Latest Posts

Salaries in Bogota and how to find a job

Salaries in Bogota can vary hugely, so if you’re considering moving here, you’ll definitely want an idea of how much you could potentially be earning once you find a job. You may also find this post about the cost of living in Bogota useful. Note: As of October 2015, the exchange rate is approximately $3000 Colombian pesos = $1 USD. Due to the currency fluctuation, I have changed all of the amounts from dollars to pesos. You can check the current exchange rate on Google or xe.com.

To give you some context, the minimum salary in Colombia (in 2017) is $250 dollars/month ($737,717 pesos) and 70% of the population earns less than $1,500,000 pesos per month. Unless you are highly qualified and experienced in your field, it is generally difficult to earn more than $1000 per month.

Tax

A VERY important thing to bear in mind is that as an expat you will be taxed 33% on your monthly earnings in Colombia until you have been living here for at least 6 months, after which you are a resident. It can be a bit of a shock when you get your first pay-check if you’re not expecting it (trust me!). After that, income tax is very low, I think between 5 and 10% (sometimes even less, depending on your earnings), but you will need to make separate contributions to a health insurance policy and pension plan if you are on a service contract (check this with your employer when you apply for a job).

So what are the typical salaries or rates of pay for jobs that expats might look into?

Teaching English

Many English-teaching institutes pay about $25,000 pesos/hour, and this usually involves travelling around the city for hours on end just to get to the classes (for which they usually don’t pay you extra). However, if you’re seriously considering teaching English in Bogota for some time, invest in a CELTA TEFL course at International House or the British Council. If you perform well in the course at the British Council, you can then apply for a job there afterwards, where (in 2017) they pay $61,000 pesos/hour including benefits – health, pension and yearly bonus – which are not deducted from this hourly wage. Working 15 teaching hours a week at the British Council you would earn $3,660,000 pesos per month. If you search for private, corporate clients who want English classes, you can charge (and earn) even more, although private classes are often unpredictable, with students regularly cancelling at the last minute. If you’re hoping to make a living through private classes, offer packages of classes for which they have to pay up front (e.g. 10 classes for $400,000 pesos), and ask them to sign a contract which states that they acknowledge that if they don’t take the classes within e.g. 28 days they will lose their money and the classes. I believe that Sara Correa, who offers packages of private Spanish classes in Bogota, operates in this way, so if you contact her she might be able to give you a template contract.

Secondary School teacher

If you have a PGCE or equivalent secondary teaching qualification, you can apply to work in international or private schools in Bogota, where you could expect to earn $5 million pesos/month plus bonuses, or more if you are hired on a more lucrative international contract. But the quality of schools (even private schools) and working conditions vary. I know, for example, that many teachers in private schools earn between $2 million and $2.5 million pesos/month, and are under huge amounts of stress – and in public schools teachers earn a lot less (downwards of $1.5 million) – so make sure you know what you’re letting yourself in for before you apply!

Translation

Translation generally pays at between $50 and $200 pesos per word, depending on the company/institute or whether you’re working directly for them or through an agency. Translation is a good option if you have a high level of Spanish and English. You could get in touch with Inglés Bogotá, which offers teaching and translation work. They pay $50 pesos/word for translations, which is quite a low rate given that universities will usually pay $150-200 pesos/word, but you might find it ok if you’re just getting started. Alternatively, you could try contacting universities directly to offer your services, or applying for translation jobs on LinkedIn.

Embassy work

Depending on the type of role you apply for, the salaries are usually very good in comparison to other jobs. A role as an Entry Clearance Officer at the British Embassy, for example, will pay between $4 million – $5 million pesos/month. An administrative role will pay around $2 – 2.5 million/month. Obviously there are a lot of expats competing for these roles! Also check the US Embassy and Canadian Embassy‘s job listings.

Online work

If you prefer to earn in dollars and avoid the 33% income tax here in Colombia during your first 6 months of living in Colombia, you can set up a profile on Upwork, an online platform for freelancers. There is all kinds of work advertised on Upwork, from people needing virtual assistants, to translation work, to social media management to web developers to writers and the best thing is that you can work from the comfort of your own home (or wherever you want!). You can set your hourly rate, or you can apply for assignments which offer a fixed fee. My boyfriend works on Upwork to earn an additional income and so far it’s going well; and if I find myself with too much free time on my hands, I may well do the same. I recommend starting with a low hourly fee in order to accumulate some hours and good employer reviews, and then you can up your rate.

Administration

If you speak good Spanish and have experience in administration, you could look for a job in this area, but they usually pay pretty badly; I mean between $1 and 2 million pesos per month (and you’d be really lucky to get an administrative job paying $2 million pesos per month!).

