Skip to main content

Working in the USA

30 Rockefeller Plaza skyline with tall buildings

To work in the USA, you are required to have a permit to live and work in the USA, or in other words, you must have a Green Card or a valid work visa. With either of these, the doors of the American job market are open to you.

You have already won in the Green Card Lottery and are already planning the next steps for your move to the land of your dreams. Naturally, where you decide to live in the USA depends heavily on where you get a job. Luckily, job prospects in the USA are looking good for immigrants: The newest studies released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the unemployment rate in the USA is the lowest it’s been since 2007.

It is important to become familiar with the American job market and get a good understanding of large and important markets and companies. The service sector, education and health sectors as well as the so-called TIMES-market are booming. TIMES stands for the telecommunication, information technology, multimedia, entertainment and security services.


The service sector is the main pillar of the US economy. Almost 80% of all employees work in the service sector. That includes trade, transportation, the insurance business, media and banking as well as the education, communication and information sectors.


The second largest sector is industry. The USA is at the forefront in the, for example, engineering and transport industries. The United States also takes the lead in the chip and software industry, the chemical sector, medical technology, oil and natural gas production as well as being at the top of the food industry.

Hi Tech

Naturally, California is famous for having the largest entertainment industry in Los Angeles, but it is Silicon Valley’s high-tech industry that is bringing in the money. All the big tech firms like Apple, Google, Adobe, eBay and Facebook are at home in the valley. There are other high-tech hotspots in the USA, though. Maybe you would prefer a job with Microsoft in Seattle or with Amazon in Washington D.C.

Research & Development

If you are more interested in working in the medical field, pharmaceutical research and development sector or in biotechnologies, then you should feel at home in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina with the company GlaxoSmithKline. You might also like Maryland and the Washington D.C. region which are famous for their R&D sector. Here you will find the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institute on Health (NIH) and the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP). Boston, Massachusetts is considered the hub for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector and is home to more than 100 companies in this sector. If you want to head south, then you can find oil giants like ExxonMobil in Houston, Texas.

What's it like to work in the US?

Working hours : Typically similar to European nations: eight hours per day, Monday to Friday, equivalent to 40 hours per week. However, unpaid overtime often adds to this total in practice. You may end up working occasional 12 hour days, especially in the legal or medical professions.

Holidays : Two weeks' annual leave is typical (although there is no statutory minimum). This may increase with long service, although some employees receive as little as nine paid holiday days a year, well below the UK average. Paid leave may also be given for national holidays such as Independence Day (the fourth of July), Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. However, not all private business honour public holidays.

Income tax : If you become a resident alien with a green card you will usually be subject to the same tax rates as US citizens, meaning you'll have to declare all your income in a tax return. Check your UK tax and national insurance position with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to make sure you will not lose any UK pension rights.

Related Articles