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Finding work in Guatemala

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Guatemala has a stable economy driven by the primary and tertiary sectors. Although foreigners are only rarely employed in agriculture and industry, expats are in high demand in specific market segments such as tourism, language teaching and volunteering work.

Economy of Guatemala

The agriculture and service sectors each employ roughly 40% of Guatemala’s labour force, with the remainder engaged in construction and manufacturing (food processing, textile, chemical products, etc.).

Fast-growing, the service industry accounts for the bulk of Guatemala’s GDP, with tourism as an important pillar. Agriculture is also making a significant contribution to the national economy, thanks to a recent repositioning: traditional agriculture geared towards the local market (corn, squash, pulses) has increasingly given way to export-oriented, higher value crops (sugarcane, coffee, bananas, flowers). Guatemala has grown into a leading supplier of cardamom worldwide.

Guatemala’s main trading partners (both for exports and imports) are the US, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and China.

As with other countries in the region, Guatemala has witnessed the establishment of maquiladoras (assembly plants for export to the US) on its territory over the past decades.

 Good to know:

The prevalence of informal activities, especially in rural inland areas, leaves a good share of women in the labour force unreported.

Labour opportunities in Guatemala

For foreigners, most employment opportunities arise in voluntary work. A number of recognised organisations (non-governmental organisations, international institutions, charities, etc.) are active in Guatemala and continuously look for volunteer workers. Medical and education professionals are particularly in demand, but all backgrounds and trades and needed.

When it comes to paid work, the tourism sector is the main sector employing foreign nationals. Hotels or tour companies - first and foremost around Antigua but also on the coast - are always looking for new recruits.

For native English speakers, teaching English can also be a good bet, particularly for those holding a recognised certification such as the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification.

You should look at websites featuring classifieds and job search engines. Local newspapers and information boards also advertise vacancies on occasion.

Once you have secured a job and signed a contract with a Guatemalan company, your employer will apply for a resident and a work permit on your behalf. You will be asked to provide a few documents (passport, resume, etc.) but your employer will navigate you through the whole process.

 Good to know:

Guatemalan companies are required to observe a quota of nine Guatemalan workers for each foreign employee, unless the foreign employee is acting manager.

 Useful links:

General job portals:

Opcion Empleo
Computrabajo
Tecoloco
Linkedin
Go Abroad

Portals for English teachers:

ESL 101
ESL employment

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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