What It’s Really Like to Work in Philadelphia

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Marissa Taffer363
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April 23, 2024 at 4:3AM UTC

Philadelphia is the sixth-largest city in the country. It was number five until 2017 when Phoenix, Arizona took that spot. Have you ever considered moving there? Its big-city amenities and neighborhood feel with a reasonable cost of living make it an ideal choice for many people. What about working here? If you’re concerned about finding a job, don’t be — there's something for just about everyone. 

7 Facts about working in Philadelphia.

1. You don’t necessarily need a college degree.

If you don’t have a degree, don’t worry. There are many jobs here that don’t require one. These include union roles, and while these jobs can be harder to land, they come with great benefits and opportunities to hone your skills. Additionally, many administrative and customer service jobs don’t require a four-year degree. Some of these can even be fairly lucrative depending on the industry you work in or hours you’re willing to work. 

2. Many jobs are in the "meds and eds" sectors.

If you have a medical degree or work in higher education, you’re in luck. The city is home to many hospitals through the University of Pennsylvania, Temple, Einstein and Jefferson health systems as well as the world-renowned Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Additionally, there are plenty of private medical practices. Downtown is also home to Drexel University, The University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, St. Joes, Philadelphia University, The Community College of Philadelphia and Moore College of Art & Design. Even if you aren’t a doctor, nurse or academic, there are plenty of other skills these hospitals and universities will need. For those who are more into research or developing the latest cancer drug, Merck, AmerisourceBergen and J&J all have offices in the region. Pharma and life sciences are an important part of the business community here, and there are plenty of opportunities to pursue your passion while earning a paycheck. 

3. Retail jobs are plentiful.

With the opening of the Philadelphia Fashion Outlets and significant developments along Market Street East, retail and customer service pros are in demand. Retail managers can make a comfortable living in Philadelphia. If this is a career you’re serious about, think about the skills you will need to grow into a regional or district manager role. Thanks to the high volume of sales in Philly stores, you’ll be a prime candidate! 

4. Creative talent is in demand.

Is graphic design more your thing? Do you love telling brand stories to consumers? There are plenty of marketing and advertising jobs in the city. Publicis Health Media-owned Digitas and Razorfish have offices here, as do Fingerpaint, Brownstein Group and Tierney. 

5. There are plenty of jobs in the legal sector.

Have a JD or work in a legal capacity? Law-related jobs are thriving in Philadelphia with large firms like Ballard-Spahr, Cozen O’Connor and Morgan, Lewis and Bockius. If corporate law isn’t your thing, consider a role in government either in the DA's office or as a public defender. 

6. More into tech? Philly has a thriving tech scene, too!

Philadelphia is enjoying the bragging rights right now as one of our own, GoPuff, just secured a $750 million investment. And yes, you read that right — it's a BIG investment and the company was started here by two Drexel University grads. If that’s not the right place for you, companies like Stitch, Guru, Crossbeam and NeuroFlow are all growing quickly and hiring accordingly. If you’re into tech and think you might have an idea for the next Uber or Twitter check out Philly Startup Leaders for all the resources you’ll need to make it happen. 

7. If you’re more into the Fortune 500 scene, there’s still something for you in Philadelphia.

Want to work for a massive company? Aramark and Comcast are both headquartered in downtown Philadelphia. These companies hire thousands of Philadelphians. They both need everything from executives to cashiers and creative-minded folks like graphic designers or marketers. 

Is Philadelphia a good place to live?

Overall, Philadelphia is a great place to live. The city is extremely walkable, and if you live and work downtown, you might not even need to own a car. Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lift are popular, or you could look into short- or long-term rentals for big grocery trips or a day at the beach. Speaking of which, the closest beach is about an hour’s drive outside of Philadelphia, in New Jersey. 

If you’re planning to rent an apartment or house when you get here, it should be very affordable. Rents can range from $900 a month to about $3,500 depending on where you live. It's less if you’re willing to live with a housemate. The housing market can vary depending on the neighborhood. If you’re planning to buy, find a good realtor and look in a few neighborhoods you like. The city is filled with great neighborhoods, world-class museums, concert venues and award-winning restaurants. If you like to eat, Philly is the perfect city for you — we have so much more than just cheesesteaks and Tastycakes. You'll find incredible food in almost any cuisine you can think of. 

While most of the city is relatively safe, gun violence has reached unprecedented levels, and the city is working hard to get those numbers down. Also, any major city has some crime, and Philadelphia is no different. Take normal precautions like never walking alone late at night and locking your car when you leave it with all valuables out of sight. 

Tips for finding a job in Philadelphia. 

If you’re sold on moving to Philly, here are some tips to help you with your job search. Before you begin your search, make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile are updated and you have a few solid references. 

• Start networking before you move.

You could start connecting with other professionals in the city through LinkedIn and other social networks. 

• Decide which industry you’d like to work in and connect with the professional associations.

If you are thinking about marketing, for example, reach out to the Philly chapter of the American Marketing Association or Philadelphia Interactive Marketing Association to see if any members are looking to fill roles. 

• Attend job fairs when possible.

Research big job fairs in the industries or companies where you want to work, and plan to attend.  

• Ask for referrals.

Even though Philadelphia is a small city, there seem to be about six degrees of separation. Tell people what you’re looking for. Chances are, someone you know will know someone who can help! 

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