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American vs European Career
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Blake2 Away
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Post: #1
American vs European Career
I've been doing a lot of research and I've lived in both places so I think I have a good sense of things.

Western Europe offers some easy career opportunities with less barrier to entry than the US. It comes with the cost of much lower salary.

The US has high salaries, but requires more training and a higher barrier to entry.

This applies for many industries. To give an example, a friend from Australia got a job in IT almost instantly in Europe, but the salary cut was big.
Another guy I know developed his Engineering career in the US but had to do a Master's degree first as well as internships. The hard work paid off for him but it was riskier (getting accepted for a degree is not guaranteed) and took several more years. In the end, his salary is much higher (maybe double) of what he would have had in the EU.

As for lifestyle, high paying careers all take work. I guess the difference between US and EU in work hours/vacation/lifestyle would be "Very Hard" vs "Hard".
More overtime and less vacation in the US, but the higher salary would mean getting to full or partial retirement is faster.

Anyone with experience in the area that has made a similar choice?

A man should never be ashamed to own that he is wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.
-Alexander Pope
(This post was last modified: 03-02-2020 05:16 AM by Blake2.)
03-02-2020 05:11 AM
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kel Offline
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Post: #2
RE: American vs European Career
I've worked in a professional capacity in both the US and Europe. For me, and maybe it's just my industry, the pay cut simply can't be justified for working in Europe. I'm not talking about a few bucks, I make more than twice what I see offered in Europe right now. Maybe if I searched harder I could do better, but still that's a major difference. Europe has a good vacation policy, but honestly as a spoiled yuppie I don't really feel too much pain from the US's lack of vacation policy. I can take off when I like, there' s just a sort of startup culture that encourages hyper-productivity and discourages vacation. I don't fall for it like others, though, and I could just go to a more established, corporate place if I wanted to get away from that.

Anyways, your industry is going to determine a lot of these things, but if you're in almost any STEM field I'm inclined to believe the US is going to pay so overwhelmingly more as to make it the easy choice. If you get burned out you can just take a year sabbatical and still come out ahead.
03-02-2020 02:55 PM
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MrRoundtree Offline
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Post: #3
RE: American vs European Career
For an engineering career I think the US might be better coming from Canada, however there are too many advantages living in Germany or even France as an Engineer, where Engineers are basically very well valued, that I'm not sure it's worth struggling in the US with no healthcare and just an overall more difficult lifestyle.
03-03-2020 07:38 AM
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PUA_Rachacha Offline
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Post: #4
RE: American vs European Career
I've worked both in Germany and New York in the finance industry for almost 20 years. I speak fluent German, have a large group of friends there, and could easily become a citizen, so there was no issue with cultural integration or language.

While you can't beat the lifestyle in Europe, unquestionably the better career path is at an American firm. What counts first and foremost in America is getting shit done, whereas in Europe there are many more factors (political, hereditary, credential, etc.) to take into account. The amount of meetings that I would participate in in Germany to solve a simple problem drove me up a wall. The amount of pontificating that some higher up would do about this or that situation, but would ultimately not do anything because it wasn't politically expedient, was jaw-dropping. We're constantly being audited by some national or European auditor, and if a box is not checked or a form filled out correctly, you're dressed down in front of everyone. Form is definitely rewarded more than substance. The auditors constantly distract you from your core business by the way, and take your best talent off the front lines in order to put out fires with some asinine request.

But ultimately, it comes down to brass tacks: I get paid triple in New York what I was making in Frankfurt, and I've moved up much more quickly in the hierarchy here than there. As long as I do my job and get along with my colleagues, I move on up. In Germany (I imagine in most of Europe outside of UK), it's much more about if you have a doctorate, how well you dress, if you are nobility, etc. And there are few good jobs in Germany, so you're stuck at your firm until the day you retire, dealing with the misery of not contributing to a growing company, but having to participate in endless meetings. At least you get six weeks of vacation and the food in the canteen is tasty and cheap.
(This post was last modified: 03-03-2020 11:03 AM by PUA_Rachacha.)
03-03-2020 11:01 AM
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Australia Sucks Offline
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Post: #5
RE: American vs European Career
This sounds like a basic money vs lifestyle decision thread to me.
03-04-2020 04:18 AM
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scotian Offline
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Post: #6
RE: American vs European Career
(03-03-2020 07:38 AM)MrRoundtree Wrote:  For an engineering career I think the US might be better coming from Canada, however there are too many advantages living in Germany or even France as an Engineer, where Engineers are basically very well valued, that I'm not sure it's worth struggling in the US with no healthcare and just an overall more difficult lifestyle.

