Working in Pakistan
The job market
What are your chances of getting a job?
Political uncertainties and the threat of terrorism may have an effect on the opportunities available in certain areas; before travelling to Pakistan check with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and follow the developing situation in the news. There’s also a growing supply of domestic graduates, most of whom speak English, who may be preferred for junior positions with local companies.
Try to secure a job with an international company active in Pakistan and gain a secondment or posting once recruited. Alternatively, visit Pakistan on a tourist visa with some initial contacts and meetings pre-arranged in target companies.
The official languages of Pakistan are Urdu (also the national language) and English, which is widely used in business and government circles, and you’ll be at an advantage if you’re fluent in these languages. Consider taking a course in Urdu before travelling and ask if your university language centre offers a beginners’ course.
Where can you work?
- Major industries: Cotton textile production and clothing manufacturing, leather goods, rice, food processing, pharmaceuticals, construction materials, paper products, fertiliser.
- Recent growth areas: textile industry
- Major companies: Allied Bank, Colgate-Palmolive, GlaxoSmithKline, IBM, National Foods, Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd (PTCL), Procter & Gamble, Shell, Siemens, Unilever.
What’s it like working in Pakistan?
- Average working hours: maximum of 48 hours a week.
- Holidays: There is some variation according to the type of employment, but the majority of workers are given at least 15 days paid leave per year, plus around 13 public holidays.
- Tax rates: income tax is on a tiered scale, up to 30%, according to earnings, with around 20% being an average. Don't forget to check your UK tax and National Insurance position with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to ensure that you are not losing any UK pension rights.
Applying for jobs
Job seeking and business in general are largely done through face-to-face networking, introductions and personal contacts. To boost your own existing contacts, participate in online forums for international students at UK universities. Family members and friends may also be able to help you establish contacts.
Multinational companies with vacancies in Pakistan are likely to use online application forms. Government and education jobs may also be advertised. Jobs in these areas usually require either a CV or an online application form. CVs and covering letters follow much the same format as in the UK.
Selection procedures for large multinational companies are likely to follow a mix of different recruitment methods, including preliminary interviews and assessment centre activities.
See Application and CV advice for further help in applying for jobs.
Will your UK qualifications be recognised?
UK qualifications are generally well recognised around the world but check with the employer or the relevant professional body prior to applying for work.
- BrightSpyre – general vacancies
- HigherEd Jobs – search for PhD, postdoctoral, research and lecturing vacancies at Pakistani universities
- Jobs.ac.uk – search for vacancies at Pakistani universities
- Rozee – general vacancies
Recruitment agencies are used in Pakistan. See Phonebook Pakistan for a list.
National and local newspapers carry job advertisements, although these do not always appear in the online editions. UK newsagents in major cities and towns may carry print editions. Examples include:
Face-to-face networking, introductions and personal contacts are vital when job seeking, especially when dealing with local employers.
Getting work experience
Due to current security issues, check with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) before planning a trip to Pakistan and follow the developing situation in the news.
Work placements and internships
Formal work experience schemes are rare in Pakistan, especially among domestic employers. The best chance of arranging this for UK graduates is through networking and building up personal contacts. Internships may be possible with multinational companies or large domestic employers.
If you're a science, engineering, technology or applied arts undergraduate student in your second year of study or above, you can join the IAESTE (The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience) programme, which provides internship experience in a range of countries, including Pakistan.
AIESEC (Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales) provides an international exchange programme for students and graduates. They offer voluntary and paid work placements in professional organisations, schools and charities in a range of countries, including Pakistan.
Due to the security situation in Pakistan, volunteering opportunities are unlikely. Check the security situation in different areas before travelling.
Do you need a visa?
Visas are required by all UK and EU nationals entering Pakistan, as well as a valid passport. Within the UK, a visa can be obtained from the High Commission for Pakistan in the UK.
Tourist visas normally take five working days to process. Work visas can take up to three months to process and an offer of a job is required before the visa can be applied for.
All UK nationals visiting or resident in Pakistan are advised to register with the consular section of the British High Commission in Pakistan.
British nationals will be prevented from leaving Pakistan if not in possession of a valid visa/entry stamp or a valid National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP) issued by the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) in Pakistan.
If you're not a UK national, contact the Pakistani embassy in the country where you are currently residing about how to obtain visas and work permits. If you're living in the UK, go to the High Commission for Pakistan in the UK.
You might also find it helpful to contact your ministry of foreign affairs (or your own embassy if you are not living in your home country) to ask whether there are any issues to be taken into account when considering working in Pakistan.
Living in Pakistan
- Cost of living: the cost of living is significantly cheaper than in the UK and Karachi is ranked as one of the world's least expensive cities. Standards vary with accommodation and restaurants to suit all budgets.
- Internet domain: .pk
- Currency: Pakistani Rupee (PKR)
- Health: seek medical advice before travelling as a range of vaccinations is required. Malaria is a risk in coastal and low-lying areas and dengue fever can be contracted throughout Pakistan, especially during and just after the monsoon season. Rabies is also a serious risk and there are a high number of dog bite incidences in the country. Drinking tap water should be avoided. Medical facilities are good in major cities but limited in rural areas. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment. Although costs are generally lower than private treatment in the UK, they can rise steeply and you may need to provide immediate cash payment for treatment.
- Type of government: Federal parliamentary republic
- Laws and customs: Men and women should dress modestly and cover their shoulders and legs in public. When visiting a mosque or other holy place or visiting rural areas, women should cover their heads. The penalties for possession or use of drugs are strictly enforced. Drug smuggling may result in the death penalty. Importing alcohol or pork products is illegal. Homosexuality and cohabiting outside marriage are also illegal. Make sure you carry some form of photo ID at all times.
- Emergency numbers: 15 (police); 115 (ambulance); and 16 (fire department). You should also register with the British High Commission Islamabad on arrival.
- People: Punjabi, Pashtun (Pathan), Sindhi, Sariaki, Muhajirs, Balochi.
- Major religion: Islam