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Working in Washington DC?

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Brian Norris

Living in the USA, from the UK

"When first moving to Washington, D.C., I didn't know many people outside of the office. InterNations has changed that with some exciting events."

Caroline Stiles

Living in the USA, from Canada

"In such an international city such as Washington, D.C. InterNations holds great events for everyone to network and enjoy themselves."

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Washington DC at a Glance

Working in Washington DC

The job market in the capital city of the USA is deeply influenced by its status as the seat of power, creating a young and international atmosphere. If you plan on working in Washington DC, discover all the opportunities, the challenges and the requirements in our guide!

Washington is the power hub of the USA, with around one sixth of professionals there working in some branch of the government. This makes it a particularly hardy city when it comes to economics lulls, and it also means there are lots of businesses that benefit from close government contact active in the district - whether that's in publishing, defense contracting, lobbying or large scale non-profit work.

It's a great city to live and work in as an expatriate, as you have access to a place that's steeped in culture, alongside modern attractions such as a top class food scene. You'll also meet a lot of people who are fellow new arrivals, with a large international base of workers, and also lots of young American professionals traveling there for work. 

Local Economy

Despite the overshadowing presence of US government work, there are still lots of other local opportunities that cater more to expats. The living costs in the DC area can be high, so it's a good idea to have some assurance of work before you take the plunge. Most likely or not, you’ll need an employer’s support for your visa application, too.

Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are among the city’s largest private-sector employers and also two of the largest air and defense contractors, with yearly employment figures that top 20,000 people each. The health industry is also well represented in the city, with Inova Health System and Medstar Health representing the biggest employers in their field. International companies such as Microsoft and Marriott too have a large base in the city, so there are lots of opportunities there for skilled individuals. 

The culture towards work in the US, and in Washington DC in particular, is very driven and career focused. Many roles involve long working hours, and are highly competitive. Professionals in the city tend to be well educated, and there are lots of young people aiming for success. You'll also find that most roles allow for less holiday time than for example in the EU, although there are ten Federal Public Holidays to enjoy. Plan ahead to make the most of your free time while working in Washington! 

Job Hunting in Washington DC 

With so many young driven professionals in one place, finding good employment means keeping an ear to the ground. There are lots of opportunities on individual companies' websites when it comes to employment in DC, but you may want to perform a more general search. As you'd expect, one of the best ways to look into work as an expat in DC is to check out what's available on the internet.

The source of choice for many job hunters is the Washington Post website. Here you'll find thousands of listings, with lots of categories to narrow down your search. They also publish regular features on the process of finding work, and how to make yourself appealing to employers, so all in all the post is a great option for prospective professionals. Of course, the Washington Post is only one example of where you can start looking for jobs in Washington.

If you're interested in paid internships and teaching positions, there are lots of sites that can cater to that, too. If in doubt, it's also a good idea to check out the jobs on Craigslist.

Of course, for any of these roles you have to make sure that you have a valid working visa, so start the process early to avoid disappointment. 

Income Taxation in Washington DC

As a resident of the United States, you will be responsible for paying your state income tax, in addition to federal income tax, in a timely manner. The percentage that you pay depends on your earnings, and the tax brackets and percentages range from state to state, so it can take a little bit of time to get your head around. For a single person living and working in Washington, the state rates are as follows in 2015: 

If you'd like more specific information on state income tax in DC, visit the Office of Tax and Revenue online.

InterNations Expat Magazine