Are you looking for a change of scenery from good old U.S. of A and are thinking about applying to a Master’s degree in Europe? Then you might want to make sure you will also be allowed to work while studying and gain that piece of mind and financial comfort that come with a student part-time job. This is also a good idea if you’re planning to travel and discover Europe in addition to your Master’s degree studies.
In most EU countries, working while studying is totally possible. Either with a student visa or with a student work permit you will be allowed to work, generally part-time during the school year and full-time during holidays. But which are the countries that have the best prospects for work and study? Let’s explore your options together:
1. Countries with the best student-work permit conditions
A key aspect to take into account if you want to work while studying is how relaxed are the ‘work and study’ rules. These rules are not the same in all the European Union. Some countries have stricter rules and a more complicated process which make it more challenging to work there.
For example, you might need to get a special work permit. Also, you might only be able to work 10-15 hours/ week which might not be enough if you want to earn a decent pay.
But there are also European countries where it’s very easy and rewarding to work as a student if you come from the U.S. These countries are:
In Sweden you only need a valid student visa to be able to work. Plus there’s no restriction regarding how much you can work, as long as you dedicate at least 40 hours per week to your studies. Wages in Sweden are also more then attractive, the average being 2.500 USD/ month. Here are some Swedish universities you can check out:
In Estonia you also only need a student visa to work during your studies. But what makes it appealing is that you can stay and work an additional six months if you get your university permission after you finish studies. There’s no restriction regarding how much you can work provided you have passing grades. The average salary is about 1.400 USD/ month before taxes. Here are two top Estonian universities:
The student visa in Denmark includes the right to work 20 hours/ week during school year and fulltime during school breaks. Even if it’s part-time work the pay is more then rewarding with the average pay being 16 USD/ hour. That means about 1280 USD/month for a part-time job. Go Danish for your studies at these schools:
In France you can work part-time with a valid student visa. You are allowed to work 20 hours a week off campus, but if you find a job on campus you can work more. Per year, you can up to 60% from the legal annual working hours – meaning you can work more on holidays. In France there is a guaranteed minimum salary, which is 10 USD/gross per hour. For a month of part-time work, you are guaranteed to make at least 800 USD. Some schools you can consider for your studies in France are:
You do not need a work permit to work part-time in the Ireland, provided you have a Stamp 2 Permission on your visa. You can work up to 20 hours/week during the school year and full-time during school breaks. The part time salary in Ireland can reach about 800 USD/ gross/ month. Sounds like a deal? Here are some Irish schools you can check:
In Finland you are allowed to work 25 hours a week during school term and full-time during school breaks without needing a work permit. Salaries for part-time jobs usually start at 500 USD/month. Check these universities out, if Finland is where you want to work and study:
The United Kingdom
You can work part-time in the UK as long as you have Tier 4 student visa. The average part-time wage across the UK 600 USD a week. In London it is generally higher, about 800 USD. If this fits you plans, here are some universities in the UK where you can apply right now:
- University of the West of England
- University of Portsmouth
- Loughborough University
- University of Chester
- University of West London
You do not need a work permit for the first year of your studies in Norway. However, after the first year you have to renew it and provide additional documents. Part-time workers earn an average of USD 4.000 /month. However, note that most Norwegian jobs require knowing Norwegian language.
Germany is also a country where you can work part-time as long as you have a valid student visa. Wages for a part-time job start at about 500 USD/ month. The good part is that living costs in Germany are one of the lowest in Western Europe.
2. Countries where English is widely spoken
If you want to work during your graduate studies and you don’t speak a foreign language, it’s always smart to go to a country where most people speak English. This will give you access to virtually any job.
According to the European Commission's Eurobarometer data the top five are:
- Ireland (over 97% English speakers)
- The UK (over 94% English speakers)
- Malta (over 62% English speakers)
- Sweden (over 53% English speakers)
- Denmark (over 52% English speakers)
But if you are ready to step out of your comfort zone and perhaps learn a new language, you could also go for countries where English is not as widely spoken, but where those who do speak it have an excellent level. The top 3 are:
- The Netherlands
In these countries, you have a good chance of finding specialised jobs that require good English skills. And the good news is that all these English-friendly countries also have a great academic offer for Master’s studies. Here are some universities that you should definitely check out:
3. European countries with the best working conditions
While the language aspect is important, what’s perhaps more important is to select countries that have good job prospects in general. You’ll want to find the country that has a work culture that matches your own style as well as your schedule as a student.
Based on data provided by both Eurostat and the OECD, Glassdoor ranked these 5 countries as best to get a job:
- Estonia – perfect scores for temporary employment, temporary youth employment, and part-time work.
- Norway – considered ideal for think-thank jobs, Norway has a very high employment rate, not to mention it’s one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
- The UK – while part-time work does not have a high score in the UK, the country still ranks third because of low unemployment rates.
- Austria – one of few countries to have more people in employment than prior to the economic crisis.
- Denmark – has one of the lowest youth unemployment rates.
While these countries have a very appealing job market, you should also consider that most of them are pretty expensive to live in. Additionally, because they are so alluring there’s probably a tougher competition for jobs.
4. European countries that have the best work-life balance
Since your main reason for going to a European country is to study, you should consider aiming for countries that not only have good job prospects, but also a good work-life balance. This balance will be essential if you want to both work and complete your Master’s degree successfully. Remember that graduate studies will probably require at least 40 hours per week of course work, reading, labs, etc.
According to OECD, the cherry picks in terms of work-life balance are:
- Netherlands – more hours of leisure per day then of work? We want that!
- Denmark – support for working parents is impressive!
- France – a law that specifically says you have the right to disconnect from after-hours work e-mails sounds just fine for us!
- Spain – siestas make all the difference!
- Belgium – a country that totally says yes to family time over work time!
And here are some other universities you can check out in these countries:
- University of Twente (UT), in the Netherlands
- University of Liege, in Belgium
- Barcelona School of Management, in Spain
An infographic cited by Forbes Magazine in 2017 confirms that Europe is the main choice for American International students, with the UK being a favourite destination because of the lack of language barriers, followed by Italy and Spain which are attractive because of the warm climate. But now you also know the best country options for you to work during your studies. Make your pick, find the right universities and programmes and start applying!