Austin at a Glance
Working in Austin
Local Economy in Austin
Austin is a busy and popular city with jobs available across a range of fields. Once a center for the Texas oil industry, today it is better known for its hi tech industry, which has won the city the nickname ‘Silicon Hills’.
As the state capital, Austin has an abundance of jobs in local government, but a full US working visa is usually required in order to be considered for these sorts of roles.
Most of the expats working in Austin tend to be attracted to the technology industry, which is rivalling Silicon Valley in terms of growth and opportunity. Some of the biggest companies based in the area include Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems, Samsung Group, Google and Facebook, while scores of new start-ups are established each week.
As a densely populated metropolitan area, Austin has a high number of private and public schools, as well as an enviable selection of colleges and universities. Many expats find work as teachers. Speaking English is a prerequisite, but it would be a huge help if you could speak Spanish as well, since it is widely spoken.
Job Hunting in Austin
If you are planning on working in Austin, it is worth doing a bit of research first. Teachers, tech employees and financial professionals will find that there are plenty of opportunities if you are prepared to relocate and work hard. You can find out what jobs are available by reading up on the listings in the local newspapers or on Texan job sites. Austin’s Labor Relations Office is a great place for employment advice and news on the local job scene.
Before sending off any job applications, make sure that you hold the correct qualifications and permits. Some international accreditations may not transfer directly to the US, and in certain jobs (e.g. teaching), locally-approved background checks will be required.
When applying for a job in the US, always ask what benefits are being offered alongside the salary. Dental care and health care can be extremely expensive in the US, particularly if you have a large family. Many large companies will offer family insurance for their employees, but it is worth taking a bit of time to go through the fine print and make sure that you and your family is completely covered in case of an emergency.
Speak to other expats about what you can expect from the local job market, what you should look out for and what sort of support is available to you.
Income Taxation in Austin
Texas does not charge a state tax, but all workers (including those who have arrived from abroad) are subject to federal tax. This varies according to your income and your marital status, but it is a minimum of 10%, rising to 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35% and 39.6% incrementally.
On top of this, workers must pay a Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax (commonly known as FICA), which again varies depending on your income. Employees also pay a flat rate of 6.2% into Social Security - this amount is then matched by their employers. Self-employed professionals are required to pay the full 12.4% themselves.
Additional costs may include Medicare (a form of government subsidized health insurance) and pension payments (known as a 401k), which again can vary depending on income, employment status, marital status and your employer contributions.
Tax fraud is taken very seriously in America so it is worth speaking to a tax professional or a financial adviser who is familiar with your particular situation. Alternatively, ask your embassy for advice on how to stay on top of your finances and insurance contributions.
All goods in America are subject to a ‘sales tax’, which is applied at the point of purchase. In Texas, this is usually set at a flat rate of 6.25%, but there are some exceptions. In Austin, hotels and motels add an additional 9% onto the base rate tax, so your hotel stay will cost 15% more than the advertised (pre-tax) rates.
Every August, Texas has a tax holiday for one weekend only. During this time, all clothing that costs less than 100 USD is sold tax free, and selected items (e.g. school supplies) may also be exempt from tax at the discretion of the retailer.
For more detailed information, check our in-depth articles about Social Security and Taxation in the US