Guide to Work, Study, Travel and Living Abroad  FacebookTwitterGoogle+  
As seen in the Transitions Abroad Webzine September 2008 Issue
Related Topics
Teaching English in Latin America
Top ESL Jobs in South America
Living in Peru: Articles and Expatriate Resources

Teaching English in Peru

The Ultimate Guide

Ruins in Peru
Ruins in Peru.

Peru?  Where IS that? That’s how most people reacted when I told them that I was going to teach in Peru. I had only planned on staying for a year, but as fate would have it, I got married, and four years later, I’m still here.  I have taught in the private school system and at two universities during this period. Over the years, in addition to first hand experience, I’ve done research about teaching in Peru. This guide is the result.  It’s comprehensive and should help you in transitioning to Peru.

Teaching in Peru

Tips for Finding Work

It is generally difficult to secure a teaching job before you arrive in Peru. Be wary of chain schools, although some are good, they may not treat their teachers as well as other local organizations. In most schools, employers will want to meet you before having you sign a contract. Employers might also have you take English or physiological tests and perform a demo lesson. This is all part of the job hunting process.  Also, make sure that your CV has a professional photo on it. CVs without a photo will most likely be thrown aside.  Don’t worry too much about TEFL certifications. Having a degree and being a native speaker are usually enough to get a job. Experience is also a big help. And if you have a teaching license, you can get a job just about anywhere. Even if you can’t arrange a job before you arrive, you should be able to secure one within a few weeks. Here are a few tips to help you get a job.

Where to go: Some people are certain as to what city they want to live in while others are not. Many people want to go to Cusco. Keep in mind that there are lots of tourists in Cusco, and in that respect it is similar to many popular European cities, so if you want the real Peru experience, I would advise against Cusco. Smaller towns are an option. Piura and Chiclayo are close to the famous beaches. Trujillo is a university town. Lima is the center of everything. Arequipa is famous for its volcano. Puno has snow. Iquitos is in the jungle. Do some research; what appeals to some many not appeal to others.

Job Placement: If you’ve completed a TEFL certificate program or are planning on doing one, often they will offer a lifetime job placement service that you can use. If this isn’t an option for you, there are places that specialize in job placement for teachers. Examples include TEFL Peru via the TEFL Institute, and TEFL courses in Peru via ITTO. Lastly, although it may be a long shot, try your local college or university. If they have a career service center, it might provide you with some organizations that are looking for teachers.

Short-term: If you want to come here for a short time it's difficult to get a job and a visa before you get here. However, if you want to stay for six months, you could sign a year-long contract with a school and simply leave after six months. It’s not the most honest method, but it is an option. And chances are that the school will get you a visa. But, even if you have a work visa, the school still has to give you papers in order to leave the country to prove that you have paid taxes.

Many people simply come here and hand out their CVs. You will probably make about 5 USD an hour. Keep in mind working without a visa is illegal. However, this being said, many people still do it as chances are slim that you will run into problems. You get 90 days upon entry and then can extend it three more times, each time for 30 days, so you can get a total of six months in Peru. Some organizations that hire on tourists visas in Lima are Multilingua, World Communications, Master Business English, and Business Links. Expect to get around 6-10 USD an hour.

Networking: Many jobs aren’t even advertised and are filled by word of mouth. People often find jobs through friends of friends and that it especially true here in Peru. Be sure to tell everyone that you’re looking for a job. Who knows, your cousin’s girlfriend might know of a perfect job for you. You can also make contacts through forums such as those on www.expatperu.com and www.livinginperu.com as people tend to help each other out.

Answer Advertisements: Advertised jobs in Peru are few and far between, however, there are some. Some of the ones that usually have jobs in Peru are:

If you’re in Peru try buying El Comercio on Sunday. The good jobs can be found in the Empleos section.

Cold calling: This comes in many forms. Applying to schools by email can be discouraging. Many places won't reply. This may be because they usually hire in January or simply because they would rather have you come in person before they hire you. Don't give up. Being persistent pays off. Send out your CV by email and then when you arrive go to the schools in person.

