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Work in Turkey

Country flag: Turkey

Like many other emerging economies, Turkey has had to weather the storm in recent times. However, there may still be opportunities to find graduate jobs in certain sectors

With its varied landscapes and position at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, Turkey is a nation with a diverse cultural heritage. Home to important historical sites as well as top-class beaches along its vast coastline, tourism plays an important role in its economy.

The capital city of Ankara - along with the great city of Istanbul - provides a focal point for its business endeavours and employment for a large proportion of the Turkish population.

As the country is experiencing political issues, it is advisable to keep up to date with the latest UK government travel foreign advice for Turkey .

Job market

Not so long ago, Turkey stood out as having one of the fastest growing economies in the world, fuelled by trade and foreign investment - with the UK one of its major export markets, accounting for 5.7% of all products exported in 2013. However, it is currently going through a tough period, and is struggling to maintain its rapid expansion.

While economic and political uncertainty is affecting its short-term prospects, Turkey still has one of the world's top 20 largest economies, according to the World Bank. Its key sectors include manufacturing, agriculture and tourism.

One of the areas least affected by the economic tension is its reformed financial services sector, with some job openings for overseas professionals looking to work in banking.

It is worth noting that foreign workers will find opportunities hard to come by in many professional occupations, due to government restrictions on recruitment. This is true of the medical and legal professions, as employment is limited to Turkish citizens only.

Turkey's location as the bridge between Europe and Asia makes it an enticing gateway destination for UK businesses hoping to expand their operations. Graduates may find work through large UK companies such as Marks and Spencer, HSBC, Vodafone and BP.

Job vacancies

Most positions are achieved by being assigned to Turkish branches of international organisations, embassies or consulates. However, the competition is usually intense for every job. Most vacancies can be found through networking or searching online. As you are required to be in possession of the correct work permits before you arrive in the country, you'll need to be proactive in finding suitable employment.

Search for jobs in Turkey at:

Forums can also be a good place to find positions and ask questions. One example is Turkey Central - Working in Turkey .

Teaching in Turkey

Along with tourism, teaching provides the best opportunity for foreigners to work in Turkey. The number of teaching jobs is on the increase, as there is a big demand for English as a second language (ESL) and English teachers in the country, especially in Istanbul. Other popular teaching destinations include Ankara, Diyararbakir and Izmir.

Like with other options for employment, teaching positions usually need to be secured before you enter the country. However, visiting a school in person and taking proof of your qualifications can often result in at least an interview.

If you are a native English speaker with a relevant Bachelors degree, a 120-hour TEFL certificate and some level of teaching experience, you shouldn't have much trouble locating a public school willing to offer you work.

Some schools and agencies advertise their teaching vacancies online, so you can visit the following sites:

Internships and work experience in Turkey

A good way of exploring Turkey and its local communities is through an internship or work placement. While teaching is the most common means of taking on English-speaking graduates, there are other possibilities to consider.

Summer and all-year-round work placements and internships can be organised by:

One organisation that provides apprenticeship work placements in Turkey to students at universities who have signed up to the EU traineeship programme is Erasmus+ - Traineeships .

It is not always easy to find work experience in the country though as, other than larger organisations, not all employers offer formal opportunities.

Volunteering in Turkey

Voluntary work is a great option for those who can afford it - you can help the local people and improve your Turkish language skills at the same time. The larger cities always require volunteers and there should be many charities and local projects to get involved in.

A couple of useful websites to begin your search include:

Language requirements

Although English is a reasonably common form of business communication in Turkey, having some knowledge of the Turkish language will increase your options when it comes to finding work. Some roles may require less fluency, and those teaching English often only require a basic grasp.

To get started and learn some key phrases, head to BBC Languages - Turkish .

Turkish visas and immigration

Work permits are necessary for employment in Turkey. They are typically issued for one year, although can be extended for three and then six years.

To arrange a work visa for a specific position, you'll need a job offer letter and employment contract. They can be applied for in the UK via the Turkish Consulate in London, or an employer can file an online application on your behalf. The procedure also involves submitting an application to the Turkish Ministry of Labour and Social Security. For more information, visit Turkish Consulate London - Work Visa .

Until recently you would require an additional residency permit upon your arrival in Turkey. Now, you just need to register with your local Turkish police department.

For more information on residing in Turkey, visit GOV.UK - Living in Turkey .

How to explain your UK qualifications to employers

Students with UK qualifications shouldn't have any issues explaining these to employers as Turkish higher education providers adhere to the National Qualifications Framework for Higher Education in Turkey (NQF-HETR) .

In addition, you can also visit ENIC-NARIC Networks - Turkey , which provides information and resources for recognition issues in the country.

Working conditions

In Turkey, working hours cannot exceed 45 hours per week and 11 hours per day. While the hours can be distributed unevenly, depending on the nature of the business, most offices are open between the normal working hours of 8.30am-5.30pm, Monday to Friday. During the summer months in some cities, you may start and finish earlier.

Workers who have been working at a company for one to five years are entitled to a minimum of 14 days' paid annual leave. This is in addition to 14.5 days of public holidays, which include religious celebrations in accordance with the Islamic calendar.

Foreign nationals who have been living in the country for more than six months will be fully liable for income tax on all their sources of income. Those not considered to be a resident will still incur partial liability and have an obligation to pay tax on their Turkish salary.


Further information

Written by Editor, Prospects
September 2015

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