International students in Estonia do not need an additional working permit to work while studying full time and they are allowed to work on the condition that it does not interfere with their studies. Students have to receive passing grades for a full load of courses and finish studies within the nominal time.
All non-EU students can also stay to Estonia for additional 6 months after their graduation (with the permission of the university) to look for a job in Estonia. Upon finding a job after graduation, they can use this time to apply for a temporary residence permit for work.
Average monthly salary in Estonia:
- €1065 gross per month (2015) for a full time job
- €6.51 gross per hour (2015) for a full time job
- Minimum salary: €430 per month gross (2016)
- Working hours for international students: not limited
How to find a job?
In Estonia, it is usual to send an e-mail a potential employer; phone calls may work but are not normally preferred. You should send a CV, and a motivational letter and expected wage is often requested. Be ready for an interview. Most Estonian students work and study at the same time. Having a full time or part-time job is very common.
You can find guide to living and working in Estonia from www.workinestonia.com website.
Places where you can look for job vacancies:
- Career centres and info desks in universities
- Friends, classmates and local students
- Direct contact with someone from the company, which can be made from the company’s website
Your position is different from that of Estonian students and you will have to take several practical restrictions into account, such as your probable lack of fluency in the Estonian language. It goes without saying that if you are enrolled in an English language programme and have not had to learn any Estonian, certain jobs will be out of your reach but there are certainly options for international students as well.
Career opportunities in Estonia for international students
For part time or full time work during studies, you may want to consider pursuing a job that will provide you with some experience for your long-term career goals. The career services and faculties should have contacts in a variety of industries and they can assist you in looking for a placement. Employers are increasingly looking for evidence of such dedication to your future career; therefore, working during your studies in a related field may become an advantage.
There is typically a wide range of part-time work on offer from jobs in tutoring, language teaching, baby-sitting, interpretation, translation, to data processing, admin, IT programming & developing, clerical, waitressing and shop work. Typical part time work may also involve providing support services to a company that has operations in several countries (call centres, reservation centres, client support centres etc.). These are mostly international companies; therefore, a tolerance for diversity is needed to be comfortable in this type of work environment. Having the ability to speak or understand various languages is a plus in the Estonian job market.
As Estonia also has a strong start-up culture, students and graduates are encouraged to create their own start-up/spin-off companies. Start-up and entrepreneurship culture has tremendous local supporters in Estonia. There are numerous state and private programmes and initiatives set up in order to boost spin-off companies. Organizations and initiatives like Garage48, StartupGarage, Startup WiseGuys and Tehnopol Start-Up Incubator are offering students funding and possibilities to start focusing on their career and new ideas in the middle of the studies. This offers endless possibilities to connect your research with a business idea.
Most of Estonian universities also offer various career and counselling services to their international students.
Services usually provided:
- career and psychological counselling
- information about job vacancies and internship opportunities
- help with composing correct documents when applying for a job
- help with preparing for a job interview
- join career mailing list and jobseekers’ database
- seminars and lectures on career issues
- organizing presentations of companies and organisations to students
- information services
- conducting career-related surveys
Rules and regulations
Agreements with an employer
Before you start a job, it is wise to settle all the formalities with your employer, such as working contract, the number of holiday days you are entitled to, your insurance coverage and your tax situation. Also make sure you know the organization’s internal rules and regulations regarding the terms of employment.
Balance with studies
In order to be allowed to work and study at the same time, the student is required to study full-time. Full-time means that student must successfully obtain around 30 ECTS credit points each semester. The exact amount of required credit points may differ for semester. Therefore, you will need to find the right balance between work and studies. If the student wishes, they can also work full time, however, it is quite difficult to manage a full time job and full time studies at the same time.
Legal work contracts
Some students take jobs in, for example, cafes and restaurants through unofficial channels where the employer does not pay any social security contributions for them. The pay for such jobs is usually higher than for regular jobs, but it is important to realize that this practice (called “working in the black”) is illegal, and means that you cannot claim any rights as an employee. Moreover, you will not be insured in the event of a work-related accident. You should also be aware that if you and the employer avoid rules and regulations, they risk a high fine in the event of discovery.
Hours of work
Full working time for an adult in one week is 8 hours a day (40 hours a week). Part-time working time is a working time period that is shorter than full-time working time and is implemented upon the agreement of the employee and the employer. Regular daily, weekly or monthly working time of part-time employees (except trainees) is half a day or other agreed upon time during normal work hours.
Working after graduation in Estonia
All non-EU students can stay in Estonia for an additional 6 months after their graduation to look for a job in Estonia and apply for a temporary residence permit for work. In order to apply for the required permit, it is first necessary to find a suitable job. Processing the work permit application takes about a month. Additional information concerning work permits (that are obligatory after graduating your studies and finding a job in Estonia) can be obtained from the Citizenship and Migration Bureau.
Starting from 1 September 2013, all international graduates who have obtained a bachelor’s, master’s or PhD degree in Estonia can apply for a temporary residence permit for work under special conditions. This means that their employers do not have to follow strict payment/fee requirement (obligatory for other international temporary residence for work applicants) and these employers are not obliged to have the permission of Eesti Töötukassa (Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund) for employing Estonian university graduates of a foreign nationality.