A country of outstanding natural beauty, historical wonders and a varied culture steeped in art, fashion, food and music - you'll require specialist skills and a full grasp of the language if you have aspirations of working in Italy
Shaped like a boot, Italy is a country that regularly features on the top destination lists of leading travel websites. This is unsurprising, as it's a nation that has everything - the perfect blend of the ancient world meeting modern society.
Steeped in historical significance and at the forefront of fashion and culture, by living and working here you'll enjoy its sunny climate, breath-taking landscapes, inspiring architecture and fine food.
When you're not working you could visit art cities such as Florence, with its Michelangelo and Giambologna sculptures or admire the Gothic palazzi and canals of Venice. You could also tick off your bucket list sights in Rome and relax in one of its delightful cafés. On other days you could hit the fashion boutiques of Milan or head to Naples, the birthplace of modern pizza.
Despite the draws of a Mediterranean lifestyle, you'll find that work for native English speakers is hard to come by due to the high competition for jobs. Foreign workers who can speak Italian and have the right combination of skills, qualifications and experience may still be able to find employment - especially in major cities such as Florence, Milan, Genoa and the capital Rome.
Jobs in Italy
The global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has certainly had a major impact on the already-struggling Italian economy. It may be the world's eighth biggest economy, according to the International Monetary Fund, but it relies heavily on its manufacturing and services industries.
Political and economic instability has resulted in an unemployment rate that's into double figures - expected to reach 11.1% in 2020 and 11.3% in 2021 (Statista.com).
The contrast between the north and the south is 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.
You'll find that as the majority of the country's 60.5 million inhabitants reside in the north, ambitious graduates are more likely to find work in large northern towns and cities such as Milan, Turin and Genoa.
Plus, as around 63 million travellers flock to Italy every year to see its famous sights, casual work and temporary contracts in the tourism industry are much easier to find than permanent employment in other sectors.
Popular graduate jobs
- Chemical products
Most Italian locals aren't fluent in English, and therefore it's unlikely you'll secure work without mastering the 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 a strong focus on 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.
Positions are mostly advertised online and through recruitment agencies.
You can search for job vacancies in Italy at:
- Glassdoor - English speaking jobs in Italy
- The Local It
- Reed - Jobs In Italy
- Total Jobs - Jobs In Italy
European Union (EU) labour market data specialists Skills Panorama have identified the following areas as shortage occupations in Italy:
- health-related occupations
- ICT professionals
- marketing, creative and design professionals
- STEM occupations
- teaching professionals.
The organisation also looked at future employment growth in Italy across the job sectors between 2018 and 2030 and forecasted that around a quarter of total demand will be in administration services, followed by health and social care and professional services.
How to get a job in Italy
Despite the expanded global use of the internet, networking through friends and family is still considered a viable means of hearing about any available work in the country.
Therefore, finding a job when you're already in Italy will be easier, as you can begin making contacts directly - wherever you decide to start looking.
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, 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 advertised positions, applications are usually completed online and consist of a CV and cover letter, or an application form. All applications should be submitted in Italian unless otherwise stated. To save time, get your academic transcripts and certificates translated too.
You should expect a lengthy application process, which will generally involve a series of interviews as well as 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've the funds to work for free, volunteering is a great way to expand 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, you could consider volunteering abroad with the European Solidarity Corps. On this programme you could be involved in sports and outdoor activities, education, arts and music or cultural associations.
Italy is one of the EU countries offering these unpaid, full time positions lasting between two weeks and 12 months. For more information, see Erasmus+ - Volunteer abroad.
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 scheme.
As Italians place such weight on networking, a work placement is a great way to build up your contacts in the country. An internship is 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).
- Internship Italy - a student recruitment organisation that works with over 500 companies across Europe.
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 for 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 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.
To find out more about Italian work visas, contact the Italian embassy or consulate in your home country - in the UK this is the Embassy of Italy in London - or visit the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
For the latest foreign travel advice for Italy, see GOV.UK.
In most cases, the ability to speak Italian to a high level is essential for securing a job.
Proficiency in Italian will make living 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.
Studying an Italian language course will help you learn the language or further improve your skills to the required standard.
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 your international qualifications, by visiting ENIC-NARIC - Italy.
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 Statista, Italians work just under 36 hours per week on average, with the maximum legal working week set at 40 hours, plus eight hours of overtime. As work tends to be highly structured, you'll typically work Monday to Friday 8/9am to 1pm, take a two-hour lunch break and then work from 3pm to 6/7pm.
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, all the way up to 43% on income over €75,001.
Following the UK's exit from the EU on 31 January 2020, this information is likely to change. Please check official sources for the most up-to-date information.
Find out more
- Discover what it's like to study in Italy.