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How Much Do English Teachers Make in Brazil?
Learn how much money you can make as a TEFL-certified teacher in Brazil across various job types and explore recommended start-up costs and cost of living expenses.
Written By: Lynda Galea | Updated: June 29, 2023
Written By: Lynda Galea
Updated: June 29, 2023
With its vibrant and thriving culture, Brazil has emerged as an international economic powerhouse, creating unprecedented demand for certified English language teachers. It is a popular destination for teaching English abroad due to its landscape, beach life, food, and friendly, welcoming people.
In this article, we explore how much money you can make teaching English in Brazil and the expenses you will need to consider both in terms of start-up costs and your monthly cost of living.
Salaries for Teaching English in Brazil
There are several different teaching opportunities available for TEFL-certified teachers in Brazil. ESL (English as a second language) teachers who ultimately spend time teaching English in Brazil do so via one of the following avenues:
- Teaching English at a language school;
- Offer in-person private tutoring lessons;
- Teach English online;
- A combination of the above.
Your salary will fluctuate depending on which teaching route you choose to pursue. On average, English teachers in Brazil can expect to make anywhere between $800 - $1,300 USD per month from working at a language school with the option to earn additional income through private tutoring ($15-25 USD (85-140 BRL) per hour) and teaching English online ($5-$20 USD per hour).
Let's explore each option and what you can expect to earn from them:
1. Brazil Language School Salaries
ESL teachers seeking employment should arrive in Brazil sometime either in February or March after the grandiose celebration of Carnaval (unless you want to partake in the festival) as many schools are closed during this time. A second hiring period in Brazil occurs in late summer during July and August. It is not typical for employers to hire teachers before arrival in the country or assist with work papers or a work visa. Pay will fluctuate depending on where you are located, with teachers in larger cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo earning more than those teaching in smaller cities and towns. English teachers working at language schools in Brazil can expect to make anywhere between $800 - $1,300 USD per month.
Brazil has different tourist visa laws in comparison to the majority of other South American countries. Due to the recent changes in immigration law enforcement, teachers are encouraged to plan to teach students privately as well as online.
Visa Options for Teaching English in Brazil
Work Visa for Teaching English in Brazil
This type of visa is very uncommon for English teachers to receive in Brazil as you need an employer to sponsor you in order to obtain one. The majority of private language schools will not be willing to sponsor their English teachers as it is quite an expensive and long process. Work visas are only typically given to those teachers working in public schools.
Tourist Visa for Teaching English in Brazil
As of November 2017, the Brazilian government implemented new immigration laws that enforce stricter penalties on employers that hire employees under the table, as well as on tourists that overstay their tourist visa. Employers are now liable for a minimum of BRL 1,000 and a maximum of BRL 1 million and employees are liable for a minimum BRL 100 and a maximum of BRL 10,000. Overstaying the tourist visa will incur a fine of $5 a day which the visa-holder will be responsible for paying.
In order to enter Brazil as a tourist, the majority of nationalities must apply for a 90-day tourist visa through a Brazilian Consulate before arrival. Prices, processing times, and documentation may vary between all consulates so make sure you check with the appropriate one in your area. Once you are in Brazil, you may apply to stay in the country for an additional 90 days through the Policía Federal. Tourists are not legally allowed to stay in Brazil for more than 180 days per year.
Before deciding if a tourist visa for teaching English in Brazil is right for you, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you okay with working under the table on a tourist visa? Schools in Brazil will not assist their teachers in getting a work visa as it is a very long and expensive process. With fines having increased for schools/employers who hire teachers under the table, teachers should plan to look into private teaching/tutoring and teaching online.
- Are you planning on staying in Brazil for six months or less? As a tourist, you can only be in Brazil legally for 180 days per year. Once you are in Brazil on your tourist visa, you can extend it one time for another 90 days. After this, you are required to leave the country.
- Do you have extra start-up money to apply for your tourist visa? In order to enter Brazil, the majority of nationalities must apply for a 90-day tourist visa through the Brazilian Consulate before arriving in Brazil. Prices and processing times may vary depending on your country of origin.
Additional Reading: The Requirements for Teaching English in Brazil
2. Brazil Private English Tutoring Salaries
Private tutoring ESL students is extremely common amongst English teachers in Brazil. Teachers that choose this route are often:
- Teaching English in Brazil at a language school and taking on some private tutoring students to help supplement their income;
- Teaching English online and seeking supplemental income by privately tutoring students in addition to their online teaching job;
- Solely providing private-tutoring lessons as their only form of income.
Getting clients for private lessons is a marketing exercise, and all the avenues that seem appropriate to your circumstances have to be explored. Here are some ways you can market yourself:
- Post notices in schools and universities, coffee shops, supermarkets, or corner shops;
- Run an advertisement in the local paper;
- Send notices to local public schools, announcing your willingness to work with local students on their English;
- Compile a list of addresses of professionals (lawyers, architects, etc.) who may need English for their work and have the resources to pay for it and then contact them;
- Call on export businesses, distribution companies, perhaps even travel agencies;
- Get ESL business cards made before you leave your home country that has your name, email address, and phone number on them.
How much money can I make private tutoring ESL students in Brazil?
