Working in Norway
There is a shortage of skilled workers in Norway, particularly in the wholesale and retail trade and in the building and construction industry. There is also a shortage of nurses and certain types of engineers.
Graduates with some knowledge of Norwegian have the best chance of finding jobs.
In some sectors it is not unusual to visit a company unannounced to enquire about a job. Remember to take your CV with references and transcripts.
The strongest developing areas of business in Norway are currently in the information technology and communications sectors.
Norway has a strong economy and a relatively low unemployment rate and the skills shortages mean that if you have some knowledge of Norwegian, your chances of finding a graduate job in Norway are reasonably good.
What are your chances of getting a job?
Networking and personal recommendations aid job searches in Norway, so it may be more difficult for graduates without Norwegian connections to penetrate the job market. The majority of jobs in Norway require knowledge of the Norwegian language or another Scandinavian language. Some jobs do accept those who just speak English but these are usually seasonal agriculture jobs or roles in hospitality. Not knowing Norwegian will dramatically limit your job options.
English is taught in schools and many Norwegians will have quite good knowledge of the language. However, it is still advisable to learn some Norwegian either before moving to Norway or once you get there. You can find information about learning Norwegian both in Norway and in the UK at Study in Norway or Norway. Alternatively, if you apply for a postgraduate study course it may be possible to add on a first year of learning Norwegian. Distance learning programmes are available from EuroTalk.
Where can you work?
- Major industries: petroleum and gas, fishing, shipbuilding, metals, chemicals, mining, wood pulp and paper, food processing.
- Recent growth areas: information technology and communications.
- Industries in decline: transport and storage.
- Shortage occupations: wholesale and retail trade; building and construction; nursing; engineering.
- Major companies: Statoil (oil and gas), Norsk Hydro (aluminium and energy), Telenor (telecommunications), Aker (holding company), Orkla (industrial conglomerate), Total E&P Norge, ExxonMobil, Yara International (chemicals), Esso.
What’s it like working in Norway?
- Average working hours: 40 hours a week. By law, anything exceeding this is classed as overtime.
- Holidays: average holiday entitlement is 21-25 days a year, plus public holidays.
- Tax rates: if you work for a Norwegian employer for six months or longer you must pay tax in Norway. You must apply in person for a tax deduction card from the local tax office and they will inform you of how much tax you will have to pay. The personal income tax deduction rate (current as of 2014) is 39%. The National Insurance rate is 7.8% and this is included in the tax you pay. 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.
Job vacancies are listed on company websites and on the NAV (Norwegian Labour and Welfare Service) website. It is also possible to register your CV on the EURES job search for Norwegian employers to access. Norway also has an informal job market, so being in the country and able to network can sometimes prove advantageous.
The usual method of application is completion of a short covering letter and CV, followed by an interview. Employers are usually happy to receive speculative applications. Norwegian CVs should follow a similar format to a UK CV.
Most vacancies are advertised in Norwegian and it is preferred that applications are made in Norwegian as well, although some companies accept applications in English.
It is advisable to attach copies of letters of reference, qualification certificates and grade transcripts.
It is not essential to include a photograph but this may be regarded by employers as a positive. Examples of Norwegian CVs are available (in Norwegian) from the University of Oslo careers service. Eurograduate – Working in Norway also has a sample Norwegian CV and information on the Norwegian working culture.
Get more applications and CV advice.
Will your UK qualifications be recognised?
UK qualifications are generally well recognised around the world, but check with the employer or the relevant professional body prior to applying for work.
- EURES – European Job Mobility Portal – maintained by the European Commission, provides information about job vacancies, living and working conditions and labour markets in Norway, as well as a CV-posting service for jobseekers.
- Finn Jobb (in Norwegian)
- JobbDirekte (in Norwegian)
- NAV (Norwegian Labour and Welfare Service) – lists vacancies as well as general information about living and working in Norway.
- Stepstone Norway
Agencies are listed in the Norwegian Yellow Pages – search for ‘vikarbyrå’ and ‘vikarutleie’.
