Italy is a popular destination with globetrotters but working in the country provides a number of opportunities to develop your career and expand your cultural horizons
Italy is a country rich in history and culture and is well known throughout the world for its sunny climate, beautiful landscapes and architecture, fine food and luxury exports.
It's true that the Italian economy could look a little brighter and that competition for jobs is high but foreign workers with the right combination of skills, qualifications and experience can still find work opportunities.
The majority of jobs can be found in cities such as Florence, Milan, Genoa and the capital Rome. Your search for a job will be aided by a strong grasp of the Italian language; in fact, you're unlikely to secure work without it.
Millions of travellers flock to Italy every year to see the sights; therefore tourism is important to the country. Casual work and temporary contracts in this sector are much easier to find than permanent employment in other industries.
As an English speaker your language skills are highly valued, particularly in tourism and teaching, not only as a second language but also because the majority of locals are not fluent in English. Because of this, jobs teaching English as a foreign language are readily available.
Jobs in Italy
While Italy may have the eighth largest economy in the world, it was hit hard by the global financial crisis and still has one of the highest levels of public debt. Unemployment currently stands at 11.4% and youth unemployment at a staggering 39.2%.
Northern Italy is more industrialised and developed and is known for its abundance of private companies. Southern Italy relies heavily on agriculture and farming.
The majority of the country's 60 million population reside in the north and ambitious graduates are more likely to find work in large northern towns and cities, although you will be in direct competition with locals for job opportunities.
The services sector dominates the economy with wholesale, retail sales and transportation. Industry, the manufacturing of luxury items such as fashion, cars and furniture in particular, also accounts for a fair amount of Italy's output. Agricultural work makes up the rest of the country's total GDP and although it's only a small contribution, Italy is one of the world's largest producers of wine, olive oil and fruit.
Major industries include:
- food processing;
- iron and steel;
- motor vehicles;
The number of multinational companies in Italy may be smaller than in other European countries but Italian brands such as Ferrari and Lamborghini (automobiles), and Gucci, Prada, Versace, Armani and Benetton (fashion) are known the world over.
Vacancies are commonly advertised in local newspapers and magazines and can also be searched for online.
Search for jobs in Italy at:
How to get a job in Italy
Networking through friends and family is generally considered the best way to find a job in Italy. Therefore, finding work when you are in the country will be easier as you can begin making contacts directly, wherever you decide to look for work.
If you'd prefer the security of already having a job before making the move you could ask your current employer about secondment opportunities.
If this isn't a possibility you could try your luck with speculative applications. Applications of this nature are welcomed in Italy as many jobs aren't advertised. If you take this route make sure to do your research and send your application to the most appropriate person at the organisation.
For jobs that are advertised, application is usually online and consists of a CV and cover letter or an application form. Where possible all applications should be submitted in Italian unless otherwise stated. To save some time it might also be a good idea to get your academic transcripts and certificates translated into Italian.
Long interview processes are the norm and generally involve a series of interviews and psychometric testing.
As tourism is such big business in Italy casual or temporary work should be easy enough to find.
There are plenty of seasonal jobs on offer and these include bar, hotel and restaurant work. You could find employment in summer camps or holiday resorts and if you possess some skills on the slopes you could work at ski resorts in the Italian Alps.
The agricultural sector also provides casual summer jobs such as fruit picking and other outdoor activities.
If you have some childcare experience you could also find work as an au pair.
As long as you have the funds to work for free volunteering is a great way to build your skill-set and learn a new language. Voluntary work looks great on your CV and gives you the chance to network and build contacts.
The European Voluntary Service (EVS), funded by the European Commission (EC), is a scheme aimed at people aged 17 to 30 wishing to volunteer abroad. It offers young people the chance to volunteer for up to 12 months in a number of European and non-European countries.
Opportunities vary from placements concerned with sport and culture to others focused on social care and the environment. For successful applicants, accommodation, travel, food and insurance are all covered by a European grant and you even receive a personal allowance each month.
Make sure you thoroughly research all volunteering opportunities and always check the terms and conditions before committing yourself to a scheme.
If you'd like to teach English as a foreign language then you'll be pleased to know that English teachers are in high demand in Italy. However, competition for posts is fierce.
The majority of teaching jobs are available in large towns and cities such as Rome, Florence and Milan although opportunities exist throughout the country. You could teach in state schools, private language schools, universities or within businesses teaching their staff English.
TEFL qualifications are preferable and some jobs may even require a Bachelors degree. However it is still possible to find work without.
There are also opportunities to teach English the country with the British Council on their language assistants programme.
A period of work experience or an internship in Italy could aid your career in a number of ways.
As networking is such an important part of finding a job, a work placement is a great way to build up your Italian contacts. Internships are also useful for sharpening your language skills.
Internships in the country usually last between three and six months and the country is a popular destination for those seeking work experience in areas such as fashion, architecture or art.
Internships and summer work placements for students can be arranged by:
- AIESEC UK - for students and recent graduates;
- IAESTE UK - for science, engineering and applied arts students.
According to the European Commission, European Union (EU) citizens have the right to:
- move to another EU country to work without a work permit;
- enjoy equal treatment with nationals in access to employment, working conditions and all other social and tax advantages;
- stay in the country even after employment has finished.
Therefore EU nationals do not need a visa or work permit to enter or work in Italy.
After three months EU citizens will require a residence permit and this can be applied for at your local police station. When applying you will need your passport and passport sized photographs.
Non-EU citizens will require a visa, residence and work permit to live and work in the country. There are different types of visa available depending on the purpose of your stay. When applying for a visa you will need to submit a completed visa application form, a valid passport, recent passport photographs and supporting documents depending on the type of visa you are applying for.
If you're a foreign national you'll need to apply for a residence permit as soon as you arrive in Italy.
For more information about obtaining an Italian work visa contact the Italian embassy or consulate in your home country.
This visa information is still valid following the UK's decision to leave the EU and will be updated if changes occur.
In the majority of cases knowledge of Italian is essential for securing a job.
Proficiency in the language will make life in the country a lot easier too, as large sections of the population don't speak English. English is more likely to be spoken in tourist areas and large towns and cities but less so in rural areas.
There are Italian language courses in the UK and many good websites exist to help you learn a language or improve your skills.
To get the ball rolling and learn the basics visit BBC Languages - Italian.
How to explain your qualifications to employers
UK qualifications are directly comparable to those in Italy, so they should be easily recognised by employers.
You can find out more information about comparing international qualifications by visiting ENIC-NARIC.
What it's like to work in Italy
Family time is an important aspect of Italian culture and as such workers in the country try to strike a healthy work/life balance. The maximum average working week is 40 hours. You'll typically work Monday to Friday 8am to 1pm, take two hour lunch and then work 3pm to 7pm.
All employees are entitled to four weeks of paid annual leave and 11 public holidays.
There are five income tax bands ranging from 23% on income up to €15,000, to 43% on income over €75,001.
Find out more
- Discover what it's like to study in Italy.