Wondering how to get a job in London as an American? Whether you’re just starting your job hunt or are knees deep in a Google search for jobs for Americans in England (we’ve all been there) here’s my no-fluff advice on how to find a job in London as a foreigner — from an American working in London.
Once you’ve soaked up a dose of London life, it’s hard to want to go back.
Between being seeped in history, beautiful architecture, and an endless supply of things to do, London is easily one of the most sought-after cities to live and work (even though it’s not all sunshine and rainbows).
If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’re an American looking for a job in London.
In which case, there’s no better place to be than reading this blog post (with a cup of tea hopefully, it’s time to start assimilating!).
In this post, I’ll be sharing:
- my experience as an American working in London
- if it’s easy to get a job in London as an American
- types of work visas in London for Americans
- working remote in London from the US
- the best jobs for Americans in London
- the best London job search engines (for companies that offer work visas)
- how to apply for a job in London
- cover letter tips for applying to a job in the UK as an American
- salaries in the UK vs the US
- work culture in London
- how to find other jobs in London as an American such as internships, summer jobs, and volunteer jobs
By the end of this post you should have a much better idea of how to find a job in London as an American, so let’s go into it!
Getting a Job in London as an American
My Experience as an American Working in London
Before you take advice from a random stranger on the internet, you should probably know my relationship with working in London and the huge disclaimer that I have never had a work visa in London.
I moved to London at 18 on a Tier 4 Student Visa, followed by getting my MBA on another Tier 4 Student Visa. After that, I was eligible for a Graduate Visa which enabled me to apply for self-employment as a sole trader in the UK and eventually take Candace Abroad full-time.
In an unplanned series of events, my partner is half-British (and half-German), and as we continue to build our lives together I’ll be moving onto a Family Visa with him after my Graduate Visa expires.
At this point, I would never pursue a work visa in London as an American as it would mean I couldn’t be an entrepreneur and legally run my business Candace Abroad in the UK if I’m on a visa to work for another company here full-time.
However, through running my blog and Instagram, the Women in London Collective, as well as personal experience, I know dozens of women who have successfully found a job in London as an American.
Disclaimer: As much as I would love to help my readers with their personal journeys to the UK, I’m not an immigration officer and can only offer the advice outlined in this post. Please refer to the UK’s official goverment website or speak to an immigration officer or UK job recruiter to discuss your specific circumstance.
Is it Easy to Get a Job in London as an American? (how difficult is it to get a job in the UK?)
The first thing you may be wondering as an American looking for a job in London is ‘is it easy to find a job in London as an American?’, and as a lover of all things no B.S — no, it isn’t easy to find a job as an American in London. But it’s 100% doable.
Finding a job in London is easier if:
- You’re currently a student in London and are building your UK job experience and network
- You’re currently building your career in the UK on another work visa
- You’re actively networking with companies in London
“Help! How can an American get a job in the UK? I am in London now and I don’t want to leave“
If this is you, don’t panic. But also, don’t expect to find a job in a whole new country in a two-week visit.
Finding a job in London as an American takes time, especially to find the right job for you (I’m strongly against taking any job that comes your way just for a visa, there’s no point in moving across the world to hate what you’re doing every day).
Overall, getting a job in London as an American is a job in itself and requires immense and constant action-taking on your part if you’re going to make your dream of working in London become a reality.
Do I Need a Work Visa to Work in London as an American? (can Americans work in the UK?)
Unless you’ve got UK ancestry or a current visa that allows you to work in the UK (for example, you can work 20 hours per week under a Tier 4 Student Visa) you’ll need a work permit to work in the UK.
P.S – Certain countries are eligible for a working holiday visa in the UK under the ‘Youth Mobility Scheme’ which allows you to work and live in the UK for two years without needing a job before you arrive. And no, the US isn’t on the list… 🙁
Most Common Types of Work Visas for Americans in London in 2022:
Before I go into the most common work visas for Americans in London, please reference the Work in the UK page on the UK’s official government website, which goes into greater detail for each + tons more work visa options.
