This is a very common question, and perhaps the most important one to answer before you embark on a new life in a new country. There are a few big things to consider, so let’s unpack them all.
Do you speak Portuguese?
For most people, this is going to be their biggest stumbling block. English is a great first (or second) language, but unfortunately it won’t get you very far in Brazil. Of course, there are some jobs where English will come in handy (more on that in a moment), but fundamentally, if you are going to live and work in Brazil, you are going to need to learn Portuguese in some shape or form. And the sooner you learn, the more work opportunities will open up to you.
Here are some tools to help you get started learning Portuguese:
- Duolingo: Learn any language for free (great for vocabulary building)
- Semántica Portuguese: When you are ready to take your learning to the next level
- The Mimic Method: For working on your Brazilian accent
What work can I do while I am learning Portuguese?
You have a few options. The first would be to seek out jobs that rely on your English-language abilities. English teaching is the obvious choice. Whether you will have work permissions in Brazil will make a big difference when it comes to how much you will be paid and where you can work.
Even without a valid work visa in Brazil, some still choose to teach English privately to students they find themselves. Some schools are so keen to hire native English speakers as teachers, they they will even let people work illegally, cash in hand, without a contract or any formal agreement in place.
With a work visa, you’ll be able to approach the bigger schools, demand higher rates of pay and gain more job security. For more information, I recommend taking a look at a site called Brazilian Gringo. He’s been there and done that and has lots of advice to share.
Of course, just because you speak English, it doesn’t mean you know how to teach it, or that you’ll make a good teacher. You don’t need to have a TEFL or a TESOL qualification to teach English in Brazil, but it would help, purely because it will give you confidence, guidance, some classroom teaching experience and a much better chance at success.
But what if I don’t want to be an English teacher?
There are some alternatives. How about working in a tourism-related role (tour guide, hotel staff, etc.) that relies on being able to speak English? Do you work in an industry where you could work online? Many foreigners live in Brazil but earn their money from jobs overseas. They’re often referred to as ‘digital nomads’ or ‘location independent’ employees.
Jobs that lend themselves to being location independent include:
- Writer / blogger / editor
- Social media manager / Digital marketer
- Graphic or web design
- Affiliate marketing
- Owner of an online store
- Creation and sale of digital products (online courses, newsletters, podcasts, software, etc.)
- Web developer
- Virtual assistant
Owning your own business in Brazil comes with greater responsibility, but it can allow you to do things your way. You could start as small as being an Uber driver, or perhaps aim for something as bold as running your own pousada or starting your own language school or restaurant?
What if I speak Portuguese?
Well then lucky you! Then your options are wide open. Well almost.
Some of the best-paid jobs in Brazil are with the public service (i.e. the government). However, you cannot apply for public service jobs in Brazil unless you are a Brazilian citizen. Even then, you’ll need to study on courses known as concursos beforehand. As you would expect, competition for these roles is fierce.
You should research the types of roles that you would like to apply for, just so you can have some idea of the salaries you can expect to find in Brazil. Some good places to start:
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to do the research, the study and the preparation before you arrive in Brazil, to give you the best chance of successfully starting a new life here. It’s a big world, there are plenty of opportunities out there, you just have to find them.
Any questions, ask us! We love to help.