Best Industries and Countries in Europe for Expats: Your Ultimate Guide to Thriving Abroad
Updated: Jul 3
Europe truly has it all: Bustling cities, charming countryside locations that look like postcards, combined with booming industries and incredible companies where you can build a successful career and thrive abroad. Plus, there are plenty of jobs that only require English, which opens up the world of possibilities for expats.
Living and working in Europe sounds like the absolute dream, doesn't it? If you're ready to make that dream a reality, explore the best industries and countries in Europe for expats and find the perfect career opportunities for you. Your journey to a thriving career in Europe begins here!
Understanding the European Job Market
First things first: as an expat, understanding the European job market is essential to finding the best job opportunities. The European job market is diverse and varies from country to country, so it's important to consider a few factors before starting your job search.
Factors to consider before looking for jobs
Before diving into your job search, it's important to consider a few key factors.
Location: Firstly, you'll need to determine which European country is best suited to your skills and experience. Consider the cost of living, language barriers, and cultural differences in each country. You'll also need to research the job market in your field to determine the demand for your skills and experience. And remember that opportunities may vary within a country too. Capital cities usually offer more options than smaller cities. Want to narrow down your options? Check out this list of best European countries for expat women.
Eligibility to work in the EU: Another important factor to consider is your eligibility to work in the EU. Depending on your citizenship, you may need a visa or work permit to work in certain countries. Some countries may also require you to speak the local language fluently.
Finances: Lastly, you should consider how you will finance your move and support yourself while searching for a job. Many expats choose to save up before moving to Europe, while others may have the option to work remotely or relocate with a job offer in hand. The ideal solution? Try to land a job before moving abroad.
European work culture
Now, it's hard to generalize the work culture across Europe, as it also differs from country to country, and even from one company to another. But there are a few general trends that you should know of.
Comparing it to the US, there's an old saying: Americans live to work, Europeans work to live. And the data proves it.
Europeans tend to prioritize work-life balance, with longer vacation time than in other parts of the world. Granting at least 20 days of paid time off per year is a legal requirement mandated by European Union. In comparison, employers in the US are not obliged to provide paid vacation.
Another trend in European work culture is a focus on collaboration and teamwork. Many businesses prioritize communication and teamwork over individual achievement, and meetings and brainstorming sessions are common. You should be prepared to work closely with others, collaborate and communicate effectively to succeed in the European job market.
Consider these key factors and research each country's job market and work culture to increase your chances of finding a fulfilling career in Europe that aligns with your goals and desired lifestyle.
Top Industries in Europe
Europe is a highly diverse continent with a wealth of opportunities for expats. Whether you are looking to start a new career or advance your current one, Europe has plenty of job opportunities for expats.
The following are some of the top job industries in Europe:
Technology and IT jobs
Technology and IT jobs are in high demand in Europe. Many countries in Europe are known for their thriving technology sectors, including Germany, the Netherlands, and France. There are many opportunities for expats in this industry, from software development to cybersecurity.
Some of the top companies to work for in the technology and IT industry in Europe include:
AMSL Holding (Netherlands)
Dassault Systèmes (France)
Amadeus IT Group (Spain)
You can also find European headquarters of some of the world's top tech companies. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and IBM all have their headquarters in Ireland, while Amazon is headquartered in Luxembourg, and Cisco and Adobe in the UK.
Hospitality and tourism jobs
Fun fact: 538 million global tourists visited Europe in the last year, which accounts for 50% of the world's total tourist arrivals.
Europe is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, which means that there are plenty of job opportunities in the hospitality and tourism industry.
Whether you are interested in working in a hotel, restaurant, or as a tour guide, there are plenty of opportunities for expats. Plus, if you speak any other language besides English, your fluency in foreign languages will give you a strong advantage in your job search. Some of the top companies to work for in the hospitality and tourism industry in Europe include:
TUI Group (Germany)
NH Hotel Group (Spain)
Melia Hotels International (Spain)
Raddison Hotel Group (Belgium)
Air France-KLM (France)
Lufthansa Group (Germany)
Ryanair Holdings (Ireland)
Healthcare and medical jobs
The healthcare and medical industry is a growing sector in Europe. There are many opportunities for expats in this field, from nursing to medical research. The demand for healthcare professionals is increasing in Europe, which means that there are plenty of job opportunities available.
Some of the top companies to work for in the healthcare and medical industry in Europe include:
Roche Holding (Switzerland)
Novartis International (Switzerland)
AstraZeneca (United Kingdom)
GlaxoSmithKline (United Kingdom)
Siemens Healthineers (Germany)
Philips Healthcare (Netherlands)
Fresenius SE & Co. (Germany)
Finance and accounting jobs
Europe is home to some of the world's largest financial centers, including London, Frankfurt, and Zurich. There are many opportunities for expats in the finance and accounting industry, from banking to tax accounting.
The demand for finance and accounting professionals is increasing in Europe, which means that there are plenty of job opportunities available.
Some of the top companies to work for in the finance and accounting industry in Europe include:
HSBC Holdings (United Kingdom)
Banco Santander (Spain)
BNP Paribas (France)
Deutsche Bank (Germany)
ING Group (Netherlands)
Crédit Agricole Group (France)
UniCredit Group (Italy)
Société Générale (France)
AXA SA (France)
If you are an expat looking for job opportunities in Europe, these four industries are a great place to start. With a wealth of opportunities available, you'll be able to find a job that suits your skills, experience, and career goals.
