Working in Houston



Working in the Lone Star State’s largest city can be an expatriate’s gateway towards the famous American Dream. Houston is more than just a renowned capital for oil and gas. It is now regarded as one of the fastest growing economies in the US that’s unstoppably claiming its rightful place beside powerhouse cities such as Chicago and New York City. 

As a major American metropolis, expats bound to Houston can expect nothing less. To begin with, this city boasts towering infrastructures that serve as offices to 24 Fortune 500 Companies including Sysco Corporation and Group 1 Automotive Inc. Houston is also dubbed as a ‘Space City’ as it is the headquarters of the Johnson’s Space Centre, NASA’s largest development and research facility which is the second-leading employer and contractor in the city. Finding jobs anywhere abroad is not easy especially when the whole world is in economic crunch. However, Houston remains a haven for job seekers and major hub for those looking for thriving careers. 

Houston’s Top Industries 

Houston has always been famous for aeronautics, biomedical research and energy industry particularly in oil and gas. Though those three industries are the spearheads of the local economy, expats can also find employment opportunities in the IT sector which is a highly important hub for biotechnology and nanotechnology. Houston also boasts a highly successful manufacturing industry that accounts to 18.3% of the region’s economy. The number of jobs in Houston’s manufacturing sector is the highest in the United States whereas more than 230,000 people are employed under it. 

The tourism industry also offers jobs in Houston's numerous restaurants, shops and hotels, and tourist attractions. Other successful industries in the city include: 

  • International Trade
  • Healthcare
  • Media
  • Fashion
  • Education
  • Energy 

Downtown Houston is also a premier business district and most often referred to as the central business district. The city houses prominent energy companies such as: 

  • Shell Oil
  • Exxon Mobil
  • Dynegy
  • CenterPoint
  • Chevron
  • Devon
  • El Paso Corporation
  • Kinder Morgan
  • Calpine
  • Total S.A.
  • Halliburton 

Also, Downtown Houston is home to: 

  • JPMorgan Chase
  • St. Joseph Hospital
  • University of Houston Downtown
  • Continental Airlines
  • Qatar Airways
  • KPMG
  • Deloitte 

Average Salary and Work Hours 

Generally speaking, the minimum hourly wage in the state of Texas as of 2016 is USD 7.25. Salaries can still vary depending on one's job and qualifications. For example, H1B visa holders hired by a Houston based company for software engineering jobs have a salary range of USD 72,000 to USD 92,000 and database administrator receive around USD 80,000. 

A 40-hour minimum hour of work per week is required. Work done beyond 40 hours per seven-day work week is considered overtime and should be paid 1.5 times the regular rate of pay. Though most states require mandatory breaks for employees, Texas doesn’t have any federal law that governs break schedules. Employers are allowed to impose break schedules under their own conditions. 

Houston’s Business Culture 

Texas in general has a unique mixture of various influences including cultural and religious values from Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. Many expats bound to Houston can already conjure the images of ranchers and independent cowboys on boots which are the characteristics of people living in the Wild, Wild West. 

Houstonians are know for their southern politeness whereas they follow social interaction practices such as saying thank you, hello and please even in the work environment. They deeply respect authority figures, women and elderly. Punctuality is also a common virtue in the US; therefore, the notorious Houston traffic is no excuse to be late to an appointment. 

Greetings are quite important in Houston. It signifies interest and shows how a person recognises the importance of another individual. Hand shake is a key greeting in this city whereas a firm two to five second grasp with a slight pump is the common expectation when being introduced for the first time or at the end of a business meeting. Offering a simple limp can be mistaken as lack of enthusiasm so expats must remember to give a smile and direct eye contact when shaking hands. And last but not the least, Houstonians are conservative so refrain from wearing clothes that show too much skin and stick to smart-casual corporate attires. 


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Expat Services in Houston