Portugal remains a popular destination for expatriation, attracting foreigners from all over the world with its high quality of life, diverse culture, a relatively low cost of living, and good weather among other things. The variety of opportunities for expat professionals is constantly growing. However, finding any job is different from finding work that you actually like. The job search can become a bit difficult if you’re looking for a good, long-term fit, but the effort will be worth it. In this post, I will give you some insights into the salaries in Portugal, including the cities, professions, and industries/sectors with the best salaries, so you can make an informed decision about relocating and working here.
What is the average salary in Portugal? Employers in Portugal pay an average gross salary of €33,803 a year, €2,817 a month, or €16 an hour. The average person takes home about €833.44/month after tax and other deductions like social security, insurance, and credits. Salaries vary depending on the profession, employer, qualifications, location, and several other factors that I’ll cover in the course of the article.
Finding a job in Portugal has become more difficult in recent years due to the country’s economic crisis after the great recession. There are, however, signs of economic and job improvements, and with the right set of skills, good academic credits, and a little bit of research, it’s possible to find a good job. There are still growing industries, shortages for high-skilled workers, not to mention the job market is increasingly becoming expat-friendly. It’s for these reasons that Portugal has excellent opportunities for foreign workers. Whether you’re planning to relocate to Portugal or you’re already an expatriate in Portugal, here’s a guide on how to find a job, working conditions, employment laws, resident visas, work permits, self-employment, salaries, and more on living and working in Portugal.
Average Salary in Portugal
The national average salary is a great guide, but it’s too general. Therefore, for reference, I’ve provided a list of common professions in Portugal, along with their average annual pay:
- Accountant – €21,970
- Architect – €29,644
- Doctor (General practice) – €28,500
- Nurse – €24,557
- Receptionist – €17,796
- Teacher – €23,578
- UX designer – €24,200
- Developer/programmer – €28,194
- Waiters/waitresses – €19,646
- Hotel manager – €48,870
- Project manager – €35,594
- Travel agent – €27,292
- Sales representative – €21,113
- CEO – €74,257
- CFO – €66,595
- Engineer – €28,183
- Police officer – €26,757
Salaries in this country are generally lower than in most EU nations; however, with the continued economic growth and unemployment decreasing in recent years, the wages have gone up a bit and show signs of increasing years to come.
The job market in Portugal
As mentioned earlier, the job market in this country is increasingly becoming expat-friendly. Several tech firms are based in Portugal, not to mention, the growing number of international companies based here welcome employees from all over the world. As a result, job opportunities in IT, marketing, or other online and tech jobs are surging. Real estate and tourism jobs are also a safe option for foreigners with a variety of full-time, seasonal, and part-time jobs on offer across the industries. For hospitality and tourism, speaking multiple languages (especially English and Portuguese) is highly valued.
Working in a call centre is also a viable option for foreigners; in fact, it’s one of the easiest ways to get your foot into the Portugal labour force market. Call centres are often seeking speakers of various languages, so English, German, French, Spanish, or Dutch language skills can come in handy. Keep in mind that working in a call centre can be quite demanding due to the nature of the job and the constant pressure to perform. As with most expat destinations, of course, you’ll find opportunities as a language teacher.
As the manufacturing sector modernises, several sectors, including IT, agriculture, health, and communications continue to have a shortage of skilled workers, meaning lots of available jobs for foreign workers. Most of these jobs demand good academic qualifications, a high level of experience, and strong Portuguese skills. And, as with anywhere, the highest-paying jobs will require specialised skills.
How to get a job in Portugal
Before researching the job market you wish to join, it’s important to first know if you’re eligible to work in Portugal. Citizens from the EU/EEA nations and Switzerland don’t need an official permit to work in Portugal, They must, however, find a job and apply for residency within six months of moving to Portugal. Your application might be denied if you don’t have a job that pays regular income. And, those who miss the six-month cut-off could face penalties. Foreigners from other countries will need to obtain a visa and work permit to work in Portugal. Either way, the safest way to start a career in this country is to secure a job before moving.
When it comes to job hunting, online searching is common in Portugal. You can also network, directly contact companies in Portugal, or apply for inter-company transfers if you work for a multinational corporation that operates in Portugal.
Portugal Average Household Income
While money is not everything, it’s important to achieving high standards of living. The average household net-adjusted income in Portugal is $21,203 a year, which is lower than OECD’s average of $33,604 a year. There’s a huge wage gap between the rich and the poor with 20% of the top earners making nearly six times more than the 20% of the bottom earners.
