Updated 6 months ago

Even though it is one of the United States’ most historic cities, no particular industry sticks out as Boston’s top money maker. The diversity of its economy, however, meant that it quickly recovered after the 2008 financial crisis and is currently the ninth largest economy in the country. Job opportunities exist across a wide range of areas like health services, tech, finance, and tourism. And of course, as the home of one of the most renown schools in the world, education is an important player as well.

While Boston is a vibrant and thriving city, it can pose challenges to job-seeking expats. Top international companies draw top talent and Boston already has a highly qualified and in-demand workforce. And while wages are higher than the rest of the U.S., the cost of living is also one of the highest in the nation.

 Important: Anyone wanting to work in the U.S. is required to have a work visa and it can be one of the biggest challenges faced by expats looking for employment abroad. The process must be initiated by a sponsoring employer and is time-consuming and expensive. This means you must have an offer of employment before you may begin the visa application process. That said, expats with advanced degrees, specialized skills and who are fluent English speakers will fare better than most when it comes to finding an employer willing to go through the sponsorship process. See the article “Work visa in the USA” for more information about types of work visas in the United States.

Popular Industries

Boston’s economy is a unique blend that offers something for everyone. As the capital city of Massachusetts, it is the center of state government. Boston is also one of the oldest cities in the U.S. and the many historical sites, monuments, and museums mean that tourism is an important sector as well. Because of its location on the east coast, fishing and the Port of Boston remain steady contributors to the local job economy. Other important industries in Boston are listed below.


Five of the ten largest Boston employers are hospitals and contribute almost 20% of local jobs. These are Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Boston Medical Center.

Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services

This is a diverse sector which includes jobs in industries like computer design, scientific research and development, management consulting, and law. The second largest share of jobs is contributed by this sector.

Education and Educational Services

Both Harvard University and the University of Massachusetts are large local employers. Additionally, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is headquartered in Boston, as well as several other printers and publishers.

Finance and Insurance

Boston is an important center of finance in the United States, especially in the mutual fund and insurance sectors. It is the home of Fidelity Investments and Santander Bank.

Labor Market

Compared to last year the unemployment rate in Boston has risen slightly and is currently at 3.5%, a full percent below the national average. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, education and health services, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality have shown the greatest recent job gains. In fact, over the past year, Boston led the country in job growth in the education and health services sector. Manufacturing was the only industry to see losses and information and government grew only slightly.

Read “Labour Market in the U.S.” for more information.

Finding a job

Local resources are the best place to begin your employment search. Use job search engines that are specifically focused on the Boston area and check local newspapers such as the Boston Globe (these are online as well). If you belong to a specialized or in-demand industry, research and contact a local recruiting agency to build connections. Additionally, leverage your personal network and membership in professional organizations as this is the best way to hear about newly listed or unadvertised jobs.

When sending out your resume (CV), you really must stand out from the crowd. Besides updating your resume to reflect the American style, research the companies you’re interested in thoroughly before you apply, so to highlight the skills and experience that would most interest them. Also, make sure that your LinkedIn and business networking profiles reflect these same changes. See the article “Finding a Job in the USA” for more information about job searching.

 Good to know: The Bureau of Labor Statistics posts a quarterly review of the Boston unemployment rate and labor market, which may be helpful with your job search. Additionally, the Boston Planning and Development Agency publishes a yearly economic review which includes an analysis of the labor market.

 Useful Links:

USCIS: working in the U.S
Bureau of Labor Statistics - Boston Summary
Boston's Economy Report 2017
Boston Globe Job Ads
Indeed - Boston Job Ads - Boston Job Ads

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.