All Norwegian newspapers can be accessed via Kidon Media-Link.
The University of Oslo careers service provides links to graduate employers. Career events and job fairs are offered at colleges and universities.
Sending speculative applications is a common method of applying for jobs in Norway. Remember to make a follow-up call to the company after you have sent your application.
In some sectors it is not unusual to visit a company unannounced to enquire about a job. Remember to take your CV with references and transcripts and ask to speak to someone in personnel or management.
Work placements and internships
- AIESEC – arranges paid and voluntary work placements in various countries.
- Atlantis Youth Exchange – a Norwegian organisation for 18- to 30-year-olds, offering au pair jobs and work within the farming and tourism industries.
- IAESTE (The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience) – offers placements for science, engineering and technology students.
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 3 to 12 months. Erasmus+ also provides opportunities for work experience students to learn new skills or languages, as well as volunteering in different countries for between 2 weeks and 12 months.
You can find lots of useful information on the Study in Norway website. Also see the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SIU) for more possibilities.
There are some opportunities to work as an English language assistant, as English is widely taught in schools. The British Council – Norway will be able to advise. If you have a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) qualification, you could teach in a language school – a list is available at ESL Base.
Much part-time and casual work is seasonal and is available in sectors such as forestry and agriculture. Other jobs you could do if you do not speak Norwegian are similar to those available in the UK and include:
- warehouse work;
- factory/production lines;
- au pair;
Summer vacancies can also be found on the NAV (Norwegian Labour and Welfare Service) website by searching for ‘sommer’ (summer), ‘ferie’ (holiday) or ‘sesong’ (seasonal). StepStone also advertises part-time work (in Norwegian).
Gap year and volunteering opportunities
Do you need a visa?
Norway is not in the European Union (EU) but it is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), so all EEA nationals are free to stay in Norway without a residence permit for up to three months. You must be able to support yourself financially during this period.
If you are an EEA national and plan to stay in Norway for longer than three months, either to work, carry out training or study on a university course, you must register with the police. You can register online via the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) website and then visit a police station. They will then issue a certificate of registration. EEA nationals do not need to apply for a residence permit.
Non-EEA nationals may also be required to apply for a residence permit. Check the UDI website for further details.
If you are not a citizen of an EEA country, contact the Norwegian embassy in the country where you are currently residing about how to obtain a residence permit. If you are living in the UK, go to the Royal Norwegian Embassy.
You might also find it helpful to contact your ministry of foreign affairs (or your own 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 Norway.
How do you become a permanent resident?
The certificate of registration issued to EEA citizens who plan to stay in Norway for longer than three months is valid indefinitely. EEA citizens can apply for a document which certifies permanent residence after they have lived in Norway for a continuous period of at least five years.
Members of non-EEA countries will need to apply for a permanent residence permit. This allows the holder to live and work in Norway indefinitely. To apply for a permanent residence permit you must have stayed in Norway for a continuous period of three years. Applications must be submitted to the police. See the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) for more information.
- Cost of living: Norway is among the most expensive countries in the world but salaries are also typically higher. Student Life – University of Oslo gives a guide to living expenses.
- Internet domain: .no
- Currency: Norwegian krone (NOK)
- Health: the standard of health and healthcare is extremely high. The health service is mainly public with some private hospitals and practitioners. EEA citizens who are temporarily in Norway should get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to be able to access the healthcare system. Residents and those who are employed in Norway are entitled to health service benefits through the National Insurance Scheme – see New in Norway for more information.
- Type of government: constitutional monarchy.
- Laws and customs: individual lifestyle choices are respected. For example, no stigma is attached to unmarried couples having children, or to homosexuality. There are strict drink-driving laws and a policy of zero tolerance with regard to drug possession and penalties are high.
- Emergency numbers: 110 – fire department; 112 – police; 113 – ambulance.
- People: 94% Norwegian (including Sami). Other Europeans make up almost 4% of the population.
- Major religion: Christianity (predominantly Evangelical Lutheran).