Jobs for expats in Panama

Hi there,

I'm interested in relocating in Panama, currently living in Europe.

I'm not retired, therefore need to support myself.

I'm wondering what jobs are available for an expat with work permit.


Hi  massimo,
Unless you have a unique skill that cannot be fillled by a Panamanian citizen, it will probably be difficult to find employment here. Having said that, here are my assumptions based on your question:

1. You haven't tried to get a work permit. If you have, then disregard everything I have said and you can stop reading any more!
2. There are opportunities to work for global companies (possibly), needing your skills. Most likely, that is how you would get a work permit.
3. If you are stilll reading this, you will be disappointed with the pay scale here if you could even get a job.
4. Opening a business or freelancing/consulting may be better options for you.

Hope this helps and best wishes!

Forget about coming to Panama if you do not have an independent income.  Laws here require companies to hire 10 Panamanians for everyone foreigner (and that is what you will be, it is also
probably getting the same bang for your buck).  YOU WILL NOT GET HIRED HERE.  YOU WILL NOT GET A WORK PERMIT HERE.   YOU WILL NOT GET WORK TEACHING ENGLISH HERE, EVEN IF YOU ARE COMPLETELY BILINGUAL.  BY HUSBAND IS 100% BILINGUAL & COULD NOT GET HIRED BECAUSE THEY SAID HE DID NOT HAVE A WORK PERMIT.   THEY TOLD HIM WORK PERMIT COSTS $500 A MONTH.  JOB PAID $400 TO $500 A MONTH.   WE have enough money to pay for the work permit, but they hired a Panamanian with poor English.  I have had Panamanian students complain to me that their English teachers were lousy, and the 15-year old wished that her expensive private school in Panama City would hire foreign English speakers as teachers, but they don't.  And don't even think about working here as a doctor, nurse, physical therapist, lawyers.  All not permitted.  Panama's unemployment rate is 3%; they keep it that way by protecting the Panamanian "workers".  Also, the pay is terrible for any job that is not professional.  Even some of the "professional" jobs are way underpaid.  Foreign engineers from Venezuela make $1,000 a month.  PANAMA -- DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE!

I know quite a few people here who work remotely, mostly computer related fields. But anything that can be done from anywhere with an internet connection is a possibility. And, if you can get North America or European pay scale and Panamanian cost of living you'll really benefit, except maybe Panama City which is quite a bit more expensive than the rest of the country.

Are there any possibilities teaching English? You'd probably need the certifications and credentials. As HereForLife said though, you might not like the pay scale of a Panamanian job.

$500 USD per month, for the work permit?????

Is that accurate???


Thanks for the replays, even if a little disappointing.

I will keep dreaming .... maybe some small business?

Hi folks, I intend to move to panama next year, now looking for a job or trainee. My background is Water and natural resources management. Any recommendations where I can look for a job related to my background?

Cheers, Svenja  :)

You can forget about working in Panama.   It is nearly impossible for a foreigner to get hired.   Its mostly older retirees who come down here.   And new rules about visas for how long you can stay in the country are getting much stricter, now you can only stay 90 days on a tourist visa.  Panamanians are very protective about their jobs, if Americans act that way we are called reactionary.   Unless you are coming to Panama with enough money to buy a place, and to support yourself you will starve to death.   There are many much much nicer countries where you will not have so much of a problem finding work.   Even bilingual people can't find work as English teachers most of the time.   The climate is pretty hostile to foreigners, especially Colombians.   The feeling towards foreigners is jealousy and pretty much "come spend lots of money, buy plenty of real estate which will wind up sitting vacant, and go back to your country".   Panama is, in my eyes, a jealous, ungrateful little tract of jungle.    I would not suggest coming here without a job pre-arranged.   Also, be aware salaries, even professional salaries are low, especially if you are a foreigner.   Think of architects and engineers making US$950 a month.

Tough1sweet1 wrote:

..........The feeling towards foreigners is jealousy and pretty much "come spend lots of money, buy plenty of real estate which will wind up sitting vacant, and go back to your country".   Panama is, in my eyes, a jealous, ungrateful little tract of jungle..............

VERY well-said !!!   :cool:

The work permit costs $500, once you have FOUND a job you can get one.   You do not have to pay that monthly, but be advised that almost any transaction with the government will cost you big bucks.  And the things that the government does not overcharge you for, the lawyers will more than make up for it.  I am simply apoplectic when I think about the things lawyers down there have done to me.

Some people forget, the native language in panama is spanish, not english !!!!Only with english language you can not find a job..To find a good job, you have to learn the Spanish language..

I was never saying that I am just speaking english ;)

Your profile says you speak German and English, no mention of Spanish so it's understandable that people were confused.

