Guide to Expat Jobs in Russia
Benefits of Working in Russia
There are numerous benefits to landing one of many expat jobs in Russia. Russia was once one of the best countries in the world to be an expat. In the early to mid-2000s, many people came to Russia with little or no experience and had their careers skyrocket. Usually, when someone works abroad they have opportunities that they would not have at home in terms of exposure to new and different work, networking opportunities, and personal growth. It is still possible to fast track your career in Russia and we think you should consider it.
Most importantly, it depends on what you are looking to do in Russia. Professional jobs at international companies are usually the best options in terms of quick career growth.
In many cases, you will be working in an international team driving international initiatives in the Russian market. This exposure to teams locally in Russia and the home office will offer significant career opportunities. In your home country, a job is much more narrow. at least this is the case in the United States.
Working in Russia will challenge you. However, the ability to network with influential people is much easier in Russia as an expat. This is probably the most valuable part of working there. It also tends to apply to many other countries.
Russia is one of the largest markets in Europe and Asia thus many international companies use Moscow as a head office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
As of 2019, this situation is declining due to the geopolitical challenges facing Russia as it drifts farther away from the west. That doesn’t mean that there are fewer benefits though.
On the contrary, many people view working in Russia as a difficult jurisdiction. While the reality is different for those who persevere. Business and politics do not typically coincide with one another. The Russian people are open and curious when working with foreign employees. Use this to your advantage. Get to know your colleagues. Attend social functions and go out after work and you will be rewarded. Relationships are the backbone of work culture in Russia. Your sociability with your colleagues and superiors is vitally important.
Jobs Available for Expats
During your search for expat jobs in Russia, you will find that certain jobs are better for expatriate employees. If you are a highly skilled specialist, the options vary and will require minimal local market or language knowledge.
We won’t concentrate on those here. However, if you have many years of experience I suggest that you get in contact with some of our suggested recruiting and executive search firms down below.
If you are at the beginning of your career or do not have significant industry experience, the best industries to get started are Technology, Hospitality, Professional Services, Financial Services, Energy, Medical, and Construction. While the most in-demand jobs for expats in Russia are Marketing, Business Development, Sales, Human Resources, and Engineering.
Sometimes, if you don’t have enough experience, drive and passion can be more important, especially in a networking-focused job search. If you have business development experience in medical device sales but want to work at a hotel, go for it! Just be passionate about the opportunity.
We mention this all the time, you need to have a concrete idea of exactly what you are looking for from your job search. This means that it is best to know exactly which industry and job title you want. This will allow you to focus on all of the major chains and network with the right people.
If you approach generally such as looking for a job in an industry then you will have difficulty convincing a company that you are the best fit for the job.
Visa Options for Job Search
Whenever people talk about finding expat jobs in Russia, the conversation always comes to “how do I find a job in Russia as an expat if I can’t stay in Russia to look for a job? ”.
While this is a valid question, it shows that you haven’t thought long and hard about your decision to move to Russia. Yes, you need an employer sponsor to get a work visa in Russia. No, you don’t have to have a work visa to look for a job.
90 Day Tourist or Business Visa
We continually recommend coming to a country first and scoping out the options on a tourist visa or business visa.
If you prepare correctly, you can easily come to Russia on a business visa for 90 days, search for a job and get an offer. The key, however, is preparation.
Do note though that it is very unlikely that you will find a job in Russia from abroad. This is usually the case with most countries. It is important to highlight your drive and commitment to the country when you finally get on the ground.
The process to obtain either of looks like this:
- a tourist invitation
- a passport photo
- a signed Russian visa application form
- your passport
- Russian visa fee
Work Visa Through Opening an LLC in Russia
If you are a freelancer or are already committed to living in Russia, there is another option for a Visa that you can pursue. Opening a limited liability company and hiring yourself as the general director. This works because naming yourself as the director makes you eligible to obtain a work visa.
Keep in mind though that this is not cheap. Nevertheless, once the company is set up there will be minimal costs associated with accounting.
