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A Guide to Working Abroad in Russia

Russia is a very enigmatic country for most outsiders, one that is fraught with both mystery and opportunity. The formerly great empire, then infamous communist regime, has endured a long and tumultuous history to become one of today’s great world powers. With one of the world’s largest economies and an increasingly global market scheme, international workers now have the opportunity to find jobs in Russia in a variety of sectors throughout the nation.


Russia is the world’s largest country, stretching from its westernmost border with the European Union all the way to its easternmost point facing Alaska. The potential locations for jobs in Russia are therefore, quite literally, vast. However, in spite of the many cities speckled across the Russian countryside, most prospective workers choose Moscow or Saint Petersburg as their destination for jobs in Russia.

Moscow is the country’s political capital and most populous city with nearly 12 million inhabitants. It is the main economic, cultural, and scientific center of Russia and historically has been one of the most important cities in the development of European affairs. Moscow is also a very highly ranked global city with a large degree of international interconnectivity in business and politics, making it one of the best places for foreigners to look for work in Russia.

Saint Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city, is typically thought of as the country’s most Westernized city. Historically a thriving center for education, culture, and the arts, Saint Petersburg is a lively metropolis where foreign workers can find jobs in Russia in a variety of sectors. Sitting on the Neva River facing the Baltic Sea, much of the city’s oldest architectural wonders still stand and have been protected as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

When deciding where to look for work abroad in Russia, keep in mind that certain areas are quite volatile due to political unrest. You should be fine living in the country’s major cities, but make sure to do your research before making travel plans to other parts of the country!

Jobs in Russia

Russia maintains complex political relationships with many Western countries, making the process of securing jobs in Russia somewhat tedious. Do not fret though, there are still many job opportunities available for those who are prospective and ambitious.

Perhaps the easiest way to find jobs in Russia is by teaching English as a second language. As Russia’s business sector becomes increasingly globalized, English is becoming a very important language to know for Russian citizens who want to climb the ladder. Native English speakers are highly sought after for these employment positions, which typically last up to a year on a temporary visa.

If you are looking for employment beyond education, then your best chance is finding a job with an international firm or working for a non-governmental organization. NGO’s conduct philanthropic work throughout the country, although they often run on a volunteer basis. International companies involved in the energy, defense, or manufacturing sectors are also a good place to look for work in Russia, as these are some of the most flourishing parts of the Russian economy.

It is fairly essential that you speak Russian if you are looking for work in Russia. While some TEFL jobs in Russia do not require teachers to speak the language, most other jobs will use Russian as the medium of communication and expect that you have a passable command of the language. Beyond working in Russia, speaking Russian will make your day to day life in the country a thousand times easier too!

Salary & Affordability

Although Russia’s economy is struggling, the government’s tight degree of control still makes it a fairly expensive country to live in for most expats. Prices vary largely within the country, however. For example, working in Russia in a smaller city or rural area will likely be very affordable, whereas Moscow is one of the most expensive cities in the whole world. The country’s currency is the Russian Ruble, which exchanges at about 55 rubles to $1.

Accommodation & Visas

Russia is an infrastructurally diverse country, so the type of accommodations you will be able to secure (and the quality of those accommodations) depends largely on where you end up finding a job in Russia. If you work in Moscow or St. Petersburg then you will be able to find Western style accommodations, though housing can be quite expensive in these areas. Some employers will help organize housing as part of your compensation, which can be a tremendous help, so keep this in mind when looking for jobs abroad in Russia.

The visa process required to work in Russia can be quite lengthy and complex, and you will need the endorsement of your employer to obtain a work permit. Russia’s visa policy varies significantly from country to country, so check out GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory for more information from the Russian consulate in your home nation.

Benefits & Challenges

Working abroad in Russia is bound to be a life-changing experience. It is a country which continuously finds itself at the center of the world stage, where Eastern and Western cultures collide to form a unique Russian identity. Individuals from all over the world will find it a formidable challenge adapting to the Russian way of life (and extreme cold!), but in the end finding a job in Russia will pay off as it will be one of the most personally and professionally rewarding adventures of your life.

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A Guide To
Working Abroad in Russia


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