Working In Norway


Being largely dependent on exports, the modern Norwegian economy is internation­ally oriented. Norway's main target markets are the other European, above all, the other Nordic countries. Next to the traditional industries of shipbuilding and water­power, the new branches of communication technology and software development have also become supporting pillars of the country's economy. In addition to that, plentiful natural resources such as crude oil, natural gas and also fish resources are factors that contribute to Norway's economic growth.

Compared with other countries, Norway has a very high labor force participation rate. Norway is one of the countries with the highest female employment rates in the world, the country's retirement age of 67 years is rather high, and its unemployment rate is only about 4 per cent. In addition, the Norwegian government is conducting an active employment policy with high-quality qualification and employment schemes. Even Norway's medium-term prospects are quite sound. However, owing to the country's dependence on the price of crude oil, longer-term forecasts are rather difficult to provide.

There is a surprising manpower shortage in some industries, especially in tourism (in regard to specially trained cooks and waiters) as well as in the country's health sector (in regard to qualified personnel, doctors and dentists). In addition to this, craftsmen, technicians and engineers are always sought after by the country's building and manifacturing industries.

There is an increasing demand for qualified personnel in the area of drilling, for service technicians, for engineers with a university degree (drilling, wells, electronic facilities etc.) and also for geologists and geophysicists. In these areas, some companies even recruit staff from abroad. However, one should never forget that job offers of this kind are not always to be taken at face value.

If you don't speak any Norwegian, you may sometimes get along with a good command of English, though this may vary according to which industrial sector is under consideration. In addition to this, you shouldn't forget that the cost of living in Norway is higher than in many other European countries. This is true especially for food (sausage, meat etc.) but also for stimulants such as alcohol and tobacco. It is also true for cosmetics.

Residence permit and work permit

For the second time since 1972, the Norwegian populace in 1994 decided against joining the EU. However, due to the fact that Norway is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), the principles of both freedom of movement as well as the European laws dealing with competition apply in that country. This means that immigrants are required by law to apply for a residence permit after having stayed in Norway for three months. This permit, with a period of validity of up to five years, will be issued by the Foreign Police office or by the proper embassy or consulate. Once you have found a job and a place of residence, you are required to register at the people's registry office (Folkeregisteret) where you will be assigned a Norwegian identification number (Per­sonnummer).

Looking for jobs

People looking for a job in Norway can apply for jobs advertised online, for instance via StepStone or on the website of "Aetat", the national Norwegian employment ser­vice.

Due to the fact that in a lot of cases Norwegian employers do not advertise jobs, even a job advertisement in a daily paper such as "Aftenposten" may be helpful. Unsolicited applications are even better. In fact, they are common practice.

Your application documents should consist of a short letter and a curriculum vitae (without a photo), but don't forget to include certificates and references. Submit only certificates that have been translated into Norwegian. Make sure that your former employers can provide detailed information on your job performance.

Living circumstances

Social insurance

Like all Scandinavian states, Norway is well-known for its tightly woven social net­work. Thirty-five per cent of the country's public money is expended for the health and social welfare sectors. A certain percentage of one's wage or salary is automatically deducted for social insurance. However, self-employed businesspeople pay higher contributions. Unemployed persons and students, who do not pay any dues, are nonetheless entitled to medical care. Health care is provided according to need, not according to a patient's purse. The amount that patients have to pay extra is limited. Employees are eligible for sickness benefit, starting from their very first day of sickness. The amount is fully paid by employers up to the 16th day of sickness. Af­ter that, it will be covered by the social insurance carrier, however not to the full extent. In a lot of cases, the difference will be compensated by the employer.