Want to speed up your job search and land a job abroad faster? Don't rely solely on submitting online job applications. Explore 7 alternative job search methods.
Best Countries for Expats to Work in Europe
With its diverse culture, beautiful landscapes, booming industries, and a growing job market, Europe offers so many attractive options. The most important question is: where exactly should you look for your next career opportunity?
If you're wondering where to start your job search, we've narrowed down the options. Here are the best countries for expats to work in Europe.
Known for its strong economy and low unemployment rate, Germany is an ideal destination for expats looking for well-paying jobs. The country is home to several industries, including automotive, machinery, and engineering.
Germans are known for their excellent work ethic, and their work culture values punctuality, efficiency, and precision.
If you're looking to work in Germany, proficiency in the German language is essential. However, several industries often use English as their primary language, including IT, science, and the pharmaceutical industry. You can also find many international companies in major cities like Munich, Berlin, and Frankfurt.
Germany also offers an excellent quality of life, with affordable healthcare, public transportation, and education.
The Netherlands may be relatively small, but it's big on job opportunities. The country has a thriving economy, with industries like agriculture, logistics, and tourism. Amsterdam is a major hub for the creative industry, with several companies in advertising, media, and design.
The Netherlands is also known for its excellent work-life balance, with workweeks averaging 32 hours and a legal minimum of 20 vacation days per year. The Dutch work culture values open communication, collaboration, and innovation.
Most Dutch people speak English, making it an accessible destination for expats. The country also offers a high standard of living with excellent healthcare, public transportation, and education.
Spain is known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, and growing job market. Despite the high unemployment rate (13% in 2022), the country's economy is diverse, and offers plenty of opportunities in industries like tourism, technology, and telecommunications.
Madrid and Barcelona are the main hubs for job opportunities, with several international companies like Amazon, IBM, and Orange.
The Spanish work culture values relationships and social connections, with a focus on work-life balance. Most Spaniards speak Spanish, but English is becoming increasingly prevalent in the workplace. Spain also offers affordable healthcare and a relaxed lifestyle.
France is the perfect destination for expats looking for a mix of rich culture and job opportunities. Plus, amazing food and great wines make it a hedonist's heaven. Dreaming of working in high-end industries like fashion, luxury goods, or aerospace? France is the perfect country for you. Paris is the main hub for job opportunities, but there are several opportunities in other major cities like Lyon and Marseille.
The French work culture values creativity, innovation, and collaboration. Most French people speak French, but English is becoming increasingly prevalent in the workplace. France offers excellent healthcare, public transportation, and education, making it an ideal destination for expats looking for a high standard of living.
Overall, Europe offers a diverse range of job opportunities for expats looking for new experiences.
These four countries offer excellent job markets, work culture, and quality of life, making them ideal destinations for expats looking to make a move.
Visa and Work Permit Requirements for Expats in Europe
As an expat looking to work in Europe, it's important to understand the visa and work permit requirements for non-EU citizens. With the right visa and work permit, you can legally work and live in Europe without the fear of deportation.
Types of visas for expats
Before you can work in Europe as a non-EU citizen, you'll need a visa. There are different types of visas available depending on your situation.
Some of the most common types of visas for expats include:
Short-term visa: This visa allows you to stay in Europe for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. It's ideal for those who want to travel, do an internship or a short-term project.
Long-term visa: This visa allows you to stay in Europe for more than 90 days, but less than a year. It's ideal for those who want to work or study in Europe for a limited time.
Permanent visa: This visa allows you to stay in Europe permanently. It's ideal for those who want to live and work in Europe long-term.
Keep in mind that each country has its own visa requirements, so do your research before applying for a visa to avoid any headache and complications the bureaucracy can cause.
Work permit requirements for non-EU citizens
In addition to a visa, non-EU citizens will need a work permit to legally work in Europe. The work permit requirements vary depending on the country you're working in.
Some of the most common requirements include:
Proof of employment: You'll need to provide a job offer from a company in Europe to prove that you have a reason to work in the country.
Qualifications: Some countries require that you have specific qualifications or skills to work in certain industries.
Language proficiency: Depending on the country and the job, you may need to demonstrate proficiency in the local language.
Again, it's crucial to research the specific requirements for the country you're interested in working in. Do your research and ensure that you have the proper documentation to make your transition to Europe much smoother.
Europe really is a great place to be. It offers a diverse range of opportunities for ambitious and adventure-seeking expats, like you, seeking the best jobs. Whether you are pursuing a career in finance, technology, tourism, or any other industry, there's a city with the ideal job waiting for you.
As you explore these opportunities, remember to research local language requirements, work culture, and visa regulations. By doing so, you'll be well-prepared for a thrilling career move, and to make the most of your expat experience.
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Matilda Patsou & Ana Colak-Fustin
Matilda and Ana, the founders of MoreThanCareers, are expats, international corporate recruiters and HR professionals with 18+ years of combined HR experience. Since 2018, our career-building techniques, tools and resources have helped over 500 coaching clients and 8,000 individuals worldwide land new, more fulfilling, higher-paying and career-changing jobs.