Posted in 2012, however a lot of the points are still relevant today.
This post has been a long time coming. We get asked over and over again ‘Can I find this or that job in Norway’ and ‘How much money will I get’. Sometimes I feel like a magic 8 ball – ‘ask me later’. From now on everyone who wants to find out if they will get a job with such-an-such education, with such-and-such experience and get what wage, will be directed here so they can hopefully read, even study, the information they need rather than blindly asking us every day.
There are two types of jobs in Norway – educated and uneducated.
To get an educated job you need at least a bachelor degree from a recognized and quality university. Many universities, especially from the Balkans or un-heard of universities in some obscure little corner of the world, are not recognized in Norway. Even some degrees from England are not recognized in Norway. Your university should meet the EU standards of education. Your degree must be at least 3 or 4 years long with enough theoretical and quality weighting for it to be considered. If you got your degree at some back alley online university in Thailand then your degree will likely not be recognized. University or college certificate level, no matter what level, are generally not good enough to be considered for degree requiring jobs. If you want a good chance at getting a good job in Norway it is best to have a masters degree from a well known university.
To gain recognition in Norway for your university qualifications you need to get accreditation. NOKUT is the Norwegian organization who is the authority on accreditation: http://www.nokut.no/en/
Having higher education will give you more options to search for work. It is financially safer for you to apply for jobs before coming to Norway. If you look for jobs while inside Norway it will cost you a lot of money and time. The cities (and work) is spread out over the country and you will likely have to travel all over the country for interviews costing lots of money. The people who hire educated workers normally have time to look for good candidates. Usually educated workers start after three months from being hired so if you have got a job in Norway while in your home country you will have time to move to Norway and settle in before starting work. Your employer might even give you a financial relocation bonus. If you are already in Norway, you will have to wait until your jobs starts and pay for another four months of living before your first pay check.
If employers are looking for international workers they will advertise internationally and quite often in English. Universities are a big employer of international workers. So are the oil, computing and health industries. In most cases your contract will require you to learn Norwegian. Knowing Norwegian is a big plus in getting a job in Norway but it will take you at least seven years of regular study before you could know Norwegian well enough. Don’t kid yourself. Going for jobs that require you to know the markets, systems, law, language, culture and people of Norway such as marketing, sales, tourism, accounting, banking, is like running on water – a waste of time and effort. Don’t go for such jobs unless you are aboslutely sure you know the markets, system, law, language, culture and people of Norway.
There are many uneducated jobs in Norway, mostly some form of cleaning, child care or farming. To get these jobs it is easier to already be in Norway. They are advertised in local newspapers, on boards and online. These jobs get filled quickly so employers won’t wait for you to get your immigration papers approved. You will need to be approved already to live in Norway. These jobs are very hard to get as there is an influx of eastern europeans crossing the border, living here for three months at a time in hope of getting any work they can. Some travel here with no money and live on the street. If you have education it will be hard to get employed in a uneducated position because the employer knows that as soon as something better comes up for you you will leave. Employers want people uneducated for uneducated jobs as they will likely stay longer in their cleaning/farming/day care job. If you decide to stay in Norway to look for a job it will cost you lots of money if you don’t want to live on the street. This is a huge risk without any guarantee of getting a job. Many people return to their home country poor and beaten by Norway.
We get asked a lot by readers ‘Will I get a job in Norway…’. The answer we want to say is ‘no’ but we don’t want to destroy peoples hopes. The bottom line is, if you do not have the capacity to study it out yourself if you will likely get a job or not then you are not a good candidate for employers in Norway. We have provided good information about jobs, environment and wages and still we get asked simple questions by ‘highly qualified’ people: ‘I have a masters in ocean engineering and a bachelor in ocean geography with ten years experience as a foreman of deep sea drilling – will I get a job in Norway, what job can I get and how much will it pay?’ Honestly, if you don’t know your own industry and how to get a job in it, you will likely not get a job in Norway.
We understand that uneducated people need help to get work in Norway – they should first check out nav.no – but if you have a degree from a university and yet you cannot figure out for yourself the most simplest things on getting a job in Norway, such as what is the government job agency and how to apply for a workers visa, then you are not what Norwegian employers are looking for. (Yes, I am repeating – but it is important!) Employers need competent, tough survivors that can make it in the toughest of climates being isolated from society because of the language. If you have to ask us rather than researching yourself you will not survive Norway. In Norway you will be on your own, there will be no one to help you understand the language, to help you shop, to know the law, to know the systems unless you speak Norwegian or have a Norwegian relative that will help you.
There is a difference between dreaming and reality. If you dream to have lots of money and a good life in Norway for you and your family, then it is just a dream. If you do all you can to get a good quality education recognized in Norway, learn the language, visit on holiday and try to immerse yourself in the culture then it is likely that your dream can become reality. I would say you’d be setting yourself up for the best possible chances of a life in Norway.
Lets look at wages in Norway. The wages below are in yearly incomes in Norwegian kroner. They are not based on official government statistics, they are my from my personal knowledge.
NOK 0 – 350,000
Poverty wage is anything below 230,000. Most basic out-of-high-school wages are 230,000-280,000. Expect 250,000 if you work at supermarkets, gas stations, fishing/farming, child care centres, retail and cleaning services, even cooks and most trades at entry level. Expect up to 280,000 if you have some responsibility in these jobs or are in hospitality/tourism. This is barely enough to live on in Norway. A family cannot survive on this without financial help from the government – both parents will have to work. Expect to get this if you don’t have a university education.
NOK 350,000 – 430,000
The bottom end is a fresh-out-of-university wage. It is also a trial wage. By Norwegian law employers have up to six months to trial their employees and as such can pay them a lesser wage. New teachers, IT, nurses/health, engineers, office/admin, trade workers and uneducated managers (like in retail) expect this wage. This is generally the top wage for leaders and managers who are uneducated. For a family to live, buying a house and a car, both parents must work and bring in this wage.
NOK 430,000 – 650,000
The bottom end is for leaders and managers in the health and education, IT, office/admin sectors – basically people with experience and it is the bottom end for master grads, also for experienced teachers/nurses and engineers. The bottom to mid is for banking, finance and business, leaders in the local government and new middle-management in oil/mining. The high end is for dentists, doctors and veterinarians in the government sector, university researchers/new professors, oil/mining industry leaders and leaders in engineering. Most Norwegians aim to be in this bracket for a comfortable life. Still, both parents need to work to maintain a stereotypical Norwegian lifestyle.
Lawyers, judges, international diplomates, leaders in medicine, government, banking, higher education, oil/mining sector, – some high risk jobs and ‘inconvenient jobs’ hit this mark. etc.
So – long story short – if you are uneducated, expect less than 280,000. If you have a bachelor degree expect 350,000 – 430,000 at the beginning. If you have a masters degree expect 430,000 – 650,000 at the beginning. And if you are the best in your field in a money rich industry expect 650,000+.
If I haven’t mentioned your exact industry above, relate it to a similar industry to find out a guestimate of earning potential.
I hope those wondering if they ‘will get a job in Norway’ and ‘how much they will earn’ will read all this post to get a better idea rather than just ‘throwing it to the wind’. One of the most important things to remember about getting any job is no matter how prepared and well educated you may be, luck and timing is still added to the equation.
We wish you the best of luck in your job searching efforts in Norway and hope this post has come to you with good timing.