How To Get a Job in London as an American?

a picture showing different kinds of birds in an establishment in London, UK.

Getting a job in London as an American can be a bit tricky, but it’s definitely possible. While the process may be different than what you’re used to, back home, with a little research and perseverance, you can find the perfect job in London.

Job hunting in London is easy if you do your research, get needed permits, and network appropriately. Ensure that your resume is up to date and tailored for the jobs you are applying to. Apart from looking online and in job databases, attend job fairs, networking events, and talks given by professionals in your field.

 Although the city is known for its financial sector, there are vast opportunities for tech-enthusiasts, artists, PR, and more. It is also home to several multinational companies like Amazon and Google. This article will guide you on starting a career in London as an American, all the important details to consider, and where to start your search. Read on.

Getting a job as an American in London 

Location is a major consideration when applying for a job in London. Although the city has opportunities, it’s expensive. Research and explore the various places before accepting a job offer; if you have several, and make a comparison.

Different cities are famous for various sectors. For instance, the finance industry is prevalent in Canary Wharf and Croydon. Soho is home for creatives – design, film, music, and visual arts companies are saturated here.

Shoreditch has several small startups, and it’s a great place to kick-start your career journey in London, especially for new graduates or people with less experience.

Finally, Silicon Roundabout, is home to Google and Intel, international companies that most employees fancy.

Read this article to learn about in-demand jobs in London. You will have a higher chance of hiring when applying for one of them.

Work culture in London

Most UK companies highly rank management skills. Thus, managers are entrusted with making tough decisions, efficiently leading a team of employees, and showcasing good leadership.

Teamwork is a valued soft skill you should develop if planning to work in the UK. Unlike Americans, British meetings tend to be less formal and frequent.

Labor laws in the UK

Londoners work with contracts. Every employee can request a written agreement that the employer cannot amend once both parties sign.

Details in your employment contract include:

  • Working hours: The maximum working hours per week is 48 hours. While it’s 35 – 40 hours a week for full-time employees.
  • Annual leave days: Minimum of 2.8 days inclusive of public holidays; this applies to full-time employees.
  • The notice period for contract termination depends on the period employed.

American companies in London

Finding a job in London as an American can be a daunting task. Thus, most Americans opt to find a job in an American company with offices in London, as it offers sleek transferability. Fortunately, London has no shortage of American companies. These include:

  • Facebook: Facebook has an internship and graduate program in London that ranked #1 by Glassdoor two years in a row.
  • Netflix: This fast-growing entertainment giant has offices in London. Talented nerds need to apply here.
  • American Express: the London Finance sector will impress you. Especially an American company with British culture.
  • Etsy: a niche for creative talents and artists. Etsy is majorly known for selling homemade crafts. It has massive corporate positions in its London offices.
  • GSK: this pharmaceutical giant has offices in London and hires frequently.
  • Amazon: Despite its base in Seattle, US, Amazon is well established in London. A 2019 report by LinkedIn named Amazon as the best place to work in Britain, beating many London -based brands.
  • Wise (formerly Transferwise): Is a fast-growing company ranked as Europe’s most valuable finch startup in 2019. You should look into applying for the several remote and onsite opportunities they have.
  • Sketchers: From Manhattan to having headquarters in the UK, sketchers should top your search if you’re looking for corporate roles and easy transferability into London.

Salaries in London

view high-rise building in London, UK at night.

Besides work culture and career growth, wages stand top of the pack for Americans seeking jobs in London. Notably, the US generally has higher salaries than the UK, but the latter is lenient on taxes. That said, factors such as your education level, skills, and qualifications influence your salary in London.

Read the in-depth guide on salaries in London.

Facts about salaries in London

London has the highest salaries in the entire country. But the cost of living is the highest as well.

Junior or executive roles usually start at £18,000 and finish at £30,000-£32,000, depending on your experience. Managerial positions start at £35,000-£49,000 and can go far beyond.

As a US executive with experience in your field, you should expect at least £50,000 before tax while working in London. A good salary, allowing a decent lifestyle, starts at £45,000 gross.

