Want to teach English in Chile? With unique and diverse landscapes, over 6,000 km of coastline, and top-notch ski resorts, Chile is a nature lover’s dream. From Patagonia to the glorious Andean peaks, it really is one of the best places to live and work for those who have an unrelenting sense of adventure.
Not only that, Chile is developing rapidly and is one of the most modern, advanced, and stable countries in South America. Chile also has fantastic infrastructure, a strong economy, and a thriving tourism sector, all of which have led to a high demand for English speakers in the workforce and plenty of eager TEFL students.
There are numerous reasons why so many people who want to teach English abroad consider Chile. It's one of the best countries in South America for finding English teaching jobs, and there are plenty of TEFL jobs to be found here.
Unlike other countries in Latin America, most schools will gladly interview you in advance before you arrive in Chile. Some will also organize your visa for you. A lot of teachers are also able to find work after they arrive. Let's take a look at the different teaching jobs that are available:
You're more likely to find a teaching job in one of Chile's many private language institutes than in its high schools or public schools. These private language schools are a popular option for most English teachers in Chile and there is usually a high demand for teachers.
There are many private schools in Chile’s capital Santiago and some of its other major cities. Some of these institutes conduct lessons on-site and your classes will mostly comprise students who work in businesses and the tourism industry. However, you could also end up teaching kids, teenagers, or university students depending on the school you work at. Some institutes only run off-site English classes in various local businesses.
If you have experience in teaching test preparation classes such as IELTS, TOEFL, or TOEIC, then you could have a better chance at being considered for these kinds of teaching jobs. If you don’t have any experience in teaching test prep classes, it’s always worth looking them up and gaining some knowledge about them before you arrive in Chile as it may give you an edge over other foreign teachers.
Private tutoring, whether full-time or as a side job in between classes is always an option in Chile. Once you’ve settled in and gotten a chance to get to know people, it can be very easy to find students looking for private English lessons.
Private tutoring can give you a chance to set your own rate which can help you build up some cash that you can use to explore all that Chile has to offer. However, going out on your own to tutor full-time does come with its risks as the work is a lot less stable.
If you would like to try out volunteering as a teacher's assistant and prefer teaching children, you can check out Chile’s English Opens Doors program. This initiative is run by the Chilean government and is supported by the UNDP. The program places English teachers in various locations all over Chile, which is great for those who are looking to live somewhere that's more off the beaten track. There is no fee for volunteers who wish to participate in the program and you are provided with health insurance. Costs of travel to and from Santiago are also covered. When you are placed with a school, you will live with a host family who will cover your accommodation and most of your food costs.
Teaching English as a volunteer can be very rewarding. However, one downside to this program is that you will not know where in Chile you will be placed until you attend your orientation in Santiago, which could be exciting for those with an insatiable sense of adventure or worrisome for others who prefer to know where they’ll be living.
For those interested in teaching at primary or secondary schools in Chile, the most straightforward approach to securing such positions is to apply after your arrival once you have established local connections. Typically, possession of a teaching certificate or a Master's in Education is a requirement to get a job. You could also explore agency placements that facilitate school positions. Nonetheless, it's important to note that the remuneration for these roles is on par with that of Chilean educators, which tends to be lower compared to teaching roles for a native English speaker at language institutes.
The average monthly salary for an English language teacher in Chile is $500-$1500 USD. The reason for this huge gap is that salaries vary greatly depending on where in Chile you teach, the school or company you work for, and your own background and experience.
Many English language institutes pay per hour and this hourly rate can vary from $10-$22 USD. Most schools offer 20-25 teaching hours per week, which doesn’t include planning time.
If you’re being paid hourly, be aware that January and February can be slower months with fewer classes as this is when Chileans and most other South Americans take their summer vacations.
Job benefits rarely include accommodation or airfare, but some do so it is always worth asking about in an interview.
There are some requirements that you will need to meet before you can start teaching English in Chile. These requirements are not usually strict and some employers don’t ask that you meet them all. However, a TEFL certification is almost certainly an advantage.
