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How to find a job in Panama City

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    Thanks to its strategic geographical location and its thriving economy Panama City offers a wide variety of job opportunities for locals and foreigners alike. Before starting your job search in Panama, you should understand how the local job market works. Panama's economy is significantly influenced by the service sector which covers over 65% of the GDP led by the finance/banking and the Panama Canal, which impacts the logistics, maritime, and transportation sectors. Additionally, there's a growing demand for professionals in IT, tourism, and healthcare sectors.

    This article gives you a complete guide on how to navigate the job market and secure employment in this country.

    Eligibility to Work

    To be able to work in Panama, foreigners should first obtain a work permit. The process typically involves securing a job offer from a Panamanian company, which then helps you get the work permit application and relative visa. Make sure you have all the needed documents which include your passport, the evidence of professional qualification, and any health certificates if required.

    Restricted Professions

    The Panamanian government has restricted some professions, such as accountant, engineer, and lawyer, for foreign workers. The full list of regulated professions in Panama, restricted for migrant workers can be found here. As a result these professions can be done only by Panamanian-born or naturalized citizens Panamanian professionals. Even if your profession is restricted, you can still apply with a working VISA in specific fields of specialization that are still open.

    Salaries in Panama City

    Compared to other Latin American cities, Panama has a high cost of living similar to European cities, by the way, the wages tend to be competitive, especially in certain sectors. Here's a summary of salary expectations in Panama City, investigating various sectors and job roles:

    • Minimum Wage: The minimum wage in the city ranges from $600 to $800 depending on the sector.
    • Average Salary: The average monthly salary in Panama City is about $900 to $1.300, although this varies significantly across industries, experience, and job roles.

    Industry-Specific Salaries

    • Finance and Banking: Experienced roles of professionals in the finance and banking sector command salaries of at least $2.000 and go up to $5.000 per month or even more for senior positions.
    • Technology and IT: The tech sector has competitive salaries with software developers and IT professionals making a monthly salary of $1.500 to $3.000, depending on the level of expertise and experience.
    • Tourism and Hospitality: In the tourism and hospitality industry there is a huge variation in salaries ranging from the minimum wage for entry-level positions to over $2.000 per month for management roles.
    • Healthcare: Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals get from $2.000 to $6.000 per month considering their specialization and experience.
    • Education: Teachers, particularly in international schools or specialists, may be paid from $1.000 to $2.500 per month.

    Aspects that influence salaries

    • Level of experience and education: Across all industries, greater education and experience have a significant impact on wages.
    • Industry Demand: Industries with high demand for workers, such as technology and finance, tend to offer higher salaries.
    • Size and type of company: Large multinational companies tend to offer higher salaries than local businesses.
    • Language Skills: Most of the companies in Panama offer English-speaking jobs and operate in English, by the way, knowing Spanish can increase your chances of getting a job. Consider taking some basic Spanish lessons to integrate in your new position quickly.

    Job research and preparation

    Job Search Platforms and Networking
    The most effective way to search for a new job is to use job search websites.

    Popular websites among job seekers in Panama are:

    Networking It could be a good option before you start your search, to ask the people you know: friends, colleagues, classmates. Use social media platforms like LinkedIn to connect with professionals working in Panama. Participation in industry conferences, seminars, or local networking events is also a source of valuable contacts.

    Applying for Jobs

    • Localization: Adapt your resume and cover letter to the Panamanian market. Point out any Spanish language proficiency or earlier Latin American experience.
    • Professional Networks: Include a section for professional references or endorsements, especially from those with connections in Panama or Latin America.
    • Application Process: Follow application instructions precisely. It’s essential to modify your CV and cover letter promoting the skills that suit the job application.
    • Interview Preparation: Do your research about the company and typical interview questions.

    Getting a job in Panama needs planning, patience and correct strategy. Understanding the local job market, utilizing your network, and representing your skills and qualifications effectively, will help you to open up amazing career chances.

    Salary Income Tax

    Taxable income has to be considered: employment income such as salaries, premiums, benefits, allowances and any benefits; income from commercial or agricultural business and investment income.

    The income tax rates in Panama are progressive:

    • Income from $0 to $11.000: 0% income tax.
    • Income between $11.000 and up to $50.000: 15% income tax
    • Income extending the $50.000: 25% income tax on the income above the $50.000 plus a fixed rate of $5.850 In any case, different exemptions are accessible, which can assist in mitigating tax liabilities such as Health insurance deductions and deductions for a mortgage.

    Deductions of income taxes paid to foreign countries may be allowed under special cases.


    Panama City could be a nice opportunity if you're looking for an internship and looking for international experience. Many foreigners are present in the city for doing Internships, especially in the NGO sector. Panama City is a hub for NGOs and International Organizations. Internships are also available in sectors like finance, logistics, tourism, and international trade.

    Freelance worker

    Working as a freelancer in Panama City could be an advantage thanks to the territorial taxation. Websites like Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr are popular among freelancers worldwide, including in Panama.

    Work Permit and Visa Issues: For expatriates, securing the right to work as a freelancer in Panama typically involves obtaining a work permit. To get a Visa you should open a company and follow the steps required in one of the Visa programs such as the Friendly Nations Visa. All visa applications should be carried out by a Panamanian lawyer.

    Restaurant/Mall jobs

    Employment at restaurants and shopping centres in the city of Panama is appropriate for almost all levels of skills and experience, beginning from the simplest to a managerial position.

    Restaurants jobs:

    • Kitchen Staff: chefs, sous chefs, line cooks, and dishwashers.
    • Front of House: servers, bartenders, hosts.
    • Management: restaurant managers, kitchen managers, and general managers.
    • Retail Sales: Positions in clothing shops, electronic shops, jewellery stores, and other related retailers.
    • Customer Service: Receptionists, concierges, and customer service agents.
    • Security and Maintenance: Guards, cleaners, and maintenance.
    • Management: store managers, department managers, and mall administration positions. Walk-ins: For entry-level positions, submitting resumes in person and asking for a job walking at restaurants and malls can be successful. This demonstrates initiative and at times can result in impromptu interviews.

    What to Expect:

    • Work Hours: Hours are often irregular and may involve evenings, weekends, and holidays when restaurants and malls are at their busiest.
    • Bilingual Environment: Bilingualism of Spanish and English in Panama City is a great benefit, given the fact that the city is visited by international tourists and expatriates from all around the world.
    • Legal Requirements: Non-residents need to get a work permit in order to work in Panama legally. Employers might facilitate this process, particularly for positions for which there are no adequate local candidates.
    • Salaries and Benefits: The pay of compensation hugely depends on the position, experience and the employer. Although minimum wage laws are in place, tips have a large impact on the income of restaurant staff.

    Sources & Foot Notes

    [1] Statista - Panama GDP Distribution Across Economic Sectors
    [2] World Bank - Panama Country Overview
    [3] Kraemer & Kraemer - Panama Work Permit Guide
    [4] ExpatDen - Working in Panama: A Guide for Expats
    [5] Vacation to Panama - Panama Employment and Jobs Guide

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