It is quite complicated to work in Panama and you probably won't like the pay. Many working people I know either work remotely over the internet, or start their own business. Or, you could try to get hired by a foreign company that has offices in Panama. We hate to rain all over your hopes and dreams but it's better you understand what to expect and plan accordingly.

Moderated by Sarvesh 6 years ago
Reason : Please post in english only on an english speaking forum
We invite you to read the forum code of conduct
Moderated by Sarvesh 6 years ago
Reason : Please post in english only on an english speaking forum
We invite you to read the forum code of conduct

Hallo, Panamakanal und Minera Panamá gehören zu den größten Arbeitgebern in Panama und suchen immer gut ausgebildete Ausländer. Durch die bekommt man auch viel schneller eine Aufenthaltstitel und Arbeitserlaubnis! Durch die Krise in Venezuela, sind in der letzten 3 Jahre viele Venezolaner nach Panama geflüchtet und dadurch hat sich die Situation auf dem Arbeitsmarkt sehr verschlechtert, vor allem in Panama City! Da die Venezolaner teilweise noch billiger arbeiten als die Einheimischen!! Aber nicht desto trotz Panama ist ein aufstrebendes Land in Lateinamerika und ist sehr lukrativ für ausländische Unternehmen. Gut ausgebildete Deutsche sind immer gefragt. Ich bin sicher, wenn du vor Ort bist, wirst du mehr Erfolg haben und schnell einen Job finden. Laß dich nicht ermüden durch die negative Kommentare  :top:  du hast den Vorteil, dass dein Mann panameño ist.

Hi everyone,

@ Reza pty,

Could you please translate what you have written in English so that members can fully understand you and benefit from your inputs ?

It would be very much appreciated,
Thanks in advance,

Let me tell you one thing: you do not go to panama if you need to work. Unless you are an engineer or somebody that can work for a big international company and even then if you are not in a management position you will rarely make more than $1500 dollar a month as a normal employee which is nothing when you live in the city.

Do not believe the the people that tell you how great panama is. Most strangers here are rich or have very strong income from outside so they do not understand the situation of panama. You can only get a good job with very good connections and friends or as i said you are engineer of some subject that is really needed here (marine, electricity, refrigeration, industrial)

All lower and medium qualification jobs are done by venezulanos and columbianos and many of them working very good and more cheap than you so you cannot compete with them!

I can tell you 99% when you do not have any cash above $100k you will end up stranded here before you get a job or connections with the locals that will help you to survive.

Do not do the mistake! Please! Please! Please!

If you search work in another country why don't you consider Australia or new Zealand or maybe Malaysia? Panama is definitely not the place to go. And the economy is very bad here too. Its only good for the rich people. One out of 10 000 will have a good life in panama.

Good evening all, I am interested in moving to Panama. Even though reading all those negative comments about it have me thinking twice. Aha. Anyway, does anyone know what companies provide visa sponsorship? Or legal assistance with it?

I think if a company hires you to work in Panama, they should assist with what is necessary to make you legal here. Is that what you are asking?

Oh no. I'm asking like what companies helps you with the citizenship

A visa and citizenship are different things. You have to start with a visa, or rather legal status to live here (and work if that is your intention).

Do you need a lawyer? 
Or, are you looking for a company to hire you, and in the process get you legal to live and work here? That I don't know other than what I said above.

Ohh.  I see. My intentions are applying for a residency visa. I spoke with a lawyer and basically the only way I can get that is if a company sponsor me through a job. But I just don't know which companies to apply to

Hi, what is your profession??

I don't think that is correct. I know many people who have a friendly nations visa and permission to work, and they have their own businesses or work remotely or other work situations, none of them with cooporations. Others like us who are retired have residency on that basis. Contact the lawyer I mentioned above and he can tell you about your options.

Who wants to live in panama must be financially secured. There are no companies financed your residence permit and work permit, unless you are a genius and works much cheaper than the Venezuelans or Colombian people.

That is what i tried to say. Do not go to Panama if you are poor. You do not go here for work. The salary is bad and so is the traffic and all the other problems they will create for you.
I don't see any reason for a complete stranger to live and work in Panama. There are absolutely no benefits of living poor in this country.

Absolutely correct.  I do not consider Panama a "developing nation".   It is a third world country, foreigners are NOT welcome, and if you come with any money, you have a big "V" on your back for victim.  Lawyers, real estate developers, shady businessmen all have a use for you, but its not to offer you employment.   Much easier for them to steal from you.

