Talent scouts and HR managers on the hunt for highly qualified, remote-work professionals are increasingly looking to Colombia, and – like any good recruiter – their research often starts by studying what the current average salary in Colombia for such talent is.
While this article will help you explore the average salary costs for a variety of professions, we’ll take a particular focus on the IT sector in this developer-rich Latin American country.
Today, it is no wonder that Colombian software developers are in high demand, especially when considering that the average salary in Colombia for such professions is considerably lower than what US workers are asking.
For example, the average Colombian salary for a software developer comes out to 4,680,000 COP (1,076 USD) per month, while software developers in the US take home around 7,600 USD monthly. However, experienced software developers (at least three years) who have worked nearshore for companies in the US or abroad and possess a high level of English proficiency can expect to take home up to 5,500 USD (which is still a cost-effective option compared to US tech workers).
One of the main draws for outsourcing in Colombia is the country’s educated and highly skilled tech talent marketplace—according to data by the World Bank, Colombia has the second highest number of science and engineering graduates at the tertiary level when compared with other Latin American tech centers after Mexico, and is followed by Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Costa Rica.
The Colombian government has cashed in on the action, supporting the growing IT market with several initiatives and grants, including a 2.5 million USD investment into tech education focused at closing the tech gap between teachers and students.
In this article, we cover all that and more.
We have compiled vital trends and statistics on the average salary in Colombia and arranged them by key metrics such as sector, educational attainment, years of experience, and location, all to assist you in securing top global hires talent from Colombia’s thriving talent marketplace.
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In the United States, the federally mandated minimum wage is 7.25 USD per hour, five times that of Colombia, though the actual minimum wage varies according to state. Georgia has one of the lowest minimum wage rates at 5.15 USD (still nearly four times that of Colombia), and Washington, D.C. tops the list with the highest minimum wage in the US at 16.10 USD an hour.
Compared to other countries in South America and the Caribbean, the minimum wage in Colombia in 2023 is reportedly one of the lowest, just above the Dominican Republic, Argentina, and Venezuela.
At the other end of the scale with the highest minimum wages in the region are Costa Rica, Uruguay, and Chile. Compared to fellow Latin American remote work outsourcing favorites Chile, Brazil and Mexico, Colombia is more affordable.
What is the average salary in Colombia? In Colombia, salaries across all sectors range from a minimum of 1,190,000 COP (268 USD) per month to a maximum average salary of 20,900,000 COP (4,710 USD) per month.
Compared to the monthly average salary range in the US—2,000 USD (minimum) to 35,250 USD (average maximum)—the average monthly salary in Colombia is considerably lower.
In terms of salary distribution, 25% of Colombia’s population are earning less than 2,920,000 COP (658 USD) per month while 50% of them are taking home less than 4,040,000 COP (910 USD) monthly.
Meanwhile, 75% of the population are earning less than 6,130,000 COP (1,381 USD) per month while 25% are taking home less than 20,900,000 (4,710 USD) monthly.
In Colombia’s closest neighboring country Ecuador, employees take home much more—25% earn below 820 USD, 50% earn less than 1,470 USD, 75% have monthly salaries below 4,080 USD, and almost everyone earns less than 6,080 USD.
The average monthly salary in Colombia across all industries and professions is around 4,690,000 COP (1,056 USD) per month, with the average person earning around 6.6 USD per hour (this is just below the US federally mandated minimum wage of 7.25 USD per hour). This also includes benefits such as housing and transportation.
Further on in the article, we will cover the average salary in Colombia per sector, which can vary greatly based on experience level, educational attainment, and location, among other factors.
The median is the middle salary value in a set of salaries arranged in either ascending or descending order.
This means that in Colombia, 50% of the working population earns less than 4,040,000 COP (910 USD) per month while the other half takes home a monthly income of more than that.
You may be wondering which job titles in Colombia take home the best salaries. Let’s take a look.
Colombia’s top 10 highest-paid professions are 1) surgeons and doctors, 2) judges, 3) lawyers, 4) bank managers, 5) CEOs, 6) CFOs, 7) orthodontists, 8) college professors, 9) pilots, and 10) marketing directors.
Surgeons are the highest paid, with an average monthly salary of 17,400,000 COP (3,919 USD), while marketing directors are in 10th place, earning 6,280,000 COP (1,415 USD) per month. For comparison, in the US, surgeons make upwards of 21,000 USD monthly, while marketing directors pocket 7,815 USD on average per month, much more than in Colombia.
