Known throughout the world as a prime destination for ecotourism, Costa Rica is also one of the top locations in the region for ESL teaching. Across the country there are always plenty of opportunities for teachers whether you have years of experience or are looking for your first teaching role. One of the main attractions for many teachers is that a university degree is often not a requirement when looking for work. Teaching positions can be found in most parts of the country; however, the vast majority are located in the Central Valley area and in particular the capital San Jose.
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As is the case in much of Latin America, teachers generally don't come to Costa Rica purely to make money. The average salary is considerably less than you will find in other more lucrative regions such as Asia and the Middle East, at around $600 to $1,000 USD per month. Your earning potential will increase considerably if you have a degree, a TEFL certification, or a few years experience in the classroom. To top up their basic salary, many teachers also provide private tutoring on the side which can earn around $10 to $20 USD per hour or even more.
The vast majority of foreign teachers in Costa Rica are employed by some form of private language school. Throughout the country you will find a large number of schools aimed at all ages of student, from primary through to adults. Many of the bigger schools offer full-time contracts that involve between 20 and 25 classroom hours per week, while smaller establishments tend to offer various part-time contracts. It is common practice in Costa Rica for teachers to have contracts with a few different schools to make up a full-time salary. Classes are generally held during the early morning and evening, with weekend work also common.
Private tutoring in homes or offices is also a very common form of income in Costa Rica. Some teachers are able to find enough clients to turn this into a relatively lucrative full-time business, although for most it is simply a good way of topping up their monthly salary. The majority of students looking for tuition are school children preparing for exams; however, there are also many businesses willing to pay good money for professionally delivered lessons specific to their individual requirements.
As Costa Rica is a popular international tourist destination it has a higher cost of living than many other parts of Central America. If you dream of living and working in a tropical beach resort, you will also need to be prepared for the higher costs associated with these areas. Accommodation is generally the largest outlay, with prices ranging from $200 to $350 per month including meals for a homestay with a local family. A room in an apartment shared with other foreign teachers should be similarly priced, while rent for a private house or apartment starts at around $400 per month in areas away from the city center.