Having a TEFL certification is a huge advantage when looking for teaching jobs in Chile, and having a CELTA will lead you to even better job prospects. Your salary may also be higher if you have a TEFL certificate.
If you completed one of the many online TEFL courses that are available these days, you will also be considered for teaching positions. If you have the time, you can also do an on-site TEFL course in Santiago when you get there.
It's very unlikely that you will need a master's degree to get a teaching job in Chile, but a lot of employers will want you to have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. However, you can still find teaching jobs in Chile without a degree, especially if you already have a TEFL certificate and some experience.
Having prior teaching experience is very useful, but not always necessary when looking for teaching jobs in Chile. Sometimes having a degree, excellent English proficiency and proof of completion of a TEFL course can be all you need.
As is common in most parts of the world, native English speakers will have an easier time finding a teaching job. Many schools look for native speakers from the UK, United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and South Africa. Being a native speaker is not always essential, but do keep in mind that you will be expected to be a fluent English speaker to secure a job teaching English in Chile.
More schools tend to organize work visas for teachers in Chile than in other countries in South America.
One type of visa is the Visa Sujeto a Contrato (Subject to Contract Visa) which is a visa that is tied to your work contract. This will mean that your work visa will be dependent on you obtaining a contract before you arrive. If you are applying for this visa, your employer will help you with the paperwork. This visa costs around $600 and must be applied for online before entering Chile.
Another type of visa is the Visa de Residencia Temporaria (Temporary Residence Visa). To get this visa you will need to validate your university degree when you get to Chile, which is not always straightforward. This visa type has 16 subcategories and was introduced in 2022. This visa is valid for up to two years.
After two years of living and working in Chile, you can also apply for permanent residency, but you can only do so after staying on the Visa Sujeto a Contrato or Visa de Residencia Temporaria.
You can also enter Chile on a tourist visa, find a job, and switch to a work visa later. Just make sure to find an employer who will do this for you. It is possible to work on a tourist visa, but these visas only last 90 days and it is not actually legal to do so. Therefore, it’s a good idea to find an employer who will process a proper work visa for you before your 90 days are up.
Another option is the Chile Working Holiday Visa. This program is only available to a limited number of nationalities. This visa is valid for one year only and it cannot be renewed. You must be between 18 and 35 years old, depending on the country you are from. Those coming from Canada and New Zealand can be up to 35 years old, but the cut-off age for Australians is 30 years old.
Santiago is the main hotspot for those looking for teaching jobs. However, the coastal city of Valparaíso and Antofagasta in northern Chile are also very popular.
Let's take a look at some of the popular teaching spots:
With 7 million inhabitants, Santiago is easily the best place to look for teaching jobs. Chile’s capital city is where the majority of English language teachers find work. The city is modern and comfortable with captivating vistas, art galleries, museums, and restaurants to suit all tastes. Barrio Bellavista is Santiago's vibrant bohemian quarter which offers some of the best nightlife in the city while also boasting outdoor markets, cafes, and boutique stores. Alternatively, you can head up to the shopping mall in Tobalaba to find many Western shops that you'll already be familiar with.
Just an hour and a half from Santiago, Valparaíso is Chile’s second largest city. This coastal city is also popular with English language teachers. Valparaíso is full of colorful street art, winding streets, and beautiful architecture. English language teachers are regularly in demand here so it really is worth checking out.
Located in the north of Chile, this charming port city has fewer teaching jobs available. That’s not to say that you couldn’t find a job here. It will just take a bit more effort and determination, which could pay off as there are many popular attractions nearby such as the Hand of the Desert, the Atacama Desert, and wild remote beaches to explore.
Searching online is your best bet when it comes to looking for a teaching job in Chile. Some teachers opt to sign up with recruitment agencies, such as Teaching Chile. These agencies do charge a fee, but they can be a great option for teachers who don’t want to just show up and look for a job. Other teachers prefer to arrive on a tourist visa and look for jobs on the ground. This is entirely possible to do and still quite common in Chile as many employers like to meet teachers face-to-face before hiring them.
