Working in Norway
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Find out how to get a job and work in Norway
Norway offers lots of business opportunities, particularly in the fields of oil and gas production. The competition from within the country is fierce, but our guide is full of useful advice for expats set on working in Norway. Read on for information regarding expat employment opportunities, social security, and more.
Employment in Norway
At a Glance:
- The Norwegian economy is stable, despite recent falling oil prices, and encourages foreign investment with its vast natural oil and fish reserves.
- There are ample opportunities to find work in your desired field in Norway, with online resources provided by the Norwegian Welfare and Labor Administration.
- Working in Norway comes with the advantage of a modern welfare system — expats can enjoy healthcare, pension rights, and more.
- Generally, every person who lives in Norway is covered under the National Insurance Scheme and must contribute in order to receive social security benefits.
Norway: An Oil-Rich Land
Expats in Norway experience an economy in which welfare capitalism and a combination of free government activity and government intervention play a significant role. Natural resources, such as petroleum, hydropower, and natural gas, provide jobs to many Norwegians as well as expats seeking employment.
The petroleum sector is the one of the largest contributors to Norway’s economy, with 36% of foreign trade export value in 2016 coming from crude oil, natural gas, and pipeline transportation. It is estimated that 52% of the total petroleum resources still remain on the Norwegian continental shelf, and the total cash flow from petroleum industries in Norway totaled 128 billion NOK.
As a potential expat destination, Norway is an excellent choice, with abundant employment opportunities in the oil industry. In 2017, the petroleum sector offered jobs for about 7% of the country’s population.
However, Norway’s successful offshore crude oil industries have suffered a crisis since 2014, in the form of falling oil prices. Statoil, Norway’s mostly state-owned oil company and responsible for 70% of its petroleum production, reported its first losses since 2001. Despite job losses in the region of 50,000, reported from 2014 to 2017, the industry has reduced costs in the production of oil, and it is showing signs of increased stability and recovery.
Norway’s Energy Resources
After hydrocarbon deposits had been discovered off Norway’s shores in the 1960s, Norway emerged as a major oil and gas producer in the 1970s. Since then, the petroleum sector has grown and, as described above, contributed significantly to Norway’s economy.
However, Norway is an environmentally conscious country and heavily invests in renewable energy options, mainly hydropower. Norwegian hydropower is responsible for 98% of the country’s electricity production per year, with wind power and thermal power comprising the remaining 2%.
Norway is one of the top five largest oil exporters globally and accounts for around 20% of gas consumption in Europe. In addition to revenues from the export of oil and gas products, the offshore production has triggered economic growth onshore. Expats in Norway benefit greatly from the country’s thriving, stable economy and the high quality of life.
The Healthy Job Market
After a rise in unemployment rates in 2016, the number of unemployed people in Norway has fallen and currently sits at 4.3% (June 2017). The country maintains overall employment stability: since 1997 the unemployment rate has never been higher than 4.9%.
Norway’s mainland economy, which mainly excludes oil and gas industries, is developing — allowing the country to rely less on offshore activities. Norway’s machinery-based manufacturing output has increased due to lower unemployment, and the government has made significant progress in encouraging foreign investment in Norway.
While Norway’s economy is on the rise and more jobs are available, the number of well-trained job applicants from inside and outside the country is also increasing. This is not only due to the many expats who are looking for a job in Norway but also the excellent Norwegian education system which produces future employees.
It is therefore wise to look for potential employment in industries which are struggling from shortage of skills. These include, but are not limited to: nursing and healthcare, IT, fisheries, tourism, transportation (especially shipping), building and construction, and engineering.
Working Hours, Holidays, and Parental Leave
Expatriates in Norway benefit from generally good working conditions, thanks to strict laws regarding working hours and pay. While the details of your employment should, of course, always be listed in your job contract, these rules that apply to all people in Norway can be found online, in case you have any doubts.
It is important for expats to note that there is no national minimum wage per hour in Norway. There are, however, minimum rates of pay for some sectors, such as construction, agriculture, some transportation industries, and fisheries. To find out what you ought to be paid, check the full list of wage requirements.
An average employee in Norway should not work more than 40 hours per week and nine hours per day, according to the Working Environment Act. If your job requires that you work shifts, nights or Sundays, normal working hours are either 38 or 36. If you must put in additional hours, you are legally entitled to overtime compensation, within the limits of 13 hours work per 24 hours and 48 hours per seven days.
It is possible to agree alternative weekly working hours with your employer on a fixed average basis for a period of up to a year, as long as the number of hours does not exceed the normal limits. Further details regarding specific instances can be found within the NAV’s Work in Norway Official Guide.
