In the past, working in the Dominican Republic meant you were in the export business. The Caribbean island nation has long been a leading exporter of sugar, tobacco, and coffee. Although the services sector in general, tourism in particular, has become the most important source of jobs in the Dominican Republic today, agriculture is still a major sector. Many of the country’s export goods are valued not only for their quality, but also for their organic certification.
It hasn’t just been the tourism and travel sector but also the establishment of free trade zones that have given the economy a significant boost. The latter have attracted foreign investors, who have contributed to economic growth and created new jobs for locals and foreigners working in the Dominican Republic. These zones mostly focus on production in the fields of textiles, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and tobacco products.
Another new area of development in the Dominican Republic is the technology sector, which focuses on training the labor force to work in high-tech industries. The Santo Domingo Cyberpark is designed to attract investors in this very field. Expats working in the Dominican Republic’s technology sector might find themselves employed by a software, computer design, or high-tech manufacturing company in this area. Despite the country recovering well after the global financial crisis in 2008, the Dominican Republic still suffers from significant income inequality and considerable unemployment.
The Dominican Republic’s workforce of over 4.9 million people is often considered the country’s greatest economic asset, according to various independent surveys. Employees are said to be hard-working, trainable, and skillful — even though the government spends minimally on education.
Approximately 64% of all people working in the Dominican Republic are employed by the government or work in the services sector; 15% of the labor force is working in the Dominican Republic’s agriculture sector; the industry sector, predominantly manufacturing, employs about 22% of the entire workforce. Unfortunately, the unemployment rate is still at an alarming 14%.
It may seem difficult for you at first to find work in the Dominican Republic. However, employers are usually quite flexible and might even be happy to hire expats. Nevertheless, it’s always better to have a job secured before moving to the DR. Employment opportunities in the Dominican Republic are limited unless you work in a particularly in-demand industry and/or have specialized skills. Further, if you don’t speak Spanish, your options are restricted to working in the tourism industry, in IT, for an international corporation, or in a call center, as well as teaching English (TEFL). Speaking fluent Spanish, on the other hand, allows you to benefit from a greater variety of jobs, rather than being confined to those sectors mentioned.
Additionally, you should remain flexible when you make plans for working in the Dominican Republic. The concept of “expert” is a very generous one and you may just find yourself doing a job that you never dreamed you could do. Remember though, the cost of living in the Dominican Republic might be lower than what you’re used to, but when you’re working in the Dominican Republic, your salary will likely reflect this.
Another thing you should do to get ready for working in the Dominican Republic is to do as much research as you possibly can, e.g. on language in the Dominican Republic. Dominicans speak a unique variety of Spanish and use particular terminology in work situations, which is why you should have a native speaker check your CV if you plan on applying for a Spanish-speaking position; if they can teach you some interview etiquette as well, it will help your chances of getting a job in your new home.
Find out if companies from your home country have offices in the DR as this might be one of the easier routes to employment. If you consider teaching at language schools, contact individual schools before your move: some of them may be willing to pay you a higher salary to teach, especially with a TEFL qualification, if they recruit you from abroad.
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