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Programming Jobs Abroad For a US Citizen? 836

Posted by kdawson
from the change-of-atmosphere dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I am a American citizen with a masters in Computer Science from a 3rd tier college and 4 years of work experience under my belt. I would like to work somewhere abroad in Europe for a couple years before I get too settled in life but have no clue where to start. I only speak English but would love to learn a second language. What sort of opportunities are there for American citizens to work abroad? What countries offer the best opportunity to balance a challenging work environment with enough vacation to explore the rest of Europe in my free time? Any hassles I should know about?"
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Programming Jobs Abroad For a US Citizen?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 31, 2008 @12:40AM (#24816143)

    code writes you... ?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 31, 2008 @12:41AM (#24816153)
    Many foreigners come to the United States for the reasons you have listed here.
  • tier? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @12:43AM (#24816163) Homepage

    I was not aware US colleges had some sort of official tier. Who defines these tiers? What are the criteria?

    • by debatem1 (1087307)
      They don't, it's unofficial.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Ah, no. Most professional societies rank departments according to various productivity indicators, including papers published, journal quality for those papers, PhDs/Masters granted, external funding and a few others here and there. Using these rankings, tiers are established. Law schools, med schools, CS departments, Math departments, chem, physics and on and on. And it is indeed official in the sense the it is agreed upon by the professional society of a given discipline and hence agreed upon by the fo

    • Re:tier? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Vellmont (569020) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @12:55AM (#24816245)

      I was not aware US colleges had some sort of official tier.

      There is no tier system. The submitter hasn't figured out that outside of academia, nobody really cares where you went to school only what you can actually do.

    • Re:tier? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by putaro (235078) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @12:59AM (#24816279) Journal

      It's easy - if you've never heard of it, it's a third tier college.

    • by eln (21727)

      First tier is the Ivy League.

      Second tier is most public universities and "lesser" private universities.

      Third tier is National American University, ITT Tech, and DeVry.

        • by eln (21727)

          I don't see any reference to "tiers" in that link. At any rate, I was joking. For future reference, unless a post of mine is indescribably brilliant, you should probably just assume it is supposed to have a winking smiley thing after it. Since nothing I write ever approaches brilliant, you can probably assume everything I write is intended as humor, even if it's painfully unfunny.

          • by schon (31600)

            For future reference, unless a post of mine is indescribably brilliant, you should probably just assume it is supposed to have a winking smiley thing after it.

            Maybe you should include a link to this post in your .sig, just so everyone won't have an excuse. :)

    • Re:tier? (Score:5, Funny)

      by davolfman (1245316) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @01:31AM (#24816473)
      Sure they do: snotty, good, small, and fake.
    • Re:tier? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Kamokazi (1080091) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @01:36AM (#24816505)

      US News and World report started the bullshit a long time ago. There used to be 4 of them, now they skip the second one or something. Someone else in the replies here linked the full details.

      Basically:

      If you've heard of the school (in an acedemic sense, not fucking sports), it's probably first tier.

      If you haven't heard of it, it's probably third tier (second gets skipped, wtf?).

      If you've heard of it from a TV ad or spam e-mail, it's probably fourth tier.

      There is no official clear-cut guidline other than their annual rankings. It's overhyped bullshit that it likely making US News a ton of money.

  • Hrmm? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 31, 2008 @12:44AM (#24816175)

    "I am a American citizen "

    Are you sure you speak English?

  • by houbou (1097327) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @12:45AM (#24816177) Journal

    I live in Canada, but I'm being sponsored to work in the US, so I will more than likely be working on the US side in the next month or 2.

    However, if you wish to work in Canada or the UK, you can try these job boards.

    http://www.jobshark.ca/caeng/index.cfm
    http://www.jobserve.com/ [jobserve.com]

    Now as for balancing pleasure with business, gee, I could always make a joke about working in a country where the "siesta" is mandatory :P but the truth is, I don't know. All I know is that in Canada, you could always challenge yourself to learn French. For me, being bilingual it obviously works well. But the truth is, if you had to learn a new language, I would suspect the following languages would be beneficial: spanish, mandarin, japanese, russian, german.

    • by Z00L00K (682162) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @02:33AM (#24816767) Homepage

      For Sweden you have the official job agency ArbetsfÃrmedlingen [arbetsformedlingen.se].

      As for being an American in Sweden it's no big deal. I have a workmate from Vancouver that has moved here. And on an earlier place there were a few too. Most people in Sweden speaks English too, so the language barrier isn't huge, and the cultural barrier is relatively small too. In fact small enough that some companies tests their new brands and products in Sweden before they release them in the US.

      As for computer related work you do have a few of the international businesses like Accenture, IBM, HP, Logica [logica.com] over here too, but also a few local ones like Ã...F [www.af.se], Cybercom Group [cybercomgroup.com], Epsilon [epsilon.nu], Semcon [semcon.se], Sigma [sigma.se].

      So there are a few to pick from. But the use for Swedish outside Scandinavia is very small, so if you want to do this for learning a new language it may be better to pick one of the bigger languages like German, Spanish, Italian or French. Maybe Switzerland is a good place, since they have four different languages in that country.

      Just be aware that people in some countries or areas of countries are less welcoming to Americans and that you will have to expect them trying to get you into heated discussions about American presidents, especially Bush...

      • Switzerland (Score:5, Informative)

        by LKM (227954) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @04:10AM (#24817253) Homepage

        I guess I can shed some light on the situation in Switzerland.

        There are four spoken languages here: German, Italian, French and Romanic. Typically, reasonably large companies in Switzerland have offices in at least two language areas, typically German and French or German and Italian. While the Swiss have their own version of German (which Germans don't understand when they first hear it), they will usually use the official version when talking to non-Swiss. So you can easily learn German, French and Italian in Switzerland.

        All working-age Swiss speak English. There are some older people who may never have learned English, but you can easily get by even if you only know English.

        I have a few American friends who live and work in Switzerland (Google has an office here, so there's tons of American Google programmers over here :-), and they seem to love it, so I guess I would recommend Switzerland. Also, we're always hiring good programmers :-)

        When looking for programming jobs, I would start out in Zurich; there's a lot of software companies in Zurich.

        I think admin.ch [admin.ch] should have information on how to apply for jobs and such.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Carewolf (581105)

        I will strongly recommend both Sweden and Denmark. They both have very strong economies currently and very low unemployment. Denmark alone is missing thousands of IT professional to fill vacant positions. As for a choice between Denmark and Sweden; Denmark pays around 25% higher salaries but is 25% more expensive to live in, so evens out unless you are looking to save up. IT salaries for non-educated developers starts at 5000$/month, for a computer scientist they start around 7000$/month.

  • by rbunker (1003580) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @12:49AM (#24816203)
    I think that you will be delighted to find that many EU companies have adopted English as their work language. This is especially true in Switzerland and Germany. Of course the UK, Ireland and (I know it isn't in Europe) Australia are good picks, too. Germany or Switzerland would afford you the chance to pick up another language, which is a really wonderful experience (I studied Russian for years, worked in Germany so learned some German, and worked in Geneva so ended up with a little bit of French too -- it is life changing). You can find web sites with jobs listed, monster.de for example...but in the local language so you might need to bablefish the sites. Last but not least, US-based international companies are a great route to doing this (this is the path I took). Search for the HR pages on web sites of major international corporations and you are sure to find job listings around the world. Apply and be sure your cover letter expresses your excitement about overseas work. Best of luck! Rick.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by odoketa (1040340)

      Also, don't forget the international organizations. Many of them have English as one of their official languages, and a desire to hire Americans (because we help foot the bill). Examples include UNESCO, the OECD, and the IEA. It helps to have a more well rounded education than just programming, but definitely have a look.

    • by thealsir (927362) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @02:55AM (#24816877) Homepage

      People Generally consider GB and Ireland to be part of Europe, much as many in GB/Ir would like to disagree.

  • by Non-Newtonian Fluid (16797) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @12:58AM (#24816259)

    ... except my primary concern was learning the language, and then finding work. Specifically, I wanted to live in Japan, so I ended up going to a language school full time there for a year and a half, and then after that finding work. If your primary concern is just living and working abroad, and language secondary, I would think that would be possible in many places in Europe. If language is important to you though, I would strongly recommend that you first study the language in the country you've chosen, and then find work. This is because 1. It's much easier to study when you don't have to work at the same time. 2. It will make you a more attractive hire. 3. Since you'll have put significant effort into learning the language (as opposed to just doing it in your free time while working), it will become a skill that will stay with you and that you can draw upon in the future.

    So that didn't really answer the questions you were asking, but I thought it was something that was important to address....

