Work and Travel in Panama
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN PANAMA FOR TRAVELLERS
Panama is a wealthy Central American country that has prospered due to its canal. But the wealth isn't distributed evenly. As you travel in Panama you'll soon see that there are a lot of people in need of help.
That's why work and travel in Panama is a highly rewarding way to spend your travel time.
Take a look at our travel guide to Panama to find out more about the things you can do here.
1. Help Indigenous Communities in Panama
The islands of Panama still have their original populations. The indigenous peoples of Panama have, unfortunately, been left behind. They suffer from a lack of opportunity and a high degree of prejudice.
Charities are there to help these communities become more self-sufficient.
Some projects may involve helping the local people make jewellery and other ornaments. Volunteers can help with making and marketing.
It's all about giving them the skills they need to thrive.
2. Work in an Orphanage in Panama
Poverty levels are high, so one of the best volunteering opportunities in Panama you can take up is working with orphans.
The number of abandoned children is unacceptably high and orphanages need all the help they can get.
Working in a Panamanian orphanage allows you to make connections with these children and offer them a little bit of happiness.
All you need is a love for children.
3. Teach English in Panama
Panama is one of the centres of world business in the Americas. It has a huge expat community and businesses that connect with nations across the world.
There's a high demand for English speakers. Local people know they have to learn English if they're going to get a good job.
Teaching English in Panama lets you give locals skills that will stay with them forever.
Native English speakers often don't need formal qualifications, but a TEFL will widen the number of options for work in Panama.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR PANAMA
Panama offers a generous visa policy to most countries. The length of stay for someone who doesn't need a visa is 180 days. And you can easily return to the country soon afterwards to renew your stay.
North Americans, Australians, Kiwis, the Japanese, South Koreans, South Africans, Russians, and Europeans are all entitled to enter the country without a visa.
Nationals of India and China will need to visit an embassy of Panama in their home countries to obtain a visa. Tourist visas are only valid for 90 days.
It should be mentioned that Panama is one of the strictest countries in the world when it comes to flights. Be prepared to have proof of onward travel and, in some cases, proof of yellow fever vaccination before you arrive. For more info here.
They enforce these rules rigorously.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN PANAMA
Panama really only has two seasons per year. The spring season falls into the wet season, but the rains are not particularly difficult to manage at this time of year.
One of the best projects you can pick up is reforestation. These volunteering opportunities in Panama focus on replanting many of the felled trees that were knocked down years ago.
Spring is the ideal time for these projects as it's just in time for the rains.
You'll mainly find these projects in Northern Panama, but they're available in other areas of the country as well.
Another type of project is teaching English to children. March marks the beginning of the school year and many schools want new English teachers.
You can also find work as a private English tutor. For private commissions, you shouldn't need any qualifications. Schools, on the other hand, usually look for travellers who have prior experience.
The summer is the middle of the rainy season and it can be difficult to find work in outdoor areas.
This is why we recommend choosing educational projects. There are plenty available, especially in Panama City and David.
The autumn season is the culmination of the rainy season. As a result, there are not too many seasonal backpacking skills specific to autumn.
Refer back to 'Summer' for more information on some of the options available.
The dry season in Panama also heralds the coming of the majority of tourists from Latin America, and some from Europe.
There are options for work and travel in Panama's tourism industry. You'll find lots of hostels centred in Panama City, David, and in Bocas del Toros.
Working as a volunteer in a hostel is a great way to get free accommodation, and sometimes free food. You'll also get to connect with your fellow travellers.
You might also want to consider heading to the islands. Panama's islands have a lot to offer, and this is where the native peoples can make a large income.
Working with these groups will allow you to help them streamline their marketing efforts. You can also participate in craft workshops, where you'll be making trinkets and keepsakes that are eventually sold to visitors.
Community outreach programmes are another possibility. Working with native groups and helping to spread awareness of their rights can initiate permanent change throughout the country.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN PANAMA
Panama's wealth has differentiated it from the rest of Central America. If you've visited other parts of the country, you'll notice there are big differences here. It's a far more modern country than the rest of the region.
So you're not going to find any problems when it comes to working or volunteering. Foreigners have regularly visited Panama to volunteer, so it's nothing out of the ordinary.
Just be aware that if you get the chance to take paid work you should consider whether you're taking a job from a local. The same goes for certain volunteering projects.
Make sure you leave a positive volunteering footprint and you'll help benefit the country for years to come.
If you're ready to work and travel in Panama, now is the time!