Correct me if I’m wrong but don’t companies in the US pay for their employees health care services through a benefits plan? I’ve heard that Americans who have employer provided health care packages are able to access much better quality health care and much faster than in Canada’s public “free system”.

Don’t sweat the petty things, pet the sweaty things.
03-04-2020 04:41 AM
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MrRoundtree Offline
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Post: #7
RE: American vs European Career
I am not sure how it works if you are a Canadian living in the US. But I just came back from a 3 week vacation in Asia and something was wrong with my leg, was diagnosed with Streptocoque (bacteria infection) instantly admitted in hospital and healed after 2 weeks, now back home. Getting paid from my work insurance meanwhile. The process did not take long but it was serious enough that I wouldnt waste any time in the "urgences".

I would imagine not being an American resident would involve a lot more bureaucracy if you work in the US, but we would probably have access to the same benefits plans. But then again who knows what happens at work and the perception from your boss if you are missing crucial time off work in a position of high responsibilities after an already long vacation.

I think in Europe there are absolutely no stigma about taking time off work and being sick and long time away from work...everybody goes on long vacations...in the US can it hurt your reputation?
(This post was last modified: 03-04-2020 10:19 AM by MrRoundtree.)
03-04-2020 10:16 AM
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PUA_Rachacha Offline
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Post: #8
RE: American vs European Career
(03-04-2020 10:16 AM)MrRoundtree Wrote:  I would imagine not being an American resident would involve a lot more bureaucracy if you work in the US, but we would probably have access to the same benefits plans. But then again who knows what happens at work and the perception from your boss if you are missing crucial time off work in a position of high responsibilities after an already long vacation.

I think in Europe there are absolutely no stigma about taking time off work and being sick and long time away from work...everybody goes on long vacations...in the US can it hurt your reputation?

Not understanding the question. Are you asking if there's a stigma against taking off from work because of an illness? In my opinion no, we're not slave drivers.
(This post was last modified: 03-04-2020 11:55 AM by PUA_Rachacha.)
03-04-2020 11:51 AM
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Lee Harvey Pozzwald Offline
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Post: #9
RE: American vs European Career
Depending on the American state, the tax burden in the US is a lot less than in Western Europe. Read somewhere that some European countries average between 50-60% personal taxation.

If you can get the job here, and find the right place to be in, work in the US. There is no shortage of jobs because the economy is booming (for how long, I don't know.).
03-04-2020 08:51 PM
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JonboyUK Offline
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Post: #10
RE: American vs European Career
In the UK salaries from £50000 to £150000 fall into the 40% income tax bracket, on top of that you have "National Insurance", which they deduct on the gross amount, currently 12% on earnings up to £50k then 2% for everything over that.
03-05-2020 02:36 PM
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PixelFree Offline
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Post: #11
RE: American vs European Career
I think Australia has the winning combination. High salary + good lifestyle (both at work and outside of work). All our capitals consistently rank in the top 10 most livable cities across the various studies.

Our average and minimum wages are very high ($82.5k AUD average, $23 AUD per hour minimum for casuals - note Aussie dollar is low at the moment) and our citizens are #2 richest in the world (behind Switzerland, depending on the study of course).

I can't commit on high end finance job salaries though, but it's not unusual to find people in their late 20's pulling in $90-100k AUD in somewhat generic office jobs with a completely irrelevant 'sports science' degree.

Our work and life cultures are a blend of US and European (British) - e.g. 4 weeks leave.

However, we are quite isolated geographically, so this comes at a cost of longer flight times if you need to travel to visit family in Europe or the US. Credit card sign on bonuses + business class flights help with that.
(This post was last modified: 03-05-2020 07:17 PM by PixelFree.)
03-05-2020 07:07 PM
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Blake2 Away
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Post: #12
RE: American vs European Career
Good responses here, thanks for all the input

A man should never be ashamed to own that he is wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.
-Alexander Pope
03-06-2020 06:47 PM
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