How to find work in Italy as an expat
In Italy, job hunting is full of rules, both written and unwritten. Whether you’re an EU citizen, a student or worker, or from outside the EU, our tips will help you navigate your search for work.
10 min read
Finding work in Italy can be challenging, but there are still lots of great options. And, if you’re a foreign citizen, finding work in certain industries might even be easier.
Maybe you arrived in Italy as a student and are now entering the job market. Or maybe you came to the country with your family, or moved because you're in love (with an Italian—or simply with Italy itself!). Either way, here's everything you need to know about the legal work requirements, rules, and job opportunities.
Legal requirements for working in Italy as a foreign citizen
If you’re moving to Italy for work reasons, there are some legal requirements you’ll need to comply with and documents that you’ll need to have. Just like the permit to stay in Italy, however, there is a huge difference between the work permit requirements for EU citizens and non-EU citizens.
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EU citizens working in Italy
If you're an EU citizen, you don't have to do much more paperwork in Italy than a regular Italian citizen would. If you come from a country in the EU, in fact, you have the right to live, travel, and work in Italy regardless of whether you’re an employee or freelancer. The conditions for EU citizens are no different than they are for Italian citizens. However, you do need to have an ID document (a valid ID card or a passport) and an Italian tax code (which you will need to apply for). Certain jobs have special citizenship requirements, but otherwise you won't be treated much differently than Italians.
What non-EU citizens need to work in Italy
If you're a non-EU citizen, finding work in Italy is a bit more complicated. Still, you have options. If you're a non-EU citizen already living in Italy, you need to have a regular visa and permit to stay that allows you to work. The types of permits to stay that allow you to work in Italy are for:
- Regular employment
- Seasonal work and multi-year seasonal work
- “Out-of-quota” work (for highly qualified workers)
- Sports activities
- Artistic work
- Scientific research
- Working holiday
- Searching for employment
- Family reasons
- Assistance of minors
- Foster care or guardianship
- Temporary protection for human rights reasons
- Humanitarian reasons (social protection, political asylum, or international protection)
- Subsidiary protection (asylum)
- Study, internship, and vocational training
However, if you're a foreign citizen who has a permit to stay for medical treatment, tourism, religious reasons, business, or legal reasons, you can't work in Italy.
On the other hand, if you’re a foreign citizen and want to enter Italy to work, be aware that entering the country for employment (including seasonal work) and self-employment is only possible if you fall within the maximum entry quotas. These quotas are established annually and dictate how many people can enter Italy for work purposes. In this case, your new employer, whether they’re Italian or a foreigner legally residing in Italy, needs to fill out an application for a “nulla osta” (visa exemption). This exemption allows them to hire you as a non-EU worker, as long as they submit the application according to the deadlines and requirements of the “immigration flow decree.”
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Finding work in Italy—the most in-demand jobs
As you might already know, finding work in Italy isn’t always easy—even for Italians. The inflexible job market, paired with economic difficulties over the past few years, have made it pretty frustrating for people in certain professions to search for work. That said, it depends mostly on your goals and background. There are some jobs that are more in demand in Italy. You'll find work more easily if you're a young person looking for your first job or a highly skilled professional.
Temporary and seasonal work and “odd jobs” in Italy
If you're a young student looking to make extra cash, you might consider temporary or seasonal work, even outside your field of expertise. For example, you can get temporary work in agriculture—depending on the time of year, you may find yourself picking vegetables, harvesting grapes, picking apples in Trentino, or olive picking anywhere from Liguria or Puglia to Tuscany or Campania.
Tourism is one of the country’s largest sectors—and who doesn’t know about Italy’s world-famous gastronomic traditions? Workers are almost always needed in tourism and catering, especially in the summer season or at winter ski resorts. You’ll have to adapt to stressful work schedules, but it only lasts a few months out of the year. Also, English and other foreign languages aren’t spoken very widely in Italy. So, if you're from abroad, you might have an advantage when looking for jobs in tourism or gastronomy that require interactions with foreigners.
Finally, there’s plenty of demand for customer service agents in Italy. Of course, language may be an obstacle, but if you've been in the country for a while and are already comfortable speaking Italian, you're in a great position to find this kind of work.
Jobs for professionals in Italy
If those options aren’t quite the right fit for you, not to worry—there are also jobs that require a specific professional or educational background. Professionals looking for work in Italy generally do well, depending on the industry. Medical professionals are always in demand—not only doctors (although 500 doctors who were called from Cuba to work in Calabria recently made the news), but also nurses, physical therapists, and other healthcare workers. Do some research to find out about the validity of your degree in Italy or the option to switch over your certification.
