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Working 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.

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.

Minimum Wage

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.

Working Hours

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.

Public Holidays

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.

Parental Leave

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.


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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