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Minimum Wage in Norway

Norwegian paper bills

How much do Norwegians earn? We take a look at the minimum wages payable in selected industries.

It's widely known that Norway has some of the best salaries and best working conditions in the world. It's what attracts thousands of immigrants every year.

While that's absolutely true, there is a slightly complex situation when it comes to how much people actually earn. There's a lot of misinformation out there, so let's take a look at the truth.

Money transfers across borders

Salaries in Norway

First of all, it's true to say that salaries in Norway are, generally speaking, higher than in many European countries. This is especially true at the lower end of the market, such as for cleaners, restaurant workers and manual labourers.

However, at the higher end of the scale things can be different. Compensation packages for senior management are not always as competitive as in many other countries, such as the USA. What this means is there is a smaller range of salaries in Norway than in many other places.

But how much does the average Norwegian earn? And why are salaries so high for relatively low-skilled jobs? And are they actually high when you have to pay a Norwegian cost of living? Let's find out.

The Norwegian minimum wage

Contrary to popular belief on discussion forums, there is no national minimum wage written into Norwegian law. Yet despite this fact, almost everyone receives a fair living wage.

How does this happen? Norway is heavily unionised and the vast majority of employees across a huge range of sectors belong to a trade union. Most trade unions are affiliated to a national federation, which is then usually affiliated to a main confederation of employees.

The new Norwegian banknotes

There are four main employee confederations, of which the largest is the Confederation of Norwegian Trade Unions, commonly known as LO. It has around 880,000 members, which when you compare to the population of around 5.3 million is quite something!

These unions come to collective agreements on salaries and working conditions with companies, which are then applied to all workers, not just union members.

This general application of the collective agreements is in place partly to help prevent foreign workers from being taken advantage of.

Norway minimum wages by industry

Generally collective agreements feature one fixed hourly rate for everyone over the age of 18. There are often different rates to distinguish skilled from unskilled work, for overtime, and for younger workers.

Salary expectations vary hugely by industry, so now we'll take a look at some of the most relevant for foreigners living in Norway.

Agriculture & Farming: Seasonal work is common in the Norwegian agriculture industry. Seasonal workers must be paid at least NOK 118.65 for the first 12 weeks and NOK 124.15 thereafter. If the employment extends beyond six months, the employee is entitled to be paid the rate for permanent employees. Workers under the age of 18 must be paid a minimum of NOK 98.65.

For unskilled workers employed on a permanent basis, the minimum hourly rate is NOK 138.55 for those over 18 and NOK 108.15 for those under 18. A supplement of NOK 11.75 must be paid for skilled workers. There are supplements due for work on Saturday afternoons and Sundays.

Construction: The country is investing big in new buildings, roads, tunnels and bridges. Much of the labour comes from overseas. Skilled workers earn a minimum of NOK 197.90 per hour, while unskilled workers with no experience should earn at least NOK 177.80 per hour.

Construction and building jobs in Norway

That rises to NOK 185.50 after one year's experience. Young workers under the age of 18 must earn at least NOK 119.30.

Cleaning: People employed as cleaners must be paid a minimum of NOK 181.43 if they are over 18, and NOK 133.39 if not. There must also be a pay supplement of at least NOK 26 per hour for work between 9pm and 6am, with the exact amount agreed on an individual basis.

Seafood: In Norway's large seafood industry, the basic hourly wage at the time of writing is set at NOK 173.10 for unskilled labourers and production workers, with an additional NOK 10.5 for skilled workers.

At the time of writing, the basic hourly wage is set at NOK 173.10 for unskilled labourers and production workers. Skilled workers must be paid an additional NOK 10.5 per hour.

Electricians: Many electricians are self-employed and can charge whatever they choose, but those employed to carry out installation, assembly and maintenance of electrical systems must be paid at least NOK 211.70 per hour if they are skilled, qualified workers. For other workers, the hourly rate is NOK 184.36.

Hospitality: For those employed in hotels, restaurants and catering, workers over 20 years of age and those 18 years old and above with at least four months of work experience must earn at least NOK 167.90 per hour.

There are lower rates for younger workers. They are NOK 110.33 for 16-year-olds, NOK 119.83 for 17-year-olds, and NOK 134.09 for 18-year-olds.

Guest room at the Sortland Hotel

There are also agreed deductions from gross income for when lodgings are provided by the enterprise. These are 555.73 per month for a single room and NOK 361.45 per month if you are sharing a double or twin room.

As of 2019, employers in the service industry are required by law to report tips and gratuities as part of an employee's income.

Research: Salaries for research jobs tend to be openly available and published alongside the job advertisements. There is usually a scale advertised, and the specific amount offered will be dependent on experience.

Depending on the institute, role and candidate, a postdoctoral position tends to carry an annual salary of around 450,000kr, while research scientists will earn at least 500,000kr.

Au Pairs: There is a separate registration system for au pairs, or live-in nannies, and different rules apply. The family is required by law to pay you a monthly fee of 5,400kr.

Although monetary compensation is very low, your travel to and from Norway, accommodation and food costs are covered by the host family.

Minimum salaries in other sectors

Some sectors don't have collective agreements. In these cases, salaries are negotiated between the employer and employee, although there are typically published scales of pay grades so you should know what to expect in advance.

For example, industry figures state that full-time taxi drivers can expect to earn between NOK 370,000-410,000 per year, depending on location. Bus drivers in Norway can expect to earn an annual wage of between NOK 410,000-440,000.

Barcode building in Oslo

The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority ensures these rules on salaries and working conditions are complied with. If the rules are violated, they can impose injunctions and fines, and report the matter to the police.

