Working in Finland – how to get started

We at Edunation strongly recommend students to get active also outside of studies and gain some work experience from Finland. You can do an internship as a part of your study degree, but you can also work part-time on various fields and industries.Combining work with studies is very common in Finland – around 55 % of university students have a job alongside their studies. It shows future employers that you are hard-working and active. Finnish students often work in restaurants, retail, grocery stores and maintenance. Volunteering is another common way of getting new experiences and contacts. In Finland there are many associations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that welcome new members on various fields and tasks.

In order to get started on job seeking, here are some basic facts about working in Finland that every international student should know.

  • Part-Time Work as a Student

    How can non-EU students work in Finland when studying?

    For non-EU students with student residency permits, students can work for a maximum of 25 h/week during term time. The number of working hours is not restricted on a weekly level, which means that you can work periodically during the academic term according to your situation. However, there are no limits regarding the number of hours that students can work outside term time when the university is not offering lectures (e.g. during Christmas holidays and summer breaks). This means that you can get much working experience before you graduate.

    When you’re looking for part-time work that fits in your life with studies, there are a lot of student friendly jobs both for Finnish and international students. Students usually work part-time in restaurants, cafés, grocery stores, retail and cleaning jobs. The wage for these kinds of jobs depends on your responsibilities and previous work experience. The minimum wage is usually between 7,5 – 9 EUR/hour, and on top of it you get extra wage for evening, night and Sunday shifts.

    You can also do an unlimited number of internships when you study in a Finnish university, given that the internships are related to your study program. There are no weekly hour limits on working as an intern or a trainee.

    Can I cover my living costs working part-time in Finland?

    The average living costs for students range from 700 – 900 EUR/month. Students often choose to live in student apartments or shared flats, so the living expenses are reasonable. In most university towns there are also discounted prices for students on many products and services, so with a valid student card in hand you can save a lot of money. One of the best student benefits in Finland is the very affordable student meal at universities – one meal costs only around 2,60 EUR! By planning your personal economy and taking advantage of student benefits and discounts, working part-time really makes it possible for you to cover your living costs in Finland during your studies. Read more about the estimated cost of living in Finland.

    Is it easy to find part-time work in Finland?

    In most cities and towns, there are constantly open vacancies for various part-time jobs that are suitable for students. There is even labor shortage in many industries in Finland, so students are valuable work force for many companies. However, even though English is a popular language in Finland, many jobs require at least some knowledge and usage of Finnish or Swedish language. This means that learning these languages makes it easier to find work during your studies. However, there are still opportunities for international student to find jobs in companies and other organizations that use English as their working language, especially in bigger cities.

  • Job Seeking in Finland

    Most universities in Finland offer Career Services. This should be the first stop for any student looking for a job. Although the Career Service is not a job recruitment agency, you can contact them for advice on possible local employment opportunities, and general tips on job hunting in Finland. TE-palvelut is also worthwhile to look up. The website is maintained by the Public Employment Office of Finland. The website has some useful information about job-seeking, even though the job search is only in Finnish (titled Vacancies). However, there is a large number of open vacancies, and you can limit your search on English job advertisements only.

    The easiest way to find part-time work is through various job recruitment agencies and companies. The agencies usually have websites that allow you to search for specific jobs, submit your job application and CV in their database and leave a contact request. Some agencies have English web sites, but a lot of them operate in Finnish only. This doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t have jobs for English-speaking people at all – you can always leave a contact request and ask if they can help you with job-seeking in English.

    If you use search tools on different websites to look for a job, you should note that if the job vacancy is in Finnish, the company probably uses Finnish as their working language. If the vacancy is in English, it means you can apply in English as well.

    Recruitment agencies are easy to find online. Some of the largest and well-known companies include:

  • CV and Job Application

    There are some basic things that you should have in order before you start looking for jobs in Finland (or anywhere else for that matter). The most basic documents that will be asked when applying for any job, are the CV (curriculum vitae or resume) and a job application (cover letter). You should have both these documents as editable versions and ready to be sent when an interesting job opportunity comes up.

    Note that you should always update your CV and job application to match the job you’re applying to. In other words, highlight strengths you believe are important for that specific position. Most often, you don’t have to fulfil all requirements mentioned in the job advertisement to be considered for a position. However, if you are missing some skills or experience, think about how you can bring out your willingness to develop within the job.

    CV is often the first thing that recruiters read from an applicant. Therefore it should be concise, clear and easy-to-read. You should start your job-seeking by creating a CV, if you don’t have one yet. It can then be easily modified and updated to match a certain company or job opening. There are plenty of online CV templates and guides that you can use when writing your CV. You can find free CV templates for example in Canva CV templates.

    Job application or reference letter is supposed to complement your CV and tell the employer why you are interested in working with them. Don’t repeat your CV in the job application, but you can write about what you have learned in your former jobs (or other projects/hobbies etc.), and what skills have you learned that are relevant to the job you’re applying to. You can have a look at Job application guide for good tips.

