If you’re thinking about setting up or outsourcing any part of your business to Central America, Costa Rica could be a suitable destination.
For starters, the average salary in Costa Rica is around 27,395,933 CRC per year — equivalent to 44,220 USD per year according to the exchange rate in August 2021.
Costa Rica is more affordable than Panama and other Latin American countries, such as Peru, Mexico, Chile, Puerto Rico, and Brazil!
Costa Rica is rapidly making a name for itself, not just in Latin America but in the world, as a technology hub. Additionally, the government’s dedication to providing quality education to all Costa Ricans (Ticos) leads to a highly educated workforce fluent in multiple languages.
In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about the average salary in Costa Rica, including its unique minimum wage law and salary comparisons.
We’ll also discuss five reasons you should outsource to Costa Rica and three industries to start with.
This Article Contains:
(Click on the links to jump to a specific section)
- What is the Average Salary in Costa Rica?
- Salary Range
- Median Salary
- Average Annual Salary Increment
- Minimum Wage Law
- Salary Comparison in Costa Rica
- Salary Comparison by Experience
- Salary Comparison by Education
- Salary Comparison by Profession
- 5 Reasons You Should Outsource to Costa Rica
- Top 3 Industries to Outsource to Costa Rica
Let’s get started.
What is the Average Salary in Costa Rica?
The average salary in Costa Rica depends on various factors, such as years of experience, industry, and education level.
Considering all of the above, 27,395,933 CRC (Costa Rican Colónes) per year is the average salary for most Costa Rican employees.
According to the August 2021 exchange rate, this amounts to 44,220 USD/year.
The average monthly salary can range from 317,916 CRC (lowest for unskilled workers) to as high as 10,500,000 CRC. Certain professions can pay even more.
Let’s explore some other facets of Costa Rican salaries.
1. Salary Range
In Costa Rica, salaries can range from 317,916 CRC to 10,500,000 CRC per month.
Note: These figures represent averages; the actual monthly salaries can be lower or higher.
2. Median Salary
The median salary in Costa Rica is 2,460,000 CRC per month. It represents the exact middle of most Costa Rican salaries.
However, percentiles reveal a different story. About 25% of the population earns less than 1,370,000 CRC while 75% earn more than 1,370,000 CRC.
It’s important to keep these numbers and their distribution in mind while finalizing the monthly salary for any employee.
3. Average Annual Salary Increment
Typically, Costa Rican employees receive a 9% salary increment every 17 months, higher than the world average of 3% every 16 months.
However, this salary increase rate may differ depending on the employee’s experience and industry:
An employer is usually more likely to spend more to retain talented, experienced employees simply because they’re tougher to recruit.
|Experience Level||Average Annual Salary Increment|
|Junior Level||3% – 5%|
|Mid-Career||6% – 9%|
|Senior Level||10% – 15%|
|Top Management||15% – 20%|
Employees in thriving industries, such as travel, will usually receive frequent and higher increments.
While there are exceptions, the country’s economic situation highly influences the raises.
|Industry||Average Annual Increment Rate|
|Information Technology (IT)||3%|
4. Minimum Wage Law
Unlike most countries, Costa Rica has no fixed hourly minimum wage.
|Minimum Salary per Day||Minimum Salary per Month|
|Superior specialization worker||21,593.60||–|
|Generic unskilled worker||–||317,915.58|
|General semi-skilled worker||–||342,027.40|
|Generic skilled worker||–||359,544.27|
|General highly skilled||–||403,764.18|
|Technical worker – Diversified Education||–||376,776.77|
|Technical worker – Superior Education||–||464,335.93|
|Technical worker – Diploma of Higher Education||–||501,500.15|
|Technical worker – Bachelors University||–||568,819.86|
|Technical worker – University Graduate||–||682,607.23|
The government reviews these salary reports twice a year – January and July/August. So, the minimum wage reflects any increased cost of living, inflation rate, and forecasted economic development.
The law also regulates daily and weekly working hours, eight and 48 hours respectively.
Additionally, employees are entitled to aguinaldo or a Christmas bonus equalling a month’s salary. Employees receive this bonus even in the event of an involuntary dismissal or retirement.
In this case, the employee or retiree receives the bonus, severance pay, compensation for lack of notice (if applicable), and compensation for leaves not taken.
Salary Comparison in Costa Rica
We’ll discuss the factors that affect the average salary in Costa Rica and even provide a handy salary guide for some of the most popular Costa Rican professions.
1. Salary Comparison by Experience
Experience is an essential factor while deciding salaries – the more experienced the candidate, the higher their base salary.
Employees with two to five years of experience will usually earn 32% more than juniors or freshers. Those with over five years of experience earn about 36% more than those with less than five years of experience.
Professionals with over ten years of experience will notice a significant increase of 21% and an additional 14% after fifteen years.
