Italy is not only a classic tourist destination but also a hot spot for expatriates looking for a chance to work abroad. The country has a population of about 60 million people. 58% of the people eligible for work (ages 15-64) have a paid job. Of this population, 67% are men while 49% are women. Italy’s economy is one of the strongest and largest in the Eurozone. Working here is still an attractive prospect despite a crowded market for certain jobs and a few economic concerns. But, before making the big move, you must understand the labor market, economic climate, and salaries offered in Italy.
What is the average salary in Italy? The average monthly net salary in Italy is around €1,376, while the average hourly wage is €21/hour. It might, however, be a good idea to look at the salaries per region as it varies enormously. The highest salaries are found in the region of Lombardy at an average of €26,494 a year, while Calabria takes the bottom place at €14,341 a year. In terms of cities, the city of Milan offers the highest salaries while Vibo Valentia has the lowest.
Being the eighth largest economy in the world, Italy offers several job opportunities for expats and locals alike. There are, however, huge disparities between the northern and southern regions of the country. The northern region is rich, heavily industrialized, developed, and houses several private companies, meaning there’s almost full employment. On the other hand, unemployment in southern Italy is as high as 29%. In this guide, I will cover all the essential information you need to know about working in Italy, including how to get a job as a foreigner, minimum and average salaries, popular job opportunities for expatriates, and the working culture in Italy. This is to ensure your integration into the Italian job market is as smooth as possible. Without further ado, let’s get started:
The Average Salary in Italy
We’ve already seen the national average salary, but salaries also differ drastically between professions. Here’s a list of common job titles in Italy, along with their annual average salaries in Euros:
- Accountant – 31,925
- Attorney – 66,351
- Cashier – 25,453
- Chef – 36,952
- CEO – 101,811
- CFO – 96,610
- Civil Engineer – 42,157
- Dentist – 104,765
- Engineer – 39,087
- General Manager – 76,005
- Internal Auditor – 48,010
- Nurse – 34,918
- Pilot – 51,306
- Police Officer – 34,739
- Receptionist – 24,889
- Secretary – 24,441
- Teacher – 33,460
- Waiter/Waitress – 28,241
Italy doesn’t have a unified labor code. As a result, things like the frequency with which workers should be paid, overtime rates, and other wage considerations are often determined by the collective agreements of various unions.
What is it like working in Italy?
The Italian labor market is dominated by the service industry, with the tertiary sector currently making up 75% of the total GDP. Industries such as textile, food production, technology, finance, chemical, and mechanical also contribute to the country’s economic growth and have many job vacancies.
Job opportunities for expatriates in Italy
Several industries cater to foreign employees in Italy. For starters, the hospitality and tourism sectors have many job offers for foreigners. Since most Italians don’t speak English, there’s a demand for those who speak English or multiple languages. Things also look good for those seeking employment in the education sector, especially if you want to teach English as a foreign language. Some traditional work such as weaving and woodworking is also short on talent; plus, expats can easily find work as nannies or au pairs.
Seeking employment outside of the traditional expat jobs may be a bit challenging because Italians usually receive preference for these positions. Plus, being a foreigner, you may lack specific Italian credentials.
Qualified personnel, especially in the IT area, are in high demand. And, although skills and academic credits requirements vary from one employer/industry/job title to the next, Italy is currently experiencing a shortage of skills, knowledge, and abilities in the following areas:
- Mathematical and computing knowledge
- Computer and electronics
- Engineering and technology
- Education and training
While work opportunities for English speakers are widely available, you’ll be at a greater advantage if you speak the local language.
The maximum working hours in Italy is set at 48 hours per week. This includes a standard 40-hour workweek and 8 hours for overtime. When it comes to benefits, Italian employees enjoy quite a number of them. For starters, new mums get 5 months of paid maternity leave, which consists of two months before delivery and three months after delivery. During this time, they receive 80% of their salary. Employees are also allowed 180 days of paid sick leave, at least four weeks of paid vacation, not to mention, there are so many public holidays.
The labor reforms enacted after the financial crisis in 2008 have left many employees not cared for. Most employers now offer short-term contracts that can last a week, a month, or no more than three months. The good news is job security is so solid in this country that it’s nearly impossible to get terminated. An employer must prove a just cause like breaking the law to fire somebody.
Italy Average Household Income
Italy’s average household income is currently at $26,588 a year, which is lower than the OECD average of $30,563 a year. This average household income is updated every year, and it saw an all-time high of $33,861 in 2016. There’s, however, still a considerable wage gap between high-income earners and low-income earners. The top 20% of the income bracket earns over six times more than what the bottom 20% make.