The overall setup cost varies. Our partner that we have verified with a third party due diligence check can get you set up for around $5000.
Once you have a work visa, you can apply for jobs and be hired either as a consultant or transfer to a different company.
We don’t recommend working as a consultant because you are liable for tax payments. This route also guarantees that if you lose your job, you can remain in Russia.
Types of Work Visas
For expat jobs in Russia, there are two different types of work visas. Though, depending on where you are from there could potentially be three different types.
Standard Work Visa
The first is the standard work visa. It usually takes a while to prepare (up to 6 months) after receiving a job offer. The company must prove that no local Russians can do the job and apply for a quota position to offer the job. This is sometimes very easy if the job involves language skills such as native-English speaking translators or editors. With other jobs, it can be very difficult to get the work visa approved.
We do not advocate looking for jobs that require this visa unless your work is based on unique skills that Russians don’t have. Largely because it will take a very long time to get started and most companies are reluctant to pursue this process.
Highly Qualified Specialist Visa
The second type of work visa is a highly-qualified specialist visa. These are granted to people with extensive work experience. The only real requirement for this type of visa is that your salary is more than 167,000 RUB per month which is roughly $2600 as of January 2020.
As stated, if you have professional experience this visa should be fairly easy to obtain in Moscow. The procedure to receive this visa is significantly easier for companies to sponsor because they do not need to prove that a local Russian is capable of doing the job. It also has a maximum processing time of about one month making it significantly quicker to get than the standard work visa. Therefore, if a company is willing to hire you, they will be ready to undertake this process. The bureaucracy to provide this visa is also streamlined so it requires much less paperwork. If you feel that you can command this salary, you will find it significantly easier to convince a Russian company to hire you.
Additionally, any international company is likely already familiar with the process.
Citizens of Former Soviet States
The last type of visa is for people from the former Soviet Union called a patent. You can apply for this on your own and essentially you can get a work permit without a work visa. This most likely will not apply to 99% of the people reading this article.
Feel free to reach out to us for more information regarding work visas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Average Salaries in Russia
The average salary for expat jobs in Russia varies significantly across the country. Most expats in a professional job in Moscow earn over 167,000 RUB or $2600.
Editing and translation positions can certainly pay less. English editors can easily command a salary of 100,000 RUB or more, which is a lot more than the average salary in Moscow. At big international companies, English editors with a bit of experience can command 150,000 or more.
English Teacher Salaries in Russia
English teacher salaries in Russia tend to pay between 100,000 RUB and 180,000 RUB depending on experience and certifications. You will need to be careful with English teaching jobs. Many will offer a very low salary of 50,000 RUB and require you to work full time.
Additionally, it is easy to find English students and teach them privately for 1500 RUB an hour. Many English teaching schools will allow you to do this, but it is considered to be courteous to ask them if it is ok first. Especially if they are sponsoring your visa. If you are interested in teaching English in Russia, be sure to check out our ultimate guide to teaching English in Russia.
Salaries for expat jobs in Russia’s other regions can be half or even less than half of the salaries in Moscow. If you are concerned about maximizing your salary, be sure to limit your search to Moscow.
Here are a few LinkedIn groups that are helpful:
Where to Look for a Job
There are many places to look for expat jobs in Russia. Only a few places offer jobs from companies that will consider expats. We typically recommend Headhunter, LinkedIn Jobs can also be a good resource to find expat jobs. Try searching by industry or job title and adding a keyword of “native English” or something similar to narrow down the search results.
Executive Recruitment and Headhunting Firms
If you have professional experience, it is worth reaching out to the following recruitment and executive search firms to see if they are able to aid you in your search.
Essentially, your strategy for finding expat jobs in Russia should look like this:
- Identify your ideal job and industry
- Network online and in-person with the relevant people
- Connect with recruiting companies
- Keep up to date on jobs at Headhunter
- Don’t give up
This guide should give you an excellent start on the basics of looking for expat jobs in Russia. If you have any questions, check out our Post A Job. We provide a wealth of information based on our years of experience in Russia and we are more than happy to walk you through your job search step by s