Norway has ten national holidays each year, including Labor Day (1 May) and Constitution Day (17 May), and they are usually a cause for celebration. All weekdays, including Saturdays, are working days in Norway; however, public holidays and Sundays are excluded. Everyone is entitled to at least 25 days of paid leave per year, with over 60s allowed one extra week.
In terms of gender-equal parental leave, Norway is one of the front-runners in Europe. Working parents are entitled to 49 or 59 weeks of parental leave, at 100% or 80% of their full salary respectively. Parental allowance is distributed between maternal leave, paternal leave, and shared leave. This equates to ten weeks for mothers, ten for fathers, and either 26 or 36 shared weeks.
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Business Life in Norway
Finding a Job in Norway
The job search is not always easy for those who wish to work abroad. However, the government provides resources to help expats to work and settle down in Norway. The NAV (Norwegian Labor and Welfare Administration) holds the largest Norwegian vacancy database, with English-speaking positions to be found by simply searching ‘English’. The NAV-produced Work in Norway Official Guide offers step-by-step support with the process of finding work and settling down, as well as information about employment contracts, pay, and hours.
Alternatively, the EURES (European Employment Services), finn.no, and Jobs in Norway are other useful job databases. You may also be able to find open positions in Norway’s biggest national newspaper for job listings: Aftenposten. The NAV has a list of private recruitment agencies that cover several industries and offer help with the competitive Norwegian job market.
Personal contacts and recommendations play a vital role in the job search as many positions in Norway are not advertised. It is sometimes worth getting creative and contacting companies directly after having researched your industry.
Of course, it is invaluable to have personal connections in Norway, who may be able to recommend or introduce you to certain people. If you are a brand-new expat, you may also want to use the first weeks of your stay to do casual work, learn Norwegian, and build a business network.
The main hurdle for expats is that most work requires you to be fluent or have some proficiency in Norwegian. Without language skills your options will be rather limited. To work in Norway, it is not compulsory to learn Norwegian, though, unless you wish to apply for a permanent residence, and are not from an EU or EEA member state or another Nordic country.
If you would like to get started on your own, check out Norwegian on the Web. This online course, originally created for international students by the University of Trondheim, offers ten free language lessons for beginners.
Some of the top industries in Norway include oil and gas operations, as well as fishing and banking services. The technology sector also has a large growth rate. Companies with the highest turnovers in Norway are, for example, Statoil, Norsk Hydro, Telenor, Yara International, and DNB — covering the oil and gas, construction, telecommunications, and banking sectors.
If your job search approach is to contact major companies directly, you can look in the Norwegian company directory refer to the Norwegian Yellow Pages, or contact the Norwegian Chamber of Commerce in your home country.
Be Modest and Casual
When doing business in Norway, remember that egalitarianism is one of the cornerstones of Norwegian culture. Thus, it is important that you don’t come off as overconfident or even arrogant. Try to remain modest and do not flaunt your wealth or education.
Although doing business is a rather casual endeavor in Norway, you should still make sure to remain on a surname basis with your business partners and greet one another with a firm handshake. Most importantly, ensure to never be late to a meeting, both in business and social settings — punctuality is of high importance to Norwegians.
At the same time, however, communication styles are quite easy-going and informal, such as in business meetings. It goes without saying, of course, that it is still important to remain professional, polite, and respectful. Norwegians are true straight-shooters who don’t beat around the bush during business negotiations. Don’t be put off by that!
Social Security in Norway
While working in Norway, you are usually covered under the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme from your first day of work, providing that you contribute to the scheme. As a result, you are eligible to receive health services and contribute to Norway’s pension scheme, among other services and benefits (e.g. unemployment benefits or parental leave). If you are exempt from the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme, you need to provide proof that you belong to a similar social security scheme in your home country.
Not all expats are covered, however, as different rules apply to EU or EEA nationals, non-EEA nationals, and expats from countries with a bilateral social security agreement. Citizens from a country outside of the EU or EEA should check if Norway has a social security agreement with their country.
EU or EEA citizens are automatically members of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme unless they have been posted from their home country as a short-term employee. If that is the case, you are not entitled to NAV health benefits, but you can claim health services for your home country’s account.
For specific social security enquiries, the NAV offer English-speaking telephone helplines.
Agreements about Social Security
Expats who are not citizens of the EU or EEA but live in a country with a social security agreement with Norway should refer to the specific agreement. In general, you should be covered under the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme, but different rules may apply in some cases. If you have been posted abroad as an employee, you are usually exempted from the pensions section, but are covered under the health services section.
Non-EEA countries that have a reciprocal social security agreement with Norway include:
- Bosnia & Herzegovina
Are you a national from a non-EEA country without a social security agreement? You are automatically covered under the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme. Your membership entitles you to claim health benefits and earn pension rights among other benefits.