Finding a job and working in Austria

Finding work in Austria
Updated 2023-08-06 13:53

The Austrian economy is strong, with a high gross domestic product and a high quality of life for residents. Major industries within the country include tourism, construction, metals, chemicals, and education. More than 370 international companies have set up their European head office (or production headquarters) in Austria. From how to find a job to what to expect when working in Austria, this article will be your guide to moving to Austria for work.

Job hunting in Austria

If you are looking for a job in Austria, the best starting places are online job sites and newspaper adverts. Fluency in German, as well as English, are essential skills, so consider improving your language skills before you move if necessary. Most job websites and adverts will also be in German.

If you don't speak German, it will be a little bit more difficult to find a job. But it's definitely not impossible; get yourself out there and don't give up. Keep developing your network, ask your friends and talk to as many people as possible. Try websites and apps like LinkedIn and XING to connect with businesses or recruiters. On LinkedIn and XING (the German equivalent) you can create your own profile and upload your CV in order to apply for a position.

Good to know: 

If you are outside of the EU and in need of a visa, you need proof of your language skills.

Wages in Austria

In Austria, there is no statutory minimum wage that applies to all employees. But generally, the lower limit is about 1,500 euros gross per month. Austria works with collective agreements for wages. Find more information here.
Salaries are renegotiated annually in each individual branch for all the collective agreements. In Austria, the salary is to be paid out 14 times a year.

All residents in Austria are subject to Austrian income tax and must have health insurance. Income tax is based on the gross annual salary and ranges from 0% up to about €12,000 per year to 20% for up to €19,000 per year, etc. The maximum in Austria is 55 % for incomes above 1,000.000 euros per year.

Promising fields for expats in Austria

If your German skills are not strong, consider teaching foreign languages such as English, Spanish, French, etc., as a second or foreign language, au pair work for expat families, or work in the tourism industry.

Throughout Austria, the tourism sector is very important. Thanks to the numerous winter sports regions, tourism in Austria is evenly divided between the summer and winter seasons. Hence, there are always lots of seasonal jobs available.

Some jobs will require you to show some proof of your German language skills before you can get started. If you do not have these at the time of your relocation, you can acquire them at one of the language institutions like the famous Goethe Institut. This is not only going to be needed to find your dream job in Austria but also make it way easier to connect with the locals and build friendships.

Working conditions in Austria

Working conditions in Austria are generally considered fair, although salaries may not reach the levels seen in other countries. Most full-time employees work office hours from Monday to Friday, typically from 8 am to 5 pm, with a half-hour or one-hour lunch break. However, in many office jobs, there is flexibility to set your own starting time between 6 am and 10 am. In the commercial sector, working hours are fixed, but most shops close by 7 or 8 pm in the evening and remain closed on Sundays and public holidays.

In response to the COVID crisis and the digital transformation, an increasing number of companies are offering remote work options, allowing employees to work from home at least one or two days a week.

It's worth noting that training and continuing education are highly valued in Austria. In a 2022 international comparison, Austria ranked third in this area, following Denmark and Switzerland (according to the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2022). Additionally, employees can access certain free or subsidized training courses that are not directly organized by their company.

Work contracts in Austria

In Austria, there are various types of employment or work contracts available. The main categories include regular employees, marginally employed individuals earning up to 500 € per month, freelancers/work contracts, seasonal workers, and interns.

Specific contracts are designed for different types of employment, such as employees, marginally employed individuals, freelancers, new self-employed individuals, those working under a trade license for contracted work, vacation trainees, holiday employees or ferial workers, volunteers, interns with university education, and seasonal workers.

Collective agreements play a significant role in determining conditions and salary levels, and trade unions have a strong presence, especially in large organizations. The Austrian Chamber of Labour, known as "Arbeiterkammer," provides free information about your rights and obligations related to employment.

Work culture in Austria

In many companies and government organizations in Austria, a traditional hierarchical structure and clearly defined roles are still prevalent, although these strict structures are gradually loosening. International cooperation is bringing new perspectives and fostering change in some businesses.

A notable characteristic of the Austrian work culture is the significance placed on work experience, which can greatly contribute to career advancement and salary improvement. Vocational schools and apprenticeships provide opportunities for young people to enter professions at an early age. Even without a school-leaving certificate or a university degree, individuals who have completed such programs have good prospects in the Austrian labor market.

Punctuality is highly valued in the working world, and many employees appreciate a calm and focused working environment.

Greetings in the Austrian workplace vary. While the traditional "du-" and "Sie-" forms of address exist in German, it has become increasingly common in Austrian companies to use first names and address colleagues with the informal "du". A common greeting, "Mahlzeit," originally associated with lunchtime, is now used among acquaintances and strangers alike. Additionally, traditional Austrian greetings such as "Grüß Gott" and "Servus" are still used, while familiar greetings like "Guten Morgen" and "Guten Tag" are also common, similar to the practice in Germany.