My profession is banking

You may have a hard time finding a job in banking here. Most jobs are for Panamanians only. You probably won't like the pay either. It's typical for an educated professional to make $700-1000/month. If you could get a job with a bank who has business here and would send you here, that would work out better for you.

translated through google.
Hello, Panama Canal and Minera Panama are among the biggest employers in Panama and are always looking for well-educated foreigners. By the one gets also much faster a residence permit and work permit! Due to the crisis in Venezuela, many Venezuelans have fled to Panama in the last 3 years and this has made the situation on the job market very bad, especially in Panama City! The Venezuelans work even cheaper than the locals! But not all the same, Panama is an emerging country in Latin America and is very lucrative for foreign companies. Well trained Germans are always in demand. I'm sure when you're there, you'll be more successful and quickly find a job. Do not tire yourself by the negative comments: top: you have the advantage that your husband is panameño.

Yes you may find a job in one of the big companies but the salaries are very bad even for qualified personnel, you cannot live on that. Panama is more expensive than germany, The last time i went to a big company and talked to the engineers and they told me they have been working with the company 10 years and more and their salaries are around 1000 dollar and this was a very qualified technology job. Most companies do not pay more than 1000 dollar a month for qualified work you can be lucky to find a company that pays you 1500 in the center of the city. But to rent an apartment in panama in a good area already cost you 1000 dollar. You cant even live on that. Some big companies in panama also offered me a job for about $1500 dollar, but they had such high requirements that it was a joke. 

Here a little comparison about living costs per month and what i got or has been offered to me in various countries

Panama: Living cost: $2000 - salary offer: $1000-$1500
Germany Living costs : $1200 - salary offer $2000-$2500
Ghana Living costs: $500 - salary offer $1000-$1500
Vietnam Living costs $500 - Salary offer $3000-$5000
Dubai - living costs $2000 - Salary offer $7000-$10000
South Africa - Living costs $1000 - Salary offer $3000-$4000

So you can clearly see panama is not the place to go when you come from a better country. Panama is only good in comparison to other latin countries because most of them are completely broke. But in comparison even to Africa its bad bad bad.

I find it hard to believe that living costs in Germany would be about half those in Panama!

What is the situation for with working remotely for a US-based business?

garyclarke1962 wrote:

I find it hard to believe that living costs in Germany would be about half those in Panama!

Well almost everything is cheaper in germany. Only to buy or build houses or rent apartments directly in the city can be way more expensive than panama but you don't need to because we have good roads and infrastructure, just rent an apartment in the outside of the town or village and drive to work every day.

You can buy a good used car in germany for 1500 - 2000 dollar which can still last another 10 years, in panama even 5000 dollar will get you only a car with a lots of problems.

Food costs way less. You can buy frozen food at any supermarket for less than $1. We have for example 3 pizzas in a pack for $2 that you can prepare in your oven. Bread usually is very high quality and costs just some cents. Every food you buy in the supermarket is just 1-2 dollars. Cheese costs like $2 dollar. 1 liter of fresh milk is around $60 cents. If you eat out you can get by $5 dollar and the portions are big. So yes in germany you rent apartment $450 dollar, 100 dollar electricity, 30 dollar internet, 200 dollar for food (and the fridge is very full every day, you would need like 1000 dollar for that in panama), 100 dollar gasoline to go to work (we usually do not have much traffic jams only in the big cities). about 120 dollar for water and heating. so you can calculate.

There is Panama City (expensive) and then there is the rest off the country (much more affordable). We spend around $1200/month in David for a very comfortable life for my husband and me. But if your job is in the city, then that's where you have to be.
I know people who work remotely for US companies and it seems to be working out well.

over 150'000 Germans leave Germany every year
I guess because it's so great

My German friend came to Panama with an entire family, brothers, sisters, parents, about 12 people. She said they worked so hard just to get by. They could only afford one car that was shared in the whole family. She was a dental hygienist and worked long days, always exhausted but still barely enough to make it. They were also concerned about the ever increasing numbers of refugees and had fear of terrorist attacks. They are much happier here.

triffic wrote:

over 150'000 Germans leave Germany every year
I guess because it's so great

I just pointed out that it is much cheaper than panama. But i m living abroad the past 8 years. I did not say germany is a good place to live. Panama is much more expensive, yes you can live cheaper but not in the city unless you share the apartment or room with someone, that is what most people do who work in the city. And the only jobs that pay more are only in the city. But considering the cost and quality of living its very bad. And apart from this the people here are also very problematic to work with. You have to consider all. For those who do not know other countries and lived only here they don't understand but if the same big international company offers you for the same work 1500 dollar in panama and i go to Africa and they are offering me up to 4000 dollar plus company car plus paying my apartment etc... it means they do not value anything here in panama and they do not need qualified labor. And i would not support any of those slavery.

panama and many other expat dream destinations are beneficial
if you don't have to work or you can create your own job