The question that many people ask themselves when considering moving to another country is – how will I make money? Is it easy to make money in Bogota? you ask. Not easy, but with the right skills, experience and a lot of determination and perseverance, it can be done. I will give an outline of how I am making money (or have made money) in Bogota, to give you an idea of the kind of work you could get – I’ll even include a rough estimate of my monthly income (which varies month to month).
How do I make money in Bogota?
1. Hourly-paid English teacher at the British Council
Income: $27 dollars/hour (but many English language ‘institutes’ pay a lot less).
Monthly total: $1100 dollars (teaching 10 hours a week)
2. Spanish to English Translator (freelance)
Income: $0.50 cents/word
Monthly total: $200-$400 dollars
3. Private English classes
Income: $25 – $5o dollars/hour depending on the client.
Monthly total: Extremely variable. From private classes (where the students regularly cancel or go AWOL) I’ve earned anything between $200-$1500 dollars
4. Ad-hoc Proof-reader
Income: $50 dollars/month (sometimes)
I have a few contacts at universities (in France and Canada) who write papers in English and ask me to proof-read them occasionally. If I contacted universities in Bogota it’s possible that I could expand this source of income if I wanted to.
So you can see that all of my work depends on me a) having an exceptional knowledge of English b) having a good knowledge of Spanish and c) knowing how to translate and teach. If you know how to do these things, it won’t be difficult for you to find work in Bogota.
Essential for finding work in Bogota
– At least a conversational level of Spanish – even for embassy work. (The good thing about teaching English is that employers won’t require you to speak Spanish, so it’s a good place to start if you’re still honing your language skills!)
– A teaching qualification – I would actually invest in doing a CELTA or TESOL course (as opposed to an online TEFL) because it’s the most prestigious TEFL qualification and will pave the way to some of the more decent English-teaching jobs in Colombia (such as the British Council or International House) and around the world if you plan to continue travelling.
– A visa – many English language institutes will now provide you with the paper-work you need in order to get a work visa, but almost none of them will pay for it – and it costs over $300 dollars for a one year visa, so you should seriously consider how long you intend to stay and what your work and salary prospects would be before you apply for a visa.
What other options are there, apart from teaching English and translation?
– If you’re a professional in a particular area and have at least an intermediate level of Spanish, you could apply to companies which work in your field – for example, if you’re an engineer or an accountant, you could check out any of a number of Oil and Gas companies (eg. Halliburton) or Price Waterhouse Coopers.
– Administrative jobs tend to pay very poorly in Colombia ($500 dollars/month) but occasionally you might find a multi-national company which requires a native speaker, and the salary may be a bit higher (maybe around $1000 dollars/month).
– Foreign embassies often advertise vacancies on their websites, and won’t always require you to have a great knowledge of Spanish (although often will).
– Freelance Journalism. It will take time to get this baby off the ground if you’ve never done any freelance writing work before, but there are plenty of opportunities to build up a portfolio, including submitting articles for the local English language newspapers The City Paper and The Bogota Post, or starting your own blog (like this one!) and then writing guest posts for other travel, news and lifestyle blogs. Once you start to make a name for yourself other unpaid, and eventually paid, opportunities should start to slowly come your way from publications all over the world.
– Start your own business – Bogota is the city of opportunities and many expats come here and start a business – from real-estate to opening a gastro-pub to opening a guesthouse to starting a blog and making money from it through advertising, writing, consultancy work. If you have some capital to invest, Colombia is a great place to do business.
Do you work in Colombia? Was it difficult finding a job? Tell me about your experiences!