Skilled Worker Visa:
80% of people I know from America that come to the UK specifically to work have come under the Skilled Worker Visa.
This is when a government-approved UK company hires you to work from them. You must be paid a minimum salary and be offered a job on the eligible occupations list.
It can last for up to 5 years and counts towards your Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK (meaning you can stay forever!).
Intra-Company Transfer Visa (now Senior or Specialist Worker visa (Global Business Mobility):
You’ll be pleased to hear there are many American companies with offices in London, say hello to the Intra-Company Transfer Visa! (which has a super long new name).
This allows you to be a temporary worker at your US company’s branch in London — typically a part of companies with a New York or LA base in the states.
If you’re already working at an American company with a UK office, you’re already one step ahead of the game, your main goal will be to convince them to sponsor your move to their London office.
However, for the longer game, you could consider applying for jobs in the states you know have a UK office and make it known to the HR team that you see moving to their London office as a part of your career trajectory at the company.
To find all American companies with offices in London in your field, you’ll need to do a few hours of Linkedin and Indeed research, but here are a few I know of:
- American Airlines
- American Express
- Boston Consulting Group
- Delta Airlines
- Goldman Sachs
- JP Morgan
- United Airlines
- Whole Foods
- American Express
Scale-up Worker Visa:
If you have experience in the startup world in the US, you may want to look into the Scale-up Worker Visa.
This visa was designed to help fast-growing companies in the United Kingdom hire talent from across the world, including you!
You have to have a confirmed offer that lasts over 6 months, a minimum salary requirement and it must be on the eligible occupations list.
Health & Care Worker Visa:
If you’re in the medical field in the US I’ve got some good news — the UK needs you!
The UK is always in need of NHS staff and so if you’ve got a medical qualification that transfers over (see list here) you may be able to get the Heath & Care Worker Visa.
Because of the constant need and demand for NHS workers, I’ve heard this visa is one of the most straightforward, but definitely make sure you have a solid understanding of the NHS and the UK healthcare system as a whole before you apply.
High Potential Visa:
The High Potential Visa is a fairly new way for Americans to move to the UK. Although it doesn’t directly give you a job in London — it does give you the ability to live and work in London as an American for up to 2 years if you’ve graduated from a qualifying university within the past five years.
During this time you can network and get job experience to move onto a more long-term option like the Skilled Worker Visa.
Like I mentioned, there are many other work visas available for foreigners coming to the UK. See the full list here.
Moving to the UK from the US with no experience (how can an American move to London without a job?
If you have little or no job experience (or the job experience you have isn’t on the eligible occupations list) and you’re set on moving to London, I suggest looking into moving to London on a Tier 4 Student Visa.
This will give you ample time to gain more experience in the UK job market (you can only work 20 hours a week but this can be for any company including industries on the eligible occupations list) and explore more routes to staying permanently in the UK after you graduate.
When I moved at 18, my job experience started at cashiering at my local fro-yo shop and ended at waitressing at IHOP — so not exactly the ‘skilled worker’ eligible type.
But by the time I graduated with my bachelor’s and master’s I had five years of experience in my desired field (Marketing) which greatly aided me in getting full-time roles in Startup Marketing after I graduated and of course, gave me the skills I needed to build Candace Abroad.
Whether or not I was self-employed, based on my experience at this point I know I could stay in the UK under a work visa because of all the time and energy I put into learning skillsets I knew would be valuable to the UK job market, so I suggest you do the same!
Working Remote in London as an American
Something I’ve been seeing a lot when it comes to Americans working in the UK is working remotely.
As an American, you’re allowed to visit the UK visa-free for up to six months (you’re considered a UK resident and must pay UK tax after this point).
Unless you’re ultra-loaded, the likelihood that you can live in the UK for 6 months without working is slim.
Because of this, there are many Americans working remotely for a US company that choose to call London home for a few months out of the year.