Private lessons: Another option is coming and teaching private lessons. Try posting at private schools and universities. You can also try posting your advert at www.expatperu.com and www.livinginperu.com/classifieds. You can also post in the local paper. Privates outside of Lima pay around 5-10 USD the hour. In Lima they can pay up to 20 USD an hour.

Volunteering: Volunteering can be expensive and some places charge up to 2,000 USD for a month. See Transitions Abroad section on Volunteering in Peru for many more.

Working legally: Obtaining permission to work legally is difficult, however, this is Latin America, so laws tend to be in shades of gray rather than black and white. Some options are getting a “permission to sign a contract” visa. Schools and universities are more likely to get you a work visa than institutes. Your work also might provide you with a volunteer visa, which isn’t a resident visa, but does allow you to stay in the country legally for a year. The University of Piura does this. Or if you’re married to a Peruvian and get a llamado de familia / marriage visa, you can work legally. There might be other visa options for you that let you work legally, such as student, independent, artist, immigrant, and religious, so see www.digemin.gob.pe for more info. Or simply work under the table and border hop. If you’re only planning on staying for a short time, it might be the best option for you.

Best Time to Look for Work

The school year goes from March/April until November/December. International schools and schools may start looking for teachers at early as September or October. Universities may wait until the beginning of the year (January or February) to start hiring. Many institutes hire year-round.

Hours / What to Wear

Many institutes and universities will have you work split shifts, four hours in the morning, a break between two and four hours and then four more hours in the evening. Sometimes classes finish at 9 p.m., or even as late as 10 p.m. Although this may seem difficult at first, you will get used to it and can use the time in the afternoon to take a nap or run errands.

Smart casual is usually the rule here. Some places require you to wear a uniform, other say that men have to wear ties and women appropriate clothing. For men, you should wear dress pants and a dress shirt and for women, nice pants or a skirt with a blouse. Jeans are usually not accepted and piercings and tattoos should be hidden. Depending on where you are, you may be allowed to wear sandals, especially in the north.

Pay / Benefits

The average pay is 5 USD an hour, which is about 500 USD a month. Is 500 USD a month enough for you to live on? Of course, provided you don’t take taxis everywhere and eat out all the time. This is an average wage, but the more experience and qualifications you have, the better the pay.

International schools pay around 20,000 USD/year plus benefits, but you usually need a teaching license (qualified teaching status) from your country plus two years experience teaching in a school. You may have to sign a two-year contract. Also, if you have a legal working visa, you will be more likely to be paid more, because the school knows that you will stay for a while rather than teach only in order to get the money necessary to travel.

The average Peruvian salary is around 250 USD a month. However, you have to remember that most of Peruvians live with their family, so they are not paying rent or food. Also, they will take public transport rather than taxis, so this allows them to save money.

Benefits may include transport, insurance, lunch, a housing stipend, and paid vacations. Make sure you clarify everything with your employer and sign a contract. You will usually have one month of vacation unless you work at a school, in that case you will probably get more than a month of vacations. Some schools may put you on planilla. That means that you get an extra month salary in July and December. You also get another bonus in June, called CTS. This is an unemployment fund. You're allowed to take half of the money out every six months.  If you quit or get fired, you’re allowed access to the funds after completing the necessary paperwork.

Some places may have you sign two contracts, one for the Ministry of Work, which will be in Spanish and another private one in English. The Spanish one will likely say that they are paying you less and you don’t receive benefits. This is done so that the school doesn’t have to pay lots of taxes. The private one should state all benefits and the correct pay you are going to receive.

If you leave your job either because you finished your contract or quit, you should get both recommendation letters and a constancia de trabajo. Recommendation letters speak well of you and your work. The constancia de trabajo should be given by the head of the company and should state whether you were full- or part-time, the dates you started and finished working, your title, and duties. If possible, have this put in your recommendation letter as well. Have the constancia de trabajo signed and stamped with the company seal. If you’re in planilla, when you leave your job, you’ll get liquidacion, which is basically your last salary plus a month and a half. You can also take out all the money in your CTS.  Be sure to ask for this.

