Unless they have a special skill and/or speak Spanish, English-speaking foreigners probably won’t find work other than teaching English. But realize that you’re not going to get rich teaching English – many teachers just end up breaking even, or worse.
Working out of an institute, native English-speakers can earn around AR$15 per hour for group classes and AR$20 for private classes (and you aren’t paid for prep time or travel time, which can add another hour or two for each hour of teaching). Twenty hours a week of actual teaching is about enough for most people. Frustrations include dealing with unpleasant institutes, time spent cashing checks at the bank, classes being spread throughout the day and cancelled classes. Institute turn-over is high and most people don’t teach for more than a year.
A TEFL certification can certainly help but isn’t mandatory for all jobs. You’ll make more money teaching private students, but it takes time to gain a client base. And you should take into account slow periods like November through February, when many locals leave town on summer vacation.
Finding an English-teaching job shouldn’t be too difficult – there are plenty of porteños who want to learn, so many English-language institutes have popped up. Check the classified section of the Buenos Aires Herald for leads, call up the institutes or visit expat bars and websites and start networking. March is when institutes are ramping up their courses, so it’s the best time to find work. Many teachers work on tourist visas (which is not a big deal), heading over to Uruguay every three months for a new visa or visiting the immigration office for a visa extension.
If you have teaching experience and can commit to a year, you can try getting a better-paying job at a private bilingual school outside the Center. Depending on your experience, you might be able to teach subjects other than English. Wealthier suburbs like Belgrano and San Isidro are your best bets.
Office business hours run from 8am to 5pm; there can be a little variance, though. Banks close as early as 4pm. Stores and places like travel offices will stay open later, sometimes as late as 9pm.
Restaurants are generally open daily from noon to 3:30pm for lunch and 8pm to midnight for dinner; they’ll stay open later on Friday and Saturday. Cafés are an exception and are often open from morning to night without a break. Bars will open in the evening and stay open all night long. In the Center, however, they cater to the business crowd, so most will be open during the day and close relatively early at night.
Personal relationships are very important for getting things done in Argentina, so take time to get to know your business contacts. Setting up an appointment beforehand is always better than cold-calling. Always start a conversation with small talk about your family or sporting events, and be wary of political talk.
In social circumstances Argentines always kiss each other on the cheek in greeting, but if you’re meeting a business contact for the first time a handshake is best. Dress conservatively and be prompt (though your Argentine contact will usually be a bit late).
Most business in Argentina is done in Spanish, and legal papers in a foreign language are generally translated into Spanish by a certified public translator. Think about printing your business cards in Spanish as well as English. If you’re an American, say you’re from ‘los Estados Unidos’ (the United States) rather than ‘America.’
Most four- or five-star hotels have business centers and meeting rooms. For work visas there’s the immigration office. Finally, the commercial service department at your embassy in Buenos Aires is a good first resource for general business dealings in Argentina.
Teach English abroad with an i-to-i TEFL Course
If you’ve ever thought about living and working abroad, then why not teach English as a foreign language (TEFL)? It could be the key to funding your travels and experiencing new cultures in a totally new way. You don’t need teaching experience or even the ability to speak the local language – although you might learn it while you’re out there.