As the economy in Bolivia is doing pretty well (in recent years, the minimum wage doubled within a decade and poverty has been significantly reduced) there is a bigger market than ever before for teaching TEFL. However, Bolivia is still a poor country, and much of the population has little interest in learning English since, if their mother tongue is an indigenous language, they’re probably focussing on learning Spanish. Voluntary positions for TEFL teachers are common, but it’s also possible to find paid work. Your students will come from the urban middle classes who live in more affluent cities. As many young people aspire to live somewhere more prosperous or study abroad, there is certainly an active market for TEFL teaching in Bolivia.
While you won’t earn a lot of money working in Bolivia, this is a country rich in experiences for you to enjoy. The low cost of living means that even on a meagre wage you can make the most of what the country has to offer. Gorgeous natural surroundings, friendly locals, indigenous cultures to learn about and stunning wildlife are all reasons why you might want to head to Bolivia. As this isn’t a top tourist destination, or a popular place for TEFL teachers to head to, even newly-qualified and inexperienced teachers can find work here, where demand is higher than supply. If you’re looking for a back-to-basics adventure, Bolivia is a great place to consider for your next TEFL move.
- Popular locations for TEFL jobs: La Paz, Cochabamba, El Alto, Oruro, and Santa Cruz
- Average salary for EFL teachers: The basic monthly salary for full-time positions is likely to be in the region of 3,000 – 6,200 BOB (£330 – £1,000 / $430 – $1,400 USD) per month. 27 – 76 BOB (£3 – £8 / $4 – $11) per hour, usually at the lower end of that scale.
- TEFL qualification requirements: A 120-hour TEFL qualification is required or preferred for most positions
- Prerequisite university degree: Some positions require you to have a BA
- Term times: Feb-Sept, Sept-Dec
- Currency: Boliviano (BOB)
- Language: Spanish (and many other official languages)
- Teaching programmes: Bilingual Schools, Private Language Schools, Freelance, Volunteering
- Age restrictions: None
- Previous teaching experience: Necessary for the best paid jobs but many don’t require prior experience
You might be able to make more money in Bolivia by taking on private clients, charging higher per class than you’d be making if you work for a language school, but of course without the stability of a guaranteed income. To get the most from your freelancing, advertise in affluent areas where students can afford to pay higher prices, and look for group classes where you can charge less but take home more overall. If you manage to rent somewhere with a good internet connection, you’d certainly make more money by teaching English online to students in other countries in your spare time – this can be a good way to supplement your modest earnings if you’re finding it hard to get by on a local wage. However, do your research as Wi-Fi is patchy.
Volunteer teaching is readily available in Bolivia as many local people can’t afford to pay for classes. If you want to get a taste of what Bolivia is like, a short stint of volunteering is a great way to see the country and get a feel for what it would be like to live there. While huge efforts have been made in recent decades to reform the education system in Bolivia, in rural areas illiteracy rates are high, and dropping out of school is commonplace – particularly for girls and children from the most rural areas. As such, if you take on a voluntary role, don’t necessarily expect high-flying kids eager to learn or well-behaved children who are used to classroom etiquette.
Requirements for teaching English in Bolivia
|Country||Avg. monthly salary||Degree required||Start of term||Teaching experience||Housing & flights included||Suitable for non-native English speakers||Age restrictions|
|Argentina||£500 - £950
($600 - $1,200)
|Bolivia||£400 - £550
($500 - $700)
|Brazil||£650 - £900
($800 - $1,100)
|Chile||£550 - £800
($700 - $1,000)
|Colombia||£400 - £800
($500 - $1,000)
|Ecuador||£400 - £650
($500 - $800)
|Guatemala||£400 - £550
($500 - $700)
|Mexico||£400 - £800
($500 - $1,000)
|Peru||£325 - £650
($400 - $800)
|Uruguay||£325 - £800
($400 - $1000)
Bolivia is a very cheap country to live in, so if it seems like TEFL jobs pay little more than peanuts, remember that your outgoing costs will also be low. One of the cheapest countries in Latin America, Bolivia is also cheaper than 83% of countries around the world. As you might expect, foreign imports are vastly more expensive than living like a local. Getting a cappuccino costs about the same as eating a local meal. As eating out is so cheap, if you have to furnish an apartment on arrival, the cost of buying your own cooking equipment is probably a difficult choice to make over the cost and convenience of eating out.
The fact that Bolivia has preserved its traditional culture makes it a popular destination with expats who are looking for an authentic, immersive experience. This culturally fascinating destination has a colourful mix when it comes to the locals, with many types of indigenous languages, traditional outfits still widely worn, and much for the adventurous expat to explore. If you love the great outdoors, you’ll enjoy visiting caves, archaeological sites, ruins, nature reserves and other places of interest. You’re sure to find something interesting at the local markets, and while Bolivian cuisine isn’t world-famous, there are certainly a number of dishes you’ll fall in love with. Favourites with many expats are papas rellenas, which are stuffed potato balls, salteñas (a bit like a spicy Cornish pasty), tucumanas (another type of spicy pasty), buñuelos (a snack which can be sweet or savoury), quinoa dishes, and Bolivian chocolate.
- Accommodation: £371 – 465 / $477 – $598
- Utilities: £36 / $46
- Health insurance: Cost of typical visit to a GP: £22 / $29
- Monthly transport pass: £16 / $21
- Basic dinner out for two: £7 / $9
- Cappuccino in expat area: £2.70 / $3.47
- A beer in a pub: £1.98 / $2.55
- 1 litre of milk: £0.71 / $0.92
- 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £1.19 / $1.53
(living costs sourced from Expatistan)