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US and Other Countries with the Best Job Opportunities for International Students

work visa usa
career planning
By Oshitha Narangoda
Published on December 9, 2021

Working in another country can help you develop new skills and gain valuable teamwork experience. Here is what you need to know about discovering job opportunities abroad.

A female international student sits at a table in front of a whiteboard and smiles while holding a pen

Working abroad can help you experience what it is like to collaborate with multicultural teams and adapt to new environments. There are also personal benefits — you can experience life in another country, meet new people, and learn from experts all over the world. If you are an international student planning to study abroad in the US, your US university degree can be an important first step in pursuing a global career. 

Read on to learn more about the countries with the best job opportunities for international students, what it is like to study abroad in the US, the job market in the US, which visas you need to consider, and more.

Countries with the Best Job Opportunities for International Students

There are many countries where international students can work while studying, but keep in mind that each country’s unique culture will bring its own opportunities and challenges. For example, in countries such as Germany and China, there are usually highly specific requirements or restrictions which that international students must follow if they plan to work while studying. In China, graduates are required to have a work permit and an official invitation to work, and their employer must be accredited to employ foreigners.

Finding countries with the best job opportunities for international students comes down to the availability of jobs you are looking for, the requirements for working, and your goals for the future. In addition to providing an entry path to your future career, these opportunities should also give you a clear path of advancement toward more senior roles. The culture of the country you work in should also be welcoming toward international students and employees — this is important for working in a comfortable environment. 

Considering these factors, the US is one of the best countries to study and work! Let’s take a look to learn the many reasons why. 

Studying Abroad in the US

The US has approximately 4,000 colleges and universities across the country, each offering a unique higher education experience with many different degrees and opportunities. 

The degree you decide to pursue in college has a significant effect on your future job prospects. For example, degree programs at US universities and colleges may include internship programs where you can gain hands-on experience — and could even offer opportunities for a full-time job! 

Universities and colleges are also a great place to start building your professional network. Many institutions have a wide variety of clubs and societies you can join, with some dedicated to academic excellence or specific industries such as engineering, business, or science. When you join these organizations, you can connect with industry professionals and work toward developing relevant skills together with your fellow students.

Additionally, your professors can connect you with their peers in the industry and assist in finding job or internship opportunities while you study, or even after you graduate. If you want to pursue a career in research, you may even be able to work alongside your professors!  

If you want to find the ideal university for your future goals, speak to a Shorelight advisor. In addition to providing academic support, your advisor can assist with help applying for study abroad programs, how to apply for an internship, and career development programs. They can also help you apply to the university of your choice, provide visa assistance services, and offer resources like our guide to international standardized tests

Whether you plan to continue your career in the US or return to your home country, working abroad in the US lets you develop valuable experience and skills relevant to any career. 

Working Abroad in the US

The US is known for encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation, and even the pandemic did not slow down the growth of startups in the country. Many universities and colleges in the US have startup or entrepreneurship programs where you can learn how to set up your own business. Universities also hold career fairs and workshops where you can connect with and learn from professionals.

Since the US is a culturally diverse country with people from all over the world, getting hired in the country allows you to work with many types of people. Knowing how to work with a diverse group of colleagues is an advantage when you apply to organizations with clients from all over the world.

Another benefit of working in the US is the opportunity to work with top global employers. Organizations such as Google, Meta, Microsoft, Tesla, and many more are headquartered in US – and they often partner with universities to provide internship and/or job opportunities to international students. For example, students at Cleveland State University have the opportunity to intern at the NASA-Glenn Research Center, located near campus.

While there are many opportunities for work in the US, what if you are not sure about what career you want to begin and where you should start? Learning about the modern job market and popular US states for work can narrow down your best options.

The Job Market

With the strength of the US economy and its many types of industries across the country, the US job market is highly diverse — employers require workers with all kinds of skills and knowledge. 

What if you are not sure about which career path to choose? Let’s take a closer look at the job market in the US to get a better sense of the possibilities.

Unemployment Rate

At the height of the pandemic in 2020, unemployment in the US increased quickly for several months, up to approximately 14.7%. Fortunately, this has decreased rapidly thanks to vaccine development, continued health precautions, and an improving economy. The unemployment rate in the US was 4.6% as of October 2021, and is currently on track to keep decreasing as job creation continues to rise.

A line graph showing unemployment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from October 2019 through October 2021

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

During the pandemic, many organizations switched to remote work – including remote internships. Today, usage of virtual internship platforms remains popular, enabling students to connect with internship opportunities without having to leave their homes. For example, some Shorelight universities offer virtual internships to students through Career Premium. In addition to networking workshops and online bootcamps, Career Premium allows international students like you to apply for eight-week internships where you can gain real-world work experience, make valuable industry contacts, and get personalized feedback.

Popular Industries

The most popular industries for work in the US can be different for each state, as available opportunities vary. If you are not sure which type of career you want to work toward, here is a list of some of the most popular industries in the USA.

  • Education — The education sector covers all levels of schooling, from primary education and middle school to high school and higher education. As the industry is so broad, there are many unique roles you can pursue as an instructor if you are passionate about teaching certain subjects. If a teaching role is not right for you, there are also administrative, advisory, human resources, and coordinator roles at many schools.