Training and Professional Affiliations

If you are in Lima, there are many congresses and conferences for you to attend. If you are in the provinces, there are opportunities to go to conferences, just not as many as in Lima. You could also attend short courses in Lima offered by Camelot Training Centre or Británico.

Peruvians stress training sessions, so your school may offer these free to their employees. If not, try to attend a conference, as it allows you to do some networking. Try to have a section on your CV that lists a few of the recent conferences that you have attended.

There are quite a number of professional affiliations that you can join. Some offer discounts for conferences and others publish newsletters.

Month-Long Intensive Certification Courses:

Conferences and Training

Time of year varies for courses with the following organizations:

July

August

October

Pontifica Universidad Católica del Perú, www.pucp.edu.pe.

November

Professional Affiliations Links

CV and Cover Letter

Your CV should include the following information:

  • Photo
  • Your name
  • Date of birth
  • Sex, nationality (ex. Female American Citizen or Female, American, Native Speaker)
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Carne de extranjeria / permission to sign a contract visa / work visa,(If you are legal to work in Peru include this info, whichever applies to you and the number of the document)
  • Work / Teaching Experience
  • Education
  • Conferences / Workshops given
  • Conferences / Workshops attended
  • Professional Affiliations
  • Other Skills (languages / computer)
  • Hobbies (optional)

Do NOT include scanned copies of documents such as a passport, degree or reference letter. First, it’s not necessary and second, anyone with Photoshop can change your name to their name.

Here are a couple of websites that provide information for teachers on how to write a CV and cover letter:

Options for Extra Income (Teaching and Non-Teaching)

Teaching

Teach night classes at a university or institute (About 5-10 USD an hour).

Teach private classes (About 5-25 USD an hour).

Bilinguals

Do translations (About 5-25 USD a page), verbal translations or translations for mines (1,000 to 3,000 USD a month). Try contacting Denise at Pardo 223 9th floor, denisse2107@hotmail.com; mobile 99148239. Recruiting and training center for bilinguals, mostly call centers and mines.

Be a bilingual secretary (1,000 USD a month).

Other

Give tours to English speaking people.

Work at a call center (About 3 USD an hour).

Immigration Issues in Peru

All Visas / Onward Ticket

All fees reflect 2007 fees. Every year fees usually increase 1 sol. Be sure to check at the Banco de la Nacion.

Embassies and consulates in Peru: www.embassiesabroad.com/embassies-in/Peru.

Visa requirements in English: www.expatperu.com/vrequirements.php.

Immigration Offices: www.expatperu.com/ioffices.php.

For Those Who Need a Visa Before Entering Peru

If you need a visa in order to enter Peru, you may be asked to show an onward ticket. Any ticket, whether it be bus or air will do. You could also buy an MCO (Miscellaneous Charge Order) from the IATA (International Air Transport Association) which will allow you to fly on any IATA airline with seats available or give you a refund. See Customer Service at www.iata.org for more details. There's been some discussion about entering on a one-way ticket. In theory, you need a round trip if you enter on a tourist visa. Sometimes they require you to buy a return ticket at the airport, then you simply refund it. Or you might be asked to show proof of funds.

Take a look at these forum topics from livinginperu.com for more information:

Tourist / Visa Extensions / Expired Visas / Student Visas in Peru

(Be sure you ask at Immigrations about your visa as rules and fees seem to change often.)

Many nationalities receive 30-90 days upon entry of Peru. There is no paperwork beforehand and it’s free. Depending on the immigration officer, you may or may not be asked to show a ticket out of the country or sufficient funds. To see if you need to apply for a tourist visa beforehand, check with the Peruvian embassy or consulate in your country.

