If you are planning to come to Costa Rica to work in your profession, take several things into account before you get here because getting a job as a foreigner in Costa Rica is difficult unless you have a legal residence, and maybe it is even more complicated these days. The job market in Costa Rica is stagnant. Before COVID-19 (December 2019), the country had an unemployment rate of 11.5%, according to figures published by the INEC (National Institute of Statistics and Census). By the end of July 2020, unemployment had grown to 24.4%. Although experts expect the economic reactivation will rebound, it will not bring the unemployment figures down December 2019 levels.
How can a foreigner work in Costa Rica?
Foreigners with permanent residence, temporary residence, or refugee card can work without applying for a work permit and are subject to all labor rights and duties.
People with permanent residence may be employed or self-employed, according to the Immigration and Foreigner’s Law.
Persons with temporary residence may also work, but only with a valid visa and with restrictions laid out by the General Directorate of Immigration.
A local company can only hire a foreigner when they have first demonstrated that there are no Costa Rican candidates who qualify for the job.
The Needs of the Costa Rican Labor Market
I wrote this article based on data about jobs related to degree-level or technical careers.
What are the major careers and occupations with the highest labor demand in Costa Rica?
According to a study published by the Economic and Social Observatory of the National University of Costa Rica, the jobs most in demand by Costa Rica-based companies are:
- Managers and Executives
- Audiovisual production and digital animation
- Certified workers in a trade
- Sales representatives
- Production operators and machines operators
- Engineering (systems, industrial, electrical, electronics, mechatronics)
- Business Administration
- Accounting and Finance
This demand results from the lack of skilled applicants, or the lack of experienced candidates.
What Are the Careers with the Greatest Saturation?
On the opposite end, the same study lists careers with less demand because of the excess of professionals in the country. These are:
- Social Services
- Humanities and Applied Arts
Where to Search for Work in Costa Rica?
Once you have your work visa, you can even look for a job with a university. Here are some options.
They focused on finding experienced candidates with specific experiences and skills for the exec and mid-level market. Here are some of these headhunters in Costa Rica worth considering:
These companies specialize in recruitment for short-term/temporary employment. The most important international companies with a presence in the country are:
You can also use web platforms that publish job ads and candidate profiles. On these pages, you must register and upload your CV/ Resumé. Usually, these are free sites, but they offer premium accounts.
Contrary to what is common in other countries, it is practically impossible to get a job in the major circulation newspapers, since their classifieds or displays are not used to offer qualified jobs.
Finally, while getting a visa to work in Costa Rica is not a straightforward matter, it is not impossible to do so, even if the process is long and bureaucratic. A lawyer specialized in immigration issues will find a legal formula and will be of significant help. Therefore, the best advice is to anticipate this situation and not to leave your country without a well-established plan.
At Transition Concierge International, we are here to guide you through this issue. Contact us and we will try to provide you with the help you need.
by: Román Vergara