If your job is moving overseas, maybe you should move with it. Many American IT workers have looked with increasing worry as programming and datacenter jobs shifted to India, China, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere, with companies seeking cheap labor and Internet connectivity making offshoring a plausible business option. Or perhaps your job is staying in the United States, but being handled by an H1-B-visa-holding immigrant or a foreign consultancy such as Tata Consulting Services and Wipro that tends to import its own workers. While some companies have found offshoring to incur more costs than savings when management and quality issues are factored in, it's clear that IT jobs have been globalized and will stay that way.
Even if your job is not leaving the United States, you may want to move overseas to a tech hotbed to develop new skills or simply to gain the experience of living abroad.
The most popular types of tech jobs outside the United States vary considerably, and emerging IT centers are themselves trying to diversify their own areas of expertise. But as a gross generalization, product support and business process development positions are more likely to be in India than in Indianapolis; embedded software development positions are more likely to be in China than Cincinnati
Outsourcing yourself to another country is not a new idea. Dubai, in the middle of the Arabian desert, has more ex-pats from around the world, with the majority Yanks, than local residents.
Taking an assignment in another part of the world -- especially in economically emerging countries -- will enhance your résumé and your chances of getting a better job once you get back to the United States, say the experts. [Story continued below the map].
"There is a tremendous demand. Every CEO worldwide is interested in China as a market," says Sam Lee, managing director of the consultancy Dextrys.
And these executives want IT people who have experience working there in order to liaise with local executives.
[ Have you worked overseas in high-tech? Tell us about your experiences, good or bad. ]
The paths to working overseas
How realistic is it to move overseas for work? The answer varies based on the country and, of course, your personal circumstances. Family considerations -- such as finding a job for your spouse and a school for your children -- can make an overseas move much harder for a family than for a single person. In terms of the basic process, however, there are three routes to getting a job overseas.
The first is to get a work visa in the destination country, the equivalent of the H-1B program in the United States. This typically requires that the employer sponsor you and go through a process proving you are not taking a position a local could fill.
The second is to get a work-rotation visa in the destination country, the equivalent of the L-1 program in the States. This type of visa lets companies rotate employees among their offices in various countries. It's often used for executives to help them gain experience across different corporate units but can be used for other positions as well. Global consultancies, federal agencies, and multinationals are the typical venues for such positions.
The third is to use dual nationality you may hold, such as from being the spouse or child of a foreign national, to seek work in that other country. After all, as a citizen of that nation, you have the same employment rights as any other citizen. (The fact that you are also a U.S. citizen doesn't matter, at least in countries that allow dual citizenship.)
The fourth is to set up your own company in the United States and be a consultant overseas.
Some locales, like Costa Rica, actually make it easier for foreigners to come in and start a company rather than come in as an employee who might be taking a job away from a local.
The top regions and cities to explore for overseas tech jobs
Based on dozens of interviews, InfoWorld has come up with the following regions and cities worth exploring if you want to offshore yourself:
* Amsterdam, the Netherlands
* Bangalore, India
* Dubai, United Arab Emirates
* Dublin, Ireland
* Hong Kong, China
* Kiev, Ukraine
* New Delhi, India
* Paris, France
* San José, Costa Rica
* São Paulo, Brazil
* Shanghai, China
* Tel Aviv, Israel