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Finding work in Brazil


The first thing to do if you’re planning to work in Brazil is to learn the language. While Brazil’s diversity means Japanese, Spanish and Dutch are all spoken alongside some 274 indigenous languages, the most common language is Portuguese, which is understood by the majority of Brazilians. Before travelling it is well worth spending a few months learning the language, so that you can conduct simple conversations and transactions.

Finding job opportunities

Moving to Brazil can be challenging, not least due to the bureaucracy around securing a work visa. However, the biggest challenge to finding work — apart from the language barrier - is likely to be not being from Brazil, as many Brazilians use personal and professional connections to secure work. It is understandable that expats may find it difficult to secure employment ahead of locals.

One of the most common ways to submit applications is through job search engines. Brazilian job sites including Catho and Banco Nacional de Empregos (both in Portugese) are useful if you’re hoping to find the perfect job opportunity.

An attractive option for many expats is to teach English as a second language. Peak hiring season is March and August. Sites such as ESL Employment and Total ESL can help you to get the right training and secure a position.

Unemployment rate

From 2014 to 2016, Brazil was in the depths of recession. As the country’s recovery continues, the unemployment rate reflects this trend of steady improvement, and gradually fell throughout 2017. As of January 2018, unemployment was at a 14-month low of 12.2%.


Brazil’s economy is the ninth-largest in the world and continues to grow (correct July 2018). Major cities are home to many large companies and multinational corporations, but Brazil also has significant agricultural, mining and service sectors. The stock exchange is based in São Paulo and a number of successful oil companies are based in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil is a major automotive manufacturer, with factories producing nearly 2.7 million vehicles in 2017, an increase of 25% on the previous year. Many major companies manufacture in Brazil, including Jaguar Land Rover, who opened their first wholly owned manufacturing plant outside of the UK in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Brazil is also a major supplier to the aerospace industry, being home to Embraer, one of only five main commercial jet manufacturers in the world.

Despite the success of these industries, 50.2% of the labour force in 2016 were estimated to work in the services sector. Expats with expertise in oil and gas, engineering or construction are likely to be in high demand, as are IT professionals, especially software engineers and database managers.

Successful industries in Brazil include:

  • Oil and gas

Brazil is rich in natural resources and is thriving in the oil and gas sectors as a result. Brazil is second only to the US in terms of worldwide fuel ethanol production, producing seven billion gallons in 2017. Over 50 companies manage oil exploration in the country.

  • Iron and steel

As of 2017, Brazil is the ninth-largest producer of steel in the world. Iron ore production is similarly successful. In 2017, Brazil accounted for more than 20% of the world’s total iron ore exports, second only to Australia.

  • Agriculture

The agriculture sector has been a cornerstone of the Brazilian economy for many years, growing consistently for the last 25 years and accounting for 46.2% of everything sold abroad in 2016.

  • Textiles

As the only Latin American country to be prominent in the global textile market, Brazil is in the world top five for the production of cotton and denim production.

  • Medical

To help improve the health care situation in Brazil, the government now allows foreign companies to become involved in the private healthcare sector.

Learn more about working in Brazil in our overview of business etiquette and workers’ rights.

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