For example, with an income of £53,700, you will enjoy £3,320 after tax per month. With a salary of £50,000, you will receive £37,000 annually after-tax or about £3,000 per month.

London is more expensive than most US cities. With that said, for a comfortable life in London for a single person, you would need a salary of at least £40,000 a year. For a couple, you need to earn at least £60,000-70,000 if your partner doesn’t work.

Some facts about salaries in London:

  • The minimum wage in London in 2021 was £8,91 per hour for employees above 23 years and £4,15 per hour for apprentices.
  • According to ONS, the average wage in London is £41,025 per annum as of 2020. However, this doesn’t apply to other cities in the UK.
  • High-level management positions are the highest-paid jobs in London, earning an average of £97,083 per year.
  • The gender pay gap was at 8.8% in 2019.

The most common salary ranges in London are:

  • £32,000-£36,000
  • £36,000-£39,000
  • £39,000-£43,000
  • £43,000-£47,000
  • £47,000-£50,000
  • £57,000-£61,000

Also read: What is a good salary in the UK?

How to apply for a job in London as an American

  • Your CV and cover letter should be ready. British jobs will almost certainly ask for a cover letter. Let it be a complement to your CV.
  • Research – Find out as much as you can about the company you’re applying for. This is to help you know how Londoners conduct their interviews and will get you ahead of your competitors. 
  • Get a work permit – Know the work you want to do and research the requirements for that particular job. Carefully research where your job is likely to be located in London. This detail helps to obtain the right visa.
  • Apply for a national insurance number (NI) – NI is vital for any American looking to work in the UK. You need to get one before or while applying for jobs in London.

Job search in London

1. Websites

Government agencies are regularly on the lookout for talent and expertise in various areas. Register a complete profile and track your applications by checking regularly. This increases your chances of landing a job in London if your skills match the advertised occupations.

2. Recruitment agencies

Recruiting agencies are most suitable for executive positions as they ensure an easier matchmaking process and get you the right job. Most big companies hire these agencies to recruit talent, thus increasing your chances.

3. Media

Newspapers and publications like the guardian offer resourceful insights on the available arts, media, tech, marketing, and social health opportunities. Senior executives will find The Times helpful, while The Independent offers insights on engineering, finance, and the public sector.

Is it difficult for an American to get a job in the UK?

a man taking calls while checking some needed information.

There are many opportunities in London, and finding a job is not hard. However, the job market is competitive, and you’ll need to stand out to get a good opportunity. Remember, various industries have different requirements and expectations, making it difficult to find certain jobs. Do your research before applying.

In addition, have an outstanding CV, relevant work experience, and be well prepared for interviews to stand a chance. 

Tips and tricks to start your career in London

1. Research the industry you’re applying to

London is home to many businesses and vast industries. The city is famous for its financial sector with several startups and well-established firms. JP Morgan and HSBC are among the big names in the city. Moreover, the fintech industry is one of the city’s fast-growing sectors.

2. Update your resume

To ease your job hunt in London, let your resume do the talking first – make it professional and memorable. There is no perfect formula for crafting a great resume, but basics apply across the board—readability, conciseness, detailed skills, and relevant experience.

Some companies accept creative resumes with graphics, bright colors, and distinctive formats, while others prefer a basic professional approach. So, when crafting your CV, consider your audience.

In addition, cover letters are a boost to your application. Even though the job ad doesn’t mention it, make a point of including one. It gives the employer a glance at your skills and expertise before getting to the detailed CV.

3. Leverage your Network

Optimize your online presence to hint at your interests and skills. Social media has become a powerful tool for showcasing and selling your skills. Most employers use these channels, especially LinkedIn, as screening tools when reviewing applications. Make sure your social media activities don’t hinder that dream job.

Research indicates that 80% of job vacancies are shared through word of mouth, and less than 20% get on the listings and adverts. Fortunately, London is a culturally diverse city, and getting the right connections will help you find your footing and advance in your career journey.

