Cost of living might raise some issues if you're thinking about applying to a Master’s degree in Europe. The best way to follow your dream and study in Europe, and also make financial issues more manageable is to find a job. But first, you should check what are the work regulations for international students. Some countries are more 'friendlier' than others, bureaucracy-wise. So let's check out what are the best places to work while studying in Europe.
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.
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 per 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. 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. Part-time wages in Sweden are also more then attractive, the average being SEK 13,000 (EUR 1,150) monthly.
In Estonia, you also 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 monthly salary is about 700 EUR.
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 110 DKK/hour. That means about DKK 13,000 (around EUR 1,600) per month for a part-time job.
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. For a month of part-time work, you may earn up to EUR 700.
You do not need a work permit to work part-time in 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 EUR/month. Sounds like a deal?
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 800 EUR/month.
The United Kingdom
You can work part-time in the United Kingdom as long as you have Tier 4 student visa. If you're an international student in the UK, the most hours you can work depends on your Visa rules. Usually, you can work up to 20 hours each week during term time and work full-time during holidays. But sometimes, you can only work up to 10 hours each week during term time. The average part-time wage across the UK starts at 600 British pounds monthly.
You do not need a work permit for the first year of your studies in Norway. However, after the first year, you must renew it and provide additional documents. Part-time workers earn an average of 13,000 Norwegian krone/month (about 1100 euros). However, note that most Norwegian jobs require knowing Norwegian language.
Germany is also a country where you can work part-time if you have a valid student visa. Wages for a student part-time job start at about 500 EUR/month. The good part is that living costs in Germany are among 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.
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:
- The 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!
An infographic cited by Forbes Magazine in 2017 confirms that Europe is the main choice for many international students, with the UK being a favourite destination, 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!