Useful information and advice for expats looking for jobs in Moscow and other Russian cities, including Russian jobs for English speakers.
Russia has diverse employment opportunities and expats are often the best-paid professionals. Big cities such as Moscow and Saint Petersburg offer the best opportunities, especially for those speaking both English and Russian.
This guide to finding jobs in Russia includes information on:
- Work in Russia
- How to find jobs in Russia
- Self-employment and freelancing in Russia
- Traineeships, internships, and volunteering in Russia
- Applying for Russian jobs
- Support while looking for jobs in Russia
- Requirements to work in Russia
- Starting a job in Russia
- Useful resources
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Work in Russia
Job market in Russia
Moscow and St. Petersburg are Russia’s main economic centers offering the best job opportunities. The overall unemployment rate in Russia was measured at 6.3% in July 2020. This is an increase of around 30% since the start of the year, although this is largely down to the effects of COVID-19.
Moscow has the highest employment rate in Russia and its labor force makes up around a quarter of Russia’s total GDP.
The service sector accounts for over half of all jobs in Russia, with retail, tourism, health, and education among the most important service segments. Mining, manufacturing, and construction are the biggest industrial sectors.
You can find many English-speaking jobs with large multinational companies in the big Russian cities. Some of the biggest international employers in Russia include:
- Japan Tobacco International
- Philip Morris International
The biggest Russian employers include:
- Gazprom (oil and gas)
- Lukoil (oil and gas)
- Sberbank of Russia (finance)
- Russian Railways (transport)
- PAO Rosseti (energy)
Job vacancies in Russia
Depending on your background, finding vacancies for jobs in Russia might not be easy. Options for English-speakers include teaching English (other native language teaching jobs such as French or German are also available), working for a multinational company in sectors such as energy, finance or construction, or translation if you are bilingual. English teachers should look at BKC International and English First.
Sectors in Moscow where there is higher demand include:
- Business development
- Human Resources
- Medical and pharmaceutical
In St. Petersburg, there is a shortage of:
- Sales professionals
- Technical specialists
Job salaries in Russia
The minimum wage in Russia is reviewed every six months, although it doesn’t necessarily always increase. It was raised to R12,130 a month in January 2020.
The average monthly Russian salary is just over R52,000 as of June 2020. However, wages are slightly higher in Moscow with many residents earning over R75,000 a month.
Read more in our guide to minimum wages in Russia.
Russian work culture
Russian companies tend to be hierarchical and bureaucratic, with a plethora of rules and regulations in place that can be explained by the country’s communist past. Because of this, business negotiations can take a long time to sort out. However, as the Russian economy has gradually opened up since the early nineties, this has started to change.
Traditional standards and values still persist within many workplaces and social networks can be important when it comes to career progression. Russians are fond of mixing business with pleasure, with long business lunches and even weekend invitations to stay with business partners a common feature.
Labor laws and labor rights in Russia
Employment law in Russia is enshrined in the 2002 Russian Labor Code. Employment contracts should be in writing. The Russian Labor Code states that there are three main types of contract:
- Employment Contract with Free Text – most current contract with no exact term of validity, but it does contain the condition of termination;
- A definite-time employment contract – the validity of the contract is up to five years and is only made when a temporary employee is offered a permanent contract;
- A seasonal work contract which is valid for only two months.
The common working week in Russia is 40 hours and employees should work a maximum of 50 hours a week. Full-time workers are entitled to a minimum of 28 days’ annual leave. In addition to this, there are also a number of public holidays in Russia.
Notice periods for termination of a contract in Russia vary according to reasons for termination. They range from no notice at all to two months (in cases such as redundancies or company liquidation). Employees usually have to give at least two weeks’ notice if they wish to quit.
How to find jobs in Russia
There are plenty of recruitment agencies and job websites with opportunities in Moscow and St Petersburg. However, they are best suited for those who are highly qualified and aim to hit bigger corporate companies. Most of those agencies require your CV to be in English and sent by email or completed at their website.
Another useful way to find a job in Russia is to contact international companies directly from your country and ask if they are doing business in Russia. Such companies are more likely to hire expats to work in Russia.
On the Expatica job page, you can find information on jobs available in Moscow.
Public employment services
The Russian Federal Service for Labor and Employment (ROSTRUD) runs an employment service as well as having information on working in Russia.
Russian job websites
Jobs in Russia for foreigners
- The Moscow Expat Site
- Xpat Jobs
Russian recruitment agencies
Recruitment agencies in Russia are a good channel to find Russian jobs. Most accept registration online and also enable you to upload a CV tailored for Russia. Some of the best recruitment agencies in Moscow and St. Petersburg are:
You can also search for agencies using the following directories:
You can also find out more about private recruitment agencies in Russia (in Russian) through the Association of Private Employment Agencies.
