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Working in Panama?

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William Shirming

Living in Panama, from Great Britain

"Thanks to the City Guide, I found the right place to go for a business lunch in Panama City. "

Carla Echevarria

Living in Panama, from Spain

"As a Spanish expat in Latin America, moving to Panama was probably easier for me than for others. But I am still glad that I found this site! "

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Panama at a Glance

More Job Opportunities in Panama

Panama’s economy has one major asset: The Panama Canal. The 77-km long canal connecting the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean provides numerous employment opportunities for people in Panama. InterNations has compiled some useful information for expats interested in working in Panama.

While the business and work opportunities listed on the previous page are mainly for specialists in their fields or high-ranking managers in international firms, there are, of course, other job opportunities as well. However, a non-managerial post in a business which does not benefit from tax and immigration incentives by the Panamanian government has two distinct disadvantages: Even if you manage to get a work permit for it (a hurdle not to be underestimated), the job will not earn you very much money. We have nevertheless listed a few possibilities below. For more information on visas and work permits for Panama, please see our article on moving to Panama.

Non-Managerial Job Opportunities

Basically, you have three general options: You could become an English teacher, a translator or a real estate agent.

Language Jobs in Panama

If you have any type of teaching qualifications or higher education degree and your native language is English, you may be able to find work in a private school or a language school. Although this is not going to make you rich, it will probably leave you with enough free time to give private lessons on the side to supplement your income. Many well-to-do Panamanian families will pay good money for someone to tutor their children and prepare them for English exams.

If you speak Spanish, it will be a lot easier for you to find a job in any case. One of your options would be to work as a translator or interpreter for one of the many foreign or Panamanian businesses which are operating internationally. There is also a lot of call center work available. As in any other country, working in a call center is far from glamorous, but it could be a viable option if you are simply accompanying your partner and have no career options in Panama.

Real Estate Jobs in Panama

Panamanian real estate is booming – both private persons and businesses from abroad are interested in purchasing real estate in Panama. Therefore, a lot of real estate agencies are looking for English-speaking agents to deal with their international clients. Quite a few expats who have chosen this career do not work for a Panamanian company but as independent professional service providers. You will need to create a shell company with a Panamanian bank account, but this can often be easier than getting a work permit.

Finding a Job in Panama

The key thing to remember is that you’re much more likely to find a job with an international company located in one of the special economic or free zones than with a domestic one. This is because multinational corporations are not bound by the 10% rate when it comes to hiring foreign staff at management or executive level. Some global corporations with regional headquarters in Panama are, among others, Adidas, AES, Caterpillar, Hyundai, Maersk, Mars, Nestlé, SABMiller, and Western Union.

If you’re looking for a job in Panama from your home country, it might be a good idea to keep an eye on the websites of these or other big corporations with branch offices in Panama. Alternatively, consult the website of the City of Knowledge, which is where many international businesses are located. Your Chamber of Commerce is a good point of reference if you are looking for contact details of businesses from your country operating in Panama.

Everything that probably goes for the job search in your country of residence is true of Panama as well. Networking, for example, is very important, especially in expat circles. The Internet is, of course, a great source of information where you can consult recruitment agencies, online job sites, but also the online editions of Panamanian newspapers. However, the newspapers are more likely to advertise jobs with local businesses, especially the Spanish daily papers such as La PrensaLa Estrella, etc. There are some online English-language newspapers, such as The Bocas Breeze in Bocas del Toro or The Panama News, but they do not have a jobs section. 

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