What is the average salary in Costa Rica?

by Time Doctor
Average Salary in Costa Rica

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 28,300,000 CRC per year — equivalent to 52,586 USD per year according to the exchange rate in April 2023. 

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. 

Table of Contents

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, 28,300,000 CRC (Costa Rican Colónes) per year is the average salary for most Costa Rican employees (according to Salary Explorer). 

According to the April 2023 exchange rate, this amounts to 52,586 USD/year

The average monthly salary can range from 597,000 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 597,000 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 2,140,000 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 1,540,000 CRC while 75% earn more than 1,540,000 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: 

A) Experience

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-Career6% – 9%
Senior Level 10% – 15%
Top Management 15% – 20%

Source: salaryexplorer.com 

B) Industry

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 
Education 4%
Information Technology (IT) 3%
Healthcare 1%

Source: salaryexplorer.com 

4. Minimum wage law

Unlike most countries, Costa Rica has no fixed hourly minimum wage. 

Instead, the National Salary Council of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security sets occupational rates for different job titles and skill levels. 

The minimum monthly wage for workers in Costa Rica is 352,000 CRC (US$625) for unskilled occupations, 452,000 CRC (US$803) for specialized, 626,000 CRC (US$1,112) for a university bachelor’s degree and ¢752,000 (US$1,336) for a university graduate, according to the list established by the Ministry of Labor for the first semester of 2023.

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.  

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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. 

ProfessionMedian Salary (per year) 
Dentist 32,384,624 CRC
Software Engineer19,855,717 CRC 
Python Developer 19,666,979 CRC
Newscaster 17,332,521 CRC
JavaScript Developer 17,258,766 CRC
Project Manager 16,601,553 CRC
English Teacher 15,313,300 CRC
UX Designer 14,505,230 CRC
Registered Nurse13,853,938 CRC
Accountant 13,681,628 CRC
Paralegal 11,141,466 CRC
Graphic Designer10,805,167 CRC
Teacher10,011,348 CRC
Chef9,612,788 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
Cashier 4,607,908 CRC

Source: salaryexpert.com 

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. 

For instance, a US software developer charges $28.76 per hour on average, while a Costa Rican software developer charges 4,750 CRC per hour ($8.83 per hour). 

That’s significantly less than 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. 

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: 

  • DevOps. 
  • Security. 
  • 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. 
  • Telemarketing. 
  • Customer support. 
  • Order management. 
  • Collections. 
  • 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: 

  • Recruitment. 
  • 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. 

Wrapping up 

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.

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