How to Get a Job in Europe as an American – Visa and Permit Guide

Posted Moving Abroad / December 21, 2018
Anastasia Hill

Apart from being the next fashion icon, Anastasia is also a freelance writer and expert on moving (and packing clothes).

How to get a job in Europe as an American is understandably among the most frequently asked questions of would-be US expats. The Old Continent is a diverse and exciting place, with lots of opportunities for travel and exploration, but what comes before all that is stability that stable employment brings to life.

What You Should Know Before the Move

First of all, when people say “Europe,” they mostly think of the European Union (EU), a block of 27 closely aligned countries. However, some of the more affluent nations, like Switzerland and Norway, as well as the UK now, aren’t members. In recent years, the EU and its member states introduced some measures to protect their labor market, so it’s not as easy as it used to be to get work as an expat. It still can be done, though. It would be best to research in advance what is needed and act accordingly.

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Where to Look for New Work

Unless you’re being transferred by your company, in most places, you’ll need to have a position waiting for you in order to obtain a work permit. Besides the popular LinkedIn, there are a couple more websites to check out in search of employment:


Language-Related Questions

When Americans are moving abroad, language can often be stressed as an issue. If you’re going to the UK or Ireland, you won’t have to worry about breaking the language barrier. Folks of several other countries are also quite adept in English. However, if you move to Spain, Germany, or France, you won’t get far without at least some command of the local tongue. Fortunately, there are few simple tips for learning a new language that’ll get you going in no time.

Visa Requirements for Working in European Countries

As a US citizen, you don’t need a visa to enter the EU, and documents needed to travel abroad come down to your passport for a stay of up to 90 days. Once you’re in the Schengen zone, you may move freely between states (with the exception of Ireland). That doesn’t allow you to work, though. In labor matters, every country has its own regulations concerning non-EU citizens. Still, you’ll be able to apply for an EU Blue Card, the European counterpart to the American Green Card, or a permit for living and working in the EU. Obtaining an EU Blue Card is the first step towards permanent residency or citizenship.

How to Get a Job in Europe as an American – What Are Your Options

For those adventurous Americans with initiative and ambition in their blood, the good news is that Europeans gladly accept entrepreneurs. IT experts are welcomed with open arms, too. But those of us who prefer nine-to-five shifts have an option or two available.

Take a Step Forward if You’re a Skilled Professional

As we said before, European countries became more protectionist over the years, so you’ll usually need some sort of document from a would-be employer proving that they need you in their company. That document then has to pass the relevant labor department before you can be hired.

Luckily, there is a shortage of workforce in particular niches, and new workers are always required. So, if you are a skilled professional in healthcare (be that a doctor or a nurse), engineering, IT, or teaching (English teacher is an excellent job for a US expat), you’ll get your permit in no time.

Seasonal Work is Also a Method of Getting a Job in Europe as an American

Another option is to do some seasonal jobs. Those are mainly in agriculture and construction, hospitality, and tourism. The permit for those is much easier to get, but keep in mind that such jobs are not very well paid. They are usually just a bit above the minimum wage. If you’re fine with that, go for it. Or use such employment as a stepping stone for something bigger and better.

Be Prepared for a Different Work Culture Over There

In the end, let us give you a few more pieces of information that might just nudge you towards hiring international moving services today.

In the Old Continent, you’ll be working in an entirely different business culture than in the US. Working hours are shorter, and the entire approach to business is much more relaxed than at home (not at the expense of efficiency, though). As an expat in European countries, you’ll likely have more vacation days and, thanks to worker protection laws, be much more difficult to lay off.

Most countries over the Atlantic have free public healthcare and free public schools, too, if you’re considering moving with kids abroad. And since there are open borders up and down across the continent, it may be a good idea to book overseas vehicle shipping, to ease your travel to new and exciting experiences around your new home.

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