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Working in Edinburgh

Moving to Edinburgh for work will bring you to the UK’s strongest local economies. In our guide to working in Edinburgh, we’ll provide you with an overview of the Scottish capital region. Find essential information on the job market, visa options, self-employment, and social security below!
Financial institutions, such as the Bank of Scotland, are a key part of Edinburgh’s economy.

As mentioned in our guide on moving to Edinburgh, the city is one of the UK’s most prosperous regions outside London. Edinburgh – where banking looks back on over 300 years of tradition – is not only the second largest financial center in the country: The local economy also boasts a fairly strong service sector in general.

The Service Industry: Fields of Employment

Though banking in particular is still recovering from the impact of several global crises, finance, insurance, and law still offer plenty of employment opportunities to those working in Edinburgh. If you’re an expat lawyer, however, please take note: Practicing law in Scotland may require special qualifications. Even if you are qualified to work in the legal profession in England, you should consider that Scotland has a different legal system.

As the capital is Scotland’s #1 tourist destination, the travel and tourism industry is another key sector. In addition to domestic and international visitors flocking to the summer festival season, the city attracts lots of business travelers and conference guests.

Moreover, the four local universities are in need of administrative, technical, and academic staff. If you should be interested in working in Edinburgh as a lecturer or researcher, the fields of medicine, law, engineering, computing, business, and the natural sciences are particularly strong.

The city has also invested in establishing a new business park, west of the town center and fairly close to the international airport. After the new tramline opened in June 2014, the park has its own stop now. The area is the seat of such companies as Fujitsu, the British Telecom, and Agilent Technologies (a manufacturer of measurement instruments for the biotech, electronics, and chemical industries).

The Labor Market: Essential Data

Generally speaking, Edinburgh seems to attract numerous highly qualified people. According to local statistics, over 50% of all employed residents aged 25-64 have at least a bachelor’s degree.

The unemployment rate is slightly lower than the Scottish average: In 2013, only 6.7% of the local working population were out of a job, as opposed to 7.7% in all of Scotland. However, the construction sector, as well as the financial industry, is still struggling to some extent with the aftermath of the 2008/2009 recession.

Local Top Employers

Expats keen on working in Edinburgh should be aware that the public sector is one of the biggest local employers. It creates about 25% of all job opportunities in Edinburgh.

Especially if you have previous experience in healthcare, this might be a good option for you. Health and social work is the top local sector by employees; the biggest single employer in the entire area is NHS Lothian, the public healthcare agency.

The other top 10 sectors by the number of employees working in Edinburgh are as follows:

  • wholesale, retail
  • finance
  • education
  • accommodation, food services
  • professional, technical, scientific services
  • administration, support services
  • public administration, defense, social security
  • ICT
  • transport, storage
  • arts, entertainment, recreation

Job Hunting in Scotland

If you are looking for a job in Edinburgh or one of the nearby towns and cities, the resources below will serve as a useful starting point:

  • Reed UK, Monster UK, and Indeed UK are the respective UK versions of well-known international job sites.
  • Jobsin Edinburgh is an online database specifically aimed at English-speaking expats.
  • Both The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph, two of the UK’s biggest national newspapers, offer online job ads that cover the entire country.
  • S1Jobs is one of the biggest job sites for the Scottish employment market.
  • Don’t forget to check some print sources, too: The Scotsman (Edinburgh) and The Herald (Glasgow) are Scotland’s most influential newspapers. The Scotsman also provides its own career section online whereas The Herald cooperates with S1.com.
  • The Daily Telegraph and The Times both publish a special Scottish print edition, with a dedicated classifieds section.
  • While The Guardian and The Financial Times don’t have extra publications for Scotland, plenty of Edinburgh-based employers still choose to advertise their job openings there.

Best of luck for your job search abroad! If you want to know more about working in Edinburgh, for instance about work visas, self-employment, or social security, just explore the rest of our city guide.

Our Expat Guide to the UK also includes a section on jobs and business. You might be especially interested in such topics as applying for a job in the UK and British business culture


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

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