2. Salary Comparison by Education
People with a diploma earn about 17% more than those with just a high school education.
An employee with a Bachelor’s degree will probably earn 24% more than those with a diploma/certificate.
Employees with a Master’s degree typically earn 29% more than their peers with a Bachelor’s degree. Ph.D. holders make about 23% more than those with a Master’s degree even while doing the same job.
3. Salary Comparison by Profession
Here’s a list of some popular professions and their average yearly salary.
|Profession||Median Salary (per year)|
|Software Engineer||19,855,717 CRC|
|Python Developer||19,666,979 CRC|
|Project Manager||16,601,553 CRC|
|English Teacher||15,313,300 CRC|
|UX Designer||14,505,230 CRC|
|Registered Nurse||13,853,938 CRC|
|Graphic Designer||10,805,167 CRC|
|Travel Agent||8,856,365 CRC|
|Content Writer||8,531,042 CRC|
|Construction Worker||7,581,383 CRC|
|Call Center Representative||6,215,686 CRC|
|Tour Guide||5,090,374 CRC|
Also, Costa Rican public sector employees usually earn 6% more (2,450,000 CRC) than private-sector employees (2,310,000 CRC).
Note: Exact salary may vary depending on specific job titles.
Now that you’re well-versed in Costa Rican salaries, we’ll discuss how this influences the outsourcing industry in Costa Rica.
5 Reasons You Should Outsource to Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s been ranked as #48 in Forbes Best Countries for Business and is flourishing globally.
Let’s explore why you should consider outsourcing to this up-and-coming nation.
1. Reasonable Hiring Cost
According to Deloitte, one of the biggest reasons for outsourcing is cost reduction.
Especially when hiring developers and other IT professionals, outsourcing to Costa Rica can help you increase your net income without compromising the quality of work.
That’s less than half of an American developer’s hourly wage!
Such savings can allow you to quickly scale up your organization, devote resources to specific areas, and even hire more talented personnel.
2. Highly Educated Workforce
Costa Rica has a 97.9% literacy rate, and the Ministry of Education aims to have a fully bilingual population by 2040.
As a result, many US English teachers with a TEFL certificate are teaching native Ticos how to improve their phonetics and other English language skills. These teachers often start their own private language school offering a TEFL certification as well.
Currently, Costa Rica ranks second in Latin America for English proficiency, right after Argentina.
Costa Rican literacy rates are one of the highest in the world, and they have excellent public schools as well. Larger cities also feature international language schools, but they may charge steeper fees.
All these factors contribute to the highly educated workforce in Costa Rica.
The country specializes in IT and technology development. As such, STEM university students are often offered rewarding contracts by multinationals such as Intel and IBM.
3. Lucrative Entrepreneurship Opportunities
According to the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute, Costa Rica is the second-best Latin American country for entrepreneurial activity.
It also ranks third for innovation in the 2020 Global Innovation Index, following closely after Chile and Mexico.
As a result, many industries and companies have found their way to Costa Rican shores. Some of these are IBM, Intel, Procter & Gamble, and Amazon.
In fact, Intel’s microprocessor facility singlehandedly accounted for 4.9% of Costa Rica’s GDP and 20% of its exports in 2006.
The country is also well known for its medical instruments exports to the United States.
Medtech manufacturers often want their suppliers nearby, and with Costa Rica’s many tax incentives, it’s the perfect location for this industry.
Additionally, green energy is an obvious choice as renewable energy is a norm here. In 2016, renewable resources produced over 98% of the nation’s electricity.
4. Easy Access to North American Markets
With a mere two-hour time difference, Costa Rica is ideal for US companies seeking nearshore development.
Its proximity to North America allows for smoother and faster communication than other popular outsourcing destinations, such as India, China, etc. It also allows for real-time collaboration on time-sensitive projects.
Additionally, the country has consciously aligned itself with American business practices, communication methods, and cultural values.
So, US businesses find it easy to trust and outsource work to a Latin American country like Costa Rica.
Read more about Outsourcing to Latin America here.
5. Popular Expat Destination
The country’s political stability attracts asylum seekers from neighboring Latin American countries, such as Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and more.
As a result, Costa Rica has the highest percentage of immigrants in Latin America (9%).
Younger expats will often get a work permit easily due to the demand for workers. Families often move to this country for its stellar education system.
A middle-class family earns an average monthly salary of $750, which is more than enough to live comfortably. Real estate also costs about half compared to the US, making relocation both cheaper and attractive.
Companies looking to outsource benefit as they have access to diverse, affordable talent at competitive rates.
Costa Rica’s unofficial motto, pura vida – meaning a laid-back, carefree, and optimistic way of life – truly exemplifies this popular expat destination.
Top 3 Industries to Outsource to Costa Rica
Costa Rica has become a trusted outsourcing destination for some of the biggest companies in the world.