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @01:03AM (#24816305)

    I submit to you that with your programming skills, you could gain valuable experience imparting knowledge and working in the developing world. One thing I'd like to advise you on, is to have a very open mind in case you decide to go to Africa. Africa is not what CNN, ABC, CBS and FOX show the American public. It's much more lively and socially better than USA in some cases.

    I was in for a shock when on my very first visit to Africa, I met a country (Uganda) with pretty modest infrastructure compared to what I had in mind. I had to get used to the food though. I met Americans who decided years ago to call Africa home.

    There are tonnes of dollars from the American government going to Africa through agencies like CARE, USAID, Americares, UNICEFUSA and many others.

    So be open and brave man and consider Africa.

  • Try France. (Score:5, Funny)

    by takeoutphoto (1354465) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @01:05AM (#24816315)
    France just loves Americans who only speak English. Maybe you can find something there.
  • Go to India (Score:5, Funny)

    by JoshDM (741866) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @01:06AM (#24816323) Homepage Journal

    And get some of that sweet in-sourced work from the US.

    • Re:Go to India (Score:5, Informative)

      by truesaer (135079) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @02:40AM (#24816805) Homepage

      This may not be a bad idea actually. Salaries in India can actually be pretty high, up to 2/3rds of what US workers are making. India is not the bargain it once was for outsourcing. If you can find a good job there in a specific area of technical expertise or in a leadership role for a US organization you can do well. And in India, my understanding is that tech workers speak English on the job as it is considered the language of business.

  • by upuv (1201447) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @01:21AM (#24816405) Journal

    Well as a person who now lives and works abroad I can say it something that everyone should do.

    It has many benefits. Least of which is cash.

    First off and most importantly it opens your eyes to the greater culture of the planet. Being someone from the "new" world this is even more important. As North America suffers from a homoginised culture. Less so Canada.

    Secondly the experience both for work and personal. Work wise your experience in different cultures working can only help you back at home. Secondly the experience you gain personally will enhance your life and alter your life priorities.

    Now for the tough part the how too.

    First off do your research in an area you wish to live. What is the cost of living etc. Secondly start to look at the job market in the region. Google will be your friend here.

    For example: Rent in Sydney Aus in the city runs you about $400-$600au a week. That's about $350-$500us. Which for most american's is gigantic cash.

    At this time several markets are suffering from a downturn in IT. So be careful. This is a particularily sensitive time for employment. Many regions of the world have laws that prefer citizens over foreign people. Others require lengthy and costly Visa and certification procedures. Also some countries foreign workers are not governed by labor laws no matter what they do. So you may not have the protections the locals do. So again this is a point of research.

    If you are going to a non English speaking country. Make sure you have someone translate you CV/resume before you go. And then again when you get there. Make sure they understand the subject matter in the CV/resume. Otherwise you may end up looking like a professional gopher cage cleaner.

    Some countries have issues with American's. So be careful. For example a job in Egypt for an American could have personal safety issues. ( I picked a country and random. )

    Moving countries is hard work but well worth it. I have been doing it for almost 20 years. So don't be afraid. If your mind is set on it, you can do it.

    I could ramble on for hours. But I'll leave it at this.

  • by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Sunday August 31, 2008 @01:26AM (#24816433) Homepage Journal

    If you want to work in Europe, speaking English with an opportunity to learn another language, your options are the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden & Norway & Nokia (oops, I mean Finland)

    All of these countries have high tech sectors that their own populations can't sustain & import foreign workers (from all over the place) who use English as a working lingua fraca.

    All the countries I listed above allow working Holiday visas for 1-2 years for many western countries (not sure about the US, sorry) for workers under the age of 31.

    If you can't get such a visa, consider the same countries, but apply for jobs online, making it clear that you need a visa / sponsorship / whatever.

    Good luck!

  • by Dantoo (176555) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @01:36AM (#24816499)

    " What sort of opportunities are there for American citizens to work abroad?"

    Lots of opportunities with this outfit:

    [URL]http://www.marines.com/page/usmc.jsp[/URL]

    "Any hassles I should know about?"
    Nothing we can't train you for son.

    On a more serious note, if you are under 29 there is a class of working VISA available in many countries that allows you to work there for up to 12 months with few restrictions.

  • by MrZaius (321037) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @01:53AM (#24816579) Homepage

    There are very strong English language masters programs available in engineering schools and universities in Sweden [www.ltu.se] and Finland [www.tkk.fi] (also this one [www.uta.fi]), and presumably the rest of Scandinavia as well.

