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Working in Russia

Being an expat in Russia has never been this lucrative! The country does not only have diverse employment options; expats in Russia are generally the best paid foreign specialists worldwide. Our guide to working in Russia has some important details on the economy and work permits.
Modern office buildings and business parks shape the image of Russia's economy today.

At a Glance:

  • Russia’s economy has greatly diversified in the last few decades, and there are now several attractive industries for expats looking to work in the country.
  • Acquiring a work visa is complicated and needs to be started well in advance of your arrival in Russia — however, the process is much easier if you are eligible to be a Highly Qualified Specialist.
  • Spending more than 183 days a year in Russia means you will be taxed as a resident i.e. at a rate of 13%.


Since the great time of change beginning in the 1990s, the appeal of working in Russia has skyrocketed in popularity. The transformation into a market-based open economy has had positive and negative effects for the population. However, as a whole, citizens and expats working in Russia have contributed to the country’s great economic upswing in the past decade.

Russia's Main Economic Pillars

As in all industrialized nations today, most people working in the world’s largest country have found employment in the service sector, amounting to some 60% of the entire workforce. Industrial production is still going strong, though, with about 28% of employees working in industrial production and processing enterprises. Metallurgy is a special focal industry of the nation, as Russia is the world’s third largest exporter of steel. In recent years, the government has taken measures to make Russia’s IT sector attractive for foreign investors.

Seeing how the Russian Federation is a country of gigantic dimensions, it surely doesn’t come as a surprise that countless people make a living working in Russia’s resources sector. Producing, refining, and trading natural resources are some of the main channels of income for both the government and citizens.

However, the export of commodities such as gas or steel makes Russia’s economy somewhat vulnerable to global ups and downs, as the harsh effects of the global financial crisis of 2008/09 have made obvious. Nevertheless, Russia was able to quickly recover from those blows. It was able to return to a growing economy within one year, thanks to various countermeasures by the government and the Russian Central Bank.

The Expat Job Market in Russia

Working in Russia has long been a feasible choice for those expats looking to gain further experience in the construction and energy sectors. The latter in particular is highly lucrative for the country as a whole. Russia is the world’s second-largest producer and exporter of natural gas and, surpassing Saudi Arabia, the largest producer of oil. While these two cash cows are, for the most part, largely controlled by government-backed companies, expats interested in working in Russia’s energy sector might still be offered some interesting incentives. Furthermore, there is a steady need for construction and renovation in Russia, especially in cosmopolitan cities such as Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

Climbing the Career Ladder

If you are in the lucky position of having landed a job in Russia as an expat, chances are you will receive more than adequate compensation. The HSBC Expat Economics Survey 2014 found that expats working in Russia are ranked 13th of the world’s countries with the most dispensable income and highest gross earnings. This was not the only highly interesting result of the survey: over three-quarters of expats in Russia stated that considerations concerning their careers were pivotal in their decision of relocating here.

Employment in one of the largest expat domains — predominantly finance, energy, and construction — could also turn out to be a wise career step for you! With one-third of all expats working in Russia earning in excess of 250,000 USD annually, and many expat positions being in the management tier, it is certainly a lucrative option.

Social Security: You Don’t Have to Pay

As an expat in Russia you will be covered by a social security scheme that, while it may not be as all-encompassing as in your home country, covers all the most important aspects, from sickness to work injury and unemployment. This is perhaps the most interesting fact for every expat about to start working in Russia: only your employer is required to pay into the various social security and insurance funds. As an employee, you do not have any responsibility to contribute.


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

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