If you want to work in Portugal you’ll need to be clued up on sought after skills and occupations as well as recent growth areas. Read on to find out more…

Working in a country renowned for sun, sea and sand may seem ideal but the Portuguese economy was one of the hardest hit during the global recession, resulting in debts, job shortages and high unemployment.

The majority of graduate jobs in Portugal are based in the larger cities but competition for these roles will be fierce due to the level of youth unemployment, which currently stands at more than 35%.

However, if you’re heading out to Portugal to teach English finding a job should be relatively easy, but if teaching isn’t your thing you can improve your chances of employment by becoming fluent in Portuguese.

Job market in Portugal

While the Portuguese economy could look a little brighter it isn’t all doom and gloom, skilled or qualified individuals can still find openings in the job market and the cost of living in the country is relatively low.

Portugal has a large tourism industry like its Iberian neighbour Spain so if temporary work is what you’re after, the tourism industry is a good place to start. If you’re lucky seasonal work may provide a launch pad into an entry-level graduate job and will also help improve your language skills.

Other major industries in Portugal include:

  • agriculture, farming and forestry;
  • hospitality;
  • property;
  • public services;
  • textiles.

The country has seen recent growth in telecommunications, in particular call and contact centres and the aerospace, biotechnology and IT sectors are being developed in some areas.

There is also a demand for doctors and nurses, as the government is working to improve the healthcare structure.

Job vacancies

Search for jobs in Portugal at:

Work experience and internships in Portugal

As Portugal is a holiday hotspot, proficiency in English is a highly sought-after skill.

As an English speaker, you may want to teach the language. You don’t need to be fluent in Portuguese as soon as you arrive, as it’s important to create an English-speaking atmosphere in the classroom. To find out more about teaching English in the country, see i-to-i.

Internships and summer work placements for students can also be arranged by:

  • AIESEC UK – students and recent graduates;
  • IAESTE UK – for science, engineering and applied arts students.

Volunteering in Portugal

Voluntary work is a useful option for many people heading abroad. Not only will it put your language skills to the test and help you to understand more about Portuguese culture, it could help you create lasting contacts and enhance your CV.

The European Voluntary Service (EVS), funded by the European Commission (EC), is a programme aimed at people aged 18 to 30 who want to volunteer abroad. It offers young people the chance to volunteer for up to 12 months in a number of European and non-European countries.

Opportunities can be anything from placements concerned with sport and culture to those focused on social care and the environment. For successful applicants, accommodation, travel, food and insurance are all covered by a European grant and you even receive a small allowance each month.

Language requirements

It is important to have a strong grasp of Portuguese before you consider working in the country. Aside from the fact that it may help you stand out among other foreign workers knowing the lingo will help when filling out application forms and approaching speculative applications.

There are over 230 million Portuguese speakers in the world and there are many websites around to help you learn the language. To test your skills and learn the basics, head to BBC Languages.

Portuguese visas and immigration

According to the EC, EU citizens have the right to:

  • move to another EU country to work without a work permit;
  • enjoy equal treatment with nationals in access to employment, working conditions and all other social and tax advantages;
  • stay in the country even after employment has finished.

For more information and to check what conditions and restrictions apply, see:

EU nationals may also be entitled to have various types of health and social security coverage transferred to the country in which they go to find work. For country-specific information on social security entitlements, see European Commission.

Depending on your profession, your qualifications may be recognised in some countries. To find out more, visit Europa.

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