Norway has a shortage of qualified healthcare professionals. Foreign nurses are welcome to apply for authorisation, but your education must equal Norwegian standards.
The Norwegian healthcare system is under pressure with the double-whammy of a growing population, and an ageing population. As the population increases and people live longer, Norway's need for qualified healthcare professionals will only continue to grow.
Work as a nurse in Norway
It is absolutely possible for a foreigner to gain employment as a nurse in Norway, but it is not as simple as just sending an application.
First and foremost, it's vital to understand how the Norwegian healthcare system works. It is not the same as the American or British systems, and both the administration and available jobs differ greatly.
The most common employers of nurses are hospitals, and health and care services provided by local authorities. These include care homes, nursing homes, in-home nursing, health services in schools, and public health centres.
Norwegian healthcare is administered by four regional authorities covering the south-east, west, central and northern regions. Each authority is responsible for its region's hospitals and the employment of healthcare professionals. Local authorities take responsibility for care of the elderly and other care services.
Authorisation to work as a healthcare professional
Almost all healthcare employers in Norway require their staff – doctors, psychologists, nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacologists, bioengineers, auxiliary nurses and care assistants – to have formal authorisation from the Directorate for Health and Social Affairs. You can apply for authorisation, which gives you full rights to practise your profession, or apply for a licence to work for a period until you acquire full authorisation.
The number one requirement to work as a nurse in Norway is a degree in general nursing. To be considered for authorisation, EU/EEA citizens must have qualifications that entitle them to work in their home country. Since January 2017, applicants with education from outside the EU/EEA are subject to additional requirements.
The application forms and the list of required documentation for your specific circumstances are published here. The non-refundable application fee at the time of writing is 1,665kr. The application process takes a long time and is based on where you were educated.
The current anticipated waiting time is:
- Nordic education: 6 weeks
- EU/EEA education: 4 months
- All other education: 7 months
Important note: The authorisation process is not a job application. Once you are authorised, you will be able to apply for jobs in Norway, unless you have been given authorisation to work while your application is being processed.
Since January 2017, applicants with education outside the EU/EEA must have documented evidence of a proficiency in the Norwegian language to B2 level, along with other trade-specific courses. Learning Norwegian to B2 level is no easy task, and would be very difficult to do outside of Norway.
We advise applicants with little or no knowledge of the Norwegian language to start their language training before they apply for authorisation. For some three years can be a short time to reach the required level – Directorate for Health and Social Affairs
Although the requirement only applies to those with education outside the EU/EEA, it should be understood that a job in any Norwegian healthcare environment will require a fluency in Norwegian.
Although most Norwegians have a good command of English, very few people want to use anything other than their native language when it comes to medical issues. If you are considering taking the authorisation process, then you must commit to learning Norwegian to fluency as soon as possible.
Salary for a nurse in Norway
According to information published by the Norwegian Nurses Association, the starting salary for an authorised nurse working in Oslo is around 390,000kr, rising annually to around 406,000kr after 5 years and 433,500kr after 10 years.
A specialist nurse is likely to start on around 416,000kr, rising annually to around 446,000kr after 5 years and 461,000kr after 10 years. Nurses employed in other regions of Norway will be subject to different salaries.
- Jobs Vacancies: Search for English-speaking jobs in Norway
- Norsk Sykepleierforbundet: The Norwegian Nurses Association
- Helsedirektoratet: Authorisation and License for Health Personnel