The Labour Inspection Authority also checks that companies are in compliance with the complicated rules on vacation entitlements and holiday pay. Both these topics are implemented quite differently in Norway from many other countries and it's important to understand them both as they can directly impact your earnings in your first year.

Travel, board and clothing expenses

All employers are obligated to provide any protective working clothes and footwear.

For work that involves overnight stays e.g. construction, maritime construction and cleaning, the employer must cover expenses for the start and end of the assignment. Before the post begins, an agreement must be made to cover expenses for the duration.

As a general rule, the employer pays for lodgings, but a fixed payment alternative can be agreed.

Relative cost of living

The numbers on this page will seem very high when you simply convert them to US Dollars, British Pounds, or Euros. However, they can only be judged in comparison to the tax rates and most importantly, the high cost of living.

Getting set up in Norway is an expensive business. Even if you can find rented accommodation, you more often than not have to put down between one and three months' rent as a deposit, on top of paying the first month's rent in advance

Even if you are impressed with your prospective salary, research expected living costs for your own circumstances and then make your decision.

Interested in working in Norway? Find out more about working in Norway and some of the different available jobs.

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Minimum Wage in Norway: How much do Norwegians really earn?

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About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a freelance writer for technology companies in Scandinavia.

20 Comments

  1. According to information gleaned from this article, I am working in a skilled job well under the minimum wage for my profession. Consequentially, I will be asking arbeidstilsynet to investigate. This is something I / we have been wondering about for quite some time.

    Thanks.

  2. I have a relative who manages a shop. The level of absence is far higher than in UK where you wouldn’t get away with constantly phoning in sick. I don’t know how anyone running a small business employing staff copes.

  3. You can say that again. My brother who ran a supermarket; years ago; complained of the large absenteeism ( Oslo) and said the “the Government sew pillows under their arms”. You could just book sick for three days, without giving any reason; and this was already so in the seventies. God knows what the situation is now; but from the complaining I hear from some relatives there; it is not the land of “milk and Honey” it pretends to be. Perhaps the land of oil; but somehow; oil is hard to swallow for the average person. The social security blanket provided for the hoipolli seems to keep them from rebelling; but complaining they do aplenty.

    1. It’s not the land of milk and honey and my husband tells me if all the absenteeism at his job all the time. People constantly call in sick and managers are not allowed to ask why. Refugees and immigrants are being exploited by creepy managers and business owners that refuse to pay them the customary wage, they are forced to sign contracts that say they are being paid the correct wage and in reality only get half of it. Apparently this is common. Taking a page right out of the USA playbook when it comes to treating workers like deal just because they are not citizens.

  4. Read an article that Norway’s life expectancy ,from memory,is under 80 years.This, for example ,is below Australias.The main reason given was that there was a lot of depression in Norway and that it is hard to find work.
    I cannot vouch for the veracity of these claims,but that is what I read.

    1. Benton,

      It takes a minute to look this up.

      Life expectancy

      Norway (2016): 82.51 years
      Australia (2016): 82.50 years

      and for comparison

      Sweden (2016): 82.20 years
      United Kingdom (2016): 80.96 years
      United States (2016): 78.69 years

      As for depression and life expectancy… Suicide rate per 100,000 (2016)

      Norway 10.1
      Australia 11.7
      Sweden 17.3
      United Kingdom 7.6
      United States 13.7

  5. i did not get an answer to my question. Can anybody tell me what is the minimum wages for skilled worker in hotel and restaurant in Norway please?

    1. From reading the exertion I would say salary for hospitality is nok173.10 for unskilled worker and only 10nok more for skilled worker. Me

  6. Did not mention that vat, “sales tax” is 25%, gas is twice that of the us
    Toll roads all over. Exorbitant parking fees, if you have a cellphone provided by your work, and you use it for private use, another tax. if you have free parking at work, another “ benefit “ you will be taxed for.
    So… your “high” wage is quickly reduced.
    To be fair all this should be mentioned to be fair about income in Norway.

  7. Plus the fact that many things cost at least double the cost you might find in other countries. I bought something to repair my car the other day for 250nok from Poland, same thing here in Norway cost 950nok…

    New cars cost around double, older cars can be triple the cost of say the UK.

    Fuel is reasonable, not much more than elsewhere so the higher wages more than offset it.

    Tax and payments to the government/local authorities are high, but the services received are also good. Health service focuses on preventative care.

    Overall, we earn more, but save less than we did in the UK. However I consider our standard of living to be higher. Better house, but older car. Better holidays, but less to spend on going out etc.

    I can’t imagine ever going back…

    1. I have lived in Norway for over 40 years, and to me is the best country in the world. I you don’t like it move back to the country you came from.

  8. I definitely see the positives and the negatives regarding income and cost of living. Higher tax rate with better benefits. Where in the USA we have a lower tax rate and more freedom to do what we want with our money. Much lower cost of living depending on the area. Lower cost of foods and goods. Much lower gas prices. I did the math from liters to gallons and NOK to US dollars and figured Norway was about $16/gallon when we went in September 2018. $75 easy to fill up a tiny mini car. In the US we bounce around $2.25 to $3 per gallon. We thought this was strange given all our oil is imported and Norway drills and refines it’s own.

  9. The outsiders commenting on this articles are not in touch with the system. Those who call in sick are paid by the office of social welfare called NAV……. actually, they are paid from their tax kitty…… now you should stop wondering why the tax in Norway is so high……….

    Though every system got its weaknesses, it is misleading of those who say that Norwegian system pretends to be what it is not…… travel all over the world and identity a country that is so focused on the welfare of it’s people than Norway…….

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