Los Angeles

Working in Los Angeles?

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Working in Los Angeles

Most people associate working in Los Angeles with Hollywood — but of course there is much more than that to working in the City of Angels. InterNations gives you a short insight into the local economy and job market, and helps you make sense of the US tax and social security systems.
The City of Angels is also a city of superlatives.
  • 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.


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.


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.


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

Juan Garcia

"Los Angeles is a great city, but only thanks to some members of InterNations, I could find the hottest places in its exciting nightlife."

Cynthia Fleming

"The InterNations members gave us very good hints about where to dine out in Los Angeles and enjoy the Californian wines. "

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