Working In Iraq: Is It For You?

Douglas Hanna

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The US Army Corp of Engineers and numerous private companies are still looking for people to help rebuild Iraq's infrastructure. In fact, one Web site reports that there are currently 60,000 jobs available in Iraq for US citizens. And the pay can be very good. Some civilian contractor jobs start at $80,000. Others pay even more. A truck driver earning $30,000 in the US may be able to get a job in Iraq paying $70,000, $80,000 or even $90,000 a year.

Just as important, housing and meals are usually provided, and if you work overseas for a year, $80,000 of your income is excluded from US income taxes. (Note: For complete details on this tax exclusion, see Section 13.3 of the IRS Tax Code, “Aliens and U. S. Citizens Living Abroad: Foreign Income & Foreign Income Exclusion”).

Iraq job postings are usually available online and, in many cases, you can apply for these jobs online. Sites you might want to check out include,, and jobsearch.

As of this writing (early May, 2005), there were jobs available in the areas of intelligence, linguists, engineering, construction, mechanical, transportation, as well as in non-technical areas.

In the oil industry alone, there were 26 major oil projects hiring. Companies with jobs in Iraq include Halliburton, KBR (a Halliburton subsidiary) Dyncorp, Parsons Project Iraq, CIS (Critical Intervention Services), Titan Corp. , Bechtel, Fluor, Koll, Wackenhut, General Dynamics, EG&G Technical Services, and many others.

The US Foreign Service is also looking for employees. Its Iraq Reconstruction Management Office (IRMO) wants to hire highly skilled and motivated United States citizens to serve our nation at the U. S. Embassy in Baghdad. IRMO's mission is to support the sovereign, democratic rights of the Iraqi people to govern themselves, defend their country, and rebuild their economy. These jobs fall under Civil Service and, as such, offer excellent benefits, including generous health plans, thrift savings plans, life insurance, annual leave, sick leave, and a student loan repayment plan.

There are a number of positions posted as of this writing that require duty in Iraq. A partial list of these jobs include: Advisor ($62,000 to $97,000), Logistics Program Coordinator ($62,886 TO $97,213), Contract Specialist ($62,886 to $97,213), and Field Services Officer ($62,886 to $97,213).

Another branch of the US Government, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), is currently spending $3.3 billion on contracts with consulting firms that help promote entrepreneurism, improve agriculture and manufacturing efficiency, stimulate investment and develop information technology skills.

That's the good news. Here's the worse news. In an article on the Web site dated Feb. 14, 2005, one recruiter says “you'll be working eight- to 12-hour days in a 120-degree desert populated by scorpions, camel spiders and people looking to kill you. You'll be dusty and dirty most of the time. You're shown slides of what your residence - a prefab metal container - looks like when it's blown apart by mortar fire. You learn that about 60 other company employees or subcontractors have been killed - and one is missing.

Still, 1 in 10 applicants for jobs with the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, based in Houston, remain willing to take those well-paying truck driver, food service, laundry and maintenance positions in Iraq. This despite extensive media coverage of the kidnappings, beheadings and suicide attacks on civilian workers there. And there's no doubt that civilians are prime targets. Besides the roughly 1,500 U. S. military casualties so far, there have been 232 casualties among civilians working for U. S. contractors, according to the U. S. Department of Labor. ”

Two of the largest contractors staffing for jobs in Iraq, Halliburton and KBR, claim to have thousands of resumes in their database . . . and are still holding job fares around the country. Why is this? It's because they're still looking for qualified, experienced applicants.

So, is a job in Iraq right for you? If you have a sense of adventure, are not afraid to take a risk and would like to double or even triple your wages for a year, the answer just might be yes.

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Douglas Hanna has lived in the Denver area for nearly 35 years and is an expert on both Denver and Colorado. He is also the author of more than 120 articles on Denver and Internet marketing.


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