Working in Nicaragua



Nicaragua, the largest country in Central America, is among the poorest in the region whereas nearly half of the 6.1 million population lives below the poverty line. However, this country is currently showing tremendous potential because of the significant growth in its several leading industries.

The main pillar of Nicaragua’s economy is agriculture. Agriculture, particularly coffee production, constitutes 60% of the total annual output. Farming is the top income-generating activity in the country, followed by tourism. Tourism in Nicaragua has expanded by 70% over the past seven years, growing by 10% to 16% each year. Income from tourism and hospitality has tripled in the past decade and has boosted other industries including agriculture, commerce, finance and construction. Since 2004, foreign direct investment rose by 79% as tourism flourished. According to a US State Department study, about 60,000 Americans visit Nicaragua’s beaches and colonial cities. Ecotourism is also attracting thousands of visitors each year.

Employment Opportunities

Locals are primarily engaged in agricultural labour and small-scale enterprises. Expat workers are engaged in environmental conservation, renewable energy development, research, and teaching. The nation of Spanish speakers has a huge demand for English teachers. Training centres and international schools are continuously hiring teachers holding Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificates. Expats, however, may also choose to work freelance as private tutors.

Foreign-funded charities are employing English-speaking educators who can teach various subjects to children, teenagers and adults. Currently, the country is in need for construction workers as it prepares for the construction of a canal linking the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean.

Average Salary and Work Hours

The typical salary in Nicaragua is lower compared to those in North American and European countries. An average Nicaraguan employee earns around USD 190 per month while those who hold a college degree earn between USD 485-755 per month. The occupation and industry the expat works for also significantly affect his salary. Below are some of the industries in Nicaragua and their minimum monthly wages:


NIC 3,625/USD 120

Mines and Quarries

NIC 6,500/USD 220


NIC 4,875/USD 165


NIC 3,900/USD 130

Construction/Insurance/Financial Institution

NIC 8,110/USD 275

Central Government and Municipal

NIC 4,520/USD 150

The typical working hours in Nicaragua is from eight hours per day or 48 hours per week. According to the Labour Code, employees who will work beyond the standard hours mentioned above should be entitled to a 100% overtime premium above the rate of their salary regular salary. Also, no overtime work shall exceed three hours per day or nine hours per week. Female employees, on the other hand, are entitled to a maximum of 12 weeks maternity leave paid in full upon presentation of a valid medical certificate showing the expected delivery date.

The Nicaraguan Work Culture

Informality is one of the trademark traits of Central American countries, and Nicaragua is no exception. Though the locals don’t pay too much attention to dress codes or punctuality, expats should still be aware of some important factor regarding their business culture. When it comes to appointments, make sure to schedule ahead of time because the Nicaraguans consider it rude to arrange a meeting 24hours before the date. As mentioned earlier, being strictly on time is not much of an issue for them as long as the tardiness is no more than half an hour.

The typical Nicaraguan work environment has a relaxed vibe and a casual atmosphere. Greetings are also less informal, and the locals often lean in after a handshake for a kiss on the cheek or a touch on the shoulder. Because of their affectionate nature, it is also common for the Nicaraguans to complement one’s appearance, particularly women.

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