Working in Los Angeles
Find Out How to Get a Job and Work in Los Angeles
Like its geographical landscape, working in LA is full of contradictions. The job market is vast and competitive. Office environments are both fast-paced and laidback. It can be easy to find a job, but it could be hard to find a decent salary. It is estimated that you need to earn a six-digit salary in order to live comfortably in LA.
Finding a job in LA is not difficult, but finding one that allows you to live comfortably in such an expensive city may prove tricky. Competition is stiff in all sectors, so expats would do well to create polished, attractive CVs and cover letters to help them stand out among the crowd of applicants.
When most people think of working in LA, they think only of Hollywood and the entertainment industry. However, this is only a fraction of the job industries available in Los Angeles. Technicians and engineers will also find job opportunities in The City of Angels, as will those interested in the startup culture. Entrepreneurs in any field will find LA an ideal place to build their business.
Job Market Overview
Things to Know About Working in LA
Competition is Everywhere
Thanks to the reputation of the entertainment industry, everyone knows the general job market overview of LA is that it is competitive and fast-paced. Just thinking about the city calls to mind waiting rooms full of identical looking actors and actresses all vying for a spot in a TV commercial. This competitive nature spills into the business world as well. Whether you are looking for a career in the tech sector, marketing, or service industry, know that there may be hundreds of applicants behind you also trying to make a living in one of the most expensive cities in the US.
Even when you land a job, be aware that this fast-paced environment is still present in the workplace. Workers in LA are often driven and highly motivated. If you move at a slower pace, you may find it hard to connect with your coworkers.
Expats moving to Los Angeles will do well to update their CV and find angles which make them stand out among the rest. Unless you are auditioning within the entertainment industry, it is not common practice to include a photo with your CV. Read our US guide to learn more about applying for jobs within the country.
Office Attire is Casual
Thanks to the nearly year-round warm, sunny weather, office attire in Los Angeles skews towards casual. The laidback West Coast culture of California also lends to a large lack of suit-and-tie wearing attitude. Depending on your workplace, shorts and flip flops may be commonplace around the office.
It is Normal to Work Odd Hours
If you go to a coffee shop in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday, you may be surprised to find it packed. Do these people work? How can they afford to lounge around in a café mid-week?
LA is full of employees who do not work in traditional, office-bound 9-5 jobs. Instead, many people in LA are freelancers, who work at all hours of the day. Even those with jobs in the entertainment industry may not be needed on set until near sundown. Because of this, cafes and restaurants are often filled wall-to-wall with freelancers and entrepreneurs typing away on their laptops.
What are the Most Required Jobs and Skills in Demand?
Although not as synonymous with the tech industry as nearby Silicon Valley, Los Angeles is swiftly claiming its spot as a competitor in the tech world. According to Fast Company, 2,200 startups now operate in the Los Angeles region. Much of this startup growth is fueled by biotech, commerce, and communications. This includes such companies as Netflix, Ticketmaster, Verizon, Symantec, and SpaceX. The majority of startups can be found in Santa Monica or Venice Beach.
Other popular career industries in LA include:
- Aerospace and Defense
- Information Technology
- Environmental Technology
- Trade and Logistics
The top 10 fastest growing jobs in California are:
- Wind Turbine Technician
- Rod Buster
- Web Developer
- Pipe Insulator
- Field Technician
- Software Developer
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Everything to do with this bustling California city comes down to one thing: it is expensive. The average salary in Los Angeles ranges between 50 – 60,000 USD, whereas the average salary to live comfortably is estimated in the 100,000+ range. This means that the majority of Angelenos are living uncomfortably, with much of their salary going towards general living expenses alone.
An April 2019 study by GOBankingRates estimated the average salary needed to live comfortably in 50 of the US’s largest cities. They based these averages on a 50/30/20 budget: 50% of your salary goes towards essentials like rent, utilities, and food; 30% for nonessentials; 20% for savings.
For LA they estimated:
- Income needed if you are a renter: 136,208 USD
- Income needed if you are a homeowner: 150,392 USD
Unfortunately, making this six-digit annual salary is not common throughout LA.