The top three commonly outsourced industries to Costa Rica are:
1. IT Services
The capital, San José, is home to more than 800 international and local technology companies. It’s on its way to becoming the ‘Silicon Valley of Latin America.’
However, the Guanacaste province has also been slowly gaining prominence. For instance, Unidad22, a web development company, is based in Liberia, Guanacaste.
Specializing in providing IT services, you can outsource the following to Costa Rica:
- IT infrastructure management.
- Application development.
- Cloud operations.
- Microchip manufacturing.
- RPA (Robotic Process Automation).
You can rest assured of the developer quality as over 20 Fortune-100 companies, including Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard, have bases in Costa Rica.
2. Customer Care
Costa Rica has one of the highest mobile phone penetration rates. Currently, it also has the most active cell lines per person in the world.
As a result, it’s perfect for call center outsourcing.
Some commonly outsourced customer care services are:
- Technical support.
- Lead generation.
- Customer support.
- Order management.
- Returns management.
- Appointment setting.
Also, Costa Rican customer care and call center agents are usually fluent in both English and Spanish.
3. Human Resources
Human Resources (HR) is never a one-size-fits-all. However, getting it right can be extremely time-consuming and costly.
Thankfully, you can outsource the following HR needs to Costa Rica:
- Daily HR administration.
- Remote work team assessments.
- Payroll management.
- Compensation and benefits.
- Travel and expense administration.
- Termination services.
With professional end-to-end services offered in multiple languages, Costa Rica is an obvious choice for HR outsourcing.
Surrounded by Nicaragua in the north and Panama in the south, Costa Rica is a thriving upper-middle-income nation.
The government focuses on education and economic growth. The result is a highly literate workforce, political stability, and low tax rates – making it an expat and foreign investment haven.
Moreover, the reasonable average salary in Costa Rica – especially when compared to the US, UK, and Europe – makes it a bargain for companies to outsource here.
If you’re considering outsourcing to Costa Rica, use the information above to ensure you’re hiring the right talent and compensating them adequately.
Andy is a technology & marketing leader who has delivered award-winning and world-first experiences.
Average Local Salary
A middle-class salary in Costa Rica averages USD $750. In smaller cities, a monthly income is roughly $450 (which just above the country's minimum age).
Costa Rica has a rather unique minimum wage structure, where most professions have a minimum salary. The minimum salary in Costa Rica for unskilled workers is of 316964,69 Costa Rican colons, or roughly 522 USD as of 2021. The minimum wages in the country are nationwide.How much money do you need to live comfortably in Costa Rica? ›
What is the cost of living for expats in Costa Rica? The Costa Rica expat cost of living is going to be quite a bit higher than that of the locals. Expats should expect to spend between $1000-$1400 for a fairly basic lifestyle, or more if they plan to eat out often and enjoy a greater sense of luxury.How much does it cost on average to live in Costa Rica? ›
|Housing (rental of a furnished, two-bedroom apartment)||$800|
|Electricity (varies widely with A/C usage)||$50|
|Fuel Costs (you will not need to heat your home in CR)||$0|
Average Rent in Costa Rica
If you are a single expat, you can rent a one-bedroom apartment for as low as 249,000-283,000 CRC (440-500 USD) per month. If you would like something more lavish, a large three-bedroom house will run around 735,700-1,018,700 CRC (1,300-1,800 USD) per month.
Income taxes on individuals in Costa Rica are levied on local income irrespective of nationality and resident status. For individuals domiciled in Costa Rica, any income obtained within the boundaries of Costa Rica is considered as Costa Rican-source income and is taxable.Do US citizens living in Costa Rica pay taxes? ›
All Americans living in Costa Rica are required to pay taxes on any income they receive from a Costa Rican source. This applies to both residents and non-residents. However, neither category will be taxed on income from a non-Costa Rican source, such as US-source income.Is it cheaper to live in Costa Rica or USA? ›
The average cost of living in Costa Rica is around 30% lower than in the United States. This means that you'll be able to stretch your budget much further in Costa Rica than in the U.S. and enjoy a higher quality of life for a much lower cost.Is it cheaper to live in Costa Rica than USA? ›
Housing Costs in Costa Rica
Overall, the cost of living in Costa Rica is about 37% lower than living in the United States. Where you'll see the most significant difference in pricing is in housing costs. Compared to the U.S., rent in Costa Rica is about 71% lower.
With housing costs and consumer prices much lower than in the U.S., it's easy to stretch your dollars and live like a king in Costa Rica. In fact, most people should be able to live relatively well on just $2,000 a month in Costa Rica.
Economy of Costa Rica.
|Population below poverty line||21.0% (2019) 10.9% on less than $5.50/day (2018)|
|Gini coefficient||47.8 high (2019)|