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How can international students get tech jobs in the US

interstride logo by Interstride
November 28, 2023

Technology jobs encompass many rapidly growing fields including software development, AI, web development, and robotics. For international students in the US, the tech field represents an opportunity to build a stable and well-paid career in the US. The field is rapidly growing, but there is a shortage of qualified job applicants in the US with degrees in math, science, or engineering. 

While demand is generally high across the tech field, certain jobs are more in demand than others. For example, the number of available data scientist jobs is predicted to grow 36% over the next ten years. Information security analyst positions are expected to grow by 32% and software developer positions by 25%. To learn how to snag one of these jobs, you will need to understand the tech recruitment process and educational requirements. 

Many technology jobs are within the tech industry, but other industries also hire tech workers. For example, the US Bank National Association is one of the top 10 H-1B sponsors for software engineers even though it is a banking company, not a technology company. Tech workers can potentially work in any industry that uses technology. For jobs in the tech industry, there are several tech hubs in the country including Silicon Valley; Austin, TX; and Seattle, Washington.

Most in-demand tech jobs in Silicon Valley

  1. Software engineer
  2. Senior software engineer
  3. Product manager
  4. Software architect
  5. Full stack developer
  6. Front end developer
  7. Senior product manager
  8. Data scientist
  9. Development operations engineer
  10. Software test engineer

*Source: Indeed

Why should international students work in tech?

Not only are tech jobs in high demand, they are also some of the highest-paying occupations in the US. Below are some popular technology jobs and their average annual salaries as of 2022.

Computer and information research scientists$155,880
Software developers$132,930
Information security analysts$119,860
Data scientists$115,240
Computer programmers $102,790
Average for all occupations across all industries$61,900

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Furthermore, top tech companies often hire former and graduating international students, especially those with STEM degrees to fill in-demand positions. In fact, many top AI companies were founded by former international students. Because there is already so much international talent in the tech field, employers may be more likely to provide H-1B sponsorship. They likely have been through the sponsorship process before and have an efficient system in place. This makes your role in the process as an international applicant much easier! 

If you aren’t able to secure an H-1B visa, there are other ways to start a tech career in the US. Many tech companies are global which means you can get a job in your home country or another country and then transfer to the US after one year with an L-1B intra-company transfer visa. To qualify, the company must operate in the US, and the employee must possess specialized knowledge relevant to their field. Many tech workers with bachelor’s degrees are eligible for an L-1B visa.

Other reasons why tech jobs are advantageous to international students include:

  • If you are looking for tech jobs, you will likely be a STEM major in college. That means you may be eligible for an additional two years of student visa work authorization through the STEM OPT extension program
  • Great perks and benefits, including official mentorship programs and a personal budget for professional development and continued learning (exact benefits vary by company and position)
  • Growth opportunities in a field that values innovation and young talent 

What to expect during the tech recruitment process

At large tech companies, the initial steps of the hiring process are done by a recruiter. They may work for the company or as a contractor. At smaller companies and startups, the recruiter could be a manager or executive. Recruiters will often scan various online sites such as LinkedIn and GitHub to find potential talent, so your online presence matters when trying to get a tech career. 

Here is the general tech recruitment process:

  1. Initial contact – A recruiter or company representative will contact you to express their interest in you as a candidate.
  2. Assessments – You may be asked to complete one or more assessments to evaluate your technical skills. You must pass the assessments to move to the next phase of the recruitment process.
  3. Interviewing – Tech jobs often require multiple interviews with different team members from the company. Some interviews may focus on technical skills while others may focus on personality and work style to see if the candidate will fit into the company culture.
  4. Formal offer – If the company decides they want to hire you, the recruiter will send you a formal offer. You can then negotiate the terms of the offer including your wages and benefits before making a final decision.

When do companies start recruiting students for tech jobs?

Many companies start recruiting students in the fall to begin working the following summer. According to Columbia University, the majority of recruitment for tech jobs will be completed between January and March. Based on that tech recruiting timeline, if you plan to graduate in May, you should start looking for a job in September or October.

Tips on how to get a tech career

For international students, tech jobs are a smart choice. However, the industry can also be competitive, and 2023 has been a rough year for the tech industry with mass layoffs from major employers including Google, Meta, and Amazon. Follow these tips to make a smooth transition from international student to employed tech worker:

  • Build your experience: Technology fields are very hands-on, so having real-world experience is necessary. One of the best ways for international students to acquire relevant experience is through internships while attending college. Internships allow you to improve your technical skills and industry-specific skills. 
  • Explore technical certificate programs: Certificate programs are an excellent supplement to your college degree. You can explore new skills or dive deeper in a specific skill set without getting another degree. Certifications may make you more marketable to employers in competitive tech fields.
  • Seek a mentor: A mentor can help you better understand and navigate the tech industry, the challenges you may face in getting started, and how to leverage your strengths. A mentor could be an advisor at your school, a professor, or a former international student. Some schools have official mentorship programs. Learn more about the importance of mentorship for international students on Interstride’s blog.
  • Visit career services: Your campus will likely have a career services center and an international student services center. Both places have expert advisors who can help you explore career paths, work authorization options, and more.
  • Build your professional network: Most US jobs are filled through personal references. For international students who may not know many people in the US yet, starting to build your professional network early is key. Attend networking events, keep in touch with classmates and professors, and join professional organizations in your field. 

Final thoughts

With the right combination of education, experience, skills, and connections, international students have a high chance of finding jobs in the tech industry in the US after graduation. Compared to other industries, tech is ideal for international students because it’s welcoming to international talent, high-paying, and in high demand. Start preparing early for tech recruitment and continue building your network so that you can advance in your career. Remember that consistent growth is key to advancing in the tech industry as an international student.

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