Jobs in Portugal

Unfortunately Portugal has been one of the hardest hit nations as an outcome of the Eurozone crisis. Unemployment has sky rocketed with job opportunities scarce and no sign of the nation dragging itself out from recession.

The chances of expats finding a job in Portugal get slimmer every year and the Portuguese economy has been shrinking for a long time.  Each year around 70,000 graduates enter the Portuguese jobs market and with the level of unemployment many of those people have been forced to look for work in other parts of the EU.

To land one of the scarce job opportunities that do arise you have to have all the skills needed by the employer including the ability to speak Portuguese and English. Knowing other European languages will also make you stand out from the crowd.

Work Permits

EU citizens are not required to have a work permit in order to be employed in Portugal. Non-EU citizens are required to hold a work permit and/or a residence permit in order to be legally employed in the country. Applications have to be made at a Portuguese consular office in their home country before arriving in Portugal. Professional workers such as doctors, lawyers etc must validate their home-nation credentials with a Portuguese equivalent.


Currently the minimum wage in Portugal stands at €565.83 per month, the average monthly salary in Portugal is between €700 and €800. This kind of wage will give you enough money to live off but not enough to fulfil an extravagant lifestyle. Salaries are paid in monthly instalments either by Direct Debit or Cheque.


Every employee is entitled to a minimum of 22 days paid holiday each year. This does not include the thirteen public and bank holidays.

Working hours

The normal working period

May not exceed eight hours per day or 40 hours per week. However, by means of a collective bargaining agreement the normal working hours can be increased by up to four hours per day, provided the working week does not exceed 60 hours. An individual arrangement may be made between the employee and the employer to increase daily working time by up to two hours, provided the average working week does not exceed 50 hours over a two-month period.


The working day must be broken by a period of between one and two hours to avoid employees working for more than five hours in a row.

Top tips for finding work in Portugal

Here are our top five tips for finding work as an Expat in Portugal.

Be prepared in advance

Explore the job market before you move, see what career options most suit you and your qualifications. Be aware that you may need to re-qualify or retrain to be applicable for the position you want. See if there are any skills you possess which are in demand. Make yourself marketable by knowing the market.

Refine your CV, and get it out there

CV’s are often formatted differently abroad, make sure yours is up to date and formatted correctly for the Portuguese market. Get your CV circulating through as many avenues as possible – utilise connections, new neighbours, local amenities etc. Put your CV on job sites and clearly present yourself to your target employers. Ensure you clearly state when you are available to start, and be realistic about how long it will take for you to be in a position to commit yourself to a contract.

Ensure that appropriate work permits are in place

Where possible get any and all paperwork out of the way prior to searching for work.

Embrace new career opportunities

When beginning a new career abroad you have to be aware that you may not be able to start work at the level you previously occupied. You may have to take a pay cut or demotion and re-work your way up the career ladder. You may even have to rethink what type of work you wish to do. Don’t be disheartened. The skills you used in your old job might not be in demand in Portugal, but maybe they could be differently applied or you could discover new ones!

It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know.

Starting a new life abroad can be difficult, stressful and lonely. In general the quicker you get to know people the sooner you’ll settle in. Join clubs, or fitness classes, get out and about, socialise. Don’t be afraid of rejection, for every person who tells you to get lost there’ll be someone else who won’t. Hold a party, get to know you’re neighbours and take advantage of every useful contact you meet. Children are great for bringing people together (as long as they’re reasonably well behaved of course). Help your child make friends by signing them up for clubs, and help yourself make friends by dropping them off and picking them up. Joining an expat forum can also be an excellent way of meeting people who’ve been in the same position as you, and they can be an invaluable source of comfort and advice.