The job market | Applying for jobs | Vacancy sources | Getting work experience | Visa information |
Living in Brazil
The job market
What are your chances of getting a job?
Brazil's economy is the seventh largest in the world and continues to grow, which attracts foreign investment and workers from oversees. Sao Paulo is the most popular destination for expats and offers the majority of job opportunities, with numerous multinational companies having their head offices there.
Finance, IT and engineering are all areas that require graduates. There are new transport infrastructure plans to get the country ready for the summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 but the affect of the games on the economy is yet to be seen.
Graduates with experience and knowledge of Portuguese are at a considerable advantage. The best way in is to join an international company with a posting in Brazil.
Where can you work?
- Major industries: Brazil has well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing and service sectors. It is also a large producer of sugar cane, coffee and ethanol and exporter of coffee, iron ore, soybeans, footwear and motor vehicles and parts.
- Recent growth areas: investment is being put into space, nanotechnology, healthcare and energy research. Opportunities are also available in ethanol production and deep water oil research.
- Shortage occupations: engineering, environmental management and consultants and IT professionals.
- Major companies: Itaú Unibaco Holding, Banco Bradesco, Banco de Brasil (regional banks), Vale (iron and steel), Petrobras (oil and gas operations), JBS, BRF (food processing), Itaúsa (conglomerates), Companhia Brasileria de Distribuicao (food retail), Ultrapar Participacoes (oil and gas operations).
What’s it like working in Brazil?
- Average working hours: the maximum working week in Brazil is 44 hours, not exceeding eight hours per day. Most business is conducted between the hours of 8am and 6pm. Employees are entitled to a weekly rest of at least 24 hours, which is usually taken on a Sunday.
- Holidays: all employees are entitled to up to 30 days' holiday after a full year of work with the same employer.
- Tax rates: individual income tax, or impost de renda, is a progressive tax starting at 7.5% with the top level at 27.5%. Non-residents pay a flat 27.5% tax on income earned in Brazil. Don't forget to check your UK tax and National Insurance position with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to ensure that you are not losing any UK pension rights.
Applying for jobs
The usual way to apply for a job in Brazil is by submitting a CV and cover letter or by completing an application form. If you are applying for a job by CV and covering letter, your CV should be no more than two A4 pages and your covering letter no more than one. Interview preparation is generally the same as in the UK. The interview format will vary depending on the role that you are applying for and the type of organisation. For more tips and advice on applying for jobs see applications and CV advice.
Will your UK qualifications be recognised?
UK qualifications are generally well recognised around the world, but check with the employer or the relevant professional body prior to applying for work.
As in many other countries, there is a hidden job market in Brazil, and numerous vacancies are filled without even being advertised. To try and find these jobs you need to make speculative applications to employers that interest you, as well as making contacts through networking.
Getting work experience
Work placements and internships
There are quite a number of internship programmes but getting a placement is a competitive process and can be difficult. You are normally expected to be between 18 and 28 and studying at a UK university. Examples of these programmes can be found at:
If you are an undergraduate studying science, technology, applied arts or engineering you can apply for placements through IAESTE (The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience). Programmes typically last for six to twelve weeks in the summer months.
International traineeship exchanges, providing work experience opportunities from 6 weeks up to 18 months are available through AIESEC (Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales).
It is difficult to get casual work such as restaurant or bar work or tour guiding. This is because if you enter Brazil as a tourist you cannot work. Contact the Consulate General of Brazil in London for guidance and advice. Language is also an issue and this kind of work may be difficult without good Portuguese.
Gap year and volunteering opportunities
It can be difficult to get short-term work opportunities in Brazil, as obtaining a work permit is a complex process. Latin America is becoming an increasingly popular destination for undergraduates and graduates looking for a combined work and travel experience, either for a gap year or short-term projects. There are many gap year companies offering such opportunities, some of which are summarised on Year Out Group.
Do you need a visa?
If you are a British national, you do not need a visa to enter Brazil if your initial stay will be no longer than 90 days and you won't be working while you are there. If you overstay the period you risk fines or deportation. If you wish to stay for longer, you should apply to the federal police for an extension at least two weeks before your initial 90-day period expires. Extensions may be granted for a further 90 days.
If you are planning to work in Brazil, you will need to secure the job first and your employer will then act as a sponsor and apply for a temporary or permanent work visa on your behalf with the Minister of Labour and Employment in Brazil.
Once authorisation has been granted, you will need to supply relevant documentation to get the visa issued. Following this, within 30 days of arriving in Brazil, you must register with Brazilian immigration authorities at the federal police.
Temporary work visas are valid for up to two years and cannot be extended.
Further details on all types of visas can be found at Consulate General of Brazil in London.
If you are not a UK national, contact the Brazilian embassy in the country where you are currently resident to find out about how to obtain visas and work permits. If you are living in the UK, go to the Consulate General of Brazil in London.
How do you become a permanent resident?
Applications for permanent residency must be made through the Consulate General of Brazil in London. If you are not a UK national, apply through the Brazilian Consulate General or Brazilian embassy of your home country.
Living in Brazil
- Cost of living: Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are the most expensive cities to live in Brazil. Millions of Brazilians live on the minimum salary. However, in comparison to the UK it is cheaper in terms of day-to-day life. The majority of rented accommodation in Brazil is completely unfurnished so budgeting for furniture is necessary.
- Internet domain: .br
- Currency: real
- Health: Malaria is present in parts of the country and Dengue fever is particularly common during the rainy season (November to March). You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes including using repellent regularly. Visit your doctor at least a few weeks before travelling to find out if vaccinations are required. Air pollution, especially in São Paulo, may aggravate chest complaints. Private health insurance is strongly recommended as there is no reciprocal health agreement with the UK.
