Discover what visa you need and what working conditions are like if you are looking for work experience or a graduate job in the USA

Job market

At the start of 2015 the US job market achieved the highest quarterly job growth in 17 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Wages and salaries are also at their highest point since 2008 (Bloomberg, 2014). In fact, major news outlets in the UK and USA are reporting signs of improvement - which is encouraging news if you're seeking employment in the USA.

The USA is still known as a global economic giant. Its main exports include machinery, electronics, oil, vehicles, aircraft and medical equipment.

Major US companies include:

  • Apple;
  • AT&T;
  • Chevron;
  • Exxon Mobil;
  • Ford Motor;
  • General Electric;
  • Google;
  • IBM;
  • JPMorgan Chase;
  • Microsoft;
  • Pfizer;
  • Procter & Gamble.

Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are keen graduate employers, especially in the IT and technology sectors. For example, the world-famous Silicon Valley in California is home to hundreds of IT and technology start-ups.

The country also holds the most advanced media sector in the world. US film, TV and music has a global audience and there are thousands of newspapers, radio stations and news channels.

Job vacancies

To find jobs in the USA, visit:

You can also search company websites and industry publications.

Internships and work experience in the USA

Students, graduates and professionals can apply for short-term work opportunities at the Fulbright Commission. This includes an intern programme and a trainee programme that can last up to 12 months.

Another popular work experience provider is Camp America. Here you can spend the summer with more than 7,000 other workers on a camp, teaching young Americans anything from arts and crafts to sports.

Volunteering in the USA

There are many volunteering opportunities in the USA, as you might expect from such a large country. Providers include:

  • BUNAC - USA - offers construction and manual work in national parks such as the Grand Canyon;
  • Real Gap - USA - options include volunteering on a ranch near the Rocky Mountains in the 'cowboy state' of Wyoming;
  • Gap 360 - USA - pre-priced activities all around the USA. Packages include working as a councillor in a US summer camp.

Language requirements

The USA's official language is English. If this is not your first language then you will need to sit an English Language Proficiency test. The TOEFL and IELTS tests are the most common.

US visas and immigration

The USA is a complex country to enter due to its firm stance on immigration.

It can help if you have a family member in the country that can sponsor you. An employer can also sponsor you. Finding work with a multinational company and then working towards a transfer to a US branch is another possible way to gain entry.

  • Nonimmigrant visa - This is for those looking for a temporary stay in the US. It covers business, a holiday or education;
  • Immigrant visa - This is required by anyone who wishes to live and work permanently in the US. When entering the country these visa holders also have to obtain a green card, which is officially known as a Permanent Resident Card (PRC).

For more information, visit US Embassy in London - Visas.

Once you live in the USA you may pursue US citizenship. The official website of the department of homeland security highlights 10 steps to the becoming a US citizen.

How to explain your UK qualifications to employers

Employers normally recognise UK qualifications. This is highlighted by the fact some US nationals travel to the UK to study before returning home to work. However it is worth checking that a UK degree will be accepted before you apply for a job.

You can learn more at ENIC-NARIC.

Working conditions

Many perceive the US to work traditional 9am-5pm hours. In reality, workers here will commonly go beyond this. It could be that you end up working the occasional 12 hour day, especially if you are employed in the legal or medical professions, according to QS - Differences in average working hours around the world.

Single (non-married) US workers earning $9,225-$37,450 are being taxed 15% in 2015. Single employees on salaries of $37,450-$90,750 enter the 25% tax bracket (Tax Foundation, 2014).

The majority of US workers have to settle for as little as nine paid holidays a year, which is well below the UK average. Full-time employees in the UK are entitled to 28 days, including public holidays.

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