When you are about to leave the African soil for a greener pasture in America, your hope is high. So much is the height that you think once in the US, old things have passed away; all things become new. But, hardly did you get to the land of promise that you discovered things are not the way they seem. In fact, some immigrants out of frustration want to return home because of the shame and hardship that follow.
Hey, my brothers and sister! This discussion is addressing you if you think the US flows with milk and honey. Of course, life is good at “Yankee” as we like to call it, but it can only be when you are gainfully employed. However the here is the deal: how do you land the best job that pays the bill and brings about the happy life you seek?
I have friends in 37 of the 50 states, and they all seem to sing the same song of a tough life. I have guys working two to three jobs every day, and they still talk about working online for extra income.
Bro and sis, for how long, will you labor so hard to make little when in fact America is a land of plenty?
I think most African immigrants, once they arrived in the US, quickly forgot the main reason they emigrate. This is why this post is apt to remind and give us the resources to fall back on the track. Yes, in this post, I will discuss salient topics that will help you land the best job that’s suitable to you as an African immigrant in the US.
We will discuss the following topics:
• Why do immigrants work so hard?
• Job opportunities for immigrants in the USA
• Jobs for immigrants without papers
• Tips for landing the right jobs for African immigrants in the US
Why do immigrants work so hard?
I learned something remarkable when I was in active service as a paid employee; the less the pay, the more the job. When you see a man working and sweating profusely as he works, such jobs don’t pay as much as the guy who works less and usually in a friendly work environment. Hey, don’t get this twisted; I am not saying every time you sweated in the course of work, you are being paid less. Sometimes, your work might require you sweat it out to solve a problem, but if you are in the upper echelon of the ladder, it will not always be.
The reason immigrants work so hard is because they failed to acclimatize into the society of their choosing. What do I mean? Being an immigrant isn’t about brute work life, but it’s about…
• Being relevant and valuable like citizens of your host country.
• Need to sit back and think of a deserving job to do and go for it.
• Need to have the same qualifications required of citizens and with more focus to get such a well-paying job.
• Improve your skills to merit high paying jobs with fewer work hours.
However, the template for most African immigrants is finding any job that pays bit by bit of what they need to survive every month and get smaller jobs. By doing this, you kill every chance for self-improvement. Yes, those smaller jobs with measly pay would choke you and take up every bit of time you can use to develop and fit into American society.
It won’t be surprising at all if the real people who need this information are not reading this piece. Yes, they are buried in different survival jobs to eke out a living. But you can do them a favor by sending this piece to them. After all, we are our brother’s keeper in Africa, and you will be helping them make the right decision while the sun of their sojourning still shines.
If you are indeed concerned about working less for more pay, the next topic will show you various job opportunities that you can get as African immigrants that will pay you the real money and grow into a formidable African success story.
I understand the challenges the new immigrants face when they just arrived, you may want to read this article: Five challenges new African immigrants face in the US and how to overcome them for heads-up on what to do.
Job opportunities for immigrants in the USA
I think the best way to start a career is first to understand what you want to do and have an idea of your options. Under this topic, we are going to see the various job opportunities that are there for you as an African immigrant. While researching this topic, I read somewhere where an immigrant said he’s interested in US politics and started by choosing a state where he has higher chances of becoming a politician. I am still following up on him, and one day, I will report his journey on this medium.
If you want to find the best job, you should know the options at your disposal. Therefore, in the following discussion, I will outline some job opportunities you can start eyeing. I will also look at what you need to land such jobs.
I think there is no limitation to what job you can get as an African immigrant in the US. I say this because I was an employee of the US government, and I know there is officially no job discrimination. Even if you want to become the president of the United States, as long as you can meet the requirements for the office and present yourself for election and be accepted by the people, “welcome Mr. or Madam President.” If you ask me? The sky is your limit as an immigrant, but as I mentioned earlier, you have to change your mindset as an immigrant and stop going after jobs that would only make you work for less.
Available statistics from the US Department of Labor say 16.7% of the employed workforce in America employees are immigrants. Therefore, the following job categories are possible places for African immigrants to pick an interest and work for its attainment:
• Law. Employment statistics show that a paltry 0.4% of foreign-born is in the US legal service. There are several opportunities in this area that the African immigrants can go for including lawyers, law clerks, and even judges and several other legal and paralegal services. What you need is the right qualifications, and you can start now.
• Community and social services. Currently, there is less than 1% of the employment of foreign-born workers. This means you can pick up jobs as counselors, social workers, correctional officers, and even clergy. The society needs lots of qualified personnel to handle everyday social and community challenges. You can make yourself available for such jobs by starting a skill conversion program to land such jobs.
• First responders. If there is one thing that American society needs more than anything else are the first responders. When people are in trouble, they need people to come to their rescue, and records show that only 0.9% of foreign-born workers are currently engaged. This means you can think of becoming a police officer, firefighter, security guards, animal control officers, and even a personal investigator. These positions need the right qualifications and records show that African immigrants are the most read immigrants in the US and elsewhere in the world.
• Scientists. Records about immigrants in the US present African immigrants as the group with the most graduates. I am from Nigeria, and I know what this brain drain is causing us in medical, research, and technology services. I do know many of you reading this piece are graduates of different disciplines. You can enlist in retraining or advanced programs to become scientists helping to solve problems confronting society. Currently, there are less than 1.5% of foreign-born workers as scientists in the US.
• Farmers, foresters, and fishers. If there is an area, African immigrants should be more visible in this area. But currently, there are less than 2% of foreign-born workers working in this sector. Possible jobs to take up are animal breeders, loggers, farmers, fishers, and hunters. The best way to hunt for this job is to live in an agrarian state.
