Working in Russia
Working as a student and getting a job as a graduate
What are you going to do with that degree? We've designed this page to help you answer that question. Working abroad can be a great way to meet locals and to experience day-to-day culture. It can also extend your stay, if you desire. It helps, but is not always necessary, to speak Russian. While getting there and finding a job may prove to be challenging, Russia's relatively healthy economic growth and still-developing market can offer opportunities that a more difficult US job market cannot.
Here are the options and legal matters you should know.
Table of Contents
- Professional Placement Services
- Language-Related Employment
- Russia's Want Ads
- Legislation and Logistics
- Opportunities in the US
I. Professional Placement Services
Contacting a "headhunter" can be a great first step to finding a job abroad. Many of these listed here are international companies - but all serve the Russian markets.
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II. Language-Related Employment
Most students coming to Russia get their first start in the market teaching English, translating, and/or editing documents. Here are a few places that regularly hire for such positions. Keep in mind as well that many international companies in Moscow also have in-house editors, teachers, and translators. So, applying directly to large, international companies in a variety of fields can also be useful - especially if you have experience or education in the field they work in. More information specifically for those interested in teaching English here.
Those interested in teaching English will want to check out Dave's ESL Cafe, an international place to network with other teachers about the profession. Translators will want to log on to Proz.com for networking and freelance opportunities.
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III. Russia's Want Ads
||How to Get a Job in
Russia: A Practical Guide
A. Geared to Foreigners
The Moscow Times Career Center
Russia’s main English-language newspaper’s job listings section has job listings for foreigners - mostly based in Moscow.
St. Petersburg Times Jobs Section
The Moscow Times’ sister publication in St. Petersburg has job listings in Russia’s northern capital.
The vacancies section of this popular forum has jobs for expats, mainly tending towards teaching English and nannying jobs.
This site has lots of listings for jobs in Russia for English-speaking foreigners.
This is the Russian localized version of monster.com. Some job listings are listed in English.
English language listings of expat jobs in Russia and the former Soviet Union.
This magazine lists job listings in Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
B. General Want Ads
The following are the most popular sites for looking for a job in Russia. They are all, however, geared mostly to Russians. Note that special documentation is needed to hire foreigners in Russia so not all employers are willing to do it. However, it can't hurt to check these listings out as well!
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Your best opportunities for employment are likely to be found on-the-ground in Russia, through the personal contacts that you'll make here. Here's an annotated list of resources that you can use to jump into the local social scene and start schmoozing.
This is a forum largely populated by long-term expats in Russia, expat veterans, and English-fluent Russians who have befriended them. This can be great for finding roommates, finding out where the local "in" scene is among expats (helpful as companies who have hired one expat are more likely to hire another), general networking and getting questions answered.
This is essentially a much larger version of RedTape.ru. There are several long-term expats here, but also many more short-term expats, and many, many more Russians of various levels of English fluency. Expat.ru can be great for advertising yourself as an English teacher and finding roommates and friends.
| Study Abroad
One of the best ways to network is by taking up an internship in the field you want to break into. This can give you contacts but also practical experience in the field, letting you become familiar with its peculiarities in Russia and making you a much more valuable candidate for any open positions abroad.
This site has gone from being a place to find a cheap place to crash to building international communities in cities across the globe. CouchSurfing now has regular events in Moscow ranging from speakers to films to more - many are free or at least inexpensive and draw a mixed crowd of locals and foreigners.
This site unites international professionals on the ground in various major cities across the globe. Emphasis is placed on physical meetings. Moscow now has an active branch.
This is a website run by the man who literally wrote the book on How to Get a Job in Russia. The site offers additional information for job seekers. Those who have purchased the book get access to an internal forum to network among themselves and with the author!
VKontakte or "VK" is sort of a Russian Facebook/LinkedIn. It is used to advertise professional skills - but also is used to share personal files and status updates. Especially if you speak Russian, having an account here can be useful in building connections - and a way to impress Russians that you have jumped into "their" site.
Facebook and LinkedIn
Of course, like anywhere else in the world, these two sites are also popular in Russia. LinkedIn can be more useful, though, for advertising your skills and building professional connections. Most Russians also, by the way, seem to prefer VKontakte and check their accounts there much more often than Facebook accounts.
Volunteering can be a great way to meet locals, learn the language, and gain experience. Especially some of Russia's older charities also have long-term expats that regularly volunteer - and thus can be a great way to meet higher-level managers and even executives on the ground.
SRAS has a large collection of interviews with people who have studied, interned, and found employment abroad. Read advice from people who have made the leap before!
More ideas and commentary are available from TrevorAbroad - a website launched by an SRAS graduate to extol the virtues of living, working, learning, and volunteering abroad!
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V. Legislation and Logistics
As a foreigner, there will be more legal restrictions to your staying in Russia long-term and especially to working in Russia. All countries place additional restrictions on foreigners living and working in their countries and Russia is no different. You'll also find that you'll have some additional complications in the logistics of managing finances and accounts, etc. Here are some of the major issues and how deal with them.
A. Work Places
The Russian job market works much like those everywhere else: call, fax/email your resume, build and utilize contacts, and keep your fingers crossed. However, bear in mind that wages are often low, even at western companies and there are usually Russians who can do your job better for less. However, there are relatively few native English speakers looking to relocate to Russia long-term, so the jobs that are open to such applicants are often relatively easy to land - and advancement will probably come at a rate impossible at most companies in "developed" economies.