    You haven't lived till you've biked over a frozen lake or read a book in perfect daylight at 2AM. Some schools have industries right next to campus to tap the student labor force and nearly all the universities have ample jobs for masters students right there on campus. This is also the perfect choice to allow you to maximize your vacation opportunities - Cheap student rates and lengthy school breaks. A university is also the ideal environment in which to study the language, both in a formal setting and with the students that are much more used to dealing with foreigners on a daily basis than the rest of the population.

    That said, there's plenty of sysadmin jobs abroad under the employ of the US government, if you're willing to give up on coding at work for a while. See usajobs.gov and careers.state.gov. Simplifies dealing with visas and such.

  • Maybe Sweden? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tord (5801) <tord.jansson@nosPAM.gmail.com> on Sunday August 31, 2008 @01:58AM (#24816607) Homepage

    Without knowing too much details about the alternatives it seems to me that Sweden would fit your bill nicely for the following reasons:

    * Large IT-sector which regularly accepts English-speaking foreign labor in their workforce with no demands for knowing any Swedish.
    * English is the second language and is spoken more or less fluently among most of the population (especially the younger one), more so than in Germany, France or Finland.
    * Safe, generally non-violent place with all kinds of security nets if things would go wrong, like (almost) free hospitals.
    * 25 days of vacation per year guaranteed by law. Most people have 4 weeks of continuous vacation during the summer which is a great time to travel around the rest of Europe.

    Only thing speaking against Sweden as far as I can see is that it might not be exotic enough for your taste since it both culturally and geographically is quite close to your neighbor in north, Canada.

  • Germany (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Secret Rabbit (914973) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @02:14AM (#24816695) Journal

    According to my German wife, there is a fair amount of opportunity in Germany (she cited Berlin specifically). Well, that was a couple years ago. But, it's still worth checking out.

    Also, apparently you can get by fairly well with English only in the larger cities. So, that should help you acclimate.

    You also might want to consider other English speaking countries such as New Zealand. Wikipedia actually has a list of countries that have English as an official language. So, you might want to check that out.

    As a last note, I'd shy away from the UK as the violence there is getting bad enough that there are reports of people leaving because of it. Not to mention all the Orwellian BS.

    Hope that helps. Good luck.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dave420 (699308)
      The violence in the UK? Are you mad? There's a lot less violence in the UK than in the US. And the orwellian stuff? Jesus christ, man - get a grip. You sound like Alex Jones.
  • The Netherlands (Score:5, Informative)

    by Njovich (553857) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @02:15AM (#24816697)
    Sorry for plugging my own country, but I think Holland should be checked by anyone looking for temporary work in Europe:
    • English is spoken by nearly everyone under 80 years old. There are many people that can deal with complex english conversation. Still, Dutch is available to learn as a second language, and people will love it if you can speak even a limited amount of it. Many people (immigrant and other) have gone before you in learning Dutch.
    • Holland is welcoming to knowledge workers [expatloket.nl] like you. Clearly, there still is an immigration procedure, and there will be hassles. But a lot is done to make things as easy as possible.
    • Massive presence from international companies. For a number of reasons [nfia.com], many large US, Japanese, Korean and other companies have their European headquarters in The Netherlands. Also, companies like Philips, Shell, ING, ABN Amro are Dutch based companies that use lots of IT. Also, smaller companies in Holland tend to have a shortage of qualified IT personel.
    • Working hours are short [wikipedia.org], with many free days available to you. Giving you time to see the country, travel Europe, learn the language, or do whatever the hell you want with the time
    • Working culture tends to be (but isn't always, of course) efficient and supportive. Dutch workers don't put up much with hierarchies, and organizations are as flat as they get.
    • Top notch infrastructure: in public transportation, trans-european rail, roads, biking lanes, internet access, mobile connectivity, water management (including drinking water), airport and seaports, Holland ranks among the best.
    • Amsterdam - highly rated by tourists - is nearby wherever you live in the country.
    • Paris, Brussels, Berlin and London are a short budget flight, or a slightly longer rail(/boat) ride away. Budget flights available to nearly anywhere in Europe, also very easy (but less comfortable) to take a bus to anywhere in Europe.
    • In the case of the unfortunate: High quality health care, and you will never have to worry about the costs.
    • Above all: open, approachable people, that are passionate about quality of life, freedom and having a good time

    Anyway, whichever country you choose, I wish you a great time!

    ps. for anyone that goes to Holland for a longer time, you might want to read The Undutchables [amazon.com] to prevent any culture shock :-).

