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.
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 also all the software that comes with controlling them. The pipes which transport the gas underwater or underground also need to be built, maintained, controlled, etc. Here are some examples: Petoro, Eni, Lundin, etc.
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, accordingly to what you wish. It can take you quite far.
5. Education and research. 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, both 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, then 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 in the North of Norway. I like to compare the North of Norway with the Wild West from the American movies. That raw area of a country where there are lots of possibilities because it is far away, and you need a lot of guts to make a life there. Therefore, I welcome you to the Wild Wild North, where you can even get help with finding a job. More details you can find 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 newsletter, which you can register for here.
If there are other areas you think you can work in and do not require Norwegian, and a good knowledge of the internal social codes and systems, let me know in a comment.
Best of luck in your job hunt in Norway!