When you think of Africa, you probably think of Kenya (or The Lion King). Simba’s kingdom is home to numerous national parks and reserves, and a landscape so diverse you can gaze upon the grandeur of snow-capped peaks, parched deserts, and tropical beaches. Not only is Kenya a tantalizing mixture of rare wildlife and picturesque scenery, but it is also quickly becoming one of the largest economic hubs in Africa. A budding economy offers a chance to get your foot in the door of a job of a lifetime. If you’re looking for a professional experience in an emerging African country, look no farther than jobs in Kenya!
Job in Kenya are plentiful in metropolitan areas as well as rural areas. Cities usually tend to offer more options and a greater variety of work, but if you're interested in nature, explore the savannahs and deltas.
Nairobi is Kenya’s capital, with a population of over three million people. The city serves as the political center of the country, which in turn provides excellent opportunities for professional development. The perks of city life will furnish you with access to most modern accommodations and a wide range of job opportunities.
One of the biggest emerging economic bases in all of Africa is the eastern port city of Mombasa. Lodged along the lush, palm-fringed coastline of the Indian Ocean, Mombasa offers a plethora of jobs in Kenya. Whether you’re looking to land a job in finance, journalism, or economics, Mombasa has it. Similarly to Nairobi, Mombasa also provides its inhabitants with modern amenities, but offers a more laid-back beach vibe. Mombasa is also really fun to say with an African accent, so that’s an obvious plus.
For those looking to get out of the city and experience the beauty of a savannah sunset, the rural areas of Kenya are ideal. Kenya is home to some of the most spectacular wildlife and national parks in the world. Kenya’s many conservancies bring tourism together with community development and wildlife conservation in a near-perfect marriage. If you’re interested in environmental or wildlife sciences, be sure to give the plains and rural areas a look when searching for jobs in Kenya.
Jobs in Kenya
Thanks to its emerging economy and trade agreements made in the past decade, Kenya is a hub for a large variety of jobs in Africa. Swahili and English double as the official languages, but English is more heavily relied upon for business purposes (can we get a hakuna matata?). Keep in mind if you are working in a more rural area, chances are the community will also have its own language or dialect.
If looking for a finance job in Kenya, you should focus your search on Nairobi and Mombasa. Although, these cities also offer increasing numbers of journalism and marketing jobs. In fact, the latter cities are home to some of the best business jobs in Africa, due to Kenya’s position as the leader of the East African economy.
Other popular fields of work in Kenya include both wildlife science and biology, because of the nation’s vast array of animals and unique geography. Of the many job opportunities in Kenya, one of the most exciting is working with rare wildlife species (roar!) and contributing to conservation and preservation of the nation’s natural environment.
Salary & Affordability
The Kenyan currency, the Kenyan Shilling, is still quite weak compared to the U.S. Dollar and the Euro. As a result, Kenya tends to be a very affordable destination for professionals from Western countries. For example, if you decide to treat yo’ self to a fancy meal and taxi ride, you’re looking at parting with the Kenyan equivalent of a crisp twenty dollar bill.
As one might expect anywhere in the world, salaries for jobs in Kenya vary according to the specific position and field, but are often based on experience and credentials. Location also plays a huge role in the amount of pay one should expect. Luckily, salary and affordability go hand-in-hand, so whatever type of financial compensation one receives, it will almost always be enough to cover all basic living expenses and possibly even accumulate some savings.
Accommodation & Visas
The type of accommodation you have will largely depend on where you decide to work in Kenya. If you are placed in one of Kenya’s major cities, you will most likely live in an apartment; apartments can range in size and usually include living with roommates. If you are all about that wilderness life, your housing options will vary greatly. Some employers may even offer placement with host families, which provides a great opportunity to fully integrate into Kenyan culture. Remember that Kenya is a developing country, so many Western luxuries, such as hot water, AC, and WiFi, may not always be available.
Entering Kenya is generally straightforward, particularly at international airports. Single-entry visas are typically available on arrival for most nationalities and are valid for three months. This gives you a good excuse to hop the border for a mini vacay to Tanzania when it’s time to renew, or enough time to sort out a workers visa if needed. For more information on visas, check out GoAbroad’s Kenyan Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
One of the things that some people find hard to digest about Kenya is the traditional cuisine. Kenyan food is meant to fill a person up, not necessarily to be gourmet or delicious. Ugali, a Kenyan staple, is like a giant dough ball that you will carry around like a food baby. While you may not be “wowed” by the typical Kenyan meal, you definitely won’t go hungry, and each meal will be very cheap and affordable. That being said, in Nairobi and Mombasa, it is easy to find high-end restaurants to eat out at when you get tired of the national dishes.
What you lose in tasteful cuisine, you will gain in outings to Kenya’s national parks and reserves. Safaris dominate most tourist itineraries, but as an expat you will be able to genuinely explore Kenya’s landscape, which remains one of the world’s top wildlife viewing and beach destinations. Take a boat out to Lamu, hike through Hell’ Gate, and hop into rafts on the Tana River. Even if you are working in the city, many parks are just a stone’s throw away!
With universal unemployment problems, a resume with international experience gives an unquestionable competitive edge over others. It is an ability that tells of a person’s intelligence, flexibility, openness, and decision-making skills. When an interviewer sees that you opted for life with bugs and lions in Kenya instead of croissants and cute little scooters, you will undoubtedly set the bar for all other candidates.
Traveling meaningfully isn’t just for volunteers. Working abroad and committing to becoming a global citizen will normalize a life full of adventure and purpose. All the best for your work abroad journey; we’re positive the gains will overflow your wallet and your heart!