How to Get a Job in Portugal

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Last updated on June 14, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 9 minutes

As more and more people move to Portugal, a question that keeps coming up is: how do I find a job in Portugal?

With its low cost of living and some of the best weather anywhere in Europe, it isn’t surprising that so many people want to move to Portugal. Most people that move here come as retirees or digital nomads, but that’s not to say that you can’t move here for work as well. And if you move for work, you’re much more likely to meet other Portuguese people and settle into Portuguese society.

However, it is worth noting that the Portuguese job market is small and wages in Portugal are lower than other Western European countries. There’s a reason why Portugal has one of the highest rates of emigration, particularly youth emigration. Jobs for non-Portuguese speakers are typically limited to a few industries, such as call centre work and tech.

Of course, like everything in life it’s a trade-off. Portugal may not have the same wages as countries like Germany or Ireland, but it does have a better quality of life. Portugal also allows you to apply for Portuguese citizenship after just five years of residency, which means that trade-off is particularly tempting for those coming from outside the EU. And even though wages are lower here than in the rest of Europe, that’s not to say there aren’t well-paid jobs as well.

Generally speaking, however, most people move to Portugal for work for the quality of life or the possibility of obtaining an EU passport rather than the job itself.

Types of Jobs Available in Portugal

The following are some of the most popular jobs among non-Portuguese speakers who move to Portugal.

Call Centre Jobs

Many foreigners that don’t speak Portuguese end up working in call centres. Portugal is home to a number of large call centre companies and there are always jobs for speakers of English, German, French, Italian, Hebrew, Spanish—and often other languages as well.

As with call centre work anywhere, the work is demanding and the pay is basic, but if you don’t speak Portuguese and you want a job where you can meet other people who’ve just moved to Portugal, it can be a good opportunity.

Of course, this depends on the types of calls you’re answering. If it’s technical support, for example, the salary will probably be higher than a pure customer service job.

Some companies even pay for your accommodation and move to Portugal as well.

Useful sites include:

Tech Roles

Some tech companies or very international companies may operate in English, so if you’re a coder or designer, you may be able to find a job that pays better than call centre work. Be sure to check the job descriptions to see if Portuguese is required. 

If you already work at an international company, check to see if you can transfer to Portugal as this may be a much easier route than applying for a brand new job.

If you’re a non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizen and you work in tech, you could also consider applying for Portugal’s digital nomad or D8 visa. This visa is aimed at remote workers and freelancers who work for companies outside Portugal, and earn an income that’s equivalent to four times the Portuguese minimum wage. As of 2024, this amounts to €3,280 per month.

Unsurprisingly, most tech jobs are well-advertised online. Linkedin and GlassDoor are both good places to begin your job search. Alternatively, Lisbon’s WebSummit conference is a good place to network and find that next job in tech.

Teaching English as a Foreign Language

Another option, if you already have a degree, is to get your TEFL qualification and to teach English in Portugal. Although English is widely spoken in Portugal, and the market isn’t as big as neighbouring Spain, there is demand for high-quality English teachers, both at schools and in language academies.

TEFL is a good place to begin your search, but many jobs appear on Google Jobs and other aggregators as well. 

Tourism

The tourism industry is another place to look, as is the property industry which caters to the thousands of foreigners who buy properties in Portugal every year.

However, even though you may mainly speak English in these roles, knowing Portuguese and speaking other languages is an advantage – and you’ll be up against local Portuguese who often speak both English and Spanish to a native level. 

It’s also worth noting that although tipping is more common in tourism-based jobs, tipping isn’t the norm in Portugal. If you’re coming from North America, don’t assume that every job in the service industry has good earning potential with tips. Some jobs will, but the average job in a cafe or bar probably won’t.

Many tourism jobs are advertised on Linkedin and Glassdoor as well as specialist jobs boards like Hosco. If you don’t speak Portuguese, You may have better luck if you go into hotels, bars, and restaurants in the Algarve where it’s not uncommon for employees to only speak English or other foreign languages.

Real Estate

Along with tourism, another major industry in places like the Algarve and Lisbon is real estate or property sales. You’ll often see jobs advertised, some requiring a real estate licence and some not.

However, it’s important to note how competitive this industry is. There are a lot of real estate agents in Portugal, and many others who work in other jobs full-time but sell properties on the side. Most of these people speak English and often Spanish as well.

Many of the jobs are also commission-based, which may not be the best route unless you have previous experience in sales.

Remote Jobs

If you don’t speak Portuguese and don’t want to work in a call centre or for Portuguese wages, consider getting a remote job. This is a job that can be done from anywhere, which means you can do it while living in your apartment in Lisbon, the Algarve, or the Azores. 

However, unless you already have tech skills, this is often easier said than done for a number of reasons. The first, as stated, is that most remote jobs tend to be in tech roles, as well as other fields like graphic design, marketing, and copywriting. If you don’t have those skills already, it can take a long time to learn them – more than most people have. There are some remorse-based jobs in customer service, which have a lower barrier to entry, but most remote jobs have some level of skill. 

Another challenge is that not all remote jobs can be done anywhere – according to the HR department anyway. If you see a remote job in the US, for example, they might be willing to let you work from anywhere in the US but not anywhere in the world. This is due to tax, payroll, and legal issues. Some sites, like RemoteOk, highlight whether the job can be done worldwide or only in a specific country, but not all jobs sites do. 

That said, if you can find a job that allows you to work from Portugal and pays you a salary that’s above Portuguese wages, this could be the perfect way of making the Portuguese dream a reality. 

Popular remote jobs sites include: 

Note: These sites specialise in remote jobs. However, now that remote working has become more common, you’ll also find plenty of remote jobs listed on sites like Linkedin and Indeed.

Freelancing

Another option is to set yourself up as a freelancer, for example a freelance graphic designer, copywriter, accountant, or whatever. This route is probably even harder than finding a remote job: not only do you need a skill to freelance with, but being a freelancer is also incredibly hard work – much harder than being an employee. Not only do you need to do the work that you’re being paid to do, but you constantly need to be searching for your next job while at the same time filing your taxes and taking care of all the other small business admin you have. 

However, if you think you’ve got what it takes to be a freelancer, it could be another way of funding your lifestyle in Portugal. 

Popular freelancing sites include: 

Jobs for those that speak Portuguese

The best one for you will depend a little on the type of work you’re looking for – most jobs are posted on sites like Net Empregos but IT jobs often have specialist portals and lower-skilled jobs like restaurant and bar work might only be posted to Facebook groups and classifieds websites.  

Coming from Outside the EU?

Finding a job in Portugal can be challenging, but it’s even more challenging if you don’t hold an EU/EEA/Swiss passport. It is possible for a company to sponsor your visa, however, it can be very hard to find a company willing to do this unless the role is very specialised and they can’t find the same candidate in Portugal or the wider EU.

There are a few avenues for those from outside of the EU:

  1. Get a remote job and apply for the digital nomad visa.
  2. If you work in an international company, see if you can be transferred to the office in Portugal.
  3. Contact a recruitment company to see if they know of any companies who would be willing to sponsor your visa (typically this means a D1 or D3 visa, depending on your skills).
  4. Apply for jobs and hope someone will sponsor your visa.
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James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.

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