Working in Denmark
The job market
What are your chances of getting a job?
There is an increasing need for foreign labour in a large number of industries in Denmark, although competition from Danish graduates may be high. Your chances of finding graduate employment may be increased if you are a skilled worker and/or have some knowledge of Danish. The Danish labour market is known for its flexibility and Denmark is considered by many to be one of the best places to be employed in Europe, as far as employee welfare is concerned. The majority of the population speaks English, but knowledge of Danish is very useful when looking for employment.
Where can you work?
- Major industries: metals, pharmaceuticals, furniture and wood production, food processing, shipbuilding, chemicals, machinery and transportation equipment, textiles and clothing.
- Recent growth areas: wind turbine industries and manufacturing for global export.
- Shortage occupations: engineers, various medical and social work professionals, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and IT occupations
- Major companies: Maersk (transportation), Danske Bank, TDC (telecom services), Novo Nordisk (pharmaceuticals), Carlsberg, Jyske Bank, Danisco (food), H. Lundbeck (pharmaceuticals), Lego, ALK-Abelló (pharmaceuticals), Sydbank, TORM (shipping), FLSmidth & Co (construction and engineering).
What’s it like working in Denmark?
- Average working hours: normally 37 hours a week.
- Holidays: statutory minimum of five weeks’ annual leave entitlement. The ‘holiday year’ runs from 1 May to 30 April. There are 12 official public holidays around the major Christian festivals and many workers also take Constitution Day (5 June) off.
- Tax rates: Denmark is one of the highest taxed countries in the world. There is a 8% flat rate social security tax, which is gross (deducted before other taxes are calculated). Each municipal area also imposes a tax for local services; the 2013 average was 24.9%. Income tax is progressive, with the top rate being 15%. At its highest rates, the total tax can be 55.6% (in 2013 and 2014). 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
Citizens from the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) can go to their nearest job centre in Denmark to look for work. In addition, the Work in Denmark website and three service centres in Copenhagen, Odense and Aarhus can also help you to find work in Denmark.
The typical method for applying for a job in Denmark is via a covering letter and CV. A Danish CV should be in a similar format to a UK one. See Eurograduate, Denmark - Sample CV for an example.
Application procedures can vary and will be included in the job details.
The interview process is similar to the UK. Candidates are invited for interview and questioned about their professional competence, personality and motivation. Employers will assess if you fit with the culture of their organisation. They will expect you to have a good understanding of their business. Psychometric and aptitude tests are increasingly popular, particularly with larger companies.
Will your UK qualifications be recognised?
Following the Bologna Process and the creation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), UK qualifications are usually recognised by an employer.
- Jobnet Denmark - official website for Danish jobseekers and employers, with contact details for job centres by area (in Danish only)
- EURES - European Job Mobility Portal - provides job vacancies and a CV-posting service for jobseekers, as well as information on living and working conditions and labour markets
- Work in Denmark
Recruitment agencies handle all types of work. Contact details are available from the Danish Yellow Pages.
In Denmark, most job adverts appear in the Sunday editions of the newspapers.
Danish libraries and telephone directories will give details of appropriate companies to approach with speculative applications. Also check Karriere Vejviser for company profiles.
A significant number of job vacancies are not advertised and are filled via personal contacts, so it can be worthwhile sending speculative applications to employers in the field you’re interested in. Send a CV and covering letter expressing your interest in the company and your goals in coming to Denmark. Networking with other professionals can also help to uncover opportunities.
Getting work experience
Erasmus+ is the EU programme for education, training, youth and sport for 2014-2020 and covers student exchange, work experience and volunteering opportunities. Both under and postgraduate students can study abroad for three to 12 months. Erasmus+ also provides opportunities for work experience for students to learn new skills or languages, as well as volunteering in different countries for between two weeks and 12 months.
Work placements and internships
Search for apprenticeships and traineeships in Denmark on the Praktikpladsen (in Danish only).
Placements can also be arranged through organisations in the UK such as AIESEC (Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales), IAESTE (The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience) and the International Voluntary Service (IVS) in Britain.
It may also be a good idea to send speculative applications to relevant companies asking for work placements.
There may be opportunities for seasonal or summer work in hotels, restaurants and pubs in Copenhagen and other major cities. Some knowledge of Danish may be required.
Additionally, Denmark has a large agricultural industry which employs casual labourers. The main fruit harvests (tomatoes, apples, cherries and strawberries) are between July and September.
One of the main British camping agencies operating in Denmark is Eurocamp. It is preferred that you can speak another European language well, as the job involves welcoming and interacting with a range of visiting nationalities. For details see Holiday Break Jobs.
Gap year and volunteering opportunities
A number of au pair agencies operate throughout Europe or have associated agencies abroad that can help you find au pairing vacancies. Try Childcare International and Au Pairs by Avalon for more information. Placements range in length. Although you are often required to stay for a year, Childcare International offers some two- to six-month stays. To become an au pair in Denmark you should normally be aged between 17 and 29.
Do you need a visa?
Most EU nationals do not need a visa or work permit but citizens of non-EU countries may be required to have these documents. Applications for work permits must be initiated and submitted only through Danish diplomatic missions (embassies or selected general consulates) in either the home or legal country. From 20 May 2012, all residence cards for third-country citizens (non-EU, EEA, Nordic or Swiss nationals) will contain biometric features (signature, photograph and fingerprints), which will be obtained on application.
It is important to note that Greenland and the Faroe Islands are part of Denmark but not part of the EU, so a work permit will be required for employment in these areas.
If you are from a non-EU country, contact the Danish embassy in the country where you are currently residing about how to obtain visas and work permits.
You might also find it helpful to contact your ministry of foreign affairs (or your 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 Denmark.
How do you become a permanent resident?
You can apply for a permanent residence permit if you are a foreign national over the age of 18 and have held a temporary residence permit in Denmark for at least four years. Applications should be made through The Danish Immigration Service.
Living in Denmark
- Cost of living: the price levels for accommodation, food, transport and entertainment are all fairly high in Denmark compared with many other countries. However, the wages are also relatively high and the Danish welfare system means that many services, such as medical assistance and education, are free.
- Internet domain: .dk
- Currency: Danish krone
- Health: Denmark has a well-developed public health service which is based on principles of equal access to health services for all citizens.
- Type of government: constitutional monarchy
- Laws and customs: Denmark has a long tradition of liberal thinking. The Danes are highly tolerant towards other people, regardless of creed, colour, political or sexual orientation. The personal freedom to choose how to lead your life within the limits of Danish society is seen as a fundamental right.
- Emergency numbers: The emergency contact number for police, fire and ambulance is 112.
- People: the majority of the population are ethnic Danes (96%). Others include Faeroese, Inuit, German, Turkish, Iranian and Somali.
- Major religion: Evangelical Lutheran