Call Centers

Working full time (48 hours, 6 days a week) you could earn around $1 million pesos a month, maybe a bit more if it pays commission. There’s no guarantee that this sort of employer would sponsor you for a work visa though (and who really wants to work in a call center anyway?). But if you want to have a look, try Computrabajo and in the ‘Palabra Clave’ (keyword) box on the left type in “call center” or “English”.

Bar/Restaurant work

If you want some casual cash-in-hand work, you could approach small bars and restaurants, but expect to be paid the minimum wage ($660,000 pesos/month) or even less for working 6 days a week.

Other Options

Torre Technologies is a fast-growing company, based in the US but with offices in Colombia. They’re often recruiting for English and Spanish speakers in the area of writing, technology, management and administration, so check out their job vacancies page and see if there’s anything that you might be suited to.

From what I’ve heard, I don’t think it’s that easy to practise law or medicine in Bogota as a foreigner, but I have seen that there are expats who are qualified psychologists and who have set up their own practices, charging $200,000 pesos +/hour. So if you are qualified in a particular field, you may be able to set up as an independent consultant. Bogota is, after all, the city of opportunities!

Where to search for jobs

You can check Jobs in Bogota and Computrabajo, though I’ve found the jobs listed on Computrabajo aren’t usually well-paid. People sometimes list jobs on the Internations jobs forum, and finally, I really recommend sorting out and updating your LinkedIn profile if you haven’t done so recently. I’ve been approached several times on LinkedIn by people wanting English classes or Spanish to English translations.

35 Comments on Salaries in Bogota and how to find a job

  1. Is this true?

    “As an expat you will be taxed 33% on your monthly earnings until you have been living in Colombia for at least 6 months.”

    It’s the first I’ve heard of such taxation.

    • Hi, yes it’s true, as it happened to me when I first started at my job! I think it was introduced within the last two years. These kinds of laws change regularly though so I would always check and ask a potential new employer.

    • Just to clarify, the 33% tax applies for the first 6 months that you have been living in Colombia. So if you’ve been there as a tourist for three months before you get a job, then once you start your job your first three months’ salary would be taxed at 33%, after which it would return to the normal tax-rate which is very low (below 10%, depending on your monthly salary) in comparison.

      • It’s just because I am being told different things… Some say its only corporate tax and some agree with you and some say it is 33% if over a certain amount (which would be too high for a TEFL teacher) and some say there is nothing discriminating against foreign nationals.

        I am going to find out for sure tomorrow – I will call the Colombian tax guys and let you know what the current situation is.

  2. How much will i earn in Colombia with first degree in Education as a trained teacher. i am currently teaching in senior high school in Ghana.

    • Hi, it depends on whether you work in a public school, or whether you manage to secure a job at a top private or international school. For public schools a typical teacher’s salary is about 1 million to 1.5 million pesos per month ($320 – $480 USD), at average private schools 2 – 3 million/month ($640 – 960 USD) and at a top private or international school 4.5 millon to 7.5 million per month ($1450 – $2400/month). You would need to get your degree certificate authenticated and accepted at the Ministry of Education here in Colombia before you would be able to start work. It would be a good idea to get it authenticated by a notary in Ghana before you arrive here. Good luck!

      • Your numbers on the top private schools in Bogota are a bit off…..the top elite international schools, with perks and bonus’s (on top of being paid 50% of salary in USD) depending on years of experience teaching sends the monthly salary from 9mil – 15 mil……on top of that housing stipends are paid in the range of 2.6 mil per month…..It’s a great gig if you can get it!!!! Good luck!!!

        • Thanks, I will need to add to that section. However, I think it’s important to make clear that the numbers you mention would be for lucrative international contracts designed to attract native qualified English teachers (or teachers of other subjects) to move from the US, UK or wherever to Colombia. Many of these teachers are found at international school fairs outside of Colombia, so there may not be many of these contracts available to people already in Colombia. More common are local contracts, which can still offer a good salary (by Colombian standards) – maybe 5 million pesos a month at one of the top private schools with bonuses on top – but won’t normally include all of the perks offered in the international contracts (such as subsidised housing, for example).

  3. Hi,
    I have been recently offered an English teacher job in Columbia with a salary of about $1,500,000 pesos/month. Since I don’t know much about Colombian economy, I have no idea whether this is a good salary or not! My job will require a little bit of travelling to other cities as well. Should I accept this pay? How much will I be needing for this kind of job per month? Any suggestion is appreciated!

    • Hi! A salary of 1.5 million in Colombia isn’t great in my opinion but it really depends on where you’ll be living and what kind of lifestyle you would want to have over here. In Bogota you would not be able to afford to rent your own flat with that salary unless you lived quite far south of the centre. It also depends what kind of a lifestyle you want – if you plan to go out and travel a lot then that salary won’t take you very far. But you said you have to travel for your job so maybe your employer will be paying for your travel costs (and your accommodation?). Also bear in mind that foreigners have to pay 33% income tax until they have lived in Colombia for 6 months!
      Good luck with your decision! I’m sure you’ll love Colombia if you decide to come!

  4. Hi, i sent you an email through your contact form. Can you reply? thank you.

  5. MedellinJob // August 4, 2016 at 10:12 am // Reply

    Where can I find an official document that confirms how after the 6 months the 33% tax rate no longer applies?

    Thank you!

    • Hi, you could look on the DIAN website (the entity which deals with tax) – I’d say it would most likely be found there. It possibly might be on the Minsterio de Relaciones Exteriores (Immigration entity) website, but I’d try DIAN first! If you’re employed in Colombia your HR department should also have a document relating to this. Good luck!

  6. Hai,

    Nice Blog you have here, just wonder if you know aswell the salary for Head Chef in Colombia , and work for five star hotel like JW Marriot. Thank you for the share.

    Best Regard.
    Hidayah Anka

    • Thank you for your comment. I don’t know how much a 5-star hotel would pay, but I found an online advertisement for a Head Chef in a normal restaurant, which was offering a salary of $1 – 1.5 million pesos, which is not a great salary in Bogota. It may be that a five-star hotel would pay double that, but that’s just a guess. Your best bet would be to contact one of the hotels directly and ask.
      All the best, Naomi

  7. Thank you for the reply , because am just get interview . Maybe if i got it am already know the Market . Over here in Carribbean i got 3600 USD/ month. n other benefit.
    Again Thank you for the share .

    Regard.
    Hidayah Anka

  8. I want to teach English in Bogota. What schools pay the most? I m also interesting in other jobs where i can use my bilingual skills.

  9. Hello Naomi. Can you tell me if there are any job opportunities for me in Colombia? Either in bogota or medellin would be preferred.

    I have an aviation background and am a commercial pilot in the United States. Would it be difficult to work for avianca or viva colombia? I have been to medellin numerous times. My Spanish is ok but I’m improving everyday with it.

    Thanks for any suggestions
    Eddie

  10. Hi. I am fluent in Spanish and English. I have an AA in history Do you think I could have a chance getting a good job in Bogota?

  11. Greetings Diana, I feel that your site is a useful tool for prospective teachers considering Colombia as an option and I appreciate your time and efforts constructing it.

    Here’s my current situation. I’m 39 years old and working in SE Asia making a very good salary working in a small International School. I have a BA, PGCE & Celta and I’m currently teaching 8-9 year olds. However, I’m getting itchy feet and feel like a change of pace/scene sometime in the next 12-18 months is in order. I’m thinking of Bogota as a destination and I’m thinking of either (a) The British Council, or (b) A University Language Lab as possibly jobs to aim for.

    If jobs open up at International Schools in the vicinity I ‘may’ be interested but I do not wish to apply directly and start in another Primary School position. I’d like to teach to an older age group, but avoid adolescents as much as possible. More teaching, less behaviour management is my motto.

    My question is, what time of the year would it be pertinent for me to arrive? Month wise…are there certain months in which Universities recruit and how hard is it to get work at the BC in Bogota?

    I’m not expecting a huge salary but I would like to earn 3 mil upwards (which is less than half of what I get now, with 3 months paid holidays). What are my best options (initially avoiding International Schools) to make an acceptable salary?

    Best Regards, Tony UK

    • Hi Tony, thanks for your message. I’m not the best person to ask about universities as I’ve never worked in one. I can tell you that the new semesters start in January and July each year, so presumably they would be recruiting somewhere in between. I’d recommend getting in touch with Nicholas Allen at the Universidad del Rosario – https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholas-allen-7502972a/ as he has a lot of experience working at Colombian universities. You could always make connections on LinkedIn with university teachers and ask them for advice about working at universities. The only thing is that universities usually expect all teachers to have Masters degrees so that might make things tricky for you.
      The British Council will be worth it if you apply for a full-time teaching position – they especially love teachers who have experience with Young Learners (even though I know that’s what you’re trying to get away from!). But most of your classes would be with adults anyway. You’d probably get about $5 million+ a month, though with your teaching experience you could definitely try to negotiate upwards from that. The only disadvantage is that you don’t have the DELTA, which they generally like full-timers to have, but then you do have the PGCE and experience to compensate for that.
      The best salaries will definitely be at the British Council and universities, unless you can wangle an in-house teaching job at a company. I worked at Porsche giving private classes there a few years ago, which was a nice earner.
      I hope this has been helpful!

