Working in Indonesia



Anybody looking to migrate to Indonesia must be aware that the job market is not very open to expatriates. However, due to the declining percentage of professional Indonesians, the government is coming round to foreign job candidates as long as no Indonesian can fill the position.

Working in Indonesia means making your dreams come true in one of the most exotic and highly diverse destinations in Asia. This country houses and estimated total population of 260 million people that speak more than 700 different languages. Despite the blow Indonesia took from the 1997 Asian financial crises, it eventually managed to get back on its feet and push the economy to recovery with the help of the booming service sector. In 2016, Indonesia possessed the largest economy in South-east Asia, the sixteenth-largest in the world by nominal GDP that totalled in USD 936.955 billion and the eighth-largest in the world regarding GDP Purchasing Power Parity of USD 3.010 trillion.

Indonesia’s Top Job Providers

The job market in Indonesia is a mixture of many different people from different professional fields. Some expats have been dispatched by their company on a job assignment while others are foreign diplomats. There are also expat investors, volunteers and aid workers who are devoted to NGO causes.

There are some areas of expertise where expatriates take full advantage- English teachers, in particular, are in demand, especially in schools that are constantly upgrading their educational system. These institutions prefer a native English speaker. Hence, English teaching has become a lucrative career in the country. At present, there are more than 100 English language schools throughout Indonesia, the most in the region. Other key industries where expats can find thriving employment opportunities are:

  • Auto Manufacturing
  • Energy
  • Insurance
  • Legal
  • Logistics
  • Tourism
  • Packaging
  • Petrochemicals

Average Salary and Working Hours

Expectedly, expats earn higher salaries because they can fill jobs in industries that few native job seekers are interested in. An English teacher may make between RP. 7,500,000 - RP. 8,000,000 (US$800 - US$850), and that is considered high by local standards. The monthly minimum wage in Indonesia varies in every province but generally speaking, it reached an all time high of IDR 3.35 million or USD 250 this 2017. The table below shows the different monthly minimum wages in various areas of Indonesia:


IDR 3,355,750 or USD 250


IDR 1,956,727 or USD 145

Central Java

IDR 1,367,000 or USD 100


IDR 2,663,646 or USD 200

Central Borneo

IDR 2,222,986 or USD 165

The minimum wage is also calculated as per the standard 40 hours per week. The typical working day in Indonesia starts from 8 am until 4 pm with one hour lunch from Mondays to Fridays. During Fridays, there is an additional prayer break which is taken between 11:30 and 1:30.

The Indonesian Work Culture

The overall structure of Indonesia’s business culture is hierarchical whereas the elderly and those with power, social status and of high position receive utmost respect. Superiors in this country are often referred to as ‘bapak’ or ‘ibu’ which translates to sir or madam. One interesting factor about the Indonesian culture is that, though hierarchy is emphasised, they also put importance in maintaining group harmony. They are advocates of group consensus and discussions which they believe will help create a strong bond among workers.

A handshake is the most common greeting which should be followed by mentioning the word ‘selamat’. Expats in this country should also remember that if they are being introduced to a group, they should always start shaking the hand of the elderly or the one with the most senior position.

When it comes to business cards, always include your title since it enhances your credibility and image. If possible, have one side of the card printed in Bahasa since it signifies respect. Accept a card using either both hands and just the right hand and make sure to inspect or examine it before putting it away.

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Continue reading:

Working in Jakarta

Work Guide

Expat Services in Indonesia