The Panamanian job market


Panama has always been an international crossroads with many migrants coming to find a job from close countries such as Colombia or Venezuela, among others.

Many job opportunities are available for foreigners, especially in Panama City. There are a lot of multinational companies, banks, law firms, universities, hospitals, hotels, real estate agencies, restaurants, shops etc. Near the Canal Zone, there is the City of Knowledge, where all the International Organisations are located. You could also consider working as a volunteer, or language teacher.

Panama work permits

The Panamanian job market is strictly regulated. The law establishes a maximum percentage of foreigners allowed in a business depending on its sector. Usually, it is 10% of a company's work force, but there are some exceptions. Check the section on work permits for more details.

As a foreigner it will always be easier to find a job in a multinational company's headquarters, which are under special regulation (Law 41) that allow them to hire as many foreigners as they want at a management or executive level. Special regulations in Singapore and Switzerland inspired this law, and many companies have decided to install their regional headquarters in Panama, such as, Adidas, AES, Caterpillar, Hyundai, Maersk, Mars, Nestlé, Peugeot, Procter & Gamble, Roche, Saab miller, Western Union etc.

In any case, you will need a work permit issued by the Ministry of Labour. Work permits are valid for twelve months and are renewable indefinitely. Except in the case of experts and technicians who may renew their permits for a maximum period of five years.

Since unemployment has increased in the last few years, foreign labour is strictly controlled and it is not very wise to work illegally.

Further reading

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