  12. Thanks for the rapid reply.

    Enlightening stuff. I’m just getting my bearings right now, however, it seems if I wish to pursue a University position, it will require a few years of distance learning to gain an MA in TESOL, linguistics et al. This is useful to know, but must be put on the back burner for now.

    I can understand the BC wanting to push DELTAs, however, this certificate does not carry the weight it once did and it doesn’t increase potential salary and opportunities like an MA can.

    So, would I be correct in thinking that my best chance of earning a decent wage within the first 2-3 months of arrival would be to obtain part time work at the BC with the goal of landing a full time job at a Primary/Secondary school. Perhaps a smaller, International or a good Colombian private school?

    I’m talking about realistic odds here, probability wise it seems Colegios are the pathway of least resistance in the short term and other strategies are to be developed from there. That said, I’ve read that salaries and conditions are unattractive at many institutions.

    What do you think Naomi?

  13. Hello,
    I was wondering what a good salary for a general manager for a rapidly growing call center in a Medellin would be? Can you please convert to USD for me as well. Thanks

    • Hi Andrew,
      It would be a guess but I know someone who used to be a supervisor at a call centre in Bogota and he earned 1.5 million pesos (currently $510 USD) per month. I would guess that a general manager might earn about double that, but I don’t really know. Wages may also be lower in Medellin than Bogota.
      All the best.

  14. joban randhawa // May 9, 2017 at 7:40 pm // Reply

    i am a graduate in hospitality management, could you tell me starting salary in restaurant ?

    • Hi, it would depend on which type of restaurant. If it was a restaurant in the Marriott Hotel, for example, you might earn 2-3 million pesos/month as a manager. Waiters would earn much less – probably 700,000 – 800,000 pesos/month. At a more humble restaurant the salary would be lower. This is just a guess though, as I haven’t worked in restaurants!

  15. Hi, I currently work and live is the USA as a Technical Analyst in IT/Marketing. I work on data management, data analysis, and solutioning. I make approx $150k/yr including annual bonus. My wife is from Colombia and maintains dual citizenship. She would like for our family to live in Colombia for a year to help with our children’s Spanish and teach them more about her culture. Do you have any suggestions as to employment that could earn potentially the same? I figure that I will need to get US employment and get located to work in Bogota. Just looking for some advice. Thanks.

    • Hi Mike, I think it would be very difficult to earn a similar salary here in Colombia. Senators earn $30 million pesos/month (that’s around $10,000 US dollars) which is less than what you are earning now. The best option, I think, would be for you to get a job at a company that also has a branch in Colombia, and then ask for a transfer. You might then be able to keep your US salary, or they might decrease it so that it is more in line with local salaries in Colombia. In a managerial position here in IT, at a guess, I would say the salary may be 5-10 million pesos a month. You would need to do some research though to check. The industry that pays the most in Colombia (after politics) is probably the Gas-Petroleum industry, so if you could get a job at one of those, you could expect to earn a very good salary. You could look at jobs at Avianca, the national airline. Or how about the US embassy in Bogota?
      You would need to have good Spanish for almost all well-paying jobs here.
      I wish you all the best and hope you can make the move!

  16. hello, I currently have two job offers in Bogota but i am searching what is best regarding the type of contract. you mention that the tax is 33% for foreigners, but they also told me that if you have a service contract this can be reduced to around 15%, and you dont have to pay for pensions ( which i think is good, because i have the feeling i will never reach the 20+ years of working in colombia to get the pension). but do you know more about this type of contract, or other smart ideas to have less taxes? would there be a difference in an hourly salary regarding to a fixed month salary? thanks in advance!

    • Hi Sander, I haven’t heard of the 15% option. Would the 15% option only be for 6 months, like the 33% option? You only pay 33% until you have lived in Colombia for 6 months. So if you have lived there for 3 months already without working, for example, you would only pay 33% tax for 3 months. After that, it goes down to like less than 10%, depending on your salary. Also, on a service contract, you should check if they will pay your health insurance and pay your yearly bonus (the ‘prima’ – one month’s salary extra after you have worked at the company for a year). On a permanent contract, employers have to pay your health insurance, pension and the bonus by law. On a service contract, there are ways they can avoid doing this (like firing you after 11 months or only giving you an 11-month contract). Regarding the difference between the hourly salary and the monthly one, only your employer can tell you that!
      Good luck!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*