Home Working Finding a Job Tips for finding employment in Portugal
Last update on June 15, 2020
Written by Samantha Milner

Samantha Milner offers some expert tips for expats looking for jobs in Portugal.

If you’re looking for jobs in Portugal, you may discover that Portugal is not exactly a fairytale world as far as employment is concerned. In high season you are simply spoilt for choice as there are numerous jobs on offer, but in winter, unless you are fluent in Portuguese, you have got little chance of finding a good job in Portugal.

Finding jobs in Portugal

It is advisable for anyone planning a new life in Portugal to either have employment set up in advance or plan self-employment. At the end of the day it’s so much easier to work for yourself in Portugal than to work for someone else.

For example, those with particular practical skills and workmanship will find a huge niche available to them in Portugal through advertising in expat newspapers. This could include services such as:

  • Electrician
  • Gas Fitter
  • Plumber
  • Joiner
  • Sky Television Installer
  • Decorator/Plasterer
  • Hairdresser/Beauty Therapist
  • Medical Profession

Other income opportunities in Portugal

There are a lot of other options open to you, even as a taxi driver for expats, who may trust you more than the locals.  Other income opportunities could range from being a fulltime Avon rep to selling prams on the market. There is a serious lack of baby items in Portugal and prices are high.

Opening a restaurant in Portugal

Unless you are experienced in this business, it is not advisable to open a restaurant. There is a lot of competition in this niche and the majority unfortunately fail. You have to remember that the Portuguese are not driven by money, so they will offer restaurant food at a very low price. You would have to be ‘red hot’ to be able to be better than them and earn money from it. Not to mention the hours of work involved in achieving this.

Useful facts about employment in Portugal

If you are interested in working in Portugal, and are from the UK or any of the other countries that make up the 25 member states of the EEA, you will have exactly the same rights as Portuguese nationals.

To help with your job applications, take the time to have your qualifications translated into the Portuguese equivalent as this will make the task of getting a job far easier. This can be done via the National Academic Recognition Information Centre.

When you have been successful in finding a job in Portugal you will be required to pay income tax and you will require a Carta de Contribuinte, which is a tax number. You can get this by applying to your local tax office in Portugal.

When you start paying tax, it will amount to deductions of around 25 percent of your gross pay, which will also include national insurance contributions.

There are several important issues to bear in mind regarding employment in Portugal. You cannot legally work for more than 40 hours per week. However, the working day can be extended because there is often a longer lunch break or even a siesta in the afternoon.

The average annual leave entitlement is 22 days, but as well as that there are 13 public holidays. You find that many companies, especially those that are factory based end up shutting down for the month of August.

The minimum wage in Portugal was increased by 5.6 percent in 2009 to EUR 450 per month. While that seems like a low wage, it should also be remembered that it is customary in Portugal to receive a bonus, which is the equivalent to one month’s salary, in June and December. This equates to the average employee in Portugal receiving 14 months pay per year.

It is often assumed that the only type of work available in Portugal is in the tourism and agriculture sectors but nothing could be further from the truth. While that may have been the case in the past, there are now opportunities available in the information technology sector, as well as manufacturing industry amongst many others.

It should be remembered that when you find a job in Portugal it will go a long way with your fellow Portuguese workmates if you try and make an effort to speak in their language and pay respect to their customs. The Portuguese people as a whole are extremely friendly, but when they see that you are at least making an effort with their language, their respect for you will increase greatly and you will also have the added benefit of gaining another language.

How to find work in Portugal

There are many ways to find work in Portugal and a good place to start is the English language newspapers which include The News, APN and the Algarve Resident.

There are a wide range of jobs advertised in these newspapers, from teaching jobs to sales representatives. You can also look in the Portuguese newspapers such as the Diario de Noticias and the Correio da Manha. You will find that the vast majority of jobs advertised here are placed by Portuguese companies and they are well worth looking at.

In the larger cities you will find job agencies which always have a wide selection of employment opportunities. For instance, Manpower has offices in Lisbon.

It is wise to get good quality copies of your CV, qualifications and references in advance so you won’t cause any delays in the job application process.

You will usually find that these types of agencies have lots of office-based work which includes secretarial and administration posts, but you will also find that many smaller agencies based in and around the Algarve will have a more varied selection.

Approach companies in Portugal directly

If you don’t find what you are looking for via the employment agencies, don’t worry, there are plenty more avenues open. One of these is to write to or telephone any company that you are interested in working for. It always pays to carry out a little bit of research beforehand so that you know what the company is about, but if you can get an interview with any one of the decision-makers then your knowledge about the company and its goals and achievements could go a long way in helping you to secure a position.

If you are looking for bar or hotel work, you can’t beat simply going into these establishments and asking them if they have any work available. Be prepared and have your references etc. in a folder that you can present. Often this is an extremely effective way of getting this type of work.

This method also applies to getting manual work on building sites. If you have been in Portugal for any period of time, ask your local contacts if they know of any jobs that may be available and if they can ask around for you. It may be a good excuse to frequent your local bar, as these places are often hubs of the local community and any work that is available will often be communicated around by your fellow drinkers.

Another option is to place adverts in newspapers, shops and notice boards. Advertise that you are looking for a job. Jobs are often advertised in this way too.

Portugal also has job centres which are similar to the ones in the UK, but unfortunately you will find it difficult if you don’t speak Portuguese. Don’t let that put you off.

Where there is a will there is a way, and one possibility is to take a Portuguese-speaking person with you to help you out with any awkward questions.

Whatever work you decide to do in Portugal, make sure it is something you like and that it brings in enough money for you to enjoy your life in Portugal.