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Norwegian work permits: What happens if your qualifications don’t match the job?

Many wishing to move to Norway for work must hold a residence permit for skilled workers. So what happens if your qualifications don't exactly line up with your job offer? 

Pictured is the barcode district of Oslo.
This is what you need to know about the qualification requirements for work permits. Pictured is the barcode district of Oslo. Photo by Gunnar Ridderström on Unsplash

High wages and a good work-life balance make Norway an attractive place to live and work. However, you can’t just up sticks and take the first job offer that comes your way. 

Instead, you will likely need to meet several requirements. These criteria are the loosest for EEA-nationals as they have the freedom of movement across the Schengen Area. 

Those from the EEA simply have to register they are living and working in Norway if they plan on spending more than three months in the country. 

EEA nationals need to have a job and a contract they can present when registering with the authorities. They can hold more than one job and there are no restrictions on qualifications. 

Moving to Norway for work as a non-EEA resident is much more complicated. To get a residence permit based on work, you will usually need to classify as a “skilled worker”, and you will have to pay a hefty application fee of 6,300 kroner.

This means you will need to have completed either higher education, for example, a bachelor’s or master’s degree, or completed at least three years of vocational training at the upper secondary school level. 

However, having an education and a job offer isn’t enough. Your educational background will need to be relevant to your job role. 

If it isn’t, the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) will turn down your application. This applies even when the UDI has given you permission to start work before your application is fully processed. 

Even if you have previous experience in the role or industry you will be working with, your application will still be rejected if your qualifications don’t align with the job. 

This also applies if you are changing jobs. If you are going to start a new type of position or job role, then you will need to reapply for a work permit. When reapplying for a work permit, you must meet all the requirements again. 

This rules out sudden career changes as your qualifications may not be matched to the direction you wish to take your career in. 

If you are going to move to a new job with a different company and the same position, you will not need to apply for a different residence permit, and you can continue working on the one you have. 

Are there any ways around this? 

In some exceptional cases, applicants can prove that they have gained special skills through “long professional experience”. However, as this is quite vague, it can be hard to say what constitutes special skills or long professional experience. 

If the job you have is in the tourism and hospitality sector, you can apply for a seasonal worker permit. Your employer will be required to illustrate why a Norwegian cannot do the job, such as possessing vital expertise or language skills. However, these permits are only valid for six months, so they are only temporary solutions. 

If you have a Norwegian spouse or partner you have lived with for more than two years, you can apply for a family immigration residence permit. The fee for family immigration is 10,500 kroner for a first-time application, and the Norwegian partner needs to show that they have an income of at least 300,988 kroner per year pre-tax. 

The same applies if your partner isn’t Norwegian but is a residence holder of Norway. 

If your partner is an EEA-national, you can also apply as the family member of an EEA-national, which doesn’t come with much in the way of fees and requirements. 

When moving to Norway as a family member, there are no restrictions on your qualifications – giving you complete career freedom. 

What else do I need to know? 

When applying for a skilled worker permit, there are a number of other requirements to meet. The job offer will need to be for a company based in Norway, and you will need to be offered a contract of 80 percent of full-time hours or more. 

Pay and working conditions must be “normal” for Norway. This means you need to earn as much as the collective agreement for the industry in which you work. If your industry does not have a collective agreement, you need to earn at least 417,900 kroner a year pre-tax for jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree and at least 449,900 kroner per year pre-tax for jobs requiring a master’s degree. 

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For members


How much can you earn from a summer job in Norway?

Summer jobs attract foreign workers to Norway due to the high wages and chance to experience something new.

How much can you earn from a summer job in Norway?

Thanks to its high salaries, robust social safety net, and excellent work-life balance, Norway is widely regarded as a highly desirable country for international workers.

This appeal extends to Norway’s summer job market.

READ MORE: What are Norway’s highest-paying jobs and occupations?

Generally speaking, when it comes to summer job opportunities, international workers often prioritise high wages in industries where the lack of Norwegian language skills won’t be a problem, while young Norwegians typically seek valuable work experience.

As a result, these positions are highly sought after.

Whether you’re looking to earn extra money or gain experience, there are some key things you need to know about Norway’s summer jobs if you’re looking at applying.

Why the difference between seasonal and summer jobs in Norway matters

Many people think summer and seasonal jobs are the same, but there are several differences.

Seasonal jobs in Norway are tied to specific times of the year, like working at a ski resort in the winter or picking fruit in the summer.

Due to their nature, these jobs are limited to specific periods and generally attract more applications and competition from international workers.

On the other hand, summer jobs are typically offered to cover for regular staff on holiday or to handle peak business periods in various industries.

Companies in Norway provide summer contracts in fields such as agriculture, logistics, retail, banking, tourism, restaurants, hotels, and call centres to manage the increased workload.

As a result, while seasonal jobs often see more competition from international workers, summer jobs usually face more local competition, particularly from students and young people, as they are seen as somewhat of a working life tradition in Norway and Scandinavia, and Norwegian employers value them highly when reviewing CVs.

When to start applying for summer jobs

If you’re looking for a summer job in Norway, it’s best to start your search while it’s still winter.

Large Norwegian companies plan summer job schedules early, so recruitment often begins in February and March.

This early start is necessary because many jobs are becoming more complex and require training, usually at the end of May or the beginning of June.

As a recruitment expert pointed out in a recent comment for The Local, being available for the entire summer and attending the required training are both vital to increasing your chances of landing a summer job.

In numbers: Summer job salaries 

The expected salary range can vary depending on factors like sector, location, and employer. However, Statistics Norway’s (SSB) July update on monthly salaries in the country provides some interesting insights into summer job compensation.

The average wage in Norway for a worker in a temporary role, such as a summer job, was 43,310 kroner per month. This amounts to 3,700 euros. This wage was for workers aged 25 and over. This is around 267 kroner per hour or 23 euros per hour. 

Younger workers earned less, though. Those aged between 20 and 24 made 33,360 kroner per month in temporary positions. Meanwhile, workers aged between 15 and 19 made less at 25,830 kroner. 

Comparatively, the average monthly salary in Norway is 53,960 kroner. As temporary positions tend to be in lower-paying industries, the average is lower and isn’t influenced by the highest earners in the same way the average wage is. 

Young people in the (summer) workplace

In 2023, seven out of ten young people in Norway took on summer jobs. That’s about 475,000 young people aged 15 to 24, corresponding to 72 percent of this age group, according to the most recent SSB figures.

From 2021 to 2023, the number of young people in the country aged 15 to 19 working in the summer increased by 16 percent.

This trend is partly due to the favourable job market post-pandemic, with low unemployment and high demand for labour.

READ MORE: Five things you should know about job salaries in Norway

According to Rakel Gading, an adviser at Statistics Norway, this environment has made it easier for young people to enter the Norwegian labour market.

Most young workers in the country find employment in retail, followed by accommodation, catering, and health and social services.

The most common summer job roles include sales positions (such as shop staff and fast food or café workers), nursing and care roles (like nursing staff and health professionals), and personal service jobs (mainly waiters).