International travel is generally described as an eye-opening experience, but can you imagine what working abroad would do for you. It’s an opportunity to be part of some of the strongest economies in the world or at the very least, increase your cultural awareness. Sweden is a great destination to kick-start your international career. From the high salaries, high quality of life, communal work environment, equality at the workplace, strong workers’ rights, generous benefits, not to mention the fact that there are several innovative, international companies here, it’s easy to see why working in Sweden is ideal for foreigners looking to relocate. As with any move abroad, relocating to Sweden can be quite challenging. But, before you book a one-way ticket to Sweden, take a few moments to go through this guide for all the relevant information about living and working in Sweden. Note that 1 US Dollar (USD) = 9.57 Swedish Krona (SEK) as of 2019-12-02.
What is the average salary in Sweden? Employers in Sweden pay an average gross salary of $28.65 an hour, $4,965/month, or $59,583 a year. This brings the average net salary after tax and other deductions such as social security and compulsory insurances to about $2,538/month. Keep in mind that salaries will differ between professions, locations, and employers. The highest salaries are found in the cities of Stockholm, Goteborg, and Malmo at an average gross of $64,993, $59,738, and $53,880 a year.
Sweden relies on foreign workers to boost its skills shortage. Like most countries with a high quality of life and high salaries, their job market is quite competitive. Most jobs require fluency in Swedish, but there are a few that don’t have this requirement. These are typically large international corporations based in the capital. Expats will find good job opportunities in Swede’s strong economy, particularly in thriving manufacturing and tech businesses. Plus, the country is known for having straightforward work permit applications and an enviable work-life balance. For those seeking employment in Sweden, this collection of useful information will make your job hunt and relocation to Sweden a lot easier.
Average Salary in Sweden
Several factors determine what you get paid in Sweden. The employer and the employee usually agree on a salary through individual negotiations. If the employer is bound by a collective agreement, special provisions may apply that have to be taken into consideration. Salaries in this country tend to be high due to the high cost of living. A good salary living in Stockholm’s city centre is around $1,300/month for a single person and $2,400/month for a family of four. Since this is the most expensive city in Sweden, you can be assured of a decent life with lower salaries, especially in rural areas.
To help you narrow down what you can make working in Sweden, here are the average monthly salaries of popular jobs here:
- Teacher – $3,750
- Nurse – $4,152
- Architect – $4,695
- Dentist – $11,689
- Lawyer – $7,082
- Developer/programmer – $4,444
- Journalist – $5,170
- Waiter/waitress – $3,066
- Receptionist – $2,833
- Project manager – $5,640
- General Manager – $9,263
- Police officer – $3,956
- Graphic designer – $3,628
- Engineer – $4,580
- Accountant – $3,550
- Cashier – $2,782
The Swede economy relies heavily on foreign trade, with motor vehicles, vehicle parts such as engines, and telecommunication equipment being key exports. The economy is also driven by the manufacturing industry. Thanks to its open and competitive economy, as well as a well-funded welfare system, Sweden has one of the highest standards of living in the world.
The job market
Job opportunities tend to be concentrated in the southern part of the country, but you can still find vacancies along the Baltic coast and in the northern part where it’s more sparsely populated. The Swedish workforce is highly skilled with about a third of the working population holding some degree or tertiary education. As mentioned earlier, foreigners looking to work here should have some basic knowledge of the Swedish language. Even if you don’t speak Swedish, companies will be willing to hire you if you show interest in learning.
Several international companies, including communication and innovative technology businesses, are based here. These are often a foreigner’s most likely areas for employment. The country is also known for its strengths in design and its flourishing music scene. Iron, hydropower, and timber are also important natural resources and offer a variety of job opportunities in related industries.
Sweden usually releases an annual report of job shortages with jobs in the fields of engineering, construction, IT, healthcare, teaching, and trade work featuring every time. Some of the occupations listed in 2019 include doctors, nurses, dentists, chemists, pharmacists, university professors, high school teachers, engineers, software and system developers, etc. Be sure to check out the list to see if your profession is listed before relocating.
With that being said, professions such as lawyers, psychiatrists, and doctors require some form of certification. If that’s where you want to work, ensure you find out what certifications are needed beforehand or whether the certification you already have is acceptable.
Apart from paid jobs, several expats choose to take up self-employment. The requirements for self-employment in Sweden are not as stringent as those in other EU countries. Some of the top areas to take up self-employment include IT, business, fashion and design, game development, writing, and editing.
Sweden Average Household Income
In Sweden, the average annual disposable household income has been recording an increase from 2011 to 2017. The figure was last recorded in 2017 where it reached an all-time high of around $49,550. That being said, the average disposable income varies significantly between different household types. Those that include cohabiting adults with adult children had the highest average disposable income at $94,900, while single-person households recorded the lowest disposable income at an average of $25,773. The single-person household is the most common type of household in Sweden.
