By Martin Kocandrle, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Sitting on the beach in Copacabana or Ipanema, work is often the last thing that comes to mind. Yet to many, it means a way to stay for longer than just a vacation, providing that work can happen here in the Cidade Maravilhosa.
Some of the most common employment opportunities are in engineering (oil related), teaching, translation and tourism. There are also volunteer opportunities, although that doesn’t help someone afford their living, unless room and board are offered as compensation.
As in most countries, Brazil requires work visas for any employment by a Brazilian company here, which is enough to deter most. For the determined though, the effort to find employment pays off with a quality of life found in few other places.
With 75 percent of Brazil’s oil reserves under 400 meters of water, the recent boom in the oil industry has created a demand for highly skilled engineers willing to work on offshore projects. The industry is largely dominated by Petrobras, which has a notoriously challenging employee entrance exam, difficult even for Brazilians.
Foreign oil workers can find jobs working for various operators and service providers that handle the day-to-day functioning of oil rigs. Jobs are available in Multi-national oil companies that have managed to build relationships with the increasingly restrictive Brazilian oil market.
There are other Multinational Corporations (MNC) that operate in Rio de Janeiro, and within many it is possible to request a transfer. An employee of a Swedish MNC described the transfer process; “I wanted to work somewhere different so I talked to the head of the South American division to see if I could get transferred, and we made it happen.”
With South America’s largest population, Brazil is also the largest ESL (English Second Language) market, and the demand for native English speakers is considerable. However, finding a job in Brazil can be quite difficult due to the amount of competition and unwillingness of companies to hire teachers without appropriate visas.
In fact, according to the director of a popular school, “there was a bust last year of all the major schools that employed illegal teachers, now schools have gone legitimate and are looking to hire teachers with the appropriate papers.”
Yet smaller companies that provide Business English lessons leave their doors open to foreigners due to the tax benefits and demand for native speakers. To be hired by these companies it is often best to make face to face contact by dropping off your resume and speaking to the director. Expect to be paid anywhere from R$17 to R$40 per hour of class.
Some English teachers choose to forgo seeking jobs through established schools, by working independently and recruiting students themselves. This allows teachers to directly pocket the price of classes rather then splitting it with schools. Private classes can typically be offered anywhere from R$40-R$60 per hour depending on the teacher.
With a constant flow of tourists flocking towards the sunny beaches of Brazil there are numerous opportunities to work in the burgeoning hospitality industry. It is possible to find a job working at a local hostel where one can meet locals and never-ending supply of foreigners seeking adventure in Brazil.
One Australian hostel employee described his experience as life changing. “It was the most amazing experience, some friends I made are life long friends and some I aim to do business in the future. My experience in the hostel was the greatest experience which has got me to the point where I want to be part of that industry.”
The rate of pay in hostels depends on the establishment and often they provide free accommodation in exchange for time worked. Hostels will rarely hire from outside of Brazil, for this reason it is essential to make personal contact with a place that is willing to hire a foreigner.
Another popular option in order to arrange a long-term stay is to volunteer for an organization. There is no shortage of available volunteer work in Brazil. Although volunteering can be expensive, it provides the opportunity to work for a project that shares an individuals personal goals.
No matter where the search for job in Brazil can lead, it is important to come prepared by learning the language, saving up some money, and being willing to take some cuts in pay.