Finding a job and working in Portugal

Updated 2021-09-23 14:56

Moving to Portugal means adapting to a new lifestyle and a new working environment, but there are many opportunities to be found for expats in the country. Here is an overview of the country's labour market.

The Portuguese economy has had its ups and downs in the past few decades but is currently gaining strength, which is helpful for job-seekers. In recent years, the unemployment rate in Portugal has continued to fall, and, in 2021, it sat at around 6.1%.

This is great news for expats considering a move to Portugal, as many international companies are expanding or opening offices in the country, and new businesses continue to spring up. Expats are advised to start their job search in Lisbon, Portugal's capital city. It is the largest city in Portugal and offers the most opportunities for employment. Porto, the second-largest city, is also a popular choice for relocation.

Formalities for working in Portugal

If you wish to settle in Portugal for more than three months but aren't a Portuguese citizen, then you will have to obtain an authorisation to stay. You should inquire with the Portuguese Embassy or Consulate in your home country before proceeding.

Note that visas or administrative requirements may apply to:

  • European Union citizens who are in the Schengen space
  • European Union citizens who are not in the Schengen space
  • Non-European Union citizens.

The labor market in Portugal

There is a wide range of industries offering employment in Portugal. Popular industries include engineering, technology, mining, education, healthcare, IT, telecommunications, energy, and banking. The traditional industries of Portugal also still continue, with work opportunities to be found in tourism, agriculture, manufacturing and processing (including wine, olive oil, paper goods, leather goods), and textiles.

Expats may find work in the in-demand fields of education and healthcare. Candidates with fluency in both Portuguese and English will have the best success in finding work, especially for jobs in health care.

Students in Portugal looking for part-time work may wish to consider the fields of tourism, retail, hospitality, or call centre/marketing based work.

How to find a job in Portugal?

Before applying for a job, it is important to prepare a detailed and updated resume. It is best to update your resume according to Portuguese norms so that you have the best chance of success. If in doubt, consider asking a Portuguese friend or colleague, or register with a recruitment agency, as both can provide input on how your resume should be prepared.

Typically, a Portuguese CV is composed in chronological order and is from two to three pages long. Most CVs would also have a photo at the top of the page. Most CVs are divided into the following sections:

  • Personal information (you can include your name and age, contact details, etc. )
  • Education (the highest degree you have received, additional courses and certificates applicable to the job, foreign languages you speak, etc.).
  • Working experience (describe the positions you've held prior to the application, starting from the latest one. Include information on your title, responsibilities, key achievements, etc.)
  • Other interests and hobbies (it is quite common to sum up the resume with a quick note about things you like to do outside of work. This could be the sports you are into, books and arts you are interested in, etc. It is a good idea to include activities here that will be well received by your potential employer and can be complementary to the position you are applying for).

In Portugal, CVs tend to focus on professional expertise and qualifications. It's not particularly common to include personal goals and aspirations (as it is in American CVs) — however, there is no harm in doing so either.

When composing your CV, try using online resources. There are lots of templates for planning out and formatting your resume, most of which are free to use.

In addition to a CV, a lot of job applications will also ask for a cover letter. A cover letter is typically under one page and is basically a way to sum up your skills and explain why you are a good fit for the position you are applying for.

Working in Portugal

Workers generally work a 40-hour work week, with 22 days per year of annual leave. Workers also receive additional days off for public holidays. There are 12 public holidays in Portugal plus two optional public holidays.

The retirement age in Portugal is 66 years and 5 months. However, workers may choose to retire early or to continue working past the retirement age. You are legally authorised to work from 16 years old.

The Portuguese minimum wage is lower compared to other European and foreign countries. However, the cost of living in Portugal is more affordable than in many surrounding countries.

As of 2021, the monthly minimum wage in Portugal is 775.8 EUR.

Useful links:

Indeed Portugal


Empregos online

IEFP - Professional Training Institute

Ministry of Solidarity, Employment and Social Security

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