If you’re an engineer, you’ll probably have an easier time finding work. This applies specifically to the construction industry, but it’s in no way limited. Startups and tech companies need computer scientists with various specializations. You'll be able to find work in these technical and scientific professions more easily, since language isn't as much of a barrier.
On the other hand, language is actually an advantage when it comes to teaching. This applies less to public schools, which require a long and complex application process, but native speakers are almost always welcome in private schools—in fact, you might have your pick of jobs. This isn’t only the case if you speak English. Languages like German and Chinese are becoming more important and widely used in Italy as well.
Where to move to find work in Italy
If you’re able to choose where you want to live in Italy, it’s also a good idea to think about where to move for work. Obviously, a lot depends on your sector when it comes to location. But putting a European city like Milan on the top of your list is a pretty safe bet. You might also want to consider other cities in the central north like Turin, Bologna, Bergamo, or Florence—meanwhile, Naples and Bari could be more challenging places to find work. On the other hand, if you prefer smaller communities, cities like Treviso, Vicenza, Cuneo, Macerata, Modena, and Varese are also good choices.
The best websites to look for work in Italy
There are lots of different places to look for work in Italy, but not all of them operate in the same way. Institutional organizations such as Job Centers (formerly called employment centers) are being redefined and it’s still unclear how they will function going forward. Different "Informagiovani" (youth employment centers) are a little better, especially for young people.
The best way to search is online, though. Here are a few of the different websites for finding jobs, whether in Italy or abroad:
- Infojobs.it—one of the largest job search sites in Italy.
- LinkedIn—a helpful social networking platform, and perhaps even more effective for foreigners than for Italians!
- Bakeca—helps you list or search for jobs, homes, cars, services, and products.
- Kijiji—part of the Ebay Group and lists various jobs, products, services, courses, and more.
Types of employment contracts in Italy
Last but not least, let's take a look at the law. There are different types of Italian employment contracts that apply on Italian soil, regardless of whether you’re Italian or an expat.
Full-time, permanent employment contracts are still the most common. Over the past few years, however, the laws and labor market have changed drastically. Permanent contracts are no longer "jobs for life," and there are several reasons why an employee could be fired. This doesn’t mean that you can be fired without cause, but so-called “increasing protections” have been introduced. Practically speaking, the longer the employment relationship lasts, the more welfare, social security, and legal protection the worker has.
A fixed-term contract can currently last a maximum of 12 months, with a possible extension of up to 24 months, but only under certain circumstances.
There's also the option of a part-time contract. It can function "horizontally," meaning that you work every day for fewer than the standard eight hours, or "vertically," where you might work eight hours but only a certain number of days per week, month, or year. Part-time contracts can also be "mixed."
Professional training apprenticeship contract
If you need to learn particular vocational skills, you can sign an apprenticeship contract. It’s usually open to young people, and its duration is limited. There are three types of apprenticeships:
- Apprenticeship to acquire qualifications and diploma: This is for young people between 15 and 25 years old.
- Professional apprenticeship: For young people between 18 and 29 years old who want to learn a trade or earn a professional qualification.
- Apprenticeship for higher education and research: This type of contract aims to help you complete a university degree or other forms of higher education, such as a PhD or journeyman-level professional certification. It was originally only for young people between 18 and 29 years old, but as of January 1, 2022, it’s now possible to hire someone under this contract without any age limits.
Intermittent work means that you make yourself available to an employer who may ask you to work as and when needed. This also includes providing services during predetermined periods within the week, month, or year.
If your employer hires you through an agency, the employment relationship will be managed by an administration contract. There are three parties involved in this type of contract: the administrator (the agency), the user (the employer), and the administered (you, the worker). There are also two contracts that comprise the administration contract. First, there’s the commercial contract of administration. It’s between the agency and the employer and can be either fixed-term or open-ended. Then, there's the employment contract between the agency and you, as the worker, which can also be either fixed-term or open-ended.
Other types of work
Finally, there are other types of work contracts. One example is partial employment, although this type of contract doesn’t really exist anymore—there’s just the so-called "coordinated and continuous collaboration" contract left, which allows you to work on a specific project. Other examples include self-employment, occasional work, partnerships, enlistment contracts, and training apprenticeships and internships.
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You’ve just read an article that was compiled with the highest level of accuracy based on official sources, laws, and institutional sites. Despite this, however, it is not featured on an official government site. Given that regulations can change from one moment to the next, we encourage you to consult the relevant government sites before deciding to take tangible action.
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