• Athletes, artists, and entertainers. Apart from what we individually study in universities, one intrinsic quality of many Africans is creativity and sport. While working some jobs to survive, why not set aside some time to develop your artistic and sporting talent and pick a career that may see you become a star in America? Currently, there are less than 2% of foreign-born workers in these sectors in America. Yet, most African immigrants with excellent creative ability got it killed by working for less and lose their God-given talents.
• Architects and engineers. Available stats show there are about 2.2% of foreign workers in this sector. You can get the training, qualification, and license to practice as engineers and architect in the US and earn better pay.
• Health care support. I know many Nigerians are currently undergoing nursing training at various levels of practice, yet official records show there are less than 3% of foreign-born workers in health services. This a wake up call for African immigrants to rise to the occasion and get into the system.
• Teachers and librarians. African immigrants are educated people; you need to count on your high level of education and increase the number of foreign workers that are currently put at 3.5%.
• Mechanics and technicians. It worries me when a practicing mechanic leaves African soil only to get to America and become construction labor. What is required is to take the US technician training and pass the exam to become a practicing technician. Currently, only 3 % of foreign workers are currently in the trade.
• Accountant and financial experts. There is no other place in the world where this job requirement is more in demand. There are several ICAN graduates from Nigeria who are lost in the hospitality business as bartender and services boys. What you need to continue your practice in the US is recertification. The bright side is, it is not a hard nut to crack if you give it a try and join the less than 4% foreign-born workers in the field.
• Food service industry. This is currently this sector ranks among the highest employment providers for foreign workers coming at 7.1%. While I do not think this should be the pursuit for African immigrants to venture as employees, there is the entrepreneur side that promotes African hospitality industry in the US by opening African restaurants and provides first level employment for fellow African immigrants.
• The final job areas to consider include administrative works, production, management, maintenance, sales, marketing, transportation, personal services, programmers and mathematicians, and many others you can develop by intuition.
While most of these jobs would require the immigrants to be documented, there are jobs you can seek if you have not perfected your papers. The following discussion will give you an insight into jobs for undocumented immigrants.
Jobs for immigrants without papers
Statistics show there are an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the US in 2016, and available data shows 8 million of them have jobs. While the uninitiated will believe you cannot work without papers in America, I think the government is aware of the need for people to work to help them fit well into society. While officially it is not allowed without a work permit, some industry will not be able to function without this category of the workforce. Therefore, it is expedient to list a few jobs you can work without papers.
• Agric sector. There are family-owned farms spread across the country, and they need workers to serve them. Ordinarily, immigrants with papers would rarely choose the farm as a work option, but the lack of paper make them consider working on farms. It is estimated that agriculture provides jobs for more than 10 million workers. They work in various capacities and sections.
• Student jobs. If you are schooling in the US, you can get a job under the student job opportunities.
• Household employee. Working in private homes offers more opportunity to work without papers. However, you need the highest standard of discipline to keep yourself away from the prying eyes of law enforcement officers. The easiest way to reveal your identity is to get into trouble with the law.
While it is possible to work without papers, I do not subscribe to this option because it goes against the ideal of this post. My desire for you is to work less for more, depending on your career strategy. I am going to discuss how you can land the right jobs as immigrants in the US in the next and closing topic.
Tips for landing the right jobs for African immigrants in the US
There is a need to plan your transition when you arrived in the US. Unless you take your arrival into the land of an opportunity as opportunity to start your life a new, making a fortune in the “Land of Plenty” might be a story for the gods. The following are tips to get the best jobs in the US:
• Know yourself. I was discussing with an old British friend and former colleague the other day about the unemployment problem in Africa and indeed Nigeria; his response was frank and uncharitable. He told me point blank that the problem with Nigerian youth is lack of self-awareness of who they are and what they want. He shared his experience about our university students accepting to read any course just because they want a university degree forgetting that a bachelor degree is not an end. Bringing this home, as an African immigrant, you should not settle for just any job because you must work. Take your time to know who you are and what you can do best and go for it.
• Prepare for a new career. It is immaterial if you are a medical doctor or you never had any formal education. What is essential is to take the time to prepare well for a new career you have diligently researched and decided to pursue. Part of your preparation should be to get the required qualification.
• Don’t be deterred by lack of experience. Great employers of labor are not necessarily looking for your job experience; they are more interested in your confidence and sincerity to work with focus. Once you qualify for a job, go on job hunt no matter where it is located. Don’t be scared by the office, or the hypes surrounding it. You can do the job better than you think.
• Always aim at making progress. I had this attitude to job hunting early in my life. When the advert for a job I wanted is published, I applied. My success yardstick is getting a reply and invitation for an interview. Whatever comes next doesn’t matter to me. But by providence, I have always made it to the point of negotiating a salary, and if I am not employed, it is because I don’t like the pay.
• You are not too old to start again. One thing that deters many from trying a new job opportunity is the thought of being too old for the job. But hear this, when I was in the university at the age of 25 and feeling bad I was too old, there was a classmate who was a retired secondary school principal in his 57. It was then I looked at myself and got some senses into my ungrateful skull.
As an African immigrant who is yet to find his or her bearing with career, do not despair! The good news is that you can aspire for any job and get it if you are prepared.
Until I come your way in the next article, please read about an NGO helping immigrants find jobs and economic security in their country of choosing.
Thank you for reading.
Mikhail is a content creator, a digital marketer, and an entrepreneur. He studied Political Science at the University of Ilorin Nigeria.