Working in the US




The United States is for sure, one of the richest and probably the most influential country on earth. It is a highly developed nation that boasts an impressive reputation when it comes to the average wage, Gross Domestic Product (per capita) and human development. For the past decades, USA has always been the symbol of a prosperous future to many foreign nationals. 

Historically speaking, the United States has always been a powerhouse country and a leader in many aspects such as technological innovations, scientific research, infrastructure and natural resources. Uncle Sam is also a consistent top ranking nation when it comes to Nominal and Purchasing Power Parity Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Just in 2016, US possessed the largest economy in the world in terms of nominal GDP whereas its USD 18.5 trillion economy represented about 24.5% of the gross world product. 

Major Industries 

Given USA’s large national economy, it’s no wonder why it boasts an impressive list of booming industries. Each of its 50 states serve as a driving force behind its economic success and expats who will work in this country will soon realise that almost every state is on top of their game. For example, California is well renowned for being a global leader in technology, real estate, motion picture, management as well as in scientific and technical consulting. New York and Boston are role players in the financial sector while Nevada is popular for its thriving tourism considering that it houses Las Vegas, the infamous Sin City. 

"In general, it is hard to come in the US. Immigration is tough, but I believe it’s the case in most countries."- Sylvain Kalache, Expat in San Francisco, The United States

In 2016, some of the highly profitable industries are finance, health technology and technology services. Expats can also consider seeking employment in the transportation, manufacturing, healthcare, energy and agriculture sectors that significantly contribute to United States’ economy. Those looking to jumpstart a career in accounting, Information Systems, sales and marketing, human resources, engineering or trucking and logistics have an advantage, as these are the top fields in the job market. 

Average Wage 

The average salary in the United States of America is benchmarked by the hour, and as of December 2016, the minimum hourly wage reached an all time high of 21.80 USD. Living in the US can be quite expensive particularly in the major cities such as New York, California and Los Angeles. However, pays in these top expat destinations are also high especially to those that have impressive qualifications. The north-eastern regions of the US have the highest pay grade while the south region has the lowest rates. 

"It took around six to nine months to complete my L1 visa, and it took a day to obtain my wife’s. It took three months for my wife to obtain an employment authorization document, which can only be obtained once you are in the US."- James Tullett, Expat in the USA

An attractive compensation awaits expats building a career in the US. Top-level positions average $480,000 annually, while entry-level jobs earn up to around $30,000. Administrative position salaries range from $33,000 - 42,000, retail store managers earn $42,000, construction project managers $40,000 and lawyers get $77,000 annually. 

"It took around 9 months for my Green Card to be granted. I filled out all the paperwork myself (rather than use a lawyer) and it was really complicated!"- Kylie Neuhaus, Expat in Iowa, USA

There is also an alarming gap of salary discrepancy that is based on geography, gender and race whereas the income levels of the white tend to be higher than the minority groups. Also, a majority of the women in this country only earn about 75% of the salary of their male counterparts. 

Work Schedule 

Working conditions in the US are governed by both the federal and the state law. In general, the average work week is 40 hours although many high-paying positions require the employee/s to work beyond the maximum work week. Traditional working day in this country starts at 9:00 am until 6:00 pm from Mondays to Fridays with one hour lunch that can be divided into two 15-minute breaks. Every employee in America is also entitled to a minimum of two weeks vacation and two weeks paid sick leave annually. 

"The visa is a long and tiring process. It takes a lot of time and money. You have to be your own secretary and be well organized among the pile of papers to fill if you want the processing times to be shorter."- Floriane, Expat in the USA

Finding a Job 

The Internet is the main resource for job seekers in the US. It is important to realize that different states have different business customs, hence, different application and selection procedures. Individuals must also follow the appropriate visa process or risk deportation by the authorities. In general, those who seek to work in the US need to secure all the relevant employment paperwork and a job offer from a US-based employer before visa processing can ensue. 

"The visas, work permits, and international health insurances were organised by my husband through his work. They were not difficult to obtain through this path there just seemed to be a lot of waiting for the next stage. "- Caroline - Expat in Texas, USA

Work Environment 

Workplace culture in the US is results-oriented. Employees have virtually all the freedom they need to conduct their job as long as they produce what is expected of them at the end of the day. American employers want to see the accomplishment of short-term goals while working towards longer-term objectives. In informal situations in the office, people do not let their guard down. Recreation is important as a team, and everybody mingles during social events like corporate picnics and sports events. 

Only recently, the newly elected President Donald Trump has made news as well as controversies worldwide regarding his take on gender equality, employment, and overall status of migrant workers in the US. Though his current administration may create drastic changes in the traditional business and work culture in the US, expats bound to this nation should still put their hopes in its core values that lie in the words of the former President Thomas Jefferson: 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” – United States Declaration of Independence 


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Expat Services in The United States