The Minimum Wage in Italy
First off, minimum wage is the lowest pay per hour/day/month that an employer is required by law to pay workers. Most countries have a universal national minimum wage that all workers must receive. Italy, however, is one of the few EU countries with no government-regulated minimum wage. Pay rates are rather set by collective bargaining agreements between unions and employers on a sector-by-sector basis. Most of the unions have set the minimum wage at around €7 per hour. Here’s a look at some examples:
|Sector||Minimum hourly wage (€)|
These wages are reviewed every few years. There’s also a pay increase every two years to cover inflation. Even in sectors with no minimum wage, employers are still required to provide salaries that reflect the quantity and quality of work done by employees, and also be high enough to provide a decent life for the worker and their family.
The basic wage is usually adjusted downwards for apprentices. And, although inexperienced employees earn the minimum basic wage, most people earn more than the set minimum wages. This is especially true in the northern region of the country. The basic pay may also be supplemented by overtime, bonuses, a seniority increase, and/or the superminimo.
Despite having no nation-wide minimum wage, over half of the working population in Italy is covered by a collective bargaining agreement. These agreements must be honoured. Trade unions can take legal actions against employers who fail to comply with the set wages.
The Average Salary in Rome
Rome is the capital city of Italy and also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. It’s one of the most popular destinations for expatriation in Italy thanks to its unique blend of culture, history, life, and job opportunities among other things. This city remains one of the biggest financial and commercial centres of Italy. For this reason, banking, consultancy, and real estate sectors tend to offer more job opportunities compared to other fields.
Rome offers some of the highest salaries in Italy. The average gross salary, including housing, transport, and other benefits is currently at around €4,334/month and €52,005 a year. In that case, the average monthly net salary (after tax) is approximately €1,443/month. The average hourly rate is €25/hour. Despite offering good salaries, it’s important to note that the cost of living in Rome is just as high, especially housing.
Salaries will differ significantly between industries, professions, and job titles. Good academic credits and skills are essential requirements for finding a job in Rome.
The economic outlook in Rome, Italy
The economic situation in Rome is well above the country’s average. This city is home to several international companies, including the UN, FAO, Enel, and IFAD. What’s more, many multi-national companies like Deloitte, Unilever, Accenture, and BNL have their headquarters in this city.
Rome is one of the major tourist destinations in Europe, meaning there’s a huge demand for hospitality and tourism-related jobs. Speaking more than one language offers higher chances of getting employment in that sector.
If you’re looking to find exciting job opportunities and spread your wings abroad, then Rome is an exceptionally good destination to get started. Since it has the highest concentration of expatriates in Italy, you should expect additional competition from your peers.
Cost Of Living in Italy
The cost of living in Italy greatly depends on where an individual lives. Prices are generally higher in the northern region and big cities. But, if you opt for a life in a small town (away from tourist hubs) or live in the southern region, then prices can be quite affordable. Note that the currency used in Italy is Euros (€), which equals 1.11 US dollars ($) as of November 2019.
Here’s a breakdown of the monthly cost of living in Italy:
Housing costs also vary greatly between regions. For instance, renting in Milan will cost you twice as much as it would in Naples. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre of a major city will set you back at least $1,500/month. The same apartment goes for as low as $600/month in the southern region. If you prefer to buy, you can find a $20,000 house in the south or a multi-million dollar villa in Tuscany. Italian mortgages are available to expatriates. However, bank policies for mortgages are a lot stricter to non-Italians following the great recession.
Groceries are available at reasonable prices. Expect to spend between $175 and $225 on monthly groceries. The cost of eating out will depend on what establishments you visit and how often. A basic meal in an inexpensive restaurant will set you back $17, while eating in a high-end restaurant will cost over $200.
Buying a car in Italy is very expensive, not to mention, fuel prices are quite exorbitant. Luckily, Italy has an extensive, reliable, and affordable public transportation system. A one-way ticket costs around $1.67, but you can also get a monthly travel pass for about $39. Taxis start at $5.56 and can go up by $1.58/km.
People living in Italy can access free public healthcare thanks to the country’s national health plan. But you can also get private health insurance to supplement the national plan and receive even quicker services. Such a plan can cost you anything from $1,000 a year.
These are just but a few of the costs you’ll encounter living in Italy. Other costs you’ll need to budget for include utilities, entertainment, clothing, telecommunications, and personal care. On average, a single person will spend about $800, while a family of four will spend $2,770 on monthly expenses (excluding rent).
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.