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Working in Austria
Your Guide on Jobs and Finding Work in Austria
Working in Austria might be your dream at the moment but there are some facts about the job market you need to know before you can make the move. Expats should be aware that the country is facing labor shortages in certain areas and local employers are appealing for talent from inside the country as well as abroad, which could present foreigners with the perfect opportunity for moving to the Alpine country.
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Austria’s job market relies heavily on industries, such as building and construction, tourism, motor vehicle production, electronics, food, and transportation. The textile industry is also key to the country’s financial stability. In fact, Austria has the 12th largest economy in the world despite current concerns surrounding the supply of workers.
Working days in Austria will be familiar to most Westerners—people tend to work Monday to Friday and have Saturdays and Sundays for leisure time. Later in this guide, we will help you understand how best to find a job in Austria, what it is like working as a self-employed person, and information about average salaries and social security.
How to Get a Job in Austria
Currently, you might not have to worry about how to get a job in Austria as a foreigner, as demand for new talent is high. Companies have even held job fairs to attract refugees. In fact, one particular event held in Vienna was attended by most of the leading employers in Austria, including Telekom Austria, Austrian Federal Railways (OeBB), the construction company Porr, and the country’s leading postal service, Austrian Post. Now, it appears that job opportunities in Austria for foreigners are in plentiful supply.
Working in Austria as a Foreigner
In 2018, the Austrian government refused to join the United Nations’ migration agreement, however, it is still straightforward for most people, EU and non-EU citizens alike, to pave their way in the Alpine country.
Part of Austria’s reasoning behind not joining the UN’s migration agreement was to avoid illegal migration. Despite this, Austria accepted one of the biggest shares of asylum seekers in Europe’s 2015 migration crisis. No matter where you come from, having a good grasp of the German language will give you a better chance of getting a job in Austria.
If you plan to work in the capital Vienna, there should be ample job opportunities in industries, like research, IT, tourism, and the service industry. And if you are from an EU or EEA country, you will be able to live and work in Austria without a special work permit or visa.
The Red-White-Red Card
If you come from outside the EU or EEA, you are considered a third country national. This means you will need a Red-White-Red Card. This card (or permit) allows qualified workers to stay and work at the same company in Austria for 24 months. If you start working for another company during this time, you will have to re-apply for the card.
Also, if you have a family, they can apply for the Red-White-Red Card too, but you will need to prove you earn enough to support them. As of January 1, 2019, the minimum monthly salaries required based on different family circumstances were as follows (note that social benefits are not taken into account):
- single persons must earn at least 933 EUR (1,034 USD)
- married couples must earn at least 1,399 EUR (1,550 USD)
- for each child, you must earn an additional 144 (160 USD)
Other Requirements for Working in Austria
- To get the Red-White-Red Card, you must have health insurance, that covers all risks in Austria.
- You must have proof of accommodation in Austria, which includes a notice period.
- You must show proof of a secure livelihood.
How to Apply for a Job in Austria
Remember that the Austrian business community is relatively small and if you are not discreet, news of your moves in the job market, such as job applications and interviews, could spread.
So, try to focus on the quality rather than the quantity of your applications to minimize the chances of outside influences getting in the way of your dream job.
Austrian employers are generally familiar with standard resume or CV (curriculum vitae) types that are found throughout most of Western Europe and North America. Acceptable resumes in Austria are usually one or two pages long. It is also advisable to have your CV in German if possible, however this is not necessary for every job.
What to Include in Your Austrian-Style CV
- In Austria, it is common practice to include a professional-looking image of yourself at the top of your resume. It does not need to be large, at most half a page wide, and it only needs to show your head and shoulders. If possible, have a professional photographer take a photo of you wearing attire that is appropriate for the type of jobs you want to apply for, and always err on the side of smart, formal clothing. A simple white shirt or blouse is generally a safe option, but something more relaxed, like a monotone polo shirt, or dress, might be acceptable if you are applying for a creative job or to work at a start-up.
- Be sure to include your contact information with your home address, phone number, e-mail address, and date of birth.
- Write your educational history, including any college, university, and higher study. Also include other relevant training, qualifications, and certificates.
- Include information about each job you have had that is relevant to the role you are applying for. If you have only had one or two jobs, or voluntary positions, then add those as they may demonstrate transferrable skills.
- If you want to share a little more about yourself, it is acceptable to mention some of your hobbies and interests. Even better if these are related to the job to which you are applying.
Austria Cover Letter Tips
A cover letter can be the key to securing a job interview and even provide the magic to eventually land the job of your dreams in Austria. Here is what you should include in your cover letters when applying for jobs in the country:
- If you have some German language skills and you are applying to an Austrian company, make sure to mention this in your cover letter. If the job is in communications or a field where you will need to speak German, be sure to mention it in both documents and emphasize how it will help you perform your tasks. If you do not know German, try to attend some lessons before you move to Austria. You should also be aware that the German used in Austria can be difficult to understand, even for native German speakers from Germany.
- You can start your cover letter by explaining what job you are applying for, where you found it, and why it interests you.
