5 areas in Norway where you can work only speaking English

Tromsø view from Fløya Mountain on a cloudy day – Photo by Gabriela Sirbu

Many foreigners would like to work in Norway, yet they do not speak Norwegian. It is possible, and I know many people who have lived here for many years without even trying to learn the language.

Up to 60 years old, Norwegians speak good enough English, and many want to keep practicing it. Therefore, they won’t talk Norwegian back to you. Of course, if there are more Norwegians in a group and they had dinner and a drink, they will switch to Norwegian and leave you outside of the conversation. If you don’t mind this behavior, then you’re fine.

When it comes to working life, it depends on the employer. Here are 5 fields where you can get a job without speaking Norwegian:

1. Hospitality industry don’t require Norwegian since there are a lot of tourists who are the customers.

If it is in cleaning, you do not have many people to speak with, since you primarily work alone.

Waiter in a restaurant or a pub, you will also be OK with English, and as I mentioned, most Norwegian speak excellent English, especially if they have been drinking. If they were shy at speaking it while sober, they wouldn’t have a problem speaking it after a glass or two. This detail reminds me of the advice I also got when I moved here, and I was asking about the fastest way to learn Norwegian. The answer was: “Go out in the evenings, have a drink or two and start speaking with Norwegians. You’ll be fascinated to see how fast you’re learning”.

Going back to the waiter job, there is this Italian Pizzeria in Tromsø, called Casa Inferno which is looking for people. If you’re interested in living in the Northern Most big city of the Arctic, give it a try and send them a CV and a letter of intention. You find them on this FB page.

I also see that SUMO restaurants are hiring, perhaps you’ve already seen their advert on FB.

Living in Tromsø I also happen to know that Scandic Hotels needs people. Walk in with CV and application letter, and see what’s happening. Otherwise, you can check this FB group called Servitør-Kokk-Bartender where there are many offers lately since this is an industry that suffers the most after Covid.

Bakeries and pastries can be also good places, and if you have a recognized diploma in the field is even better.

A tourist guide is also a possibility, especially if you speak several languages. You will learn what you need to say, and there are big chances that you will also be speaking your native language to tourists.

2. Construction companies are running mainly on foreign labor since people are lacking in Norway now. Therefore, the number of people is decreasing, especially those of working age, especially in the North of Norway. Read more about it in this article.

3. IT – Computer world is international. Therefore English is the primary programming language. Here it also depends on the employer and how much they demand you. Some may pay for Norwegian courses, and I suggest you take the offer and learn as much as possible. I know many people who regret not doing so when they have been offered the chance.

Here there are several companies that hire students who only speak English: Equinor, Subsea7, DNV, Yara, SAP, ELOP, Norsk Hydro. Click on the name of each of them and see where they take you and where you can apply for an internship or a job.

4. International companies:

Sales or production can have international teams and offices in many countries, and often English will be the working language.

An important field here can be shipping, everything that has to do with boats and transport on the sea, from building, fixing, and crew: EIDESVIK, The J.J. Ugland Companies, Hoegh Autoliners, Misje Rederi AS, Mediterranean Shipping Company Norway AS, are only a few of them. The search word on google is “Norske rederiselskaper”. Most of them have websites in English, you just need to take some time to navigate them.

Another field can also be the oil and gas industry: from building the oil platforms to maintaining them, securing them, and all the software that comes with controlling them. The pipes transporting the gas underwater or underground must also be built, maintained, controlled, etc. Here are some examples: Petoro, Eni, Lundin, etc.

Fish factories that are preparing the fish for the market are also in need of people. Brødrene Karlsen and Lerøy Seafood are just an example.

To find these jobs, the easiest way is to do a simple google search on “English-speaking jobs in Norway”. You can be creative with the search words according to your wish. It can take you quite far.

5. Education and research.

If you speak a little bit of Norwegian, yet you want to learn more, kindergartens need assistant teachers. For many people working with children is a good way to learn the language together with them. Children speak a simple language and learn new words every day. It is useful – for instance, I used to watch a lot of cartoons and children programs when I was in the process of learning Norwegian. It helped. In a kinder garden you also learn a lot about work environment rules and you get yourself some references.

Many universities and research institutes in Norway have PhD positions and research or teaching positions in English. 

Natural science, mathematics, physics, chemistry, ecology, environment, etc. are the research fields where there is the most demand of people. For some reason, this area is widely international.

The best site you find this kind of job in Norway is Jobbnorge, and you can check all the universities and research institutions about their availabilities.

They will require a three-year bachelor’s and a master’s degree, with a minimum C grade. Also, all the documents need to be translated into English and verified by an accredited translator.

If you get accepted, it will also be easy to obtain a skilled worker visa since the employer is a university that needs you for their research, which means only you have the skills the research project needs.

You have far better chances of finding something in a smaller town and the North of Norway. I like to compare the North of Norway with the Wild West in American movies. That raw area of a country has many possibilities because it is far away, and you need a lot of guts to make a life there. Therefore, I welcome you to Wild Wild North, where you can get help finding a job. More details can see in this article.

Even before you start the process of finding a job in Norway, it is good for you to learn the hidden social codes nobody talks about because they can get you far on the work market. You can find them in my free newsletter, which you can register for here. Or, you can read about them in my book, which you can order here.

If there are other areas you think you can work in that, do not require Norwegian and a good knowledge of the internal social codes and systems, let me know in a comment.

And if you found a job in Norway, only speaking English, my strong suggestion would be to start learning Norwegian as soon as possible. The more years you’ve been living in Norway, and you do not speak the language, the harder will be for you to get access to better jobs and to grow within the society. Even if it seems like “all Norwegians speak English,” it is still a second language for them as well, and they will always prefer Norwegian among themselves. And then you’ll feel excluded.

A simple search online will take to several teachers who are teaching Norwegian online, for a fee, of course. If you are a working immigrant in Norway, you’re supposed to cover all expenses yourself, including the one about learning the language. It is a significant advantage if you speak some.

Best of luck in your job hunt in Norway!

PS! If you want to hear more about how to think when you decide to move to a different country, you can watch this webinar, and even more, if you check this page.

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