Cuba is a country that is currently in a time of change. Since the 1990s and into the 2010s, the economy of Cuba has been reforming to better suit the changing world that it finds itself in.
Gone are the days when sugar and businesses completely run by the Cuban state are the norm.
In the last 30 years, since the backing and subsidiaries from the USSR were dropped as the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba has had to find new ways of staying afloat in an increasingly global market.
Today, Cuba is just as known for its thriving tourism as it is for sugar cane and tobacco farms, as well as its state-run businesses.
Along with this change in the Cuban Economy, has come with it a shift in the types of jobs that have been available to many Cubans.
From an explosion in the service industry to mainstay professions that have adapted and thrived in Cuba in the 21st century, there has never been a greater variety of roles and jobs to be found in Cuba.
And that’s what this list is for!
We’re going to cover some of the most common jobs that can be found in Cuba today, from the traditional roles that have stayed vital to the Cuban economy, as well as the newcomers that have cropped up since the reforms of the 1990s.
Transport Truck Drivers
It probably isn’t too surprising to find transport truck drivers on this list.
After all, if any items need transporting, whether it is food, medical supplies, or other goods, they’re going to need to be moved somehow!
Transport and vehicles, in general, have been a mainstay of the Cuban workforce, especially with transporting tobacco, cigar, and sugarcane.
As Cuba has attempted to move further toward supplying its own agricultural needs, rather than importing large amounts of food, this has also come to include food as well.
On average, a truck driver working in Cuba will earn 6,790 Cuban Pesos, or CUP, a month.
As with many other jobs in Cuba, truck drivers are provided with subsidized transport and healthcare for their roles, as well as accommodations and food.
This helps counterbalance the relatively low wages that transport truck drivers usually receive.
However, there is a large amount of discrepancy between wages amongst inexperienced and new truck drivers, especially when compared to those with many more years under their working belts, and even gender.
Transport truck driver women in Cuba earn approximately 6% less than their male counterparts
One of the most common job roles that have opened up in Cuba since the economic reforms began to be implemented in the 1990s is the retail salesperson.
As small businesses have been allowed to be established in the last few decades in Cuba, there have also needed to be people managing those sales.
The average wage for a salesperson working in retail in Cuba is around 13,700 CUP monthly, although lower and higher thresholds exist too.
As with many other roles, most salesperson jobs are subsidized by the government when it comes to transport and healthcare, although the rules are somewhat different when it comes to private business owners.
Several people are often surprised when they see just how many doctors and other health professionals are in Cuba.
What some people find even more surprising is just how often they are likely to find Cuban-trained doctors across the world!
One of the things that Cuba is most famous for is its surprisingly effective and efficient healthcare.
Compared to many other countries, Cuba has a remarkably low mortality rate for infants, as well as a very high average life expectancy rate.
This is partly due to the high number of doctors that are trained in Cuba, both domestically, and medical students from the international community.
The fact that many Cuban communities run community-based healthcare specialist clinics means that there is often relatively high demand for doctors.
All these factors together mean that the average wage for doctors and physicians is around 51,600 CUP per month.
Factors such as these, as well as the rigorous and widely implemented training that Cuban doctors undertake, mean that Cuba has more doctors per 10,000 people than any other country, with a total of 67 in 2005.
Compare this to the number of doctors in the Russian Federation and the United States, 43 and 24 respectively, and you can see the massive difference in medical professional numbers.
Cuban doctors are also expected to travel abroad as part of health programs organized by the Cuban government, with many being sent to Latin America, Africa, South Asia, and Europe.
Doctors are still relatively high earners in Cuba as well.
As the tourism industry has exploded in Cuba in recent years, so has the number of customer service roles too.
With many bars and clubs opening in many urban centers around the country, there has also been an increase in bartenders and barmen that are needed to manage these new establishments.
With that expansion of the tourist industry, bartending has become a viable role for people who have finished secondary education, but have not gone or qualified to the tertiary or university level of education, although there is a lot of in-work training for many of these establishments.
In terms of the average bartender’s salary in Cuba is around 8,570 CUP per month, although higher and lower wages are possible.
Like many other roles and jobs, bartenders are given housing, subsidized healthcare, and transport by the Cuban government, as well as personal food provisions in certain situations.
Related on a similar note to the prevalence of medical professionals in Cuba, biologists are also a popular university-level role that is surprisingly common in Cuba and is usually involved in the research and development of many medical supplies that Cuba exports across the world, such as vaccines.
With an average salary of around 23,700 CUP per month, this is certainly a higher paying job.
Farmers And Planters
Before the economic downturn of the 1990s, the most common jobs that most people who finished education after the secondary level were Cuban tobacco farmers and sugarcane planters.
Considering that Cuban cigars and cigarettes have been mainstays of the Cuban economy for a decade at this point, as has Cuban rum, it isn’t too surprising.
With a booming tourism industry that thrives off of both the selling of tobacco cigars and Cuban rum, these industries have continued to be staples of the Cuban economy, even as tourism has grown to eclipse them.
Farmer’s salaries usually come in at around 6,550 per month.
As with any other place in the world where people need to get from point A to point B, taxi driving is a popular profession across Cuba.
It is possible to find taxi drivers that are employed by both the state, or self-employed. Most Americans that are tourists to Cuba usually have to use private or self-employed taxis for travel, as part of their visa agreement.
A taxi driver, depending on their experience level, will expect to earn around 7,030 per month on average.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are The Main Industries In Cuba?
The largest industries in Cuba are primarily tourism, retail, and banking. In 2016, these industries brought in $1.7 billion to the Cuban economy.
What Are Wages Like In Cuba?
As you may have noticed through your research, many roles that you’ll find in Cuba are relatively low-paying, especially when compared to places such as the United States.
However, most Cuban citizens are promised some form of work and are entitled to free or subsidized healthcare and social security from the Cuban state.
However, if you are a foreign national in Cuba, these same benefits are unlikely to also apply to you.
It is for this reason that many people not native to Cuba will usually end up working there as part of a branch of an international company that is operating in the country.
As you can see, the variety of roles in Cuba is very much like everywhere else in the world.