest job markets for teachers in South America. While Lima is where you’ll find an abundance of schools and positions, smaller cities like Cusco, Arequipa and Trujillo are all major markets as well.
Having a TEFL certificate is pretty much a must to teach English in Peru, especially in larger cities and if you’re not a native speaker. A bachelor’s degree isn’t a strict requirement, but it’s preferred by some employers and will open the door to more job opportunities.
Teaching English in Peru won’t make you millions – pay is roughly between $500 to $700 a month – but the low cost of living allows teachers to live comfortably and provide pocket money to travel.
With a high demand for teachers, a comfortable living wage, and relatively lax teaching requirements, Peru is fast becoming a hot spot for teaching English.
What are the requirements to teach in Peru?
The only real requirement to teach in a language school in Peru is a TEFL certification, especially if you’re after a job in places like Lima, Cusco, Trujillo or Arequipa.
You’ll come across prospective employers, especially the top language schools, who prefer their teachers to also have a BA degree. While a degree isn’t a strict requirement, you may find your job search more competitive without one.
If you’re looking to teach in a private international school in Peru, you’ll need to hold a Bachelor’s degree, a teaching license from your home country and have a minimum of 2 years teaching experience under your belt.
Requirements are also strict to teach English in a university in Peru – at the very least expect employers to ask for a BA degree or a teaching certificate, plus some previous teaching experience.
What does teaching in Peru pay?
Most teachers land jobs in language institutes where the average wage is $5 an hour. You’ll find that the more experience and credentials you bring to the table, the better your pay will be. You can roughly expect to earn between $500 and $700 USD a month.
This may seem a low pay rate in comparison to teaching English in other countries, like South Korea or Taiwan, but it is in line with Peru’s low cost of living. While you won’t be living an extravagant lifestyle, most teachers find they can live pretty comfortably on this salary and have enough left over to explore the wonders of Peru.
Housing is the biggest expense for teachers in Peru, particularly in Lima, but if you share a place with your fellow teachers and avoid some of the more touristy neighborhoods, you should be able to find some decent rates.
International schools and universities offer more generous salaries to match the experience of their certified teachers. They are also more likely to offer attractive benefits, in some cases accommodation allowance, health insurance and transportation.
What is the visa process for Peru?
To be able to legally teach or work in Peru, you’ll need a work visa and the help of your employer to secure it. International schools, universities and some of the top language institutes are more likely to help you get this work visa, but it’s a complicated process and costly in terms of time and fees for employers, so many places avoid it if they can.
Instead, a fair number of teachers work on a tourist visa, especially those who get hired locally on the ground. While this is fairly common practice, it is technically illegal. If you do choose to take this option, it’s important to remember that it’s your responsibility to make yourself aware of the laws and consequences surrounding this.
This tourist visa, known as “Tarjeta Andina de Migración”, is issued upon your arrival in Peru and is valid for 30 – 183 days. The border officials determine how long your visa will be, so it’s worth asking for the full 183 days. Those who don’t get granted the full 183 days end up border hopping to either Chile or Ecuador to reset their visa.
If you do choose to work on a tourist visa in Peru, you’ll need to obtain a “permission to sign a contract” in order to legally sign any type of contract.
Expat Peru has a great article offering more information on Peruvian visas.
What’s it like teaching in Peru?
There are four types of paid teaching jobs in Peru:
- Language schools
- Private International schools
- Private lessons
Let’s look at each one in turn!
Working in a language school is the most popular way of teaching English in Peru. There are plenty of these schools around, especially in the bigger cities like Lima, Cusco, Arequipa and Trujillo. Some of the bigger language chain schools out there include; Berlitz Peru, International House Lima and Business Links. You’ll most likely be teaching adults and business professionals, or university students.
Some schools may interview in advance over the phone or Skype, but most teachers find the best way to land a job is to search for one in person as most schools will want to meet you before making an offer. These schools hire year round, although the most popular hiring seasons are February and March followed by July and August.
The majority of positions are filled by word of mouth, or through friends of friends, so make sure to keep your ears to the ground and let everyone know you’re looking for a job. You can email employers your resume, but it’s best to walk into schools and hand them out in person.
If a school is interested, they’ll invite you for an interview and possibly a demo class. Some employers might also have you take an English test. Contracts are usually for 6 or 12 months.
