You'll face tough competition securing a job as an international worker, but you'll be highly valued once you've found work thanks to Denmark's focus on equality and collaboration in the workplace
In return for paying the country's infamously high taxes and living costs, you'll benefit from top-notch public services including free healthcare. Your commute will be enjoyable too, as half of people in the capital Copenhagen cycle to work every day.
Denmark's relaxed and informal working culture is part of the reason why it's the third happiest country on Earth, according to the World Happiness Report 2018. It's also the place to go if you're seeking 'hygge', the uniquely Danish concept of cosiness and togetherness.
Meanwhile, generous holiday entitlements mean you'll have plenty of time to explore tourist attractions such as Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, the original LEGOLAND and Bakken, the oldest operating fairground in the world, among many others.
Jobs in Denmark
Due to its geographical location, Denmark is an important distribution point for Europe. Its top exports include machinery, pharmaceuticals and agricultural produce such as meat, fish, eggs and cheese. World-famous brands Pandora, Ecco and Lego all have their roots in Denmark.
The Danish labour market has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the European Union (EU), just 5.6% as of December 2017 according to Eurostat.
Workers also enjoy excellent working conditions, thanks to a strong collaborative arrangement between unions, employers and the Danish government, and the market is dominated by small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs). You'll feel valued in your role wherever you work in the southernmost Nordic country.
Popular graduate jobs
- IT engineer
- Medical doctor
- Primary and secondary school teachers
- Production managers
You can search for jobs in Denmark at:
- The Local
- Work in Denmark
The Danish work force is currently facing skills shortages in certain areas, such as the education, engineering, IT, medicine and healthcare sectors. There is also a particular shortage of counsellors, psychologists, pharmacologists and pharmacists.
The government maintains a Positive List of shortage occupations - if you have the right qualifications to fill any of the roles that appear on this list, you should find securing a job relatively simple.
How to get a job in Denmark
You may initially struggle to find employment in Denmark - the country prioritises hiring Danish applicants over those from overseas. However, there are a number of things you can do as an international worker to strengthen your application.
Firstly, make sure you've researched the company you're applying to and tailor your CV and covering letter to the organisation. Showing knowledge of, and enthusiasm to work for, the specific company will help you to stand out.
You may also benefit from broadening your horizons. If you're willing to commute, or use your skills in positions you haven't previously considered, you'll open yourself up to more job opportunities.
Finally, it's important to note that social media tools, particularly LinkedIn, are big in Denmark. You can use them to build connections and show off your most relevant skills and experience, and you're more likely to find a job if your online presence is polished. See Job hunting and social media for more information.
There are plenty of opportunities for seasonal work in Denmark's tourist sector in the bars, hotels and clubs of Copenhagen and other cities. There's no official application process for these kinds of roles, so try approaching establishments directly to discover opportunities.
You could also spend a summer working as an au pair. In return for providing a family with childcare and completing household tasks, you'll receive a weekly allowance, be covered with medical insurance and provided with rent-free accommodation. Learn more about applying for the au pair residence permit.
Alternatively, if you're able to financially support yourself you could join the 35% of Denmark's population who partake in some form of voluntary work.
British citizens can apply for volunteering placements with Concordia, a scheme providing opportunities in a number of areas including festival and environmental work, renovation and working with elderly and disabled members of the community.
The European Youth Portal, funded by the European Commission, offers volunteering placements in a number of European and non-European countries. They're available to those aged between 17 and 30 and range from two weeks to 12 months in length. Use the European Youth Portal volunteering database to search volunteering opportunities in Denmark.
You can also find voluntary and paid placements through:
- AIESEC UK - for students and recent graduates
- IAESTE UK - for science, engineering and applied arts students
- JobsInCopenhagen - for English-speaking professionals looking for opportunities in the capital.
The public education system is strictly regulated in Denmark. If you're hoping to teach, you'll first need to ensure that your qualifications are recognised and approved by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science. In some cases, you might have to undergo additional training to teach in a Danish school.
If you're from an EU country, the recognition process is completed within three months of the appropriate authority receiving your application. In some cases, this deadline can be extended by up to a month.
Danes are typically taught English from an early age, so there are limited opportunities to teach English as a foreign language. However, you may be able to find an opening to teach business English at adult learning colleges or private language schools in the main urban areas such as Copenhagen and Fredericia.
The majority of Danish internships are based in Copenhagen, which is home to many large companies. You can search for paid internships in Denmark at:
If you are a non-EU citizen who requires a visa to enter Denmark, it is possible to obtain a residence and work permit in order to take up an internship of up to 18 months, subject to certain conditions and depending on the job sector you are interested in. Learn more at New to Denmark - Internship.
Citizens of the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland won't need a residence or work permit to enter Denmark and look for work. However, if you're planning to stay for longer than three months you'll need to apply for a registration certificate on your arrival.
This certificate will enable you to receive a civil registration number (CPR), health insurance card and tax number, all of which you'll need to access public services and get paid.
If you're from one of the Nordic countries - Norway, Finland, Iceland or Sweden - you can reside and work in Denmark without this certificate, but you'll still need to register for a CPR, health insurance card and tax number.
If you're a resident from outside these countries, you'll need to apply for the appropriate residency permit which you can do through New to Denmark. This may soon also apply to UK residents, following the country's decision to leave the EU.
To make this application, it's likely that you'll need a written contract of employment or evidence of your job offer, outlining your salary and employment conditions.
For more information, visit:
- International Citizen Service
- Work in Denmark - Important registrations
Danish is the country's official language, but it's not the only one you'll hear spoken in Denmark - the majority of its population (approximately 86%) speak English as a second language, with many also having a grasp of German, French and Swedish.
You should be able to make job applications in Danish or English, but it's best to check with your chosen organisation for any specific language requirements.
While you'll be able to enter the workforce without fluent Danish under your belt, learning the language will be essential for integrating with the locals, immersing yourself in Danish culture and getting the most out of the experience of working in Denmark. In doing so, you'll also be demonstrating commitment to your employers.
There are plenty of ways to learn Danish - explore your options at Denmark.dk: Starting Danish lessons.
How to explain your qualifications to employers
The Bologna Process, a series of agreements between European countries to ensure direct comparability of qualifications across the continent, means UK qualifications meet the standards of those in Denmark. Employers should have no problems recognising them - if you encounter issues, you can have your qualifications assessed by the Danish Agency for Higher Education, which will make them easier for employers to understand.
Some professions are regulated and you'll need authorisation from a public authority to confirm your qualifications. Find out more and see a full list of regulated professions at the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science.
What's it like to work in Denmark?
The Danish workforce operates on a standard working week of 37 hours, Monday to Friday. However, with most employers this is flexible and can be adjusted to suit an employee's needs. You'll be entitled to five weeks' annual leave and the country celebrates twelve public holidays.
Workplaces typically have a flat hierarchy, meaning all employees are encouraged to contribute ideas and take part in decision-making. It's normal to raise any issues you may have with your CEO, for instance.
The country adheres to a progressive tax system. While salaries are generally high, working in Denmark you'll be charged a much higher rate of tax than most European countries. Bear in mind this system is designed to allow for free public services, such as healthcare and education.
In line with higher salaries and tax rates, you'll find that living costs - including accommodation, food and public transport - are also fairly high. Factor this into your research and budgeting if you're planning to make the move to Denmark.
Find out more
- Discover what it's like to study in Denmark.