by Debbie Fishell and Jackie Lange
Research and planning before your move will help you land a position.
Not everyone who is ready to move to Panama has a retirement income or a “stash of cash” on hand. What are your options if you want to relocate, but need to acquire some form of employment to make ends meet? Though limited, there are choices available.
Here are a few important things to know before you take the plunge.
• You must apply for and receive a Working Permit in order to be employed by a company or to work in Panama. If you locate a job online before you move, the company that is hiring you will often help with this process. An attorney is highly recommended. You will not be able to get a work permit without getting a residency visa. Only certain Visa’s allow you to work in Panama. The most popular visa which comes with a work permit is the Friendly Nations Visa.
• Without written government approval, companies in Panama can only fill up to 10% of their open positions with foreign nationals. So even if a company has openings, they may not be able to hire you unless they can obtain a government waiver.
• The minimum wage in Panama is very low, around $2.50 an hour. Most locals earn only around $800 per month though the average wage is now $22,000 a year in Panama. The good news is that “skilled labor” is hard to come by and if you have a skill set that is in demand you can probably expect a much better wage. The cost of living in Panama can be a little lower than in countries like the US, Canada, and Europe, so you may not require as high an income to maintain a comfortable lifestyle. A 2014 tour attendee landed a job in Panama City making a little over $100,000 a year.. tax free. A friend from Texas got a job as a crane operator making $150,000 a year. Some jobs do pay much more than others
• Many businesses expect a full-time employee to work over 40 hours per week, usually Monday through Friday plus a half day on Saturday. There are mandatory paid national holidays for everyone, though. And most jobs have 30 days of paid vacation the first year.
• There are no unemployment benefits in Panama.
* You will need at least basic Spanish skills for most job opportunities in Panama. If you don’t speak the language yet, don’t lose hope! There are English speaking jobs you can find; it’s just more limited.
Online resources are available to get you started on your job search.
1. In a simple Google search, I came up with dozens of possibilities in about an hour. There are several businesses in Panama with job offerings listed individually. There are also job posting sites.For example, I found 3 new job postings for Panama today on GoAbroad and Un Mejor Empleo, a job posting site that is in Spanish, had 8 current postings today.
2. Learn 4 Good is a good place to search and has 25 job postings listed today. There are several I.T. jobs, including a graphic designer that pays $1000/month. 3 postings are looking for live-in Au Pairs (there’s your housing taken care of too) and a few sales positions. Several are for English speakers.
Summary Statistics for These Jobs:
Average Yearly Salary: 22000 USD acording to WorldBank.org
Most Popular Location: Panama City
Average Minimum Education required: High School
Average Minimum Experience required: Less than 1 Year
3. The City of Knowledge (Ciudad del Saber) is a community of international, educational, and research organizations. There are about 20 recent job postings and new posts are added regularly.
4. Occasionally, the Embassy of the United States in Panama will have job openings. There was 1 listed today that is closing applications on August 31st. Check all of the foreign embassies in Panama for job opportunities.
5. Konzerta has an extensive listing of jobs, mostly directed at local Panamanians, but you may also find opportunities for expats if you take the time to skim through the posts. There are currently over 4000 listings! Especially useful if you speak Spanish because almost all of the postings are in Spanish. You can translate the pages with Google Translate.
6. Latin Top Jobs has a higher caliber of job offerings, in general, and they are geared at executives and expats. There are 15 postings today with several having a salary range from $3000-6000/month.
7. Another good place to start a job search is Linkedin. If you don’t have an account, you can set one up for free and post your resume there. I didn’t see any posts under jobs today in Panama. However, I recommend you join all the groups that are related to Panama, under the interests tab. Some good choices are Panama Jobs, which had a posting today for a Trade Marketing Coordinator for Fox Panama, and Latin-American Recruiters & Headhunters, which had 4 new job postings today and dozens over the past few weeks.
8. Craig’s List Panama has a job opportunities section. It takes a while to peruse it and some of the postings are old, but I did see a possibility for a graphic designer and a yoga instructor.
9. Encuentra24 is another good place to look. It’s an online classified site with a section called ‘Empleos‘ that is job postings. This is a local site with a lot of low paying jobs, around $500/month. You have to search for the better positions.
A sampling of their postings for today includes:
• Accounting Manager> $1200-3000/month
• Animation Renderings> $1000-1500/month
• Sales Rep > $700 per month plus commissions
• Welder > $1000 per month
• Chef > $1200+ per month
Getting a job in Panama may have its challenges, but with a little research and planning you should be able to find something that will meet your requirements.
Good luck on your search!
Hey, even if your search for a 9-5 job doesn’t produce the outcome you’re looking for, there are always self-employment or freelance options to earn a living. Be sure to check out our free eBook “Fund Your Freedom Overseas” for new ideas (expats are currently doing these in Panama). Click on the book cover for instant access to the eBook———->>>>>>
If you sell a service or a product in Panama, you will need a work permit.
There are many business opportunities in Panama. Expats own hostels, restaurants, shrimp farming, food production, tour companies, home builders, and much more.
But there are also restrictions! Some professions are protected for only Panamanians. This includes Doctor, Lawyer, Counselor, Architect, etc. Consult with your Panamanian attorney to determine if your profession is protected for only Panamanians. If it is protected, DO NOT attempt to perform those services in Panama or you could risk getting a serious fine and possibly deported.
Other professions like yoga instructor, massage therapist, require a license and a health certificate. Selling food items requires a health certificate. Your attorney can help you determine if you need a license or health certificate.
Some expats attempt to skirt the law by taking “donations” instead of collecting a fee. This is against the law in Panama and gives all expats a bad reputation. You should observe the laws of the country where you live instead of looking for ways around them!
Learn more — read the article WORKING IN PANAMA