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Working in Houston

The focus of companies in Houston is influenced by a wide range of things — from the depths of the earth over vast oceans to outer space, Houston’s economy is incredibly diverse. Intrigued? Then continue reading our Expat Guide on Houston for information on the economy, key sectors, and more.
Houston’s GDP rivals that of many countries.
  • Houston is home to 24 Fortune 500 Companies and is turning into an international city, since more and more foreign missions and international companies are moving to the area.
  • Even though the energy sector is one of the leading industries in Houston, there are many different working opportunities for expats in the city.
  • Texas is one of only seven states that have no state income tax. Nonetheless, don’t forget that you are still taxed on a federal level.
  • The workforce in Houston is highly motivated and working hard is deeply valued. In fact, Houstonians have one of the longest workweeks in the US.


According to recent news reports, people from various countries, including those with a valid visa and residence permit, have encountered difficulties when entering the United States. Unfortunately, the full extent of those issues seems to be unclear. Before you decide to move or travel there, or leave the country temporarily if already living in the USA, please consult a US embassy and an immigration lawyer if you fear you might be affected.


Houston: the Corporate Capital

Only surpassed by New York and Chicago, Houston is home to the headquarters of an impressive 24 Fortune 500 companies. As the energy sector is the local economy’s claim to fame, it is no surprise that most of these companies are indeed involved in oil, gas, and other such resources. Among them are world leaders such as ConocoPhillips, Halliburton, and Marathon Oil. Houston is also transforming into a very international city. With a large number of foreign missions, banks, and subsidiaries of foreign companies, the city has secured a rank on the A.T. Kearney Global Cities Index, surpassing expat hubs such as Taipei and Bangkok.

Houston: The Nation’s Energy Hub

In many expat magnets around the globe, the local economy is based firmly on the services sector. People working in Houston will see that this is true by only a slight margin in this Texas metropolis, as the energy industry, i.e. the exploration and production of oil and gas, is a very, very close second.  Nearly one-third of the nation’s oil and gas extraction jobs are based in Houston. Other industries related to the energy sector naturally profit from Houston’s leading position in this field as well, such as companies developing heavy machinery and those processing the byproducts of oil and gas mining. Most notably, Houston’s 15 billion USD petrochemicals industry is the biggest in the nation. Needless to say, Houston is dominant in most, if not all, facets of the energy sector, be it technology, research, or marketing.

For those intent on working in Houston’s maritime industries, the city’s port could be a potential employer, as it is the busiest port in the US in terms of international trade. Naturally, this is one the most important factors for Houston’s growth both as a hub for all things energy and the city’s leading position as one of the nation’s largest import centers.

A Booming Manufacturing Industry

The manufacturing sector accounts for nearly 100 billion USD, which is 18.3% of the region’s economy. More than 230,000 people work in Houston’s manufacturing industry, which makes it the city with the most manufacturing jobs in the whole country.

Several thousand companies in the manufacturing sector are working in Houston, producing a wide array of goods ranging from food and beverages to plastics and electronics. World-renowned corporations have important operations in the city, such as Hewlett Packard, whose largest production facility is in the Houston area. The steel industry is another mainstay that people who plan on working in Houston’s manufacturing sector could look to.

Up in the Sky: The Aerospace Sector

Houston is home to the Johnson Space Center, NASA’s largest research and development facility. With over 14,000 employees in the Houston region, the space center is the second-largest employer and contractor in the area, and it also attracts a lot of human capital in the form of highly-skilled specialists and professionals — not to mention the 1.5 billion USD in output.

Such a pivotal operation in the metro area is naturally an appealing incentive for other companies specializing in the aerospace sector, and many are indeed working in Houston. This is another main driving force in the local economy, which also makes working in Houston attractive for non-Houstonians and foreigners, as about 150 such companies call Houston their home.

IT, Healthcare, or Biotechnology: Houston’s Endless Working Possibilities

While the energy, manufacturing, and aerospace industries certainly are its spearheads, a metropolitan economy the size of Houston’s obviously has many more options for expats and locals working in Houston. The city’s IT sector is an important hub for nanotechnology and biotechnology. Of course, the largest city in the Lone Star State is also one of the leading regional centers of finance, construction, and — thanks to the Texas Medical Center — healthcare. With such a diverse city economy, expats interested in working in Houston will most certainly find suitable job openings, no matter their field of expertise.

Houston is without a doubt the center of one of the most important metropolitan areas for the economy of the entire nation. We have compiled more information on the US economy in a separate article on the matter.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

David Hicks

"A colleague, also an expat, recommended InterNations to me and I can only agree with his recommendation and pass it on."

Jana Franke

"I met so many quality people on InterNations, which made it easy to start my new life in Houston."

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