March to April and July to August are generally the peak hiring times for English language teachers in Chile. It’s always important to start looking for jobs before the peak hiring period begins so that you can have enough time to get there.
It’s always important to be aware of the etiquette and cultural norms of whatever country you decide to teach abroad in. Here are some useful things to know about teaching in Chile to help you settle in quickly.
At language institutes, where you will mostly be teaching adults, classes usually run either before your students go to work, during their lunch breaks, or after they finish work. This means that your days can be long with bigger breaks in between. Many teachers tend to spend these long breaks relaxing, going to the gym, napping, or, if they're hustlers, taking on extra private classes.
Most English language institutes are not too strict about punctuality when it comes to adult students so it’s always worth checking their policies on this and being lenient wherever possible.
Chileans are warm, friendly, and welcoming people. They tend to be very family-focused so expect a lot of interactions with parents if you teach children. Some may say that the Chileans are more reserved than their South American counterparts, but this isn’t always the case and it may just take some extra time for people to warm up to you.
Family time and socializing are a key part of Chilean culture, which is one of the many things that make life there so appealing. Just don't expect people to be on time! If there is a social occasion at 9:00 p.m., most people won't turn up until 9:30 p.m. at the very earliest. When they do arrive it's customary to greet women with a kiss on the cheek, while the men go in for a handshake (and a hug if they know you well).
You won’t be expected to be able to speak Spanish in order to get a job teaching English, but having some basic phrases on hand can be useful for your day-to-day life because not everyone in Chile speaks English. If you’re already a Spanish speaker, it could be worth learning some specific Chilean Spanish such as slang or colloquial phrases so that you can gel with the locals.
Many Chileans take education quite seriously, so don't think that you can just show up to class in shorts and flip-flops. In terms of what to wear, smart-casual is generally the way to go and often the safest bet in any country.
Depending on where in Chile you decide to live, living expenses can range from $600-$1,000 USD per month. This means that you will most likely break even most months at the very worst. Many English teachers in Chile tend to take on private students and tutor on the side in order to save some money.
Remember, you could be in Chile for a month or so before you get your first paycheck, so it’s important to think about your start-up costs. The initial cost of moving to Chile is, realistically, around $2,000 USD and can be even higher if you plan on moving here without first securing a job. This includes expenses such as flights, visa fees, rental deposits, transportation, and groceries.
Living costs in Chile are not as low as in other South American countries and you can expect to pay the same price for groceries and eating out as you would in the United States or most European countries. Rent is much more reasonable and you can expect to pay $300-$500 USD per month for a one-bedroom apartment in Santiago. You also need to take building fees ($40-$200 USD per month) and utilities, which can be anywhere up to $100 USD per month, into account.
If you are looking to save money, it could be a good idea to look into sharing a house or large apartment when you get here. Many English language teachers share apartments or houses with their colleagues.
Teaching abroad can be daunting, especially if you are moving to the other side of the world. However, Chile is a safe and comfortable choice. Chilean culture is one of a kind and there really is no place like this wonderful country. Chile has everything to offer, which is why it is one of the most popular destinations in South America for English language teachers.
It's important to note that many Chileans do not speak English, so you should learn some basic Spanish before you go to help you get by.
Don’t be surprised if you end up falling in love with the country and want to stay even longer than you originally planned.
The average salary for an English teacher in Chile can range from $500-$1,500 USD depending on the type of job you get and which city you decide to live in. If you decide to teach private classes on the side, this figure can go up significantly.
Becoming an English teacher in Chile isn’t all that difficult. However, if you want to earn a decent salary and work for a proper private school or English language institute, it’s worth getting a TEFL certification before you go. There are many accredited TEFL courses online that you can start at any time.
Teaching English in Chile can offer you a comfortable lifestyle with a decent salary. Your earnings as an English teacher in Chile may not be enough to allow you to save much money, but it will allow you to see much of what this beautiful country has to offer.
Chile’s economy is going from strength to strength and the demand for English speakers in the workforce in all sectors is increasing. Because of this economic growth, English teachers are becoming more and more in demand in Chile and there are many ESL jobs to be found.