Tourist Extensions

You can extend your visa three times, for one month each at Immigrations. Then you have to leave the country, see the here for more info: www.expatperu.com/etourist.php.

Expired Visas

It’s currently a dollar a day if you overstay your visa: www.expatperu.com/etourist.php.

Student Visas

Student visas are loopholes that many people use to stay in Peru. You are allowed to spend a year in Peru. All you need to do is study Spanish at a language institute accredited by the Ministry of Education, for example, ICPNA. You need F007, to pay 27 soles to process the form, a copy of your passport, proof that you are enrolled at a language school studying Spanish, proof that you have paid the tuition, and proof that you have enough money to live on (usually 2500 USD).

Permission to Sign a Contract

(Be sure you ask at Immigrations about your visa as rules and fees seem to change often.)

If you want to work in Peru, you can get permission from Migracion to sign contracts. You need form F004, to pay 27 soles to process the form, your passport, your Andean Card, (embarkment card) and to pay 50 USD for them to change your migratory status. You have to pay the fees in el Banco de la Nacion. Then you can be legal to sign contracts and then your work can start your work visa papers.

If you’re planning on working legally, you will need your university degree and birth certificate. Get them legalized by the Peruvian embassy/consulate before you arrive.

The School System in Peru

There are public and private schools in Peru and the majority of the private ones are religious. As expected, private schooling is more expensive and can range from 200 to 800USD a month, depending on the school.  Most of the English speaking ones are in Lima, but you can also find some in the provinces. Schools are broken into Primary (grades 1-6) and Secondary School (grades 1-5). There is also “Nido” which is Nursery school and usually starts around age 2. Since school is only 11 years, university is five years.

Universities in Peru

Peru has one of the oldest universities in the Americas, San Marcos (www.sanmarcos.edu.pe). It’s very difficult to get in, about 60,000 apply but only a couple thousand are actually admitted. University is considerably harder than in many English-speaking countries. The reason for this is that most grades are based on the midterm and final exams. Some professors expect students to buy their books, memorize them and write their exact words on the exams. They may even take off points if they paraphrase, which is why many students think nothing of copying and pasting and then not giving any credit in the form of a bibliography. The following website provides statistics, such as the admission rate and number of students as well as other helpful information: www.universia.edu.pe.

Finding English Books in Peru

Bookshops

As usual, it depends on where you are, if you’re in a big city, you’ll have no problem. Special Book Services is a big English book service. They have offices in Lima, Cusco, Trujillo, Arequipa and Chiclayo. Cambridge University Press sells their books through SBS.

Prices

Prices are pretty reasonable, listening exercises are usually rather expensive. For example, a Practice Exam book for FCE which has 5 exams will cost about 80 soles at SBS, however the cassettes are 150 soles.

Libraries

As for English reading material, many places where you work will have a library. If you’re in Lima, you can become a member of the Británico (www.britanico.edu.pe) or ICPNA (www.icpna.edu.pe) library. Prices vary from 20 to 85 soles for a year’s membership. Fulbright (www.fulbrightperu.info) has a free library and it's free, but it mainly has info on studying in the USA.

If you attend any conferences, there are usually many stands which sells books at discounted price because of the conference. You may want to buy them through Amazon.com and have someone mail them to you.

Jobs in Peru

Places That Get You a Visa

You will usually need at least a B.A. (one in teaching is preferred) and some experience in order to qualify for the following positions:

Cajamarca. Davy College, Av. Hoyos Rubio 2684, Casilla 1, Cajamarca, Perú. Tel 51 (76) 36-7501 Fax: 51 (76) 36-7502. Email: recruitment@davycollege.edu.pe. (8-12 years teaching experience. Experience teaching PYP, MYP, or IB a plus. Send CV, references and copies of degree and teaching cert to the address above.)

Lima. Leonardo Da Vinci, Ana Teresa Zapata; www.ldavinci.edu.pe; anazapata@ldavinci.edu.pe.