Good to know:

The local working culture in Austria is characterized by a direct approach to answering questions. This means that responses may be straightforward, even if they seem negative or lacking in elaboration. For example, if someone asks, "Will you get me a coffee too?" the response may simply be "No." However, this directness is not necessarily an indication of unfriendliness but rather a pragmatic way of addressing the question. In many other international workplaces, a "no" response may be perceived as unfriendly, even if the person would not have actually gotten a coffee afterwards. It's important to understand this cultural nuance and not interpret direct answers as a personal offense.

CV in Austria

In Austria, job seekers have the option to use a template-based CV or create a personalized one. It is important to note that including a photo is not mandatory, and individuals have the right to choose whether to include one or not. In accordance with EU law, job offers must address all genders. Typically, a comprehensive CV includes information about education, work experience, language proficiency, soft skills, and personal interests. Depending on the position, a letter of motivation may also be required. The language requirement for the CV and letter of motivation, whether in German or English, is usually specified in the job advertisements and depends on the language used within the organization.

Learning German in Austria

In Austria, the "Österreichisches Sprachdiplom Deutsch" is the official examination system for German as a foreign or second language. This diploma is equivalent to the Goethe-Zertifikat in Germany. While there are theories about the difficulty level of these exams, it's important to note that they are based on the same testing methods and vocabulary groups. Whether you have studied German in Austria or Germany, it makes no difference for public matters and certifications. Licensed examination centers can be found throughout the country.

In recent years, more companies, particularly larger ones, have started offering in-house language courses for their employees. These courses can be conducted in person, online, or in a hybrid format. If you're interested, don't hesitate to inquire with your employer.

Additionally, you can also consider attending evening or intensive courses at private or semi-private language schools. This can be a great way to improve your language skills and make connections outside of work.

Registration in Austria

Once you have found an apartment and settled in, it is important to inform the municipal office or magistrate district office, particularly in Vienna, about your new residence. You can determine which office is responsible for your area or district by visiting their website. It is mandatory to officially register your new address within three days of moving. The registration form is known as the "Meldezettel" or "Meldebescheinigung." This document will be crucial for various bureaucratic procedures and contracts in Austria. If you later register a new primary residence, the authority in charge of the new residence can handle both the registration of the new address and the deregistration of the old one simultaneously.

Expatriates from Non-EU-countries in Austria

For stays up to six months, non-EU nationals are required to apply for a visa instead of a residence title. If you plan to work in Austria, you will need a work permit. The initial work permit is typically the red-white-red card, which resembles a check card. This card serves as both a residence and work permit and is valid for two years. It allows you to live in Austria and work for a specific employer. If you change employers within the first two years, you will need to apply for a new Red-White-Red Card.

To obtain the red-white-red card, you will need to provide the following:

  • A work contract
  • Health insurance that covers all risks in Austria
  • Proof of accommodation in Austria (Meldezettel)
  • Net income above €1,110.26 for single individuals and €1,751.56 for married couples in 2023

Additionally, there are other types of permits, such as the Blue Card and later the Red-White-Red Card Plus.

If you are an employer seeking information about employing individuals in Austria, you may refer to the official guideline provided. It covers topics such as researcher mobility, temporary residence permits, and settlement permits for artists.

Regarding the validation of your studies, known as "Nostrifizierung" in Austria, it refers to the recognition of foreign higher education qualifications obtained outside the European Union. This process establishes equivalence between a foreign degree and an Austrian bachelor's, master's, diploma, or doctorate degree. To apply for validation, you will need to submit various documents, including your passport, proof of foreign university/higher education institution status, detailed documentation of your foreign studies, and degree certificate with the award notice. These documents should be either originals or certified copies, and any non-English documents must be accompanied by certified translations.

If you have already secured a job, you can inquire directly with your employer about the need for "nostrifizierung." It may be beneficial to undergo the process to enhance your flexibility in the labor market.

For expatriates from EU countries, Norway, and Switzerland, if you plan to stay in Austria for more than three months, it is necessary to report your presence to the embassy of your home country. Additionally, you will need to obtain a Registration Certificate for Austria, known as the "Anmeldebescheinigung." This certificate serves as documentation of your right to reside in Austria for more than three months. It is important to remember to submit your application for this certificate within four months after entering Austria.

Where to look for jobs in Austria

The major cities will offer the most job opportunities, such as Vienna, Innsbruck, and Salzburg, so they may be good starting points for job searching. Seasonal work can often be found in the tourist ski areas and Alpine regions. It can be useful to obtain advice from a local, such as an Austrian colleague or a recruitment agency, in order to learn more about the local job market and to help ensure your CV is the best possible format for Austrian employers to take notice of. Consider getting a free CV review at TopCV.

Useful links:

Austrian Employment Service

Der Standard


Jobs in Vienna (English language website)

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