    There are basically two types of job applications: a direct application and an open application. When there’s an open vacancy in a company and you’re interested to apply to it, you should write a direct job application. When applying directly to a certain job or position, it is crucial that you read the job advertisement carefully and then write your application where you answer the following questions: 1) Why are you applying to this job, 2) What are your qualifications for this job and 3) Why the company should hire you (instead of someone else).

    If you cannot find interesting or suitable job openings or positions, you can always send an open application to a company where you would like to work. Open job applications can be more general than direct applications, but always remember to address the company in question. In an open application you should describe your skills and the kinds of tasks you would be interested in doing, and also whether you’re looking for a full-time or part-time job, are you available for evening or day shifts, and so on. Always remember to add your CV to the application.

    Many recruitment agencies and other companies use an online application form in their recruitment process. To be a successful candidate, make sure to fill in every question field on the application form. For longer questions, it is a good idea to write down your answer on Word or Notepad, and then copy-paste it to the online form.

  • Language skills

    You might have noticed that almost all Finns speak very good English, even if they are sometimes shy to use it. However, Finnish is still the main language spoken at most workplaces, even though English-speaking workplaces are slowly becoming more common with more international talents moving to Finland. It is still essential that you learn Finnish if you want to improve your chances of finding a job in Finland. Most universities offer at least elementary courses in Finnish, and some have more advanced studies in the language. If you have already completed the courses your university has to offer and are looking for language learning options, there are a few possibilities out there:

    • Adult education centres (työväenopisto) often offer courses on Finnish language and culture, and the courses are organized on different learning levels.
    • Summer universities offer short-term courses where you must apply at appropriate time (usually in spring). Regardless of the name, summer university courses are often organized throughout the year, and they usually operate in the same place as regular universities.
    • Free online courses and tutorials can be very helpful if you want to study at your own pace and straight from your home. You can search different courses online, but here are a few useful links:

    A Taste of Finnish is a simple, elementary course for everyday situations in Finland.

    WordDive has a full language course designed for immigrants, and it’s available in many different languages.

    SpeakFinnish has a good amount of material for learning Finnish, and you can also find a language partner to practice Finnish with!

  • Volunteering and networking opportunities

    In addition to work experience, different volunteering experiences are also valuable and a good addition to your CV. There are many non-profit organizations in Finland that welcome voluntary workers in different fields. If you work with people, however, Finnish language is usually required, but you should check with the organization in question whether they have a need for English speaking volunteers. You can at least check out the following organizations:

    • Finnish Red Cross has a number of different volunteer positions all around Finland.
    • KVT organizes international voluntary projects for all cultures and backgrounds, e.g. summer camps.
    • Every university has a student union that organizes different events for students and can usually help with job-seeking or at least advise you on where to get started in your local area.
    • Social media is becoming increasingly popular in recruiting and networking. LinkedIn is the number one social media channel when it comes to job-seeking. If you haven’t created a LinkedIn profile yet, we suggest you do it sooner rather than later and learn to use it for job-seeking. You can find LinkedIn guides online. Note that it is quite normal to add people you have just met as your contacts on LinkedIn (unlike on Facebook where you might just add your “friends”). The bigger your network, the better chances you have on finding some interesting opportunities there.
  • Taxation

    Taxation Policy

    If you work in Finland, you have to pay taxes on your income. Income tax in Finland falls within the European average. In Finland, tax revenues are used to pay for social services
    such as public transport, day care, health care and education. The taxation policy depends on how long you stay in Finland, and on the type of your employment. International tax agreements sometimes allow tax deductions for students. More information can be found on the Finnish Tax Administration’s website.

    Tax Card

    If you are employed and residing in Finland for more than six months, you must obtain a tax card from the tax office. The original tax card shall be presented to the employer so that tax can be withheld. When applying for a tax card you need to give an estimate of how much you will earn during the calendar year (January to December), so that the tax office can assign you a tax percentage. The higher your predicted income, the higher the tax percentage you will pay. You will also need the Finnish personal number that can be obtained from the local register offices.

    Tax returns

    The Finnish taxation year follows the calendar year. The Tax Administration distributes the pre-completed tax return each year in March or April. Tax refunds are due at the beginning of December each year.

  • Work After Graduation

    After graduation, students can apply for a 1-year residence permit that allows them to stay in Finland for job-seeking. To get this extended residence permit, you must apply for it while your student residence permit is still valid.

    For the best chances of getting a job after graduation, it is essential that you have already acquired some work experience during your studies through an internship and part-time job. These former positions often act as a springboard for you to full-time jobs once you graduate.

    Once you get a job in Finland, you can apply for a work-based residence permit. It’s quite a straightforward process. In Finland, there is labour shortage on many professional fields and companies are constantly looking for new employees.

    You can be granted a permanent residence permit when you have stayed in Finland for 4 years with a continuous residence permit. In other words, if you get a full-time job after graduation, you need to work a minimum of four years before you can get a permanent residency. If you form family or other ties in Finland during your stay, the chances of getting a permanent residency are even higher.

Quick facts

  • Non-EU students can work for an average of 25 h/week during study terms.
  • Unlimited working hours during study breaks (summer and Christmas time).
  • No minimum wage, but students generally earn 8 – 10 EUR/hour.
  • Occupations where labour is in demand: health care, service industry, programming, engineering.
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