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Milan: Job Search & Working Conditions

Is working in Milan a good option for your career right now? Our guide can help you answer this question. We introduce the regional economy, local working conditions, and social security — a useful overview for expat employees interested in Italy’s business hotspot.
Unfortunately, Milan’s famous car industry has suffered a decline in recent years.

Employment Opportunities: Age and Experience Are Advantages

Despite the turbulent state of the Italian economy, there are still options for expats keen on working in Milan. Plenty of international companies have their headquarters or at least a large branch office in the city. These include, for example, UniCredit, Vodafone, Google, and the Campari Group. Milan is an important location for headhunting and personal services as well.

Even if you are not a foreign assignee, it’s still possible to find work in Milan — the city has a surplus of university graduates, but many educated expats will have an advantage, because most Italian degrees are more theoretical than practical. Therefore, expats are often in a unique position, as they already have more in-depth vocational and practical training. For younger expats-to-be, it is worth bearing in mind that it is notoriously difficult to find work experience and “get your foot in the door” in Italy, hence the “brain-drain” of many young Italian graduates moving abroad.

According to the CEDEFOP’s (European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training) skills forecast for Italy, most of the employment growth up until 2025 will be in the business sector, as Italy is expected to further recover from the effects of the 2008 recession. The distribution and transportation sectors are also set to grow, while the manufacturing and construction industries will remain stable, with growth in certain specialized areas. In jobs that require mostly unskilled labor, though, experts estimate that the number of illegal workers in the informal sector is rather high and keeps on rising.

Tips for Job Seekers in Milan

Contact your home country’s foreign chamber of commerce and ask if they can provide a business directory of their members in the Milan area. Many job vacancies in Italy are never advertised, so this could be a good starting point for unsolicited applications. As far as your own qualifications are concerned, Italian language skills are important: in many jobs, they are essential, and even in international companies, they are a significant bonus. 

If you are not sure whether the HR department of a potential employer will acknowledge your foreign credentials, please get in touch with the Centro Informazione Mobilità, Equivalenze Academiche (CIMEA). The CIMEA is responsible for recognizing foreign qualifications in Italy. In some fields of employment, like health services or education, this may even be a requirement for job seekers from abroad.

Local Working Conditions: Time to Rest & Relax

Once you have landed a job in Milan, you’ll probably want to know more about the working conditions. First, make sure that you have a written employment contract with a detailed job description. It should state the beginning of your employment with the company. For limited or project-based contracts, which are becoming ever more common, it needs to include the end date as well. Moreover, the duration of your trial period should be explicitly mentioned. The legal maximum in Italy is six months.

As for the working hours, 40 hours per week are usual. You can work up to eight hours of overtime a week, but they have to be paid extra. However, as everywhere else, many people — especially in middle and upper management — work far more extra hours, but these are implied to be included in the salary. The legal annual leave amounts to four weeks for full-time employees, but in many jobs, 25 to 30 days are common. In addition to this, you also get a day off on all Italian public holidays — up to another 11 days per year.

High Salaries, High Living Costs

Like annual leave, salaries are often regulated by nationwide collective agreements. In lower-paid positions, this can lead to differences in living standards. The local cost of living is often much lower in the south than in northern regions. Unfortunately, the Milan area is indeed among the priciest places in Italy, so you should take this into account when talking about your salary.

In 2017, the average income in Italy amounted to about 26,000 EUR per year, which is lower than the European average. Wages in Milan remain among the highest in the country, compared to other Italian regions. However, real incomes in Italy are now getting smaller while prices keep rising. The VAT sales tax is set at 22%, which is higher than in many other EU countries.

A potential advantage of working in Milan is that foreign employees are covered by Italy’s social security system. The final part of our guide explains this in greater detail.


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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