Latin America is a vast and diverse market united by two things – the language, and the ardour of the region’s major governments to embrace infrastructure projects as a tool to boost their fast-growing economies.
Brazil and Mexico are the main markets, ahead of Argentina and Chile.
Top tips for working in Latin America
- In Latin America, Spanish – or in Brazil, Portuguese – is essential.
- Salaries in the major centres are comparable with UK levels. However, recent graduates would earn considerably less.
- The standard of living available is generally high, though you should take a close look at local employment law and tax regulations before signing anything.
- It would be simpler to apply to UK or US firms working in the region, or use any contacts you have in French or Spanish companies out there, than approach local firms directly.
- One area where UK professionals can really add value and make a difference is in offering QS skills. A good cost manager will always be highly regarded and very well paid.
- Facilities management staff are also in demand. People with a good understanding of the operations of highly complex projects can easily find work and opportunities in the region, especially in the healthcare and education sectors.
- UK professionals could also take advantage of the local working culture. It’s more informal. Sometimes they will not achieve the deadline and will try to hide it. But that gives an excellent opportunity to the UK professional because there is a need to improve efficiency.
- Do not underestimate the sophistication of the market or the expertise of local staff, particularly on the engineering side.
- If you are planning on working in Latin America, you have to make it clear that you’re there to stay – for a while, at least. Expats hoping to make a quick buck and a swift exit should look elsewhere.
For more on working in the region visit Building's Habla Espanol? Opening up the Latin American market.