Globally renowned for its rich culture and outstanding natural beauty, if the prospect of working in Italy sounds appealing, you may find it presents the perfect opportunity to develop your career
Italy is a country that regularly features on the top destinations lists of the leading travel websites. This is unsurprising, as it's a nation that has everything. Steeped in culture and historical significance, by living and working here you'll enjoy its sunny climate, breath-taking landscapes, inspiring architecture and fine food.
While the Italian economy has not kept pace with the growth of other major European countries and competition for jobs is high, Italian-speaking foreign workers with the right combination of skills, qualifications and experience may still be able to find work - especially in cities such as Florence, Milan, Genoa and the capital Rome.
Jobs in Italy
While Italy has the eighth largest economy in the world according to the 2018 International Monetary Fund, it is still feeling the effects of the global financial crisis and has the second highest level of public debt in Europe (after Greece).
The majority of the country's 60 million inhabitants reside in the north, and ambitious graduates are more likely to find work in large northern towns and cities.
The contrast between the north and the south is quite stark - northern Italy is more industrialised and developed and known for its abundance of private companies, while the south relies heavily on agriculture and farming. Unemployment in the southern regions is as high as 29%.
As millions of travellers flock to Italy every year to see its many famous sights, casual work and temporary contracts in the tourism industry are much easier to find than permanent employment in other sectors.
Most locals are not fluent in English, and therefore it's unlikely you'll secure work without a strong grasp of the Italian language. On the other hand, your English speaking ability will be highly valued, particularly in tourism and teaching. Because of this, jobs teaching English as a foreign language are readily available.
The services sector dominates the economy with wholesale, retail sales and transportation. Driven by the manufacturing of luxury items such as fashion, cars and furniture, industry also accounts for a fair amount of Italy's output. In terms of agriculture, Italy is one of the world's largest producers of wine, olive oil and fruit.
The number of multinational companies in Italy may be smaller than in other European countries but strong Italian brands include automobiles, such as Ferrari and Lamborghini, and fashion designers Gucci, Prada, Versace and Armani.
Vacancies are commonly advertised in local newspapers and magazines as well as on the internet.
Search online for jobs in Italy at:
- Clicca Lavoro (in Italian)
- EURES Job Search
- Jobs In Milan
- Lavorare.net (in Italian)
- Reed - Jobs In Italy
- The Local Italy
- Total Jobs - Jobs In Italy
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 2017 report Getting Skills Right: Italy highlights the following as areas where Italy is currently suffering a critical shortage of knowledge, skills and abilities:
- computers and electronics
- education and training
- engineering, mechanics and technology
- mathematical knowledge.
How to get a job in Italy
Networking through friends and family is generally considered the best way to find a job in Italy. Finding work when you're already in the country will be easier, as you can begin making contacts directly - wherever you decide to look for work.
If you're currently employed with a company that has a presence in Italy, you could enquire about possible secondment opportunities.
If this isn't feasible, you could instead try making speculative applications, which are welcomed in Italy as many jobs aren't advertised. If you go down this route, be sure to do your research and send your application to the most appropriate person at the organisation.
For jobs that are advertised, the application is usually completed online and consists of a CV and cover letter, or an application form. 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 too.
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 including 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 a ski resort 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 might consider finding work as an au pair.
As long as you have the funds to work for free, volunteering is a great way to build your skillset and learn a new language. Voluntary work looks great on your CV and gives you the chance to network and build contacts.
For those aged 17 to 30 looking to volunteer abroad, Erasmus+ Volunteering projects are available in a number of different areas such as social care, environmental protection, youth work and cultural activities.
Italy is one of the European Union (EU) countries offering these unpaid, full time positions lasting between two weeks and 12 months. All essential costs (accommodation, food and local transport) are covered by the scheme, and you may be given a small personal allowance.
English teachers are in high demand in Italy, so 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.
You can enrol online to study for a relevant Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) qualification, while some teaching jobs may even require a Bachelors degree.
Recruitment for teachers typically begins in early spring for positions available in September/October.
There are also opportunities to teach English through the British Council's English Language Assistants programme.
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 Italy usually last between three and six months with the country especially popular with those looking to get work experience in fashion, architecture and art.
Internships and summer work placements are available at:
- AIESEC UK - a youth organisation that offers career-focused internships for students and recent graduates.
- GoAbroad.com - an online search engine for global internships.
- IAESTE - traineeships for science, engineering, technology and applied arts students (apply via the British Council website in the autumn).
If you're an EU citizen, or come from Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you won't require a permit to work in Italy. However, to remain in the country longer than 90 days, you'll need to apply to your local town hall (comune) for residency. They will be able to advise you on the documentation to be submitted along with your application.
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, you'll need to submit a completed visa application form, a valid passport, recent passport photographs and supporting documents, which will depend on the type of visa you're applying for.
If you're a foreign national, you'll need to apply for a residence permit as soon as you arrive.
For more information about Italian work visas, contact the Italian embassy or consulate in your home country, or visit the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation website.
This visa information is still valid following the UK's decision to leave the EU and will be updated if changes occur.
In most 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 many parts 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.
Italian language courses in the UK, as well as many good websites, will help you to learn the language or further improve your skills.
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 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. According to Eurostat, Italians work 39 hours per week on average (2017 data), with the maximum average working week set at 40 hours plus eight hours of overtime. You'll typically work Monday to Friday 8am to 1pm, take a two-hour lunch and then work from 3pm to 7pm.
All employees are entitled to at least four weeks of paid annual leave as well as 12 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.