Minimum Salary in Portugal
Portugal is one of many countries with an official national minimum wage. A government committee, consisting of ministers and representatives of unions and trade organisations, debates upon the NMW based on national productivity, cost of living, and the government’s income policy. These discussions take place annually and usually result in a compromise between these three parties. Employers who fail to adhere to it face heavy penalties in fines under the Labour Code. Over the years, the government has increased the official minimum wage in an attempt to keep up with the increasing cost of living and inflation.
The official minimum wage of 2019 was set at 600 EUR, except for Madeira and Azores islands where the official minimum wage is slightly higher than the NMW. Keep in mind that the official minimum wage is based on 14 payments a year, so if you are paid 12 times a year the minimum wage will be €700. Although all full-time workers aged 18 years and above are entitled to the NMW, employers may discount the salary for apprentices by 20%. These figures are the lowest in Western Europe and even lower than in some parts of Central Europe.
In addition to minimum wage, employees are entitled to paid annual leave of 22 days, nine days of public holidays, and an annual Christmas bonus equal to one month’s pay. New mums are entitled to 120 consecutive days of paid maternity leave.
Employment contracts in this country are similar to those in many EU countries with the most common methods of employment being permanent, part-time, intermittent, and fixed-term work contracts. A full-time job in Portugal constitutes of a 40-hour workweek or 8 hours a day, but overtime is allowed in certain instances up to a limit of 12 hours per day (60-hour workweek).
Average Salary in Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital and largest city of Portugal. Its rich history, cultural diversity, a welcoming and liberal atmosphere, and a glorious year-round climate among other things are what make it a popular choice for expats moving to Portugal. The Lisbon region is the wealthiest in the country as it’s the centre of most major economic, business, and production sectors. It’s the most developed mass media centre in the country, housing most of the well-known television networks, newspapers, and radio stations. The main seaport, as well as several large international companies, is situated here. It’s evident that Lisbon has diverse job offers. As long as you have the required educational qualifications and work experience, you can find a job in this dynamic environment. So, how much can you expect to earn working in this city?
The average gross salary in Lisbon is €34,714 /year, €2,893/month, or €17 an hour. This brings the average net salary after tax to about €914.58/month. These figures are the highest in Portugal but still rather low by Western European standards. Keep in mind that this is just a guide and your exact salary will depend on your profession, employer, qualifications, skills, working experience, and the likes.
Lisbon’s economy has continued to improve from the economic and fiscal problems the country has faced in the recent past. It has booming services and tourism sectors, which provide the most vacancies in the job market. It also offers many jobs in engineering, IT, insurance, education (especially teaching English), and mining. Although Lisbon is open to all foreign job seekers, multilingual speakers (particularly those with fluency in English and Portuguese) will have better chances of finding their dream job here.
More and more young professionals are choosing self-employment over being employed. The freelance world is growing in Portugal with many considering it to be an ideal job situation. Some of the strongest areas in Portugal for freelancing opportunities include social media management, content creation, copywriting, translators, and marketing. Alternatively, you can start your own business/company. The Portuguese government is encouraging entrepreneurs to start-up businesses and has set aside EUR 20mn to help fund start-ups.
Cost Of Living in Portugal (In US Dollars)
Portugal offers the lowest cost of living in Western Europe. Obviously, it depends on how much you earn and where you choose to live. Here’s a breakdown of the cost of living in Portugal:
Renting or making mortgage payments is the biggest expense you’ll encounter in Portugal, but it’s still surprisingly affordable. The average cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment is $490-671/month while a three-bedroom apartment is possible for $826-1,222/month. If you choose to buy a house expect to spend an average of $1,704-2,954/square metre either as an upfront cost or as a mortgage.
Food costs are generally low and most areas have supermarkets, as well as thriving traditional markets. Your monthly grocery shopping can run from $200 a month, depending on your lifestyle and how often you cook at home.
Public transport is quite effective and affordable in Portugal. A one-way ticket on local transport costs $1.71 and daily commuters can take a monthly travel pass for about $38.26. Intercity travel is also affordable on public transport; for instance, you can get a return ticket from Lisbon to Faro for around $22.03. Taxis start at $3.80, plus an additional $0.52/km.
In addition to these major household expenses, a single person might also need to budget for:
- Basic utilities – $104.86 a month for 85m2 Apartment
- Internet (60 Mbps or more) – $34.83
- Health insurance – $40-58
- Entertainment – $120
- Miscellaneous Expenses (home goods and personal items) – $110
Generally, the cities of Lisbon and Porto offer the highest salaries in the country but also have the highest cost of living, especially renting/mortgage payments. Expect to spend an average of $936-1,212 per month to live a decent life in these areas, while $771-882 a month is okay in other parts of the country.
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.