- Type of government: federal republic government. The República Federativa do Brasil (Brazil’s official title) is made up of 26 administrative states.
- Laws and customs: penalties for drug trafficking can be severe. The country is tolerant towards gay travellers. Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are seen as destinations for gay travellers, but you should be aware of local sensitivities.
- Emergency numbers: police: 190; medical: 192; fire: 193. As a UK national, you can also contact the British Embassy in Brazil. If you are studying in Brazil through your UK university, make contact with both universities to let them know of your situation and find out how they may be able to help you.
- People: the population in Brazil is diverse with a history of immigrants from countries such as Portugal, Spain, Syria and Japan. Brazilians of mainly European descent account for more than half the population, although the proportion of people of mixed ethnic backgrounds is increasing.
- Major religion: Roman Catholicism (64.6%), Protestant (22.2%) and other (13.2%).
With the largest economy in Latin America and second largest in the Americas, Brazil has more than just graduate opportunities to offer. Working in the country, you'll pick up a new language and immerse yourself in one of the world's most colourful communities
Known for its dazzling carnival culture and FIFA World Cup winning football teams, many are heading to Brazil to soak up the sun while furthering their careers.
It's a tough market to crack into, with lengthy visa applications and a national preference for hiring home-grown talent, but the metropolitan areas of Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro and the capital Brasilia have plenty to offer to the right candidate.
Jobs in Brazil
Brazil is home to a thriving agriculture industry, being the world's largest producer of beef cattle, tropical fruits and sugar cane and world-leading coffee producers for more than a century.
As well as agriculture, Brazil thrives in other areas:
- the industrial sector, which produces automobiles, aircrafts, computers and more
- it has a financially powerful banking industry with a strong national currency
- it is one of the world’s leading producers of hydroelectric power.
Finding a way into the job market will be difficult, as the majority of Brazilian companies follow the 'principle of proportionality' (where 2/3 of all jobs must be granted to Brazilian citizens). There are jobs in these sectors available to foreign candidates who can demonstrate a proficiency in Portuguese and a finely-tuned skill set.
How to get a job in Brazil
Due to the legal complexities of hiring foreign workers, temporary or part-time positions available in Brazil are scarce.
You can apply for jobs in Brazil from home via:
- Catho: for management and other higher-end positions
- Vagas: for lower-end roles in customer service, catering and so on.
To tap into the 'hidden job market' (where a number of roles aren't advertised), send out speculative applications to employers, including your CV and a cover letter.
Brazil's tourism industry is always in need of English speakers, so if working as a hotel employee, bartender or tour guide appeals to you, you're in luck. Similarly, teachers of English as a foreign language are in high demand among business professionals looking to improve their skills to take to the global market.
If you have experience working with children, you might consider a summer working as an au pair for a Brazilian family.
Vacancies for summer jobs can be found on Latpro and ExpatJobs77.
Due to the competitive job market, the easiest way for foreign applicants to find a job in Brazil is through teaching English. The majority of demand for teachers is found in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
Teaching contracts have a typical lifespan of 6 to 12 months. Because of this, you'll need a tourist visa to teach in Brazil. English teachers in Brazil earn on average the equivalent of £1,000 per month.
To teach in Brazil, you must meet the following criteria:
Search for teaching opportunities in Brazil via:
There are plenty of internship opportunities in Brazil's thriving cities - Sao Paolo is a popular destination as this is where many of the roles are based. These roles vary in type, from positions in marketing and business to web development.
Fortunately, many online resources for finding internships are written in English.
Applying for a visa to work in Brazil is a lengthy process, as there are many different types of visas each pertaining to specific working conditions. You'll need a work permit and works visa for any paid work you take on in Brazil.
Your future employer will apply for a work permit on your behalf by submitting copies of the employment contract, your CV, required work documents and a certified copy of your passport to the Brazilian Ministry for Labour and Employment.
Once this is approved, you must apply for a work visa in your home country. For this reason it is crucial that you secure employment before you make the move to Brazil.
Work permits expire after two years, at which point they can be renewed. You are eligible to apply for permanent residence following the end of the initial two years.
For more information about Brazilian visas, see the Consulate of Brazil, London.
As Portuguese is the official language of Brazil, your chances of securing employment there without proficiency in the language are slim.
You can enrol in Portuguese lessons once in Brazil to improve your skills, or find work via an international organisation as this set-up may offer help with Portuguese as part of an employee package.
You do not need certification from an official language course to work in Brazil. However, you may consider completing an online course before you move, such as IH London’s Beginner's Brazilian Portuguese.
Explaining your qualifications to Brazilian employers
There should be no confusion in taking your qualifications to Brazilian employers. The higher education system in Brazil, laid out by the Ministry of Education (MEC), loosely follows the Bologna system we use in the UK.
There is no formal connection between the two systems, so it is best to clarify the nature of your qualifications to your chosen employer when applying.
Working life in Brazil
The working day in Brazil runs typically from 8am-6pm, Monday to Friday, with an hour's unpaid break. Employees average 40 hours per week; by law they must not exceed 44.
As for annual leave, workers are entitled to 30 days' annual leave per year, either taken all at once or split into two parts. There are eight national holidays - including Christmas and New Year's Day - which employees are forbidden to work through providing their leave does not jeopardise their workload, as is the case in hospitals.
Find out more
Written by Emma Knowles, Editorial assistant