Los Angeles at a Glance
Working in Los Angeles
- With one out of six people working in the creative industry, Los Angeles is the “Creative Capital” of the world.
- The L.A. job market offers jobs in a lot of different fields, from international trade to fashion or aerospace — there is something for everyone.
- For tax purposes, everyone working on a nonimmigrant visa should take the Substantial Presence Test of the IRS to determine their tax status.
- All employees working in the US need a Social Security Number. Nonetheless, expats should check if their home country has an International Social Security Agreement with the States to avoid double taxation.
A City of Superlatives
In many ways, L.A. is a city of superlatives. Thanks in large part to Hollywood, the city has achieved worldwide renown as the entertainment capital of the world — and not only with regard to motion pictures. The music, TV production, and video game industries are of similar importance to people working in Los Angeles. In fact, one in six people work in a creative field, which led the Otis College of Art and Design to dub California’s largest city the “Creative Capital of the World” in a report.
Despite the nationwide loss of numerous industrial jobs during the recession, more than half a million people work in Los Angeles’ manufacturing industry, amounting to the largest manufacturing base in the entire USA. Similarly, the Port of Los Angeles is one of the most significant seaports in the Western Hemisphere for trade in the Pacific, and is by far the number one port in the country, with an annual shipping volume of 8.2 million TEU containers in comparison to the second-busiest port New York’s 6.4 million TEU containers.
An incredibly attractive place for expats, the L.A. metropolitan area is one of the most ethnically diverse in the country, and there are plenty of cultural leisure activities in which to indulge while working in Los Angeles: Los Angeles County counts 681 museums, well ahead of New York’s 414, and in Santa Monica, you can find the world’s second-largest Mormon temple at 190,614 square feet (17,667 m2), the equivalent of 20 tennis courts.
The Economic Picture
Needless to say, L.A. is both a regional and a global business and economic center. For people working in Los Angeles, this means being part of one of the biggest economies in the world. The most noteworthy contributors to L.A.’s economic success are international trade, entertainment, biotechnology, aerospace, fashion, and tourism. Unsurprisingly, the city also has one of the largest retail markets in the United States.
Many expats working in Los Angeles are undoubtedly employed by the big international corporations operating in the fields of engineering, petroleum, real estate, and construction. Companies in the fields of media production, finance, telecommunications, law, healthcare, and transportation also figure as major employers. Safe to say, there is an industry for every expat dreaming of working in Los Angeles.
Be Patient: Finding a Job in Los Angeles
As is the case for most of the USA, the biggest obstacle to working in Los Angeles is getting a work permit. In basic terms, if you do not already have a visa and work permit for the United States, expect the road ahead to be long and fairly tedious. It is highly recommended to start the application process well in advance of your move to Los Angeles.
Generally, employees of multinational corporations with L.A.-based branch offices stand the best chance of working in Los Angeles. If, however, such an intra-company transfer does not seem to be on your horizon, you can always give the traditional job search a go. Naturally, the internet is always a good place to start, as is the local, regional, and national press, such as the Los Angeles Times.
Alternatively, you can contact the US Chamber of Commerce or US embassy in your country of residence for contact details of companies operating in the L.A. area. Sending out unsolicited job applications or letters of introduction may in fact get you a long way towards working in Los Angeles, as many attractive job openings in the US are never publicly advertised. Recommended reading for people interested in working in Los Angeles includes the Occupational Outlook Handbook or other publications by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
For more information on how to land the job of your dreams, please refer to our Extended Guide article on applying for jobs in the US.
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