Private International Schools
Most of the international schools tend to be in Lima, but there will be some in the other provinces. The majority of these schools are religious, and cater to children of all ages. They usually offer 2 year contracts, and so are a great option if you’re looking to embark on a teaching career.
They mostly hire teachers in advance from overseas and will sponsor your work visa, meaning you are able to work legally in Peru without having to do a visa run. The school year in Peru starts in March, so you’ll want to be firing off that CV around September/October time.
If you don’t manage to secure a job in an international school before heading out to Peru, there is a chance you could land a job when you arrive. Make sure to take apostilled and legalised copies of any credentials to help with your application.
Similar to international schools, some universities will hire their teachers in advance from overseas, although you may be able to find a job on the ground too. They tend to wait until the beginning of the year, January or February, to do their hiring.
Being one of the higher paying teacher jobs, positions are competitive and requirements are strict, but if you fit the bill, it could be worth checking out. Another plus is that they sometimes offer attractive benefits and may help you secure a work visa.
Another way to earn some money teaching English in Peru is private lessons. This tends to be a good way of supplementing your income, or if you build up enough clientele, it could be your sole earner. In Lima you could be paid up to $20 an hour, outside of Lima expect between $5 and $10 an hour.
Finding students to teach privately can pose as a bit of a challenge, and you’ll find students cancel at the last minute or just don’t show up. Your best bet is to post an advert at private schools, universities, in the local paper or online.
Although unpaid, another popular option to teach English in Peru is through volunteering. Over one-third of the Peruvian population live below the poverty line, and education is scarce in some parts of the country, particularly in the more rural areas, therefore volunteers are in high demand.
This can be a good chance for new teachers to build up experience while seeing a different side of Peru beyond the more popular cities – positions can be found in small towns and villages across the country. Organisations recruit year round, both from overseas and on the ground in Peru.
Teachers tend to work around a 20 – 30 hour week, sometimes more. These are usually covered in split shifts, with hours in the mornings and evenings, giving you the afternoons off. You should also find that you have enough free time to travel.
Peru certainly has a warm culture and strong sense of community, both in the bustling big cities and the more rural Andean villages. So wherever you end up teaching, expect to feel very welcome.
Peruvians work hard, but you’ll find that they’re pretty relaxed when it comes to schedules. However, this doesn’t mean you can be lax on this too – foreigners are expected to always be on time, just don’t be surprised if others are late!
You’ll be expected to dress modestly, like the Peruvians. Think smart casual – below the knee skirts/trousers for girls and shirts and trousers for boys. Even in the rural areas you’ll need to dress modestly. Save those shorts and flip flops for your adventures after school! It’s also expected to avoid first names, unless told otherwise. Men are addressed as Señor and women Señora, followed by their last name.
Unless you get a job in an international school or a university, it’s unlikely you’ll be offered attractive benefits or any sort of package. You may find that some language schools offer things like training sessions, free Spanish lessons, insurance, lunch or transport. However, these things aren’t a given or necessarily common practice.
You should be given some vacation time, usually around a month, depending on the length of your contract – make sure to check what your school offers before signing anything.
Can you teach in Peru without a degree?
Yes, language schools in Peru don’t require their teachers to have a degree. However, you may find employers prefer you to have one, and having one will likely open up the job market and mean higher pay.
If you’re looking to teach in an international school or a university, you will be required to have a degree.
Do you have to be a native speaker?
No, you don’t need to be a native speaker to teach English in Peru. However, if this is the case, it’s likely employers will want you to be TEFL certified and have a high level of fluency in English.
You may find that citizens from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Ireland and South Africa are typically preferred, but it’s not a strict requirement.
Do you need a TEFL to teach in Peru?
Most language schools in Peru will require you to be TEFL certified. There will be some schools out there who will be more lax on this, but without one, your job search will be harder and pay may be lower.
You can either complete a TEFL course before heading out to Peru or complete one at a school out there – International House Lima and Maximo Nivel in Cusco are just two of a number of places which offer TEFL courses in Peru itself.
Resources for Teaching and Living in Peru
- Expat Peru is a guide to living in Peru. It offers some good articles and information on life out there, including visas, Spanish courses and job opportunities.