  • Singapore (Score:4, Informative)

    by lokedhs (672255) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @02:41AM (#24816809)
    Singapore [google.com] is a good choice if you want to go to Asia. The language of business is English, and it's the common language that everybody uses unless they know you speak any of the other languages spoken here (Mandarin, Malay, Tamil...).

    It's also a pretty foreigner-friendly environment so the transition when moving is very easy to handle.

  • Things to consider (Score:3, Informative)

    by ruphus13 (890164) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @03:03AM (#24816917)
    Having lived and worked outside the US, and having had friends move to other countries (New Zealand, the UK, France, Germany, Spain, India, China, etc.), here are some things that might help:
    1. If you are not a spontaneous kinda person, you probably want to have a gig lined up before you get there. That is probably the least painless and most predictable way to go.
    2. Be sure to set your expectations for salary, and what it will buy you at the place you decide to go.
    3. The work culture will probably be very different (hours of work, socializing post-work, etc.).

    A buddy who went outside the US to an unnamed country (not in Europe) found that he was getting much lower pay for a standard Java developer job there. Plus, he noticed that places he was interviewing at, people were coming in to work rather formally dressed. He also noticed that most people would be very friendly, but wouldn't really socialize after work, and things 'died down' very quickly during the week. Of course, that is just one data point, but basically points to checking out all aspects of 'life', outside of just your day-to-day job. One of the easier transitions to make will be to join a company with offices in the US and elsewhere, and then transfer within that company to another country. Once grounded, you can choose to stay, return, or move. If you are willing to chuck up your job, you will probably have the most luck if you can actually go to the country you want to be in and meet face-to-face with companies. That, of course, is rather difficult, unless you have a support network. And paperwork. Bon Voyage! There is so much you can learn by immersing yourself in a different culture!

  • A job in Germany... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by YttriumOxide (837412) <yttriumox@gma i l .com> on Sunday August 31, 2008 @05:38AM (#24817753) Homepage Journal

    Hello original submitter - I have no idea if you'll read this or not, since it's probably destined to be buried right at the bottom of your view, well below MANY pointless discussions about things completely offtopic.

    The company I work for, in Germany, is currently looking for a programmer type working closely with me (also a programmer). The job is about 25% actual coding, 50% helping other programmers with our own specific API and 25% other stuff (including various kinds of planning meetings, lots of travel around Europe and occasional travel outside of Europe (Japan being the most common, but US from time to time also)).

    We're looking for someone with good C# knowledge, since that's what our API is based around, however strong Java and web-based skills is also a very big plus for something else we'll be doing quite soon.

    I've actually already passed on one slashdotter's resume (a guy from Chicago) to my boss, and we have NO problem looking outside of Germany (we're required to look within Germany first, but the response has been less than stellar so far, so once we've finished looking inside Germany, we'll open it up to anyone, anywhere). I myself also do not come from Europe originally, so I myself am pretty good evidence we'll hire from anywhere if we need to. English is the defacto standard language for business in our company since we're the European HQ of a large multi-national. German is good to learn for "day to day life" here, but it's definitely not required for work.

    If you're interested, please send me an email - my slashdot username minus the last 3 characters at Google's mail provider.

    (if the other slashdotter who I have already talked to about this job reads this - don't worry, we haven't forgotten you or thrown away your resume - you're still in the running as well)

  • by Heir Of The Mess (939658) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @06:12AM (#24817927) Homepage
    Come to Slovakia, we love Americans to come here. We have a nice Hostel for you to stay in too.
  • Try Iraq (Score:5, Funny)

    by The Famous Druid (89404) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @08:28AM (#24818591)
    There's a couple of hundred thousand Americans working there, and new vacancies being created every week.
  • Don't forget taxes (Score:3, Informative)

    by Solandri (704621) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @03:06PM (#24821671)
    I'm a U.S. citizen working in Canada right now. Canada and the U.S. have a tax treaty to recognize taxes taken out of wages in the other country. The U.S. tries to tax all of its citizens' income regardless of source, so if the country you work in does not have such a treaty you will end up being taxed by both countries. Even for Canada, it turns out the treaty doesn't cover certain things like investment income, so that could be double-taxed. Be sure to speak with a qualified tax attorney so you can avoid any pitfalls like this.

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