Teaching vacancies for English speakers
English teachers are well sought after in Russia and there is no shortage of opportunities for native English speakers – or nationals that speak English to a high level of standard. Other European languages such as Spanish, French, and German are also in demand.
To teach English or other language in Moscow and St. Petersburg target these language companies:
Working as an au pair
There are many wealthy families in Russia that are keen for their children to learn a second language from a young age. Again, English is in high demand as it is the international business language. If you’re interested in living and working in Moscow or St. Petersburg as an au pair contact Gouverneur.
Russians are particularly friendly people and wherever possible will try to help foreigners find work. As the idiom goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. When you arrive in Moscow or Saint Petersburg, make sure you actively network and attend as many events and groups as possible.
Social media networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn are a good place to start, but look for groups that specifically organize networking events.
Contact a company directly: speculative applications
It’s acceptable to make the first move and approach a company directly in Russia. Look at company websites to find vacancies and to make speculative applications.
Self-employment and freelancing in Russia
Only around 8.1% of workers in Russia are registered as self-employed, according to World Bank statistics. This is below global and European averages. However, it is something worth considering if you have a good business idea and think that you could make it work.
If you set up as a limited company structure in Russia, don’t forget that you will have to file separate taxes for the business and pay any Russian corporation tax owed.
Traineeships, internships, and volunteering in Russia
Applying for Russian jobs
Even though some multinational companies use online application forms, CVs and letters remain a typical way to apply for jobs in Russia. A cover letter is an essential part of the job application and is often considered more important than the CV.
The letter format should be formal and illustrate how suitable you are for the job, what your ambitions are for the future, your qualifications, and work experience.
When you are called for the interview, do your homework and research the company very well to prepare yourself. On the day of the interview dress formally; bring a copy of your resume and all the additional documents like letters of recommendation, awards, or certificates.
During the interview show with enthusiasm that you are interested in the position and have a few insightful questions to ask. If you are successful, you will be contacted by the company within a few days and offered the job. Expect to provide a minimum of two employment references.
Support while looking for jobs in Russia
You can claim unemployment benefit in Russia if you have been living in Russia for at least 183 days within the last year and are actively looking for work. Benefits are contribution-based and the amount you are eligible for depends on your earnings in your last job and the Russian social security contributions you made.
Requirements to work in Russia
Russian work visas
All foreign nationals wanting to work in Russia must have a work permit. The Russian Federal Migration Service issues work permits, which you need before applying for a work visa. Most foreigners require a Russian work visa, but there are exceptions:
- Those with a permanent residence permit;
- Those working on a temporary basis for a foreign country, or often traveling outside the country;
- Those working in diplomatic missions or international organizations;
- Media representatives with accreditation;
- Teachers with an invitation to work at an educational institution
As a foreigner, you will also need to undergo a medical check-up and provide your fingerprints. Read more about the health requirements in our guide to the healthcare system in Russia.
Language requirements to work in Russia
It is possible to find work in Russia if you don’t speak the language as there are English-speaking and foreign-speaking jobs. However, these tend to be lower-level jobs. Multinational and international jobs will sometimes employ senior staff who don’t speak Russian, but you will greatly improve your employment chances if you have a good knowledge of the Russian language.
If you want to brush up on your Russian language skills, here are details on where you can study Russian in Russia.
Qualifications to work in Russia
You can get overseas qualifications recognized in Russia through the Main State Center for Education Evaluation. Find information on the procedure, along with details of which documents you need to submit, on the Russian Ministry of Education and Science website.
The NARIC website has details of Russian educational bodies, the Russian qualifications framework, and more.
Tax and social security numbers in Russia
Once you start working and paying tax in Russia, you will be issued with a unique tax identification number (INN). This is a 12-digit number that Russian tax authorities will use in their correspondence with you.
You will need to apply for a social insurance number in order to legally work, apply for Russian social security benefits or contribute towards a state pension in Russia. You can do this through the Pension Fund of the Russian Federation.
Starting a job in Russia
Beyond making sure that you’re registered for social security in Russia, you might want to consider taking out private coverage for a few things once you start working in the country. These include:
- Private health insurance in Russia. Although everyone is entitled to state healthcare in Russia, the quality of services is not always good so you might want to take out private coverage to access the best care.
- Unemployment and accident insurance in Russia. Again, state benefit levels might not be sufficient, so a private policy is worth considering to make sure you are adequately funded in the event of becoming unemployed.
- Supplementary Russian pension. All employees in Russia are given the option of paying into occupational or private pension schemes to supplement the national state pension. You employer should provide you with details.
- Russian Federal Service for Labor and Employment (ROSTRUD) – state-run employment service that has information on working in Russia.