- After this intro, briefly describe yourself and what you are looking for in a few paragraphs.
- Find the key points in the job description and explain how you match these requirements.
- Try to keep your cover letter to no more than one side of an A4 paper.
- Include any required references and highlight your qualifications that match the job description.
When interviewing for a job in Austria, you can expect to be asked some of the following questions:
- Tell me about a time when you faced a difficult challenge and how you were able to achieve it. If you did not succeed, what did you learn from the situation?
- Give an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead.
- If you had a personal issue with a colleague, and it was affecting your work, how would you deal with the situation?
- If you noticed a colleague was having a hard time at work, what would you do?
- Tell me about your biggest achievements at work.
- Do you already live in Austria? If not, when will you arrive?
- Do you need a visa or work permit to work in Austria?
- Why do you want to move to Austria? (Interviewers may ask this to see how serious you are about the opportunity.)
- Expect the interview to last 30 to 60 minutes.
- Make sure to arrive at the interview at least ten minutes early.
- Memorize the contents of your resume and other information you provided because these details will form the basis of the questions you are asked.
- Expect a formal, respectful interview, and remain professional.
- If you are already living in Austria and find a job that you like, it is worth asking your local friends if they know of the company or if they know anyone working for the company. This can help give you an idea of what the hiring manager will be looking for in an ideal candidate. Avoid contacting the hiring manager directly though as, in Austria, this could be seen as overstepping a professional boundary.
- Join the InterNations online and offline community, in expat social networks, such as InterNations, to meet people already living in Austria. They can tell you what it is like to work in the country and the best ways to get a job in Austria as a foreigner.
- Attend networking events. If possible, visit an event in Austria before you move there permanently. This way, you can find out more about the industry you want to work in and how things operate there.
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Minimum Wage and Average Salary
The average monthly net salary in Austria is 1,848 EUR (2,369 USD) while the average monthly gross salary is 2,688 EUR (2,996 USD).
There is no nationwide agreed minimum wage in Austria. However, in 2017, the social partners (part of the Social Partnership) in Austria agreed to implement a monthly gross minimum wage of 1,500 EUR for all sectors by 2020.
What is a Good Salary in Austria?
As the average annual salary is approximately 32,250 EUR (35,964 USD), anything above that could be considered a good salary. Nevertheless, the following jobs tend to provide higher than average salaries.
Top Salaries in Austria
- Executive Management & Change: 90,590 EUR (101,000 USD)
- Financial Services: 84,300 EUR (94,000 USD)
- Marketing, Product & Communications: 80,700 EUR (90,000 USD)
- Finance Control & Strategy: 75,000 EUR (83,000 USD)
- Consulting, Accounting & Professional Services: 69,000 EUR (77,000 USD)
- Sales & Business Development: 63,700 EUR (71,000 USD)
The Most In-Demand Jobs and How Much They Pay (Average Annual Salary)
If you are looking to take up self-employment in Austria, please be aware that there are certain steps of the initial process that will require German language skills. So, if you do not speak German, consider getting help from a friend or human resources professional. For a truly easy relocation experience, consider using the expert settling-in and language training services of InterNations GO! to provide all the help you need.
How to be Self-Employed in Austria
To be self-employed in Austria, you have to be at least 18 years of age. Also, you must reside in Austria and be free of current or previous criminal convictions.
You also need to contact the relevant municipal authority or district commission to get a trade permit (or trade license). There are a range of trade permits depending on the type of work the self-employed person will do.
Any activity performed independently with the aim of earning income is seen as a trade in Austria. In Austria, there are free traders who perform their business without formal qualifications, and regulated traders who have gained certificates.
As a self-employed person, you will have to pay income tax (Einkommensteuer) but not earning tax (Lohnsteuer).
The Austrian authorities recommend you seek information about self-employment from the Austrian Economic Chamber (Wirtschaftskammer or WKO). The WKO helps those starting a business in the country from their initial business idea to financing and insurance. You can take workshops, individual consultations, attend special events, and talk with experts.
How to Set Up as a Freelancer
- Go to your nearest WKO in Austria to register.
- You will need to bring your passport, proof of address, a criminal record, your birth certificate, and marriage certificate, if applicable. The criminal record can come from a police department in Vienna, or from your home country.
- You will be charged an annual fee of around 100 EUR (110 USD).
- You must pay an annual business fee and a tourism tax.
- You must contribute to social security. Expect to receive forms to complete to sign up for social security several weeks after registering with the WKO.
- If you are not totally confident dealing with your finances and taxes alone, you can employ an assistant. They will manage your tax, social security, and VAT.
- Be advised that you will pay VAT and social security every three months.
Top Self-Employed Jobs in Austria
Some of the most popular freelancer jobs in Austria are:
- marketing assistant
- business project manager
- web developer
- insurance inspector
- social media assistant
- graphic designer
- administrative assistant
Self-Employed Benefits in Austria
If you work as a self-employed person in Austria, you will not have to pay tax until you earn 11,000 EUR (12,270 USD). Also, self-employed workers can insure themselves against the risk of unemployment.
