How To Get A Job In Norway Without Speaking Norwegian

There are lots of people who are dreaming of moving to Norway to get a job and perhaps even start a new life, but starting a new life in Norway can be a tricky process that can take some time. Finding a job can be challenging if you don’t speak Norwegian, but it’s far from impossible.

It’s definitely possible to get a job in Norway without speaking Norwegian, especially if you have an education. It’s more difficult to find unskilled jobs when you don’t speak Norwegian, but some common jobs you can apply for are in the fields of tourism, service worker (cafés, restaurants, bars), hotels, at farms, and places like that.

You might find it difficult to get a job if you don’t speak Norwegian at all, but there are some places that accept foreigners who don’t speak Norwegian.

Strawberry workers
You don’t have to speak Norwegian to get a job as a strawberry picker. Photo published with permission.

Finding skilled jobs in Norway without speak Norwegian

If you got your university degree, finding a job in Norway is far easier than if you lack education. Generally speaking, not speaking or understanding Norwegian will be less of an issue in fields like IT, higher education / university jobs, in engineering etc. If you have the skills needed for the job, the fact that you don’t speak Norwegian might not be a big problem.

The same goes for trade skills. Carpenters, electricians, and other manual labor skills that require a formal education is in high demand, and you can often find a job without speaking Norwegian at all.

That said, it will be much easier to find jobs in these fields if you do learn some basic Norwegian, so I will encourage you to do so.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that any public sector work theoretically requires a knowledge of Norwegian, since all communication is required by law to be in Norwegian for any public job. This includes working at hospitals, in the municipality and things like that.

Finding jobs in Norway without a formal education and not speaking Norwegian

You will have some trouble if you intend to come to Norway to work and live without any education or formal skills, while also not understanding Norwegian. This will pretty much put you at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to employing new people, but if you are willing to put down the work needed to find a job, then it’s possible.

There are certain industries where it’s more common to hire unskilled workers who do not speak Norwegian, and some places that often accept these types of workers are:

  • Jobs at fastfood places like McDonald’s.
  • Restaurants.
  • Cafés.
  • Agricultural labor, such as harvesting strawberries during the summer.
  • Tourism industries like guiding, or even at souvenir shops.
  • Bars.
  • Cleaning jobs at hotels, stores etc. These are often done at night when the stores are closed.
  • Janitor jobs.
  • Warehouses.
  • Delivering newspapers.

In other words, types of jobs to look out for are “behind the curtain” jobs where you don’t really interact all that much directly with customers or clients.

A café in Bodø
Cafés are popular places to work for non-Norwegian speaking persons. Photo published with permission.

You might have to apply for lots of different jobs before you get hired, because most employers will usually prefer to employ people who speak Norwegian instead of those who do not. The salary they have to pay will be the same, so it’s usually easier for the employer to choose the ones who speak Norwegian, since this will often lead to less misunderstandings, especially if the supervisor isn’t that great in English.

Will having English as a first language help with finding a job in Norway?

Many countries around the world will really value workers who can speak fluently English, but this is not really the case in Norway since everyone learns English in school. Most Norwegians speak and understand enough English to be able to use it when communicating with foreigners, so speaking fluently English will not really make things any easier for you when applying for a job.

As a matter of fact, speaking other languages like German, Spanish or even Chinese can be just as useful, especially when applying for jobs in areas with many tourists. If you speak one of these languages fluently, you have a higher chance of getting hired based on this as a skill compared to if you only speak English.

Learning Norwegian will make it easier to find a job

It is generally very difficult to find a job in Norway without speaking Norwegian, so investing your time in actually learning Norwegian is smart. When you get to a level where you can communicate with your co-workers and clients, finding a job will be a lot easier than before.

Pretty much all Norwegian companies have Norwegian as the working language, even in places where you can be hired without speaking Norwegian (like academia or IT). So you will probably face challenges if you don’t learn Norwegian when working in these industries.

If you dream of coming to Norway to start a new life here, spending your time to learn the Norwegian language before moving will be a good investment in your future. It will make things so much easier for you, both when it comes to finding a job, but also for making it easier to start your new life here.

How to find available jobs in Norway

The most common way to find jobs that you can apply to us to use Finn.no and Nav.no. The first one is a place where Norwegians buy and sell stuff, but it also includes posting for jobs. Think of it like a Norwegian version of Craigslist.

To find job listings on Finn, go to their main website and click on “Jobb”. Click “Alle Stillinger” and choose your geographical limits on the left side bar.

Finn.no screenshot
Screenshot from Finn.no’s main interface.

Nav.no is a public service who are tasked to help people find jobs. It’s a kafkaesque system if you ever need help from them, but their online job listings are pretty decent and easy to navigate. To go to their job listings, click here.

Most jobs are listed on Finn, but there are usually some who are only listed on Nav as well, so it’s worth checking out the both of them.

Getting a contact network will make it easier to find a job

It’s kind of uncommon for unskilled jobs to have listings, because these are often staffed by people telling their friends and network. It is much easier to find a job if you have a large contact network in Norway, because then people can recommend you for jobs that are not listed.

So you are recommended to get social if you want to get job opportunities that you might otherwise miss out on. You are not exactly required to grow a network to find a job, but it will definitely make it much easier.

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