Jobs for U.S. Nationals in Peru and Latin America

Home to Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca, and with the Amazon Rainforest contrasting with cosmopolitan Lima, it’s no wonder that Peru features on many travelers’ bucket lists. The country also provides the perfect gateway to explore other countries in the fascinating South American continent. However, such a fascinating country—and continent—cannot be fully explored during a two-week vacation or even an extended backpacking trip of a few months. Rather, the best way to fully get to grips with a country’s lifestyle, history, and culture, is to live and work there for an extended period. However, finding a job in another country can be difficult; especially a country with several different official languages (you will need to be able to speak Spanish at some level at the very least, though many Peruvians also speak Quechua and Aymara). To help you to achieve your Peruvian travel dreams, here are four jobs for U.S. nationals in Peru and Latin America as a whole.

Teaching English as a foreign language perhaps

the most common type of employment for native English speakers around the world is teaching English as a foreign language. English is recognized as a global language, is used as the international language of business, and as such, many children around the world start learning it from an early age at school. Indeed, many older people are upskilling themselves by taking English lessons. To teach English in Peru, you will need a TEFL or TESOL certification, and though many schools prefer you to have a college degree, it is not a strict requirement. In Lima, you can find work in private language schools, where you’ll be teaching mainly adults and business people in the morning and evening. You can also join a volunteer organization, teaching English to Quechua and Aymara communities in remote rural locations with little access to educational opportunities. Doing this will provide you with the unforgettable experience of living with and learning from some of Peru’s indigenous communities.

Become a medical volunteer with a non-profit group

If the prospect of teaching does not appeal to you, there are other working opportunities for a U.S. national in Peru. You could, for instance, become part of a non-profit volunteer organization, providing medical assistance to low-income communities. This is an especially invaluable experience if you are either already working as a nurse in the U.S. and would like to take a career break to upskill yourself, or if you have just completed a Bachelor’s degree in a healthcare field and would like to use your break before beginning a specialized Master’s degree to gain more invaluable work experience in the field. To join a medical volunteer program in Peru, you will need to be qualified in a relevant medical field and provide proof of your certification on arrival in Peru. If you don’t yet have any relevant qualifications, you can study online accelerated BSN programs, whose courses last on average 10 weeks and provide you with an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

To work as a medical volunteer in Peru, you will also need to have at least an intermediate level of Spanish. You will be placed in clinics and hospitals with very basic facilities, dealing with patients who may not be able to speak English. As such, you must be able to communicate effectively with your patients to get to the bottom of their symptoms and provide them with the best possible medical care. If you are not fully confident in your Spanish skills, you could begin your time in Peru by attending an intensive Spanish course. With approximately 43.1 million Spanish speakers in the U.S., your fluency in Spanish acquired in Peru will be put to good use in your healthcare facility when you return home.

Volunteer on a conservation project

The Amazon Rainforest covers more than 60% of Peru, which is more than any other country. It is one of the most diverse countries on earth in terms of flora and fauna, being home to 523 species of mammals, 1,847 species of birds, and more than 20,375 species of flora—as well as the numerous amphibians, fish, and butterfly species. Unfortunately, deforestation of the Amazon continues at an alarming rate, due to farming, mining, and hunting. Conservation efforts are working hard to protect this valuable ecosystem and the animals that live there, not only in Peru but all over South America. If you are passionate about environmental issues and animal welfare, becoming a volunteer on a conservation project is perfect for you. There are numerous conservation projects in Peru, but it’s important to make sure that the program you choose is ethical to prevent further damage to the ecosystem, however misguided. Some exciting conservation volunteer opportunities involve researching and tracking endangered Amazonian animals such as jaguars, black spider monkeys, and green anacondas. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see these animals in their natural environment while carrying out useful work that will protect them.

Work in the travel industry

Peru has long been an established destination on the South America travel map and is home to famous destinations that draw travelers from all over the world, such as the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, the Amazon, and the Nazca Lines. If you are hungry for adventure, you could work for the Peruvian travel industry, for instance as a travel guide or in customer service for a tour operator. In this role, you will be a point of contact for travelers on your tours should a problem occur. Bear in mind, however, that some roles would be better suited to a Peruvian national. A traveler will have a more insightful experience, for instance, if the tour guide on their group trip is a local who intimately knows the history and culture of Peru—and can point the way to the best bar for Pisco sours!

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