Minimum Wage in Sweden
Sweden is one of the few countries in Europe with no statutory minimum wage. But don’t let that deter you from joining the Swede job market. After all, salaries in this country range from around $672/month (minimum) to $21,956/month (maximum).
This doesn’t mean salaries go entirely unregulated, rather they are set by collective agreements between employers and an individual employee or a trade union that represents employees, or even both.
Most collective agreements were in the past made at a centralised level for different sectors. These agreements were made between employers’ organisations and the main trade unions. The system has since been highly decentralised, especially for white-collar jobs. Most of the agreements include minimum wage rates for different jobs within the industry, which are often differentiated by the employees’ levels of education, work experience, age, and seniority.
About 90% of Swede workers are protected by these collective agreements, which provide minimum wages that are relatively high compared to the rest of Europe. Most of these minimum wages tend to be about 60-70% of the average wage in Sweden. There are about 60 trade unions in Sweden and most employees belong to one. It’s a good idea to join a trade union once you accept a job offer to help fix your wage. Ensure you research your trade union and find out how the collective agreements are regulated for the company you work for.
These agreements regulate several other aspects of your working life beyond pay. A typical agreement will include provisions for normal working hours, overtime hours and pay, annual leave, sick leave, parental leave, and pensions among other things. Generally, Swede workers have a 40-hour workweek and are entitled to at least 25 days of paid annual leave. Ultimately, you can expect strong workers’ rights in Sweden, along with attractive employment conditions.
Average Salary in Stockholm
Stockholm is one of the largest Scandinavian capitals in Northern Europe, as well as one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. From breathtaking scenery to the extremely high quality of life, as well as many economic opportunities with appealing financial rewards, it’s easy to see why people from all over the world are relocating to this city. But, how much can you expect to make working in Stockholm?
The average salary in this city is $5,411.34 a month or $64,936.47 a year, while the average hourly rate is $31.24/hour. These average salaries include basic pay and benefits such as housing and transport, which brings the net salary after tax to an average of $2,660/month. Note that salaries differ significantly between different employers, professions, job titles, and qualifications; therefore it’s a good idea to check out the average salaries of a specific occupation that you’re interested in joining.
Stockholm’s labour market
With a mix of multinational and high-profile local companies, Stockholm’s job market is impressively dynamic. It has a booming tech scene with companies like IBM and Ericson based here. Stockholm is also a green city and a major ecological technologies hub. All these features make it a great location to kick-start your international career.
Although job hunting is competitive, the city boasts a lower unemployment rate than the national average at just 6%. With the right set of skills and good academic credits, you’ll be able to join its labour force. While there are jobs for English speakers in Stockholm, they are few and far between. In that case, practising the Swedish language will open more job opportunities.
The city also boasts a happy and efficient workforce with employees enjoying flexible work hours than the norm, not to mention almost 2 years of parental leave for every child.
Cost Of Living in Sweden
Salaries may be high in this country, but they are directly proportional to the high cost of living. The country has a reputation for being expensive, especially it’s capital Stockholm. Even so, it’s possible to get by without spending a fortune or taking out much credit. Like everywhere else, the exact living costs will depend on where you live and your lifestyle. Here’s a look at the common household expenses, together with their average prices in Sweden:
Housing will take the biggest portion of your salary. For instance, the average rental cost for a one-bedroom apartment is $850/month in the city centre, while a three-bedroom apartment is $1,360/month in the same area. Expats are also allowed to buy property and access mortgages in Sweden. House prices generally reduce the further one goes outside of the city centre.
Compared to housing costs, utilities are fairly priced. For instance, basic utilities for an 85m2 apartment will cost about $72.
Nothing much changes in this area in terms of high costs. If you cook all your meals, you can budget for about $210/month to cover food costs. The cost of eating out will depend on where you eat and how often. To get you started, a basic meal in a cheap restaurant will cost you $10.44 while a combo meal in a fast-food restaurant goes for $8.35.
Those living close to the city can take advantage of the extensive and excellent public transport network, which is generally cheaper than owning a car. A one-way ticket on the local transport costs about $3.13 while a monthly pass is about $83. Children, students and senior citizens will often receive a discount. For those who want to drive, gasoline costs $1.62/litre and you’ll also have to budget for repairs, maintenance, and insurance costs.
You should also budget for clothing, leisure, and telecommunication will come to about $185/month. This brings your total monthly expenditure to an average of $925 (without rent/mortgage payments). Cash is commonly used to make purchases, but most credit cards are accepted as well.
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.