Introduction

Jobs for foreigners in Norway

Norway is not a member of the EU, but has signed the European Economic Area agreement, which means EU citizens can travel freely to Norway to work.

Norway was traditionally dependant upon its agricultural industry as the country's main source of income. However, during the last century, Norway has become a high-tech country that plays an important role in the world economy.

Norway boasts great working conditions, and the unemployment rate is well below the European average. Average wages in Norway tend to be higher than in the rest of Europe and workers are entitled to several weeks of paid holidays per year. All of these factors contribute to Norwegian employees being generally satisfied with their work conditions.

Jobs for foreigners in Norway

For foreigners however, the Norwegian job market is a different story, and they may find it difficult to find a job in Norway. Immigration into Norway has only grown in the last few years, and previously, Norway never had a tradition of immigration. This results in Norwegian employers feeling quite reluctant to hire foreigners.

Almost everyone in Norway is of Norwegian descent, which makes competition even more fierce for foreigners trying to find work there. Many foreigners in Norway report a general “fear of foreigners”. In comparison to Norwegian workers, it is usually much more difficult for foreigners to find work which corresponds to their education and their previous work experience. For example, doctors often have to repeat a lot of their coursework before finding a suitable job and engineers have been known to end up working as janitors.

You can increase your chance of finding employment in Norway if you apply for jobs within certain sectors of the economy, mainly in tourism, fisheries, services and the oil and gas industries.

Norwegian language prerequisites

There are many large foreign companies who operate in Norway (mostly in the oil and gas industries) where the working language is English. For this reason, jobs in these industries may appeal more to foreigners. If you apply for seasonal jobs, agricultural jobs (e.g. strawberry picking) or unskilled jobs, fluency is also not mandatory.

For the vast majority of jobs in Norway, however, fluency in Norwegian is usually an essential prerequisite. You can find Norwegian language courses in every Norwegian city, and you should note that depending upon what job you are applying for, enrolment in Norwegian courses may be compulsory.

For example, if your work permit allows you to apply for permanent residency in Norway, you must complete at least 300 hours of Norwegian language classes. This rule also applies to any dependants that you bring to Norway on your work permit. If your work permit does not lead to permanent residency in Norway, Norwegian courses are not mandatory, although they are very useful.

Further reading

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