Venezuela (or officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela) is a beautiful country in the very north of South America, looking onto the Caribbean. It is a very urbanized country with most people living in the capital city of Caracas. It has large reserves of oil which benefited the country financially but it also has a history of mis-management, political instability and social problems and unrest.
The political climate and drug problems/high crime rate (in certain areas) have put many people off, but there are good opportunities in Venezuela for those who look. There is little or no racism as the country is heavily multicultural and there are many stunning places worth visiting.
Qualifications, Contracts & Finding Work in Venezuela
The usual minimum qualification to teach in Venezuela is a TEFL Certificate. It is not always necessary to have a degree. Most schools prefer to hire locally so you should be in the country already although some will look abroad. This also means that many English teachers head over to Venezuela on a student visa and work using this. It is illegal but common practice as only the better schools will go through the process over getting a working visa for their teachers.
Most jobs are found in Caracas, the capital city. There are jobs available in more touristic places like Merida, but here the preference tends to be for backpacker teachers and pay and conditions are accordingly low.
One important tip is to get a contract. Many schools will try to take advantage of their foreign teachers by not paying statutory extras such as holiday pay, health insurance and finishing bonuses. Also make sure your contract pays you a set salary and not per actual teaching hour as classes are often canceled or no students turn up!
Pay & Cost of Living in Venezuela
Most students study English from an early age at state school, however there are a number of private schools teaching English also. These include those teaching Business English and English for Tourism.
Pay is not high. Average TEFL salaries go from around 2,200 VEF or $510 USD (€404, £325) to 4,500 VEF or $1050 USD (€831, £668) for good jobs with major schools in the cities of Caracas or Maracaibo.
Although salaries look low, bear in mind that the local average wage is around 1,300 VEF or $300 USD (€237, £191) which is less than the estimated cost of living in Venezuela. Income tax is from about 22%.
Private TEFL Lessons pay about 40 VEF or $9 USD (€7, £6) per hour.
Venezuela is known to be quite expensive. Little is produced in the country and most goods are imported which leads to high prices. This also occasionally leads to shortages of everyday items such as sugar or meat.
One major issue is finding accommodation. It is very difficult and many teachers will send a long time trying to find a place to live while they temporarily stay in a hotel. For this reason it is very useful if you can get your school to arrange accommodation for you beforehand – even if this means sharing with other teachers.
One alternative is to find accommodation in spare room with a family, however this often means living as though you were back with your parents!