In Austrian business culture, values like punctuality, privacy, and organization are very important. Hierarchy is also generally valued highly, so the flat work teams you might have experienced elsewhere will be rarer. Titles matter here and there are clearly-defined responsibilities for each member of staff and department.
Austria’s Working Culture
If you are going to work in Austria, there are a few particulars about the work culture that you should keep in mind.
- Academic achievement and experience in the relevant industry is highly-regarded, and it usually decides who is given the most senior roles.
- Staff in Austria generally feel a responsibility for the company for which they work as soon as they join.
- Decisions usually follow a traditional route and are made in line with common rules.
- You might find that there are more female professionals than in other parts of the world.
- Do not be surprised if business takes longer to conduct than in other countries. This is just the way things are here.
- Workers like to take their time to make the right decision based on the knowledge they have gained, which means risk-taking or making a choice based on a “gut feeling” is rare.
- In Austria, you are more respected if you stick by your word. It is important to avoid promising something you cannot fulfil.
- The average working week is 40 hours, but at the maximum it can go up to 48 hours. It is a legal requirement to give employees a break for lunch. Holidays, overtime, and weekend pay vary depending on the company.
- Health and safety in the workplace are maintained with the help of stringent laws.
- You can expect to receive sick pay and severance pay.
Austria’s Workplace Culture Dress Code
Workers in Austria tend to dress relatively conservatively. To fit in, you should avoid revealing clothing or unusually bright colors and patterns. Suits and shirts will work well for men, while smart trousers and a blouse, or a simple dress, is acceptable for women. Dark colors are preferred. It is best to dress more formally when you initially start your job and then get a better idea of the level of formality during your employment.
Social Security and Benefits
Austrian social insurance numbers (also known as insurance numbers and SV, SVNR, VSNR, and VNR numbers) are ten digits long and allow you to manage your social insurance (social security) account. However, simply having a number does not mean you automatically get social security benefits in Austria.
What is the Social Insurance Number in Austria For?
If you are eligible for social insurance, this will cover your needs regarding prevention, sickness, incapacity for work, maternity, unemployment, old age, survivors’ pensions, nursing care, social need, and the death of a person who would have provided maintenance funds.
If you are employed in Austria, you will be automatically covered by the social insurance system.
How to Get a Social Insurance Number Austria
In Austria, there are 22 insurance institutions that take care of the general public for health, accident, and pension issues. About 15 of these are concerned with just health insurance while the remaining seven focus on general insurance.
Applying for a Social Insurance Number in Austria
If you start working for an employer in Austria, you will automatically be covered by social insurance. You and your employer each contribute half of the cost.
- Your employer must register you at the district health insurance fund (Gebietskrankenkasse).
- If you are self-employed, you must register with social insurance for the industry economy.
- All family members of an employed person in Austria are covered by the worker’s social security insurance.
- Regardless if you are employed or self-employed, you must be registered in an insurance scheme in the social insurance system within seven days of starting work.
- Once you are registered, you will receive your social insurance card (Sozialversicherungskarte) in Austria, which shows your social insurance number and date of birth.
Can a foreigner get a social insurance (security) number in Austria? Yes, as long as you live and work in the country, you can get a social insurance number and benefit from Austria’s social insurance system.
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Maternity and Paternity Leave
Maternity leave in Austria is called Mutterschaftsurlaub. You can collect maternity benefits (Wochengeld) if you have to miss work due to pregnancy. Women are not allowed to work eight weeks before or after their expected due date. If it is believed the birth could have associated risks, this period could be extended to 12 weeks.
As soon as you know you are pregnant, you can get a Mother-Child Pass (Mutter-Kind-Pass) or maternity card from a doctor. This contains helpful information, such as the examinations you need to take prior to and after the birth of your child.
Mothers and fathers are eligible for parental leave for a maximum of two years, as long as the parent taking leave lives in the same household as the child. The minimum parental leave allowed is eight weeks, and parents’ jobs are protected until four weeks after the end of their parental leave.
Fathers can take parental leave in place of their partners up to two times during the total parental leave period. There must be at least eight weeks between each switch. As mentioned previously, the maximum time off parents can take from their jobs is two years.
Maternity Benefits in Austria
Please note that if you want to be eligible for the total child-raising allowance, you must be sure to have all of the examinations that are detailed on your Mutter-Kind-Pass. You should receive maternity benefits for the duration of your maternity leave.
How Long is Maternity Leave in Austria?
Following the period of eight weeks before and after the birth of the child, where the mother receives her full salary, she can claim childcare allowance (Kinderbetreuungsgeld) for up to 24 weeks.
Paternity Leave and Benefits
“Daddy Month” in Austria
Daddy Month is a new law in Austria, which was introduced in September 2019. It allows new fathers to stay off work for a month after the birth of their child. Now, dads will not need the consent of their employer to take the time off, and they will be immune to dismissal and having their contract terminated during this period. Unfortunately, fathers will not be entitled to receive a salary during this time, but they will instead receive a 700 EUR (780 USD) grant from the government. Please note that this grant, if taken, will be deducted from future child support payments during further parental leave in the future.
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