Salaries for expats in Nigeria

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How much will I earn as an expat in Nigeria?

Expats looking to gauge their salary expectations before relocating to Nigeria should bear in mind three vital considerations:
  • Jobs in Nigeria's oil sector are far more lucrative than in any other sector.
  • A large salary will not necessarily translate into large savings due to the surprisingly high cost of living in Nigeria.
  • Expat should be wary of scams, fake job postings and the off-centre salaries associated with these fraudulent activities.

Expat jobs and salaries in Nigeria

Despite being very much a developing country, Nigeria performs well in global cost of living surveys. The reason for this is the oil boom of the 1970s, which saw tons of foreign investment pour into the country to facilitate international business relations. As a result, to this day, most worthwhile expat jobs in Nigeria will be found in the oil industry (usually in the employ of a big multinational company such as Chevron, Shell or Mobil); however, there are also plenty of opportunities available in the mining, construction, training, IT, telecommunications and general business sectors as well.
The most popular expat jobs in Nigeria are in the fields of project management, chartered accountancy, human resources management, business development, IT systems management and engineering. You will need at least three years of experience in your field to qualify for a high-wage job posting.
Incentives for expats looking for work in Nigeria can average as much as 45 percent above basic pay, and range between about USD 100,000 and USD 200,000 per annum. The average is about USD 123,000 a year, but is often quoted in terms of (approximately) USD 400 per day. Very high-level senior management jobs in the oil sector will command higher salaries, sometimes as much as USD 450,000 a year.
Expats should note that these high salaries should be considered in line with the high cost of living in Nigeria and the hardship and safety factors. The safety of foreign workers in Nigeria, particularly in the southern oil-producing Delta region, remains an ongoing concern. Since January 2007, at least 200 foreign nationals have been kidnapped in the Delta region. Expats should consider their options carefully if accepting an opportunity with a smaller company which may not have the same ability to ensure the safety and security of staff as a larger company.

Saving money in Nigeria

Although the prospect of earning a salary in Nigeria in excess of USD 100,000 a year might seem a mouthwatering opportunity for expats, you must realise that this windfall will not necessarily translate into big savings. While the cost of living in Nigeria, for items like food, drinks, petrol and cigarettes is quite cheap, the respective costs of secure (gated community) accommodation in Nigeria, comprehensive health insurance, private transport, international schooling and electricity can be shocking; and expats will need to negotiate carefully with their prospective employers when discussing their salary expectations.
If you are looking to save money in Nigeria, ensure that at least some provision is made in your contract to cover your accommodation, health insurance, transport and – if applicable – child's schooling costs. Although it's becoming less and less of an acceptable card to play when negotiating expat contracts, Nigeria is certainly a bit of a 'hardship destination', and you should be compensated accordingly.

Scams and fake job offers in Nigeria

Nigeria is the land of the '419 scam', and unfortunately, these fraudulent practices can crop up long before expats even set foot in the country. When conducting online searches for jobs in Nigeria, keep your wits about you: ask yourself if the company is reputable (does it have international presence?), and whatever you do, don't pay any money upfront for the 'privilege' of an interview or a recommendation. A good rule to keep in mind: if an offer seems just too good to be true, it more than likely is.

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