- Download our Moving to the USA Guide (PDF)
Working in the USA provides a wealth of opportunities for those willing to put in the time and effort.
Hard work is a respected virtue in the US, and new arrivals should expect a rigorous schedule that is often more than 40 hours a week. There's less holiday time than what's given in Europe, with only two weeks' annual leave in many positions. Business etiquette in the US is similar to Europe, and it can be expected that the environment will be a bit more relaxed on the West Coast as opposed to the East Coast.
An Immigrant Visa will be needed by expats who wish to reside and work in the USA.
Job market in the USA
The American economy is comprised of many different industries that are largely driven by regional location. East Coast cities, such as New York City and Boston, are strong financial players, while the Midwest heartland lays claim to sectors relating to agriculture and natural resources. West Coast metropolises such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle are famous for technology and entertainment development.
Production and manufacturing contracts are increasingly being outsourced to smaller economies overseas, and Americans are becoming more focused on service jobs. Demand for low-wage service jobs, such as agricultural work and domestic help, have been fulfilled by a wave of Mexican immigration which has caused friction and made immigration a hot political topic.
Western and Asian expats in the US generally fill in more skilled parts of the workforce. American companies can apply for foreign workers if they can clearly show a lack of qualified American citizens available to carry out the job required. The US is particularly interested in skilled professionals for areas in which it competes for part of the global market, such as the burgeoning IT sector.
The demand for employees in the medical profession – such as nurses, medical assistants and technicians – is on the increase. Jobs relating to care for older people are also growing as the baby-boomer generation is reaching retirement.
Finding a job in the USA
Those on the hunt for work can consult online job portals, social networks such as LinkedIn and local classifieds, or enlist the help of an agency. Companies may also advertise vacancies on their own websites. If already in the country, local newspapers can be a useful tool, and it's always a good idea to ask around the neighbourhood and find out if anyone knows of an opening.
Work culture in the USA
The USA is a geographically large country, which makes it somewhat difficult to generalise about work culture and practices across its different regions. Still, there are a few traits that are worth bearing in mind, regardless of where in the country one hopes to work.
Most prominent US commercial hubs thrive because of a willingness to accept new ideas and nurture budding entrepreneurs. Business culture is individualistic, and the workplace rewards 'go-getters'. Meanwhile, those who lack independence, initiative and self-reliance lag behind. Status and age are largely obsolete; instead, merit, good ideas and hard work are the vehicles for advancement.
►Getting a Social Security Number in the USA is essential reading for expats moving to America
►Have a job in the USA? Read Work Permits for the USA to ensure you have all the necessary paperwork.
"As opposed to France, people work more hours and have very few vacation days per year (5 to 6 weeks paid vacation in France vs. an average of 2 weeks in the United States)."
Read more about the life and experiences of French expat Emmanuelle in her Expat Arrivals interview.
Are you an expat living in The USA?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to The USA. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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