Ecuador is a fascinating country, and currently popular among retirees, but employment opportunities for expats are limited. You will need a work permit in order to work legally in the country and this can be complex to obtain. Your best option for getting a job in this South American nation will be to teach English, but we will look at some of your options below, including volunteering, for which there is a substantial demand.You will require a work permit (a non-immigrant work visa or Trabajador) in order to work legally in Ecuador, unless you already have a residency permit, in which case you will be allowed to work. The country has a low rate of actual unemployment, but is considered to have a high rate of underemployment, so finding casual work, for example in the hospitality industry, can be difficult. Recently the lower end of the labour market in Ecuador has seen an influx of Venezuelans, but in addition to this, local companies are encouraged to prioritize jobs for Ecuadoreans.
You may also wish to look at vacancies in international companies with branches based in Ecuador: the low cost of living will be an advantage when offset by an international salary level. If your current employer has offices in the country, you can also consider applying for a secondment.
To apply for a working visa, you will need to supply the following:
• your passport
• a written petition in favor of yourself signed by your employer
• a copy of the employment contract
• official documentation proving the category for which your job title applies
You may need to supply some additional documentation as well: for example, proof of solvency. If you have an employer lined up, then they are likely to be able to assist you with the application process. You will also need to apply for a working visa if you are self employed.
You will need to pay a fee for your visa application.
Teaching English (TEFL) is in constant demand and language schools in the cities, such as Quito, regularly undertake overseas hire. However, you should note that the pay tends to be low – it will provide you with a salary you can live on locally, but will not give you much opportunity for saving. However, the cost of living is also relatively low (one reason why Ecuador is a popular retirement choice).
Teaching Mandarin is also growing in popularity, so if you have a qualification in this language, you may find vacancies applicable to you.
If you are a member of a skilled profession, such as medicine or the sciences, you may also have an advantage.
Being bilingual in Spanish and English will be helpful. Translation services are also often in demand.
If you want to seek work in the tourism sector, this is limited, and you will need to speak Spanish. Most hospitality vacancies come up in July/August, or in the winter. Eco-tourism is becoming increasingly popular in Ecuador, including jungle tours. Salaries tend to be relatively low, but you may find that accommodation is included, thus leveling out your pay.
In addition, volunteering in Ecuador is popular among gap year students, for example, but you may need to pay a fee in order to become a volunteer and it is unlikely to form a stepping stone into paid work.
Typical working hours are an 8 hour day for a 5 day week, thus 40 hours per week. Working hours vary but will usually begin somewhere between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. and extend into the evening. Retail tends to start and end later, and education (in private language schools, for example) tends to begin and end earlier in the day.
The minimum wage is currently $386 per month. Remember that employers will deduct a percentage for your social security each month. As a TEFL teacher, you can expect to earn from $400 – 1500 per month, depending on whether you are teaching in a private school or a university.
You will also be entitled to many of the same rights as an Ecuadorean citizen, including severance pay, which must be made regardless of the circumstances.
You will be eligible for 12 weeks paid maternity leave, with 25% of your salary being paid by your employer and other 75% paid by social security. You will also be entitled to 9 months of shortened work days (6 hours rather than 8).
Annual leave is legally set at 15 days after 1 year of employment. After 5 years of employment, you will be entitled to 1 extra day per year up to an additional 15 days. There are 12 national holidays.
Your spouse will need to make a separate application for a work permit and the same provisos apply to them with regard to the relative difficulty of finding work.
You can make speculative applications, but some expats recommend that you seek work when you are actually on the ground in the country, rather than looking for work online.
Applying For A Job
A one page CV/resume will be acceptable but expats recommend that you deliver your details to a company in person, since the personal touch is valued in this country. Make sure that your CV/resume and any qualifications have been translated into Spanish (you may also need to have your qualifications apostilled, especially if you are applying to a university for a teaching post, for instance).
A degree of ethnic discrimination sometimes occurs in the country and there have been calls to end workplace discrimination, but Ecuador has a way to go before this is fully the case.
Qualifications And Training
If you are intending to teach English in Ecuador, you will need a TEFL certificate and a Bachelor’s degree. If you have a Master’s qualification or upwards, it is suggested that you seek work at university level rather than in a private school.
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