Norway's five million-strong population enjoys a thriving economy, a high standard of living and one of the best welfare systems in the world
However, foreign graduates may have difficulty finding a job, primarily because networking and personal recommendations are extremely highly valued in Norway. You can therefore increase your chances of finding work by building contacts - perhaps through temporary or part-time work - and learning the language.
Jobs in Norway
Norway's employers are often reluctant to hire international workers. However, sectors that are suffering major skills shortages - such as IT, nursing, retail, fisheries, medicine, services, tourism, engineering, oil and gas, and building and construction - may be more receptive.
Labour demand varies throughout the country. While fisheries dominate the north, the cities of Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim are largely concerned with the financial services. Other prominent industries nationwide include wood, metals, mining, chemicals, shipbuilding and food processing, but the transport and storage sectors are in decline.
Major employers in Norway include:
- Aker Solutions;
- Norsk Hydro;
- Telenor Group;
- Total E&P Norge;
- Yara International.
Most Norwegian job vacancies are advertised online, either on company websites or job boards such as:
How to get a job in Norway
Many newspapers, including Aftenposten, Dagbladet and the English language publication The Norway Post, advertise opportunities; however, as previously highlighted, networking and speculative applications are welcomed - and form the easiest way for international workers to enter the jobs market in Norway.
The method of application is usually similar to that in the UK; the submission of a two-page CV and cover letter, to which you'll attach copies of your references and qualifications, before attending an interview.
Seasonal work and casual jobs are widely available for international employees in sectors including farming, hospitality, forestry and agriculture. You could also try cleaning, becoming an au pair, or working in a warehouse or factory.
The European Voluntary Service (EVS), funded by the European Commission (EC), is a scheme aimed at people aged 18 to 30 wishing to volunteer abroad. It offers young people the chance to volunteer for up to 12 months in a number of countries. Opportunities vary from placements concerned with sport and culture to those focused on social care and the environment. Accommodation, travel, food and insurance are all covered by a European grant and you even receive a personal allowance each month.
Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) is highly accessible, with the language's popularity in Norway ensuring that demand remains fairly strong. You don't necessarily have to be fluent in Norwegian to teach, but your chances of success will be improved if you hold a teaching qualification. View a list of language schools at ESL Base or visit the British Council. You can find TEFL opportunities at:
You can also search for internships at:
While Norway isn't a member of the European Union (EU), it is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA). This means that EEA citizens can live and work in Norway for three months before having to register with the police and are automatically eligible for permanent residence after five years. For more information, visit the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).
Non-EEA nationals, however, must contact their Norwegian embassy to apply for a residence permit, and must apply for permanent residence after three years.
Many well-educated Norwegians can speak English fluently, and some larger companies have English as the working language. However, most jobs require workers to have fluent knowledge of Norwegian. Regardless, learning it will greatly increase your options and potentially lead to better salaries. Norwegian language courses are available in the UK.
How to explain your qualifications to employers
UK qualifications are generally recognised and comparable to their Norwegian counterparts due to the Bologna process, but check with the employer before applying. Certain professions will require you to become authorised; see the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT) or ENIC-NARIC for more information.
What it's like to work in Norway
Norwegian working conditions are very good; satisfaction and salary levels are well above the European average, while employees usually receive 21-25 days of annual leave per year. The working week is around 40 hours in length; anything above this is legally defined as overtime, which is often paid at time-and-a-half. Working hours are generally from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.
The work culture is characterised by a flat structure in which employees are empowered to work autonomously, with decisions typically made democratically. The dress code is often informal.
Despite these positives, Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world in which to live. In addition, the personal income tax deduction rate is currently 39%, with National Insurance set at 7.8%.