Top Average Salaries in LA
|Software Engineer||90,215 USD|
|Project Manager (General Type)||79,371 USD|
|Mechanical Engineer||76,094 USD|
|Marketing Manager||66,940 USD|
|Operations Manager||66,240 USD|
|Account Manager||60,246 USD|
|Executive Assistant||55,569 USD|
So what is a good salary in Los Angeles?
The answer to that question depends on your personal needs and lifestyle. A solo individual living in a middle range LA neighborhood can get by on an annual salary of 42,825 USD. A family of four can make it on 92,295 USD.
Please be advised that these estimates are based on the minimum salary needed to live well in LA. If you are prone to dining out, have your children in private schools, or enjoy taking advantage of cultural events, you will need to increase your salary requirements.
How to Get a Job
This biggest obstacle expats will face when exploring how to get a job in Los Angeles is securing a work permit. Expats are advised to find a job before arriving in Los Angeles as this is the easiest way to secure a visa and work permit. You can learn more about the requirements for working in the US in our US country guide.
Despite the need for the work permit, expats will find the job search in LA tough, but not impossible. Competition throughout every job industry in LA is tight and expats will need to create compelling CVs and cover letters to make themselves stand out among the crowd. Be advised that because companies have to pay in order to sponsor foreign work visas, expats will have to work extra hard to prove themselves when compared to American workers. Expats are also advised to become proficient in English as this is the common language throughout all American workplaces. A low level of English may limit your job opportunities and make it hard to connect with coworkers.
Tips on How to Find a Job in Los Angeles
Temp Agencies and Staffing Companies
Temp agencies and staffing companies are easy, convenient ways to find a job in LA. They offer temporary positions, which can often lead to full-time work. However, using these agencies is not always a guarantee of job placement, and you may run into problems with finding visa sponsorship. Many of the jobs available through these organizations are office jobs, typically vacant only for a fixed term. You will have to be flexible in your job and salary requirements.
Because LA is so expansive and competitive, networking is often an ideal way to land a great position. Join professional groups around the city through organizations such as InterNations. Be sure to be confident and take the initiative to talk to people, but do not be pushy as this can turn Angelenos off. In a competitive city like LA, being proactive will get you far, but rude and pushy can be a hindrance.
Lots of jobs around LA are posted online. Check sites like LinkedIn and Indeed. If there is a specific company you are interested in, go to their website and see if they have a job board section. Or, if you are interested in a particular sector, see if that sector has a specific job site. For example, many careers in the hospitality industry can be found through Starwood Jobs.
This may feel old fashioned to some, but advertising jobs in newspaper classified sections is still common in LA. Check the Sunday edition of local newspapers as these often have the most job postings.
Beware of Craigslist
Craigslist is still a popular option for many Americans looking for jobs, housing, or furniture. As an expat, you should use Craigslist with caution, at least until you have lived in the US for some time. Craigslist posters may take advantage of expats, knowing that they do not know all the nuances of American society yet.
Entrepreneurship is rife in Los Angeles. La La Land is full of people trying to make their own way. Although this type of self-employment is largely associated with the arts industry, there are plenty of tech-minded entrepreneurs living and working in The City of Angels as well.
Los Angeles is a great location for entrepreneurs. There are a variety of coworking spaces and a plethora of networking/workshopping events happening all over the city. There are also many opportunities to build your own business, learn from others, and explore new opportunities. LA is also a prime location because of its booming startup culture, rising tech scene, and multicultural landscape. This lends to a wide variety of ideas and backgrounds for collaboration and support.
Los Angeles-Based Coworking Spaces
Coworking spaces in Los Angeles can cost as little as 20 USD daily for a shared office (The Collection) to up to 5,000 USD per month for private offices (Village Workspaces). Plenty offer virtual offices, personal or open desks, and conference and meeting rooms. Here are some other popular coworking spaces found across Los Angeles:
- Cross Campus – multiple locations in Beverly Hills, downtown, Santa Monica, Pasadena, and South Bay
- Indiedesk – 333 S. Grand Avenue Suite 3310 Los Angeles, CA 90071
- LAX Coworking – 9100 S. Sepulveda Blvd Suite 210 Los Angeles, CA 90045
- The Park – 845 South Los Angeles Street Los Angeles, CA 90014
- Epiphany Space – 1763 N Gower Street Hollywood, CA 90028
National and International Coworking Spaces
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