As a private ESL tutor in Brazil, you should expect to charge and make around $15-25 USD (85-140 BRL) per hour for one-on-one lessons (depending on where in Brazil you are based). If you are providing private tutoring lessons for small groups (2-3 students at a time), it's possible to increase your rates as your small group of students will be splitting the hourly cost amongst themselves.
Something to keep in mind - a student may only be after a single private tutoring lesson, or a handful, and can withdraw from their lessons with you at any time. As a result, you should be cautious when trying to budget your private tutoring income too far into the future.
3. Brazil Teaching English Online Salaries
Like private ESL tutoring, teaching English online is an extremely popular way for teachers to make money. Many ESL teachers in Brazil teach online as their sole job and income, while others do it to supplement the income they earn from teaching at a language school or from private tutoring.
Teaching English online provides TEFL-certified teachers with the opportunity to make money from the comfort of their own home, with most teachers being able to make anywhere from $5-$20 USD per hour. Hours are flexible and it is up to you how much or how little you teach - you are in total control of your schedule.
If you are looking to ensure students are within your same timezone, check out these three online ESL schools based in Latin America:
- Beyond English - starting pay is $17 USD per hour taught for U.S. teachers
- Open English - earn up to $15 USD per hour
- Latin Hire - compensation varies depending on the total amount of hours you are available to work
A key advantage of teaching online is that you can begin teaching and making money before you move to Brazil. This is a great way to help cover the start-up costs of your move and will ensure that you have an income immediately upon your arrival to Brazil.
Additional Reading: To learn more about how much you can earn from online ESL teaching, please read How Much Money Can I Make Teaching English Online? Need help finding an online teaching platform? Check out Non-Chinese ESL Companies to Teach English Online With.
Expenses for Teaching English in Brazil
There are two categories of expenses that need to be taken into consideration for those looking to teach English in Brazil:
- Start-up costs
- Cost of living
Let's explore each of the two in more detail.
1. Start-Up Costs for Teaching English in Brazil
Start-up costs are expenses you will incur from your arrival in Brazil until you receive your first paycheck and may include things like a security deposit and first month's rent, apartment supplies, transport, groceries, getting your new local cell phone number set up, etc.
Start-up costs should be enough to cover your first month of living in Brazil and will range somewhere between $1,200 and $2,000 USD. This is the minimum amount of savings you should have on hand before leaving home and arriving in Brazil. If you have more, great, but if you have less, you may be setting yourself up for failure from the get-go which can cause unnecessary added stress during an already stressful period of adaption and change.
2. Cost of Living for Teaching English in Brazil
Cost of living refers to everyday monthly expenses you will incur during your time in Brazil. The most popular expenses that fall under this category include:
- Monthly rent expenses
- Utilities (electricity, gas, water bills, etc)
- Food and grocery expenses
- Health insurance
- Internet bill
- Cell phone bill
- Transportation (transit card, ride-sharing services, etc)
- Travel/entertainment expenses
Your cost of living expenses can vary drastically based on where in Brazil you are based. For example, those living in larger cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo can expect to have a higher cost of living compared to those located in smaller cities or towns. As a general rule of thumb, you should budget $800 - $1,300 USD per month to cover your cost of living.
Brazil is very much a break-even country, meaning you can cover your rent and bills, support yourself, live comfortably, and enjoy your life abroad to the fullest, but you shouldn't expect to save money at the end of each month. If you are hustling and taking on private tutoring lessons and/or teaching English online in addition to your regular teaching schedule, you may increase your ability to save and come out on top at the end of each month.
Cost of Living Comparisons Across Cities in Brazil
To provide a clearer picture of what the monthly cost of living may look like in Brazil, here are the expense breakdowns of some of our International TEFL Academy (ITA) alumni that have lived in or are currently living and teaching English in Brazil.
Please note: These snapshots should be used as an example and not an exact representation of what your expenses will look like. Everyone lives a different lifestyle and what is a necessity to one person, may not be to another.
Sao Paulo, Brazil Cost of Living
This monthly expense breakdown comes from ITA alumna, Julie Collins. Julie taught English at a school in Sao Paulo. While Sao Paulo is one of the more expensive cities in Brazil, Julie stayed with a host family which helped keep housing costs down by quite a bit.
Bonus: Want to check out what a day in Julie's life was like teaching English in Sao Paulo? Watch her video here.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Cost of Living
This monthly expense breakdown comes from ITA alumnus, Rory O'Neill. Rory privately tutored adult students in Rio de Janeiro for almost three years!
- Rent/utilities: $300-$450 USD for a room in an apartment with a few roommates
- Food: cooking almost every meal $240 USD
- Social activities: $15-$30 USD per night out
- Transportation: around $120 USD per month taking bus and metro except for the occasional late-night taxi
- Phone: $18 a month for my phone plan
- Travel: $60 - $90 USD round trip for many in-country flights if bought in advance
An accomplished traveler (she's visited 40 countries!), Lynda hails from Melbourne, Australia. Since she joined ITA in 2017, Lynda has become a primary expert on the field of teaching English online. Not only has she published numerous articles on the topic herself, but she has worked with International TEFL Academy alumni around the world to produce an entire library of information and content about teaching English online. Lynda also serves as a primary organizer of ITA's ground-breaking Teach Abroad Film Festival.
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