However, the legality of this still leaves a bit to be questioned. I know for certain you 100% cannot do any work associated with a UK company if you’re here on a tourist visa, for example doing deliberate business with a UK company.
From my research, it seems like working activity for a non-UK company is allowed, as long as your main purpose for your visit is for traveling, which again, makes it murky on the UK government’s part.
It’s also important to note you may be required to tell border control your purpose for being in the UK when you arrive. If they suspect that you are using London as a home base for your remote work or to purposely seek work in the UK rather than for visiting, you may have issues.
What are the Best Jobs for Americans in London?
The best jobs for Americans in London (and anywhere in my opinion) would be roles that are in your current job field and industry.
Like I said before there’s no point in moving across the pond to advance your career in a field you have no passion for or don’t see yourself wanting to pursue past using it to get a visa.
For example, I know many people that move over from the financial service industry (for example, JP Morgan or Goldman Sachs) and other typically very high-skilled jobs from the US.
Whether they decide to move back to the US or not, the job experience they’re gaining is valuable across countries for their specific field.
It also goes without saying that the best jobs for Americans in London are with companies that can sponsor you.
The truth is many UK companies see sponsoring visas as an added hassle. However, there are dozens of companies across London and beyond that see the value in having an international and diverse team and will make the effort to get you on their team.
The Best London Job Search Engines (for companies that offer work visas)
I’ve found nearly all my jobs in the UK (and been recruited for jobs) through Linkedin. Make sure your profile is up to date and use keywords like ‘UK Sponsorship’, ‘Skilled Worker visa’, ‘Intra-Company Transfer’, ‘Scale-up Worker Visa’ etc. when you’re searching for work in England for Americans
Indeed is another super popular UK job site and similar to the Linkedin strategy, you can use keywords to find specific roles that sponsor work visas
UK Hired is a niche UK job site that’s specifically geared towards International job seekers. There’s tons of options to tailor your search across industries so definitely give it a go
UK Visa Jobs:
Very similar to UK Hired , UK Visa Jobs is a job board is exclusively for those that would need a work visa to work in the UK
Not necessarily a job search site (at least as far as I know) but Facebook Groups are a great resource for Americans looking to move to London for work. A few to try are:
- Americans in London
- Americans in London (different group)
- American Expats/Friends Living in London
- American Women in the UK
- Americans in the UK – a helpful expat group
Use the search tool and keywords like ‘work visa’, ‘tier 2 visa’, ‘skilled worker visa’ etc. to find stories from other Americans who have found their way across the pond through a work visa.
Of course, you never know if someone will respond — but if you find someone working in the same industry as you in the UK, they may be able to give you some more resources or contacts for your search!
How to Apply For a Job in London as an American
- Plan to leave at least 3-6 months for the job hunting process – Finding a job in the UK can be extremely time-consuming (and in some cases take a lot longer than the above), look at your schedule and work out how many hours a week you can dedicate to your job hunt, then stick to it!
- Make a list of companies that sponsor jobs in the UK – Use the resources provided above to make a hefty list of companies you want to apply for, their Linkedin, London office, and background information about the company for constant reference
- Network – Your chances of getting work in the UK as a US citizen are greatly increased if you have a professional network in London. Using the list of companies you made, start to use Linkedin to make yourself a familiar face to your future potential hiring managers, recruiters, and future co-workers across the pond
- Make sure your CV stands out – I would even go as far as using Linkedin to find a UK CV writer to look over things and make sure you’ve got the very best CV possible before you start applying — it goes a long way!
- Set an application quote (and don’t give up!) – since I became a London travel blogger I’ve gotten tons of messages from Americans who have said it’s just too hard for foreigners to get a job in the UK, so they gave up. But in the same breath, I also get tons of messages from Americans in London who moved for work successfull
Although I’m sure there are several reasons for the difference between the two, I do know every American I know that moved to the UK for work didn’t stop applying until they found a role.