4. Preparing for the interview

It’s the scariest part for many, but you can smash your job interview with these few tips. First, research the company. Know the culture, who works there, the history, goals, and values—get into the firm’s mindset. Secondly, perfect your English. Keep in mind that you’re competing with natives also.

5. Get your visa ready 

A legit work permit helps you land a job in the UK. So, make sure you have all the required papers in advance.

Work visas for US citizens in the UK

Whether you’re an American entrepreneur, an investor, or an employee looking for a job, the first step is to acquire the right to work in London – visa. These are the visas available to US citizens who want to work in London.

Short-term visas

  • Temporary worker tier 5: You can apply for seasonal work or volunteer work for up to six months. Additionally, you’ll need to have someone to sponsor your stay.
  • Graduate visa: You qualify for a graduate visa after completing a course in the UK. This gives you at least two years in London after school.

Long-term work visas 

  • Tier 2 skilled worker visa:  to apply for this work visa, you need a graduate-level job with a minimum average salary of £27,000 a year, depending on the occupation type. However, there are exceptions where the UK government lists job shortages, and you can qualify even with a lower salary. These include math and physics teachers, geoscientists, and nurses. 

Jobs with a salary above £160,000 per year qualify for a tier 2 work visa regardless of the qualifications. Such include elite sports athletes, TV presenters, or sales jobs in Ferrari and yacht dealerships.

  • Tier 2 intra-company transfer: This allows you to work and stay in London at your employer’s UK branch.
  • Health and care worker visa: This is in accordance with the NHS, which allows eligible caregivers to move and work in the UK.
  • Tier 2 Mister of religion visa: You’re eligible for this visa if you’ve been offered a job within the faith community, such as missionary work in the UK.

Specialized visas

  • Tier 1 investment visa: For millionaires whose only qualification is to invest £2 million in government bonds.
  • Tier 1 entrepreneurs visa: For those who want to start or run a business in the UK. The requirement is to have at least £50,000 (graduate entrepreneur) if the government endorses the business idea and £250,000 if otherwise.
  • Tier 1 talent visa: To be eligible for this, you must be an exceptionally talented young leader in tech, engineering, sciences, medicine, or arts. You don’t need to have lots of money for this visa.

Best jobs for Americans in London

Supply and demand are the principles that run the business world and the job market. Having a skill that’s on-demand gets you better offers.

The Brexit aftermath and the pandemic led to a shortage of skills and workers across the UK. It’s great news for recent graduates and skilled workers.

Jobs in London for recent American graduates

  • Volunteer jobs for Americans. There is a broad market for volunteer opportunities in London for those who love charity work. London’s official government website is the first stop to check the opportunities. Sort your papers and required permits before applying for a volunteering program in London.
  • Internships in London. The best way to enrich your CV is to intern to gain relevant experience. As an American student in London, you can use a student visa to find summer jobs, making it easier to apply for a work permit.

Skilled workers

  • Programmers and software developers

The technology industry is fast passing globally, and Americans with IT skills have increased their chances of securing a good deal in London. The salary is lucrative, starting at £26,000 a month.

  • Cyber security specialists

Companies and governments demand these digital skills to secure people’s data. This can range from creating cyber defenses to encrypting communications. Here, you can expect a starting salary of £25,000.

  • Health Care

All medical specialists a highly demanded skilled workers in the UK. From managerial to nursing and caregivers. Depending on the position, it’s rewarding with a starting salary between £21,000 to £30,000.

  • Architecture

Architects are highly valued and demanded in the UK. Combining math, engineering, creativity, and communication skills makes it a lucrative job with a starting wage of £28,000.

  • Physical scientists

Oil, gas, and mining industries are exponentially expanding and face a shortage of appropriately skilled scientists. It makes a great job in the UK, even for recent STEM graduates. Starting salary in this field is about £29,000.

Most in-demand jobs in the UKAverage starting salaries
1Programmers and Software Developers£26,000
2Cyber Security Specialists£25,000
3Health Services and Residential Care£25,000 
5Graphic Designers£18,800
6Physical Scientists£29,000
Source: Gov.UK

Check out most in-demand jobs in London in 2023.

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