Popular Jobs for Expats

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Written By Matt Shannon

There are many opportunities for expats abroad that might not be apparent immediately. Of course, everyone knows that you can teach your native language just about anywhere in the world, this is especially so for native English speakers. Did you know that there are many other opportunities out there if you don’t want to teach English? In this post, we will examine some of the most popular options for work that expats are usually able to find abroad. It is important to note that we are not examining all of the expat package jobs available, as of course, there are options in every field and in every industry. Expat packages are usually reserved for highly trained experts with significant experience in their home countries or other international markets. That being said, if you have specialized skills, it never hurts to reach out to recruiters and headhunters in your country of choice to have a conversation about options that may be available.

Many resources for potential expats usually begin by explaining how difficult it is to find a job abroad and that it requires careful planning. We hope to debunk this myth. With a bit of persistence, it is possible to find a job in just about any country and in almost any industry. The most important aspect of your job search will be identifying what your strengths are compared to the local market. The first thing that comes to mind is usually language abilities, and this is for good reason. The most important skill that gives you a major advantage over any local population is your native language, be it English, Arabic or Chinese. When language skills are combined with your other skills, you can set yourself apart in the local labor market. If you also have local language skills, this will set you up for some of the better jobs that may be available to foreigners in any given country.

The most popular jobs in any country for expats usually fall into one of the following categories:

  • Language Teacher
  • Editor (Usually Native English)
  • Business Development/Sales
  • Marketing
  • Tourism
  • Translation

We will look at each of these jobs and give you a bit of a background on how to position yourself for a job.

Language Teacher

Language teacher is likely the most straightforward of all of the options for first-time expats. Teaching your native language, while certainly not easy, is one of the easiest jobs to obtain upon relocation to another country. Rates for teaching a language can vary greatly around the world depending on the country’s proficiency in any given language. With English’s role as the world language, there are by far the most opportunities to teach English as opposed to any other language. It is likely possible to teach English as a native speaker in just about any city in the world (that isn’t English speaking of course). You might be thinking, well I must need special education to be a teacher, or at least have passed a certification program, right? Wrong. The demand for native English teachers is so high in most countries that this is not required, and unless you are determined to make a career of teaching English, I highly recommend you do not pay for an English teaching certification. It is usually enough to show up in a country, and start talking to local English schools and you should be able to land some work almost immediately. The real money in teaching a language is certainly in private lessons. As you build your network in your new country, people will likely ask you to teach them or their friends English in the form of private lessons. In future posts, we will tell you exactly how to go about getting your first private students and working at a local English school or training center.


If you have a strong understanding of your native language, another lucrative option is to work as an editor in your chosen country. We will look specifically at the options for working as an English editor, but most of this advice can be applied to any other language, you may just have to search slightly harder. International companies are the best places to look for English editing positions. For example, the Big 4 accounting firms are always looking for English editors around the globe to ensure that client-facing materials are written in flawless English. Other consulting companies are also great options, this includes law firms, management consulting firms, risk, and compliance consulting firms, real estate consulting firms, etc. There are many of these types of companies with hundreds of offices worldwide. The next group of companies that are always looking for English editors is technology companies who market their products internationally. Think Kaspersky Labs from Russia or Xiaomi in China. These companies from time to time have openings for English editors who work to ensure that user interfaces are perfectly translated. Media companies also have editing positions in multiple languages. News agencies and TV stations usually have the most openings at any given time. News agencies are usually the easiest option to track down as they are looking to translate all of their news from the local language to other international languages, first and foremost – English.   

Business Development / Sales

Business development and sales positions are also very popular among expats for a few reasons. First, almost any large company in the world will be targeting the United States and other western countries for clients and customers. This presents an opportunity for those who enjoy business development and sales to act as consultants on selling to your home country. Many companies who are eager to enter the US market, for example, will look to find someone from the US to help with the business development strategy to enter the US market. The best companies to target for these types of roles are likely technology companies, consulting companies, and financial firms. Sales positions are similar to business development, but you would likely be involved in selling to your home country.


For people with marketing experience, again, this is a very good angle to have and will be valuable in any country in the world. Just about any company, which is looking to market internationally would be a potentially interesting opportunity. There are so many companies that would be interested in expats with marketing experience that it is really up to you where you want to work. It will take time to network into a position at a great company, so any local experience on the ground can help. The most important thing is that you are persistent in networking once on the ground.

Tourism Industry

Tourism is one of the largest industries in the world and for good reason. In any given country, you can usually find tourists from just about every other country present. This industry is very favorable for expats because most countries are interested in attracting tourists from other countries, more specifically western countries. Many countries even have state-sponsored tourism initiatives to specifically attract wealthier tourists to boost the economy. There is also no shortage of local tour companies who would like to market their domestic tourism options to foreign tourists. These foreign tourists are usually willing to pay significantly more than local tourists. Expats around the world have started their own tourism companies in every country of the world as well. If you have a desire to work in tourism, look around the market and get a feeling of the local players, are they selling packages to foreign tourists? If so, this is the type of company that would be interested in hiring an expat. The salaries might not be as high in this field but the lifestyle is usually quite nice. You will be traveling around the country on familiarization trips, which are paid for by hotels and tourist attractions with the hope that you will then sell their attractions to your tour company’s clients.


If you have local language skills alongside another native language, translation is typically very well paid work. There are very few native English translators of many non-European languages, think Russian, Arabic, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, etc. If you are professionally competent in one of these languages as well as English, you will likely have to turn down work if you market yourself correctly. You need to be strategic in who you target for your translation services, industries typically interested in translation services include finance, consulting, law, media/news, sports, engineering, and consumer goods. If you have a law degree, for example, legal translators can make very good money translating to their native language. Many law firms will typically charge this work to their clients at a rate of $100 an hour, so paying a translator $50+ an hour is typical if done on a contract basis.

In future posts, we will take an in-depth look at each of these options and give practical advice on exactly how to go about finding your dream job. We will tell you which companies are looking for these types of expats, how and where to network with professionals in your country to set you up for success.