If you’re serious about finding a job in the UK from the US, you have to take it seriously.
Pick a number of jobs you’ll apply to each month and don’t compromise on it. The more applications you put in and the more you network, the more you get one step closer to finding a role in London. Trust me!
- Get an NI Number – This is equivalent to a social security number and you’ll 100% need one if you’ll be working in the UK, here’s how to apply
Cover Letter Tips for Applying to a Job in the UK as an American
As much as I would love to pretend to be an expert on US resumes vs UK CVs, my whole adult work experience has been in the UK, so I won’t be much help here.
However here’s an excellent resource on the biggest differences between a US resume and a UK CV and how to adjust yours for the UK job market. Give it a read!
Salaries in the UK vs the US
One big thing to note about being an American working in the UK is the salary difference.
Salaries in London and the rest of the UK are notoriously lower than in the states.
For entry-level positions in London, expect a minimum salary of £27,000 to £40,000 on the high end.
For mid-level positions £40,000 – £60,000 is typically the range with £60,000+ for executive-level positions.
Of course, this number is also heavily influenced by your industry, so to get a more accurate picture I suggest searching your job title on Linkedin for London and seeing what salary range is advertised.
A real-life example of this comes from one of my good friends who works at a popular news channel in the US.
When looking to move to London, she job hunted and found a similar position at one of the UK’s most popular broadcast stations.
In the US, her salary was in the six-figure range.
But in the UK for the same position, they offered her £30k! So yes, the difference can be massive.
With that said, the cost of living is much lower in the UK than in the US, so it mostly balances out.
For example, things like free healthcare, or in London, excellent public transport — instantly bring your day-to-day living costs down.
How Does Tax Work in the UK for American Citizens?
If you’re working for a UK company in the US as an American, your taxes will automatically be taken out for you by your company, similar to the US.
However, you’ll still need to file US taxes every year, no matter where you live (thanks Uncle Sam).
You’ll also be liable for double-taxation once you’ve made over a certain amount — however, you can write off a lot of it thanks to the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion Act.
My Expat Taxes is a great resource for all things American taxes abroad, and I actually had the founder on my old travel podcast years ago!
Work Culture in London
Although not as far left as most Americans would think when it comes to European work culture, I still think London work culture is leaps and bounds better than the US.
Hobbies are important in both UK and European culture, and for the most part, your life isn’t expected to revolve around work (although I can’t speak for the investment bankers here…).
The majority of jobs in the UK offer 5.6 weeks of paid leave whereas the US typically offers 10 working days, yikes.
PCG (an employer of Americans in London) wrote an excellent post about the main differences in working culture between the US and the UK which I think sums up the experience quite nicely.
Other Types of Jobs for Americans in London
Volunteer jobs for foreigners in London – If you want to volunteer in London it would still technically fall under ‘working’ so you’d need to look into getting the Charity Worker Visa to come to London as a volunteer.
Summer Jobs and Internships for Americans in London – Looking for a summer job or Internship in London? Any type of work in London would require a work visa, but the process is a lot simpler for short-term jobs and internships.
Transitions Abroad and Go Abroad are both great resources to find work opportunities for each, including if you’re looking for jobs in London as a recent American graduate.
Final Tips and Tricks to Start Your Career in London
Embrace the research – as you’ll soon learn, there is a LOT of research that comes with anything and everything moving abroad (it’s why you landed on this post!), and as much as I’d like to, there’s no one person on the internet that has all the answers to your specific situation. It’s on you to be a researcher at all times and constantly make Google and resources your best friend when it comes to finding the answers you need along your individual journey.
Stay organized – from job applications to potential recruiters, make sure to keep any and every piece of information related to your London job search organized to make the process go smoother
Be patient with yourself – the job hunting process in any country can be extremely stress-inducing, but especially so if you’re trying to get a job in London as an American. Take it day by day and don’t expect a job to come overnight — good things take time!