Are you a foreigner who wants to come and live and work in Chile? Asking yourself where to start? How to get job interviews and find work in Chile?
This article gives you keys to the Chilean labour market, the work permit and the procedure to follow to work in Chile legally.
The Chilean labour market
Chile is one of the most stable and prosperous countries in Latin America. From an economic point of view, the country is at the same level as countries such as Poland or Turkey (in terms of GDP per capita).
Its labour market is strongly oriented towards service and natural resource industries. Thus, the mining, forestry and agricultural industries have enjoyed strong economic growth for several decades.
However, in recent years, growth has begun to slow down (particularly in the mining sector) and there are signs that Chile may enter a recession. Chile has recently changed its migration rules to reduce the influx of immigrants from countries such as Peru, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Venezuela and Spain. You must now be able to demonstrate a sufficient level of education, and/or savings available to live in Chile while you are looking for a job. Otherwise, it is possible to be refused entry into the country.
Types of jobs available
The jobs you can apply for depend a lot on your level of Spanish.
Jobs that do not require a good command of Spanish
If you do not speak Spanish, or if you do not have an advanced level, you can still apply for the following positions:
- French teacher in a private institute (400,000 to 800,000 CLP / month) or by offering private lessons (5,000 to 13,000 CLP / hour)
- Receptionist / tourist agent / tourist guide, etc. (300,000 to 700,000 CLP / month)
- Sale of homemade products to other foreigners (jams, French cheese, homemade marmalade, American peanut butter, etc.)
Jobs in international companies requiring a strong command of English or French and/or specific technical skills for which there is a strong local demand. Very specific engineering positions where communication can be done in English are good examples.
Jobs requiring a good command of Spanish
Once you speak Spanish correctly, you will have access to the same employment opportunities as Chileans. Note, however, that opportunities can still be very different from here, because in Chile (as in most Latin American countries):
1) Employers tend to think that you will work exclusively in the field in which you graduated, regardless of your previous work experience.
- If you have studied medicine, you will become a doctor.
- If you have studied history, you will become a history teacher.
2) Employers tend to value some degrees and universities much more than others.
A degree in commercial engineering (specific to Chile, a mixture of business and engineering schools), law, medicine or economics is considered higher than a degree in social sciences, humanities or arts.
Regardless of international rankings, universities in the United States and the United Kingdom are assumed to be of better quality than universities in China, Japan, France, Germany, etc.
In Chile, some universities are considered superior to others because they are much more selective at entry. Most of the people in positions of responsibility come from these universities. These are the Universidad de Chile and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.
3) There are not many jobs in some professional fields, such as NGOs or international organizations.
4) Finally, the Chilean government does not allow foreigners to exercise certain professions, unless they go through a lengthy procedure to legalize their foreign diploma.
The main regulated professions include those related to medicine, as well as the protection of the nation (police, army, etc.). Foreign lawyers are also not allowed to plead before a Chilean court.
If you are considering working in a regulated profession, be prepared for a lot of bureaucracy, inconsistencies and delays. Some people manage to have their diploma recognized after 6 to 12 months, while others have to repeat a five-year diploma in the same field in order to be able to practice their profession.
Working conditions and cost of living
Before coming to work in Chile, it is useful to compare the conditions with your country of origin. This is an important element to consider before settling in Chile. Although Chile is a country with a good level of economic development, wages are surprisingly low, while the cost of living in Santiago de Chile is comparable to that of French provincial cities.
Chileans work 45 hours a week (from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., 5 days a week with a one-hour break) and receive only three weeks of holidays per year and about ten public holidays (feriados). Employees are expected to take their vacation mainly during the summer months, in January or February.
These heavy schedules, coupled with low wages, impact employee motivation and productivity, which is generally quite low.