Let’s take a closer look at the average monthly salaries of top professions arranged by industry in Colombia.
Let’s dive into more detail and look at the most common professions in Colombia and their average monthly salaries (base rates), arranged by industry.
Bear in mind that for most professions, the average salary in Bogotá and the average salary in Medellín, Colombia will generally be higher, following steeper costs of living in both cities, which we will look into later on in the article.
Of special note are the average Colombian salaries for tech professions, which Colombia specializes in.
In terms of salary comparison by city, Colombia’s capital Bogotá and Medellín, the capital of Colombia’s Antioquia province, lead the country with the highest salary averages. The average salary in Bogotá, Colombia sits at 5,420,000 COP (1,246 USD) per month, while average salary in Medellín follows in close second, with an average monthly take home pay of 5,370,000 COP (1,235 USD).
Colombian cities Neiva and Manizales sit on the lower end of the average Colombian salary spectrum, with average monthly salaries of 4,200,000 COP (966 USD) and 4,250,000 COP (977 USD), respectively.
How much does educational attainment affect salary in Colombia?
Averaged over different sectors and careers, professionals who achieved high-school level are lower (minimum salary) earners, while those holding a certificate or a diploma are paid 17% more for the same profession.
Workers with Bachelor’s degrees can expect 24% more than diploma graduates for doing the same type of work. Master’s degree holders, on the other hand, earn 29% more than those with a Bachelor's degree, and PhD holders are paid a premium of 23% higher than those with a Master’s degree.
It is worth noting that Colombia’s tech industry is boosted by a high number of science and engineering graduates at the tertiary level and tech workers with a high level of skill in different technologies and programming languages.
This specialization, as well as a wider demand for remote-working, global tech talent after the COVID-19 pandemic, has paved the way for a higher average salary in Colombia for tech professionals.
One of the most important factors in determining salary is experience. How much experience is necessary? What is the average salary in Colombia for professionals with more experience? Can they expect more pay? Let’s take a look at the statistics.
In Colombia, those with five to 10 years of work experience earn 36% more than work newbies with less than five years of experience. Experienced employees of more than 10 years can expect to earn 21% more than their less-experienced colleagues, and veterans who’ve put in more than 20 years of work can expect a 9% pay hike over those with 15 to 20 years.
As mentioned earlier in the article, professionals with more work experience under their belts—and especially those with experience working for companies in the US or abroad—who are highly proficient in English can expect to take home pay that is higher than the average salary in Colombia.
In Colombia, employees receive a 7% salary raise every 19 months on average, as compared to the US’ average salary increment rate hike at 8% every 16 months and the world’s average of 3% every 16 months.
To calculate an annual salary increase over 12 months, use this formula: Annual salary increase = (increase rate x 12) ÷ increase frequency.
In 2023, the annual salary increment rates for Colombian employees averaged at 4.14% across the following sectors in 2023: banking (2%), construction (3%), education (5%), energy (4%), healthcare (8%), information technology (6%), and travel (1%).
Experience can make a big difference in annual salary rate hikes. Colombian employees at a junior level can expect a pay rise of 3% to 5%; those mid-career will see a 6% to 9% annual salary increase; senior level folks will get 10% to 15%; and those in top management positions have an annual salary increment rate of 15% to 20%.
In terms of living costs, one person ideally needs a minimum of 546 USD per month to live comfortably in Colombia. In bigger cities Bogotá and Medellín, the rates are higher at 676 USD per month and 662 USD per month, respectively.
Meanwhile, expenses continue to rise in the US, raising living costs for one person to an average of 2,213 USD per month. According to Forbes, Mississippi, Kansas, and Alabama are the three least expensive US states to live in, and Hawaii, Massachusetts, and California have the highest living costs in the country.
Below are monthly average living costs in Colombia, arranged by city:
In Colombia, all employed professionals must make contributions to the social security system, which are calculated based on earnings and provide benefits to participants and/or their dependents, in the event of work-related accidents, sickness, retirement, and death. Self-employed and unemployed individuals can contribute voluntarily through a separate program, which has a special quota.
Social security contributions must be paid by both the employer and the employee. Below are details on employer and employee contributions for different types of insurance:
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