B. Visas and Work Permits
It is illegal to work without a work visa and permit. If you find a professional job, your company may supply these. It is not possible to obtain a work visa and permit independently - these must be issued on the basis of an employment contract with a licensed Russian business. While we cannot encourage the practice, working "under the table" in unofficial and undocumented jobs has been common for foreigners and Russians alike. However, the practice for foreigners has been greatly limited by limits on the amount of time that can be spent in Russia on tourist and business (or commercial) visas.
Americans on the new three-year business or tourist visas can stay for up to six months at a time for a three-year period. Most foreigners who enter Russia on business visas are only allowed to stay for three months out of the first six-month half of their yearlong business visa, and for another three months during the second six-month half. Tourist visas are good for only 30 days. These regulations make long-term employment in Russia on these easy-to-obtain visas difficult.
The immigration authorities also now have computerized databases at most major entry points to keep track of whether foreigners are overstaying their 3-month limits. If caught overstaying a visa or working illegally in Russia, foreigners are fined and deported by the Federal Migration Service. See our guide to Russian visas for more information on what you can and can't do with a student, commercial, and work visa.
C. Paycheck/Getting Money Home
If you get officially hired in Russia, your employer will typically require you to open a local bank account (or will have you sign something so that they can open an account for you) and will pay you by transferring rubles to your account.
If you need to send money home, you can use Western Union, but that’s expensive and requires a spravka, a slip of paper that proves where you got the money. If you are working "unofficially" you will not have a spravka, nor will your employer want to give you one. You can open a bank account and transfer money but this can be expensive too (an international bank transfer could cost up to $40 plus 1.5% of the total sum being transferred). The best option, if you need to have your money based in America, is to arrange to have your check mailed or direct-deposited to your bank account in your home country. You can then withdraw any cash you need from an ATM in Russia (although there will likely be international transaction fees on these operations). Find out more from our guide to currency and finance in Russia.
D. Income Taxes
If you are an American citizen, you are required to pay taxes on your worldwide income. You must declare any income you earn in Russia on your annual US tax return. However, in order to ease the tax burden on US citizens living abroad, the IRS allows a $95,100 deduction to all citizens living abroad under the Foreign Income Exclusion. If you earn above this amount, then the 13% flat tax you pay in Russia (your employer will usually file this for you, but you should verify this when signing your contract) will count as a deduction on any taxes you must pay to the IRS. For practical purposes, this means you would have to earn above $170,000 per year before you owe anything to the IRS. But even if you owe nothing, you still need to file a yearly tax return. More info from the IRS is here. You may want to have a professional do your taxes, at least for the first couple of years so that you can see how to put everything in order. It will generally cost $300-550 for an accountant to prepare your tax return. Some firms specializing in this are RVYAccounting, ExpatCPA, and Taxforexpats.com. Once you see how it's done, you can more comfortably do your own taxes with software like TurboTax (make sure you get a package that will handle the Foreign Income Exclusion and any other special needs you may have).
V. Residency: For the Really Long Haul
Russian temporary residence permits are good for up to three years and allow you to live and work in Russia (taking the place of a visa and a work permit). The process of obtaining a temporary residency permit is more difficult than getting a visa (it involves getting medical tests, police checks, and other documentation). They are also rationed via a quota system - if you are applying in a high-demand area such as Moscow, getting on the quota can be a difficult proposition in itself, not to mention what you'll need to do to collect all the needed stamps and documents from Russian offices. If you do not speak Russian, you will need to find someone to help you with the process. However, for those who wish to stay in Russia for many years and do not wish to be tied to one company, this may be worth it. Once you have temporary residency, you may apply for "permanent residency" (good for up to five years and renewable). You can find a step-by-step guide on how to get a temporary residency permit in the book How to Get a Job in Russia: a practical guide for native English speakers.
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VI. Opportunities in the US
A. Landing Government Jobs
Recruitment at the professional level is usually confined to internal candidates, except at the P2 (lowest Professional level) where recruitment is open to outsiders by competitive examination (see site).
The Interagency Language Roundtable
This US government agency designed to coordinate hiring linguists, interpreters, translators, and other language-oriented professionals for the federal government. They also supply lots of information for students and job seekers.
This is the federal government's central website for job postings. Try entering "Russian" in the "keywords" field and see what comes up!
|| An inside look on working for America's Foreign Service.
The US Foreign Service
Has a shortage of Russian speakers. They also have an official mandate to promote peace, support prosperity, and protect American citizens while advancing the interests of the U.S. abroad.
Other various government agencies that regularly hire Russian speakers include:
B. Other Opportunities
Concordia Language Villages
This Russian-speaking youth camp in Minnesota offers volunteer and employment possibilities.
Job placement listings for Russian scholars. You must join the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies first.
ACTFL Job Central
For members of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), this site offers information for job seekers and help wanted ads.
American Translators Association
This site has lots of information for those practicing the professions of, or hoping to break into the professions of translation or interpreting.
The Association of Language Companies
Find out where to apply for employment post-graduation.
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Thanks to Bill Mayfield, creator of AmericatoRussia.com and author of How to Get a Job in Russia for contributing to this page.
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