  • Health care — The health care industry involves jobs that provide care for patients, including nursing, elderly care, special needs care, and more. This is a well-developed field in the US with rapidly growing opportunities every day as medical advancements and breakthroughs increase job demand.

  • Retail — The retail industry involves the sale of products and services to consumers, businesses, and even governments, offering highly diverse job roles. This is a great industry for international students to begin their careers as you can start off small by working part time and work your way up the career ladder through management roles. You can also access roles in marketing, human resources, product design and development, management, and many more.

  • Technology — With the US being home to some of the world’s most advanced technological companies and startups, there are many opportunities for work. Start a career in programming, web development, cyber security, or choose creative careers such as graphic design, effects design, and video game development.

After you choose the type of industry where you want to pursue a career, the next part is finding countries with the best job opportunities for international students in that particular sector. In the US, you will have additional research to consider, as each US state offers international students a different experience with unique opportunities, lifestyles, and career options.

Popular States for Study and Work

Choosing the right US state – one that aligns with your future goals – is not just about work opportunities, it is also about the higher education experience you want. With this in mind, here are some popular states for both study and work opportunities: 

  • California — California has some of the best universities in the US, including Stanford University, University of the Pacific, and the University of California, Berkeley, which offers a world-class engineering education. Silicon Valley, a global center for technological innovation, is located in northern California, giving you access to world-changing companies like Apple, Google, Meta, Wells Fargo, and many more.

  • Massachusetts — Massachusetts is well known for excellence in education and research, home to top institutions such as Harvard University, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Massachusetts’ strong economy, combined with its focus on high-quality education, has helped students access opportunities at top organizations such as Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance, Raytheon, Staples, and more.

  • New York — When you live in New York, you’ll get an unforgettable city experience in one of the most diverse states in the country. (New York City also hosts more than 100,000* international students!) Home to Adelphi University, ranked among the top 100 best value schools in the US by U.S. News & World Report, New York also offers unparalleled job opportunities at companies including IBM, Deloitte, JPMorgan Chase Co., and more.

  • Texas — Texas is a great state to pursue your STEM degree and a career in tech: Austin, the capital city, is one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the US with companies such as Apple and Tesla setting up large offices in the state. The state is also home to prestigious universities such as Austin College, Rice University, Southwestern University, and the University of Texas at Austin.

Before you are able to apply for a job in the US, you need to be aware of the legal conditions for work. Requirements are specific to the visa you plan to use while in the US. 

Visas

As an international student, the type of student visa you need to study in the US will also highlight conditions you must follow if you plan to work. Here is an overview of working conditions you should be aware of with each student visa:

  • F-1 Visa — With a F-1 visa, you can work part time on campus while your semester is in session, for a maximum 20 hours per week. You can work full time when your academic term is not in session and off-campus work is permitted if you receive approval from your university.

  • J-1 Visa — Students with a J-1 visa follow many of the same conditions as F-1 students, including only being permitted to work a maximum 20 hours per week in part-time jobs on campus, with full-time work allowed during academic breaks. Unlike F-1 students, J-1 students cannot work off campus unless they have authorization from both their sponsor and the university.

  • M-1 Visa — If you have a M-1 visa, you can only work full time or engage in training after you have completed your study program.

While you need to choose your student visa based on the type of program you want to apply for, knowing these work conditions helps you understand if the program you have selected is in line with your long-term professional goals. Following these conditions is an important part of maintaining your status as an international student in the US and completing your degree. 

Now that you have an idea of the types of careers available to you in the US and the conditions you must follow, it can be helpful to start planning how exactly you will balance working while studying. 

How to Work While Studying in the US

Before you start applying for work in the US, it is important to remember that as you proceed further along with your degree program, your study workload will increase. You may have classes that involve more advanced topics and require large amounts of coursework or may have large project requirements. 

Working while you study is a great way to gain experience and support your lifestyle in the US, and it can also give you practical experience that may improve your performance in class. However, you should make sure to carefully research opportunities and consider how they might impact your studies. Some jobs can involve late-night work or require you to have a flexible schedule, which may make it challenging to balance your coursework and classes with your employment responsibilities.

You can reduce the stress you place on your studies by looking for Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT) opportunities. These programs are structured around helping international students like you build work experience in the US, while also considering your studies. 

For example, CPT opportunities are a part of certain degree programs and can be mandatory, which means the program is designed around accommodating the work you will have to do. OPT opportunities can be pursued during your program or after graduation. Both programs allow you to work or train in the US for up to 12 months, and students graduating in STEM-related degrees can request up to 24 additional months for a total of three years.

Once you are confident you are ready to start working while you study, it is time to look for openings! Job recruitment websites such as Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn can make it easy to find many jobs. You can also check your university’s job board or speak with your university advisors and professors to find out if they know of any opportunities where you may be a good candidate.

As the US is among the countries with best job opportunities for international students, studying and working as an international student can be a rewarding experience. With flexible degree programs and work opportunities (part time and full time), you can learn from experts in the industry, build your portfolio, and work with global employers. Remember, your Shorelight advisor can support you from day one as you pursue your goals, in any industry and role!

Reach out to a Shorelight advisor today >

*Statista, 2021