Lima, Cambridge High School. Alameda de los Molinos 728-730 Chorrillos, Phone: 254-0107; www.cambridge.edu.pe.

Lima. Colegio Villa Caritas and Colegio San Pedro, Macky Torres and Cecilia Rosas; www.villacaritas.edu.pe; (1 year contract begins in Feb, Catholic school.)

Lima. Markham College. Apartado 18-1048, Miraflores, Tel. 51-1-241 7677. Fax 51-1-241 7678; www.markham.edu.pe; (Should have experience and Qualified Teacher Status.)

Lima. FDR. American School of Lima. blog.amersol.edu.pe. (University degree with Qualified Teacher Status. 2 year min contract. Very competitive.)

Lima. Colegio Santa Margarita, Bethsabé Galmez; www.santamargarita.edu.pe.

Lima, Hiram Bingham. Av. Paseo La Castellana 919 Surco, Phone: 2719880 / 4486260; www.hirambingham.edu.pe; (Qualified Teacher Status and experience. Very competitive.)

Lima. Newton College. Av. Ricardo Elías Aparicio 240. La Molina, Phone: (511) 479-0460 Fax: (511) 479-0430; www.newton.edu.pe; college@newton.edu.pe.

Lima. Abraham Lincoln; www.abrahamlincoln.edu.pe. (Very competitive.)

Piura. UDEP, Connie Nalvarte; www.cnalvart@udep.edu.pe. (They get you a volunteer visa.)

Trujillo. Centro de Idiomas, UPAO. Av. America Sur 3145, Monserrate Pabellón D, First Floor; (44) 284444 X174; www.upao.edu.pe; sgallardoz@upao.edu.pe; lquezadaa@upao.edu.pe.

Trujillo. Centro de Idiomas, UNT; rectorado@unitru.edu.pe; (44) 205448.

Trujillo. Fleming; www.fleming.edu.pe; (Qualified Teacher Status, minimum 2 year contract.  Primary and secondary school).

Places That Hire People on Tourist Visas

Cusco. ICPNA; www.icpnacusco.org.

Lima. Euroidiomas. 272 Av. Santa Cruz, San Isidro, Tel: 422 9932. Av. Santa Cruz 111, Miraflores, Tel: 421 2231; www.euroidiomas.edu.pe.

Lima. Master Business English, Matthew O´Connor; tel. 445-1744 Cel. 9836-5669; www.mbe.com.pe; executives@mbe.com.pe.

Lima. PARI Cooperation, www.paricooperation.com. Native speakers of English to teach to executives. Payment in the form of Recibos de Honorarios.

Lima, Business Links, Alex Ellul, Jirón Tacna 873, Tel: 422 6002; informes@bl.com.pe; www.bl.com.pe.

Lima, Multilingua, elsol.idiomasperu.com.

Lima. World Communication, Charo, San Isidro. 2213912.

Talara. L&B Language School, Brandon Reece; Av. A 107; 73-385787 (tel/fax); lyb.teachers@gmail.com.

Trujillo. El Cultural, Eduardo Torres or Martha Cecilia Perez Gamboa,  Av. Venezula 125, Urb El Recreo; (44) 245832 or (44) 232512; Fax (44) 261922 ; Av Larco 296; (44) 220694; www.elcultural.com.pe; etorres@elcultural.com.pe or mcperez@elcultural.com.pe.

Places That Require You to Have Legal Working Status

Lima, San Ignacio de Loyola University. Must have a B.A. in English teaching, Education (or related "Liberal Arts" fields) legalized by the Peruvian consulate nearest your home.
Call Milagros to request an appointment 01 317-1035. Carol Reyes, creyes@usil.edu.pe.

Lima. Asociacion Cultural Peruano-Britanico. 3495 Av. Arequipa, San Isidro, Tel: 221 7550, 242 7052. Centro Cultural, Jr. Bellavista 531, Miraflores, Tel: 447-1135; informes@acpb.edu.pe; culbri@acpb.edu.pe; www.britanico.edu.pe.

 
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