The job market
Getting a job in Norway
Norway has one of the world’s highest standards of living and a comprehensive social security system funded by relatively high levels of taxation. It is rich in natural resources, including oil and gas, fish, forests and minerals, and is famous for its spectacular fjord coastline.
British citizens currently do not need a visa to enter Norway but should register with the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) if they wish to remain in Norway after three months, whether to work or study. It is not yet clear how this may be affected by Brexit. Norway is not a member of the European Union (EU), but has strong economic ties to the EU through its membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) free trade zone. English is widely spoken in Norway, but fluency in Norwegian is a big advantage when applying for jobs. Networking is an important way of finding out about job opportunities.
Norway became prosperous following the discovery of offshore oil and gas in the late 1960s, and petroleum currently accounts for around 9% of jobs in the country. As part of a strategy to secure the country’s future, surplus oil wealth has been invested in what has now become the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund. Economic growth is expected to remain constant or improve slightly in the next few years.
About two thirds of Norway is mountainous. The population of approximately five million is concentrated in the south, where the climate is milder, particularly around Oslo, the capital, and in coastal cities such as Trondheim and Bergen. The cost of living is relatively high, particularly in the area around Oslo.
Where can you work?
Around three tenths of the Norwegian workforce is employed in the public sector, in areas such as health and education. There is particular demand for skills in nursing, medicine, tourism, engineering, oil and gas, the fishing industry, building and construction, and IT and communications. UK graduates face stiff competition from their Norwegian counterparts.
- energy: oil and gas and renewable energy, including hydropower
- shipping and shipbuilding
- food processing
- timber and pulp and paper products
- mining and metals
- service industries, including tourism
There are many small companies in Norway and fewer than 1% of private companies have more than 100 employees. Small companies are often family-owned. Some of the larger organisations are state-owned, including Statoil, the petroleum industry; the railways; and the postal service.
Some of the biggest employers in Norway are:
- Statoil (petroleum)
- Aker Solutions (design and engineering of technology for the oil and gas industry)
- Norsk Hydro (manufacture of aluminium products and renewable energy)
- Yara International (manufacture of agricultural products, particularly nitrogen-based fertilisers)
- DNB (banking and financial services)
Skills in demand: the oil industry is essential to Norway’s prosperity, though it is also seeking to diversify. There are likely to be opportunities in areas related to technology, communications and digital media.
Language requirements: although English is widely spoken as a second language, fluent Norwegian will make a big difference to your job and career prospects. There are numerous Norwegian dialects. Other languages spoken in Norway include North Sami, which is the official language of a number of municipalities and is spoken mainly in northern Norway.
Are UK qualifications recognised?
Norway is a full member of the European higher education area, which means that there is currently a mechanism for gaining recognition of the equivalent value of UK degrees in Norway. It is not yet clear exactly how the UK’s participation in this system will be affected by Brexit.
Teaching English as a foreign language
The education system in Norway is very good and there is a high level of English language proficiency. As a result, you may be in competition with Norwegians for English language teaching jobs. You are likely to need, at minimum, a degree and a TEFL qualification. A working knowledge of Norwegian will help. There may be opportunities at bilingual international schools, though these are likely to seek staff with a teaching qualification and two years’ relevant experience. There may also be vacancies at kindergartens, public or private schools or private language schools.
What is it like to work in Norway?
- Working hours: working hours should not exceed 9 hours a day or 40 hours per week. Anything over 40 hours a week is defined as overtime, and attracts a higher rate of pay.
- Holidays: by law, Norwegians are guaranteed 25 vacation days every year.
- Income tax: income tax rates in Norway are relatively high. Most employees will pay a deduction of around 35% of their income. This consists of a combined national and municipal income tax of around 27% (less in some areas) and a social security contribution of around 8%. There may also be surtaxes to pay of between 9% and 12%, depending on your income.
If you live in Norway for 183 consecutive days or more in a twelve-month period, you must pay tax on your worldwide income there.
Although Norway is not a member of the EU, it is involved in various European schemes and programmes such as EURES (the European Job Mobility Portal), which allows you to search for jobs in Norway in English.
The Work in Norway website is supported by the official Norwegian employment service and offers clear information for job seekers from EU/EEA countries and elsewhere, with vacancies as well as advice.
You may find vacancies in Norway listed on the TARGETjobs international vacancies page.
You can find the websites of companies you are interested in by using the Norwegian Yellow Pages, which will often list vacancies.
Newspapers with vacancies
CV, application and interview tips
Expectations for CVs are similar to the UK. You should limit yourself to one or two sides of A4 and list the languages you speak, along with an indication of your level of fluency and oral and written proficiency. It is not standard practice to attach a photo. It may well be worth your while to send speculative applications, which are referred to as open applications in Norway. You’ll find more advice about CVs and applications for jobs in Norway on the Work in Norway website.
The recruitment process is along similar lines to the UK. If you are invited to an interview, you are likely to meet two to five people and be interviewed for 45 to 90 minutes, and you may also be asked to take a personality test. You should dress appropriately and a firm handshake and good eye contact should help to make a good impression.
Work experience, internships and exchanges
Norway participates in the Erasmus+ student exchange programme. You can find out more about where you could study from Study in Norway.
Another option to consider is the AIESEC international youth volunteering programme, which offers opportunities in Norway, or IAESTE, which provides placements in Norway for around 60 international students each year.
The Atlantis Youth Exchange is a Norwegian exchange programme for young people and offers opportunities to work in agriculture, tourism or as an au pair in exchange for free accommodation, board and pocket money.
You can volunteer in Norway through the European Voluntary Service (EVS), which enables young people aged between 17 and 30 to volunteer for two to twelve months. You can find out more about the EVS and other volunteering opportunities through the International Voluntary Service.
Do you need a visa to work in Norway?
EEA nationals, including UK citizens, do not need a visa to enter Norway. However, if they wish to stay longer than three months, whether to work or study, they need to register with the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) and attend an appointment. It is not yet clear how the arrangements for UK nationals will be affected by Brexit.
Non-EEA nationals may need to apply for a residence permit. There is information available about this on the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) website. You can also find out more from the Norwegian embassy in the country where you are currently living. If you are a UK resident, you’ll find useful information about residence permits on the website of the Royal Norwegian Embassy.
Living in Norway
Cost of living: The cost of living in Norway is among the highest in the world. You are likely to find that rent, groceries and going out all cost more than in the UK. However, you may also find that salaries in Norway are higher.
Currency: krone (sometimes referred to as NOK, short for Norwegian krone)
Healthcare: UK residents are usually able to apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which gives you the right to access healthcare during a temporary stay in another EEA country or Switzerland. This means you will be able to access state-provided healthcare in Norway at a reduced cost or for free. However, the EHIC does not cover private medical healthcare or costs such as being flown back to the UK in case of a serious accident or illness, and you are advised to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy.
EHIC cards are not valid on cruise ships, which is worth bearing in mind if you choose to visit the Arctic by ship during your stay.
Laws and customs to be aware of: Norway has pursued progressive social policies. For example, in 1993 it became the second country to legally recognise unions between homosexual partners.
Drugs and drink driving laws are stricter in Norway than in the UK, and possession of small quantities of drugs can lead to heavy fines and imprisonment.
Major religions: the Church of Norway is Lutheran. Catholicism and other Christian denominations are also widespread, and there are well established Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist communities.
Type of government: parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy