Work in Portugal: Finding a job in Portugal
If you're looking to work in Portugal, here's a guide on how to find a job in Portugal and requirements for Portuguese work permits.
Finding jobs in Portugal has been more difficult in recent years as a result of the country’s economic crisis, but there are signs of economic and job improvement. With the right qualifications and research, it can be possible to find a good job or you might consider starting your own business in Portugal.
You may find some obstacles to finding a job in Portugal. There are a growing number of graduates and so competition in the job market has increased, yet there are still shortages for high skilled workers and in growing industries. You can also read about finding jobs in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal.
If you plan to look for a job in Portugal, prepare yourself by researching the job market before moving and set realistic expectations for yourself. Here’s a guide to get you started with your job search in Portugal.
- Read about the job market, job vacancies, languages requires, work permits in Portugal
- A list of resources of where to find jobs in Portugal
- Applying for a job in Portugal
Unemployment remains relatively high in Portugal, estimated at around 12.4 percent in the first quarter 2016 (www.ine.pt), although youth unemployment (under 25) sat around 30 percent and about 4 percent of registered unemployment was from foreigners in January 2016. However, some industries continue to report a shortage of skilled workers, such as the IT sector, health sector, tourism sector (although these jobs tend to be seasonal), the agricultural sector and communications/call centre sector.
The minimum wage in Portugal is set annually, set at around EUR 530 per month in 2016. In addition to a basic salary, full-time workers in Portugal are also entitled to an annual Christmas bonus equal to one month’s pay in December, plus a holiday bonus once a year.
Workers in Portugal also need to pay tax and social security contributions from their wage – with how much depending on the amount you earn. If you secure a full-time of part-time job with a Portuguese company, they’ll deduct your contributions from your monthly salary.
Available jobs in Portugal
The tourism industry is vital to Portugal’s economy, with a variety of seasonal and part-time jobs on offer across the industry, particularly in hotel and catering. In recent years, the call centre industry has also boomed, offering good opportunities for multi-lingual workers, while the automative trade and repair sector and construction showed some job growth. As the manufacturing sector modernises, more specialist jobs are also being created in Portugal. Read more about the Portuguese labour market.
For graduates looking to work for the big companies, Lisbon is the ideal place to be, with multi-national companies such as Nokia, Samsung and Nestle located here, as well as the headquarters of Energais de Portugal and Portugal Telecom.
The Portuguese government is also currently encouraging entrepreneurs to start up businesses, and has put EUR 20mn into an investment body called Portugal Ventures to aid this.
Employment law in Portugal
Employees in Portugal typically work 40-hour weeks (eight hours per day), although employment law does allow flexibility in certain instances up to a limit of 60 hours per week (12 hours per day).
Full-time employees are entitled to annual leave of 22 days, on top of the compulsory nine days of public holidays.
Employment contracts in Portugal work similarly to many European countries, with permanent, fixed-term, part-time and intermittent work contracts the most common methods of employment.
Read more about employment law, contracts and work conditions in Portugal and Portuguese business culture.
Portuguese work visas and residence permits
Citizens from the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland moving to Portugal will not need any official permit to work but they are required to find a job and apply for a residency card (Cartão de Residencia) within six months. If you miss the six-month cut-off, you could face penalties. If you don’t have a job that pays a regular income, your application may be refused. Once you find a job or start a business, you can then apply for the mandatory residence card.
If you’re a non-EU citizen you’ll typically need to obtain a visa to work in Portugal. If you’re only working in the country on a short-term contract, you can get a temporary stay visa, which is generally valid for up to three months.
For longer-term employment, you’ll first need to get a Portuguese residence permit by applying to the General Secretariat of the Ministry of Education and Science (SGMEC). This will allow you to stay in Portugal for four months while you apply for a temporary residence permit, which is valid for one year and can then be renewed. You can apply for this by contacting the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF).
As a non-EU national you may find it difficult to secure a work permit, as companies are typically meant to offer positions first to Portuguese citizens or EU/EEA nationals. Only if no one from that group is qualified may the company extend an offer to someone else. If you possess specialised skills that are hard to acquire, then you have a greater chance of getting an offer of employment.
The easiest way to get a Portuguese work permit will probably be to work for a multinational that operates in Portugal. The advantage is that the company usually takes care of all of the paperwork.
While speaking fluent Portuguese is of course an advantage, there are jobs in Portugal for English speakers.
Should you decide to look for a job in the tourism sector, speaking other European languages such as German, French and Spanish can be very useful.
Qualifications and references
Most major European countries are signed up to the Bologna process, through which your qualifications from your home country will be recognised in Portugal. If your country isn’t signed up, you should instead contact the National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) to ensure your qualifications are recognised.
Expatica jobs in Portugal
You can find suitable openings on the Expatica jobs page, which has a constantly updated list of jobs across Portugal.
If you’re from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you can look for a job through EURES, the European Job Mobility Portal, which is maintained by the European Commission. As well as looking for work, you can upload your CV and get advice on looking for work in Portugal.
Public job sites
The Portuguese Public Employment Service (Instituto do Emprego) provides information on job vacancies in Portugal. Here, you can register your CV and access thousands of job listings around the country.
There are also various general job websites, including the following:
English speaking jobs
If you’re in search of an English-speaking job, then Jobs in Lisbon is a starting point, with a range of both full-time and part-time jobs listed and the option of uploading your CV.
It’s also worth keeping an eye on English language newspapers, such as Portugal Resident, which runs job adverts in its classifieds section.
As a starting point, look in the Portuguese Yellow Pages under pessoal temporário and pessoal recrutamento e seleção. You can also check out Expatica's recruitment agency listings here.
Foreign language teaching
To teach English in a school in Portugal, you’ll generally need to have a BA degree and a TEFL certification. Most teaching contracts begin in September and end in late June, and some teachers also choose to teach at English language camps in the summer or take on private lessons. The main cities for teaching jobs are Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra and Braga, and there are more than 30 English language schools across the country.
Embassies and foreign organisations
The British Embassy in Lisbon advertises jobs from time-to-time. As well as working on foreign policy issues, the embassy offers various services for British nationals in Lisbon including assistance with emergency travel documentation.
Portuguese newspapers such as Correio de Manhã, Diário de Notícias, Jornal de Notícias (jobs page) and Expresso (jobs portal) are worth checking out to keep an eye on vacancies across Portugal.
Make the first move – speculative applications
There’s no harm in firing off some speculative applications to companies you’d particularly like to work for. The best way to find the contact details of suitable companies is either by using the Portuguese Yellow Pages (Paginas Amarelas) or Portuguese White Pages (Paginas Brancas) or by checking out individual company websites.
For inspiration for leading Portuguese companies, you can look at the Great Places to Work’s list of best workplaces in Portugal. Big companies in Portugal include Accenture, British Portuguese Chamber of Commerce, Deloitte, Europages, Hewlett Packard, Kompass, Liberty Seguros, Mapfre, Martifer, PwC and Re/Max Portugal.
Traineeships, internships and volunteering in Portugal
University graduate can find EU-based traineeships via the European Commission Traineeships Office (Bureau de Stages), otherwise you can search for internships and placements on AIESEC (for students and recent graduates) or IAESTE (for students in science, engineering and applied arts). Internships can also be found at Europlacement and Intern Abroad.
For those aged between 17 and 30, you can find volunteer programs at the European Voluntary Service (EVS), where you work abroad for up to 12 months in exchange for board, food, insurance and a small allowance. Concordia is another organisastion for volunteer opportunities.
- Application forms are common; some forms ask for standard information while others ask open questions.
- Some firms require online applications: make sure your CV headings are clear and choose a plain font in case the employer scans your application.
- If you are sending paper applications, covering letters should be no longer than one side of A4 while CVs may be up to four pages long (although a maximum of one to two pages is typically advised).
- You may be asked to attach a photograph.
- Don’t send copies of educational certificates with your application, but do take them along if you get an interview.
- The interview process can sometimes include psychometric, psychological or technical tests.
- Don’t expect a speedy response after an interview; it can take some time to find out whether you were successful (or not).
Below is a summary of where to look for employment.
- Industries: tourism, real estate, hotel and catering, public services, agriculture, energy and water provision, retail.
- The call and contact centres and shared services centres are recent growth areas.
- There are shortages in seasonal jobs in the tourism sector, hotel and catering services, the health sector (doctors with various specialisations), the information technology sector (engineers, analysts, programmers and software and hardware technicians) and call and contact centre management.
- Main cities: Lisbon, Porto, Vila Novo de Gaia, Amadora, Braga, Almada, Coimbra, Funchal.
Find jobs in Portugal using Expatica's job search.
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