Can I get a job if I move to Panama?

Research and planning will help you land a job if you move to Panama.

Not everyone who is ready to move to Panama has a retirement income or a “stash of cash” on hand. What are your options if you want to relocate, but need to acquire some form of employment to make ends meet? Though limited, there are choices available.

Here are a few important things to know before you take the plunge.

  • You must apply for and receive a Work Visa in order to be employed by a company in Panama. If you locate a job online before you move, the company that is hiring you will often help with this process. An attorney is recommended. Refer to the article Employment Options in Panama – The Ins and Outs of Getting a Work Visa for additional information. You are considered a foreigner unless you have permanent residency.
  • Without written government approval, companies in Panama can only fill up to 10% of their open positions with foreign nationals. So even if a company has openings, they may not be able to hire you unless they can obtain a government waiver.
  • The minimum wage in Panama is very low, around $1.40 an hour. Most locals earn only around $500 per month. The good news is that “skilled labor” is hard to come by and if you have a skill set that is in demand you can probably expect a much better wage. The cost of living in Panama is considerably lower than in countries like the US, Canada, and Europe, so you won’t require as high an income to maintain a comparable lifestyle.
  • Many businesses expect a full-time employee to work over 40 hours per week, usually Monday through Friday plus a half day on Saturday. There are mandatory paid national holidays for everyone, though.
  • There are no unemployment benefits in Panama.

Online resources are available to get you started on your job search. In a simple Google search, I came up with dozens of possibilities in about an hour. Another good place to start is Linkedin. If you don’t have an account, you can set one up for free and join all the groups that are related to Panama. Today I saw a Linkedin posting for a company looking to hire a sales rep for construction materials. Encuentra24 is another good place to look. A sampling of their postings for today includes:

  • Sales Rep > 2-3 years’ experience, $500/month plus commissions
  • Taxi Driver > age 35-45, $1000 per month or $40 per day with 3 year contract
  • Administrative Assistant > $800 per month
  • Executive Chef > $2000 per month
  • Mechanic > $550 per month

Getting a job in Panama may have its challenges, but with a little research and planning you should be able to find something that will meet your requirements. Good luck on your search!