After finishing high school, I knew I wanted to live abroad before starting college. Once I made that decision, I wrestled with where I wanted to go.
I’d studied German in high school and planned to study it in college when I returned. So going to a German-speaking country was the natural choice for me. I’d already been to Germany and Switzerland, and I wanted to try a new country. Plus, I didn’t fancy trying to cope with Swiss German for an entire year!
That’s how I decided to work and travel in Austria.
Unless you’re big on skiing or mountains, working and traveling in Austria may not have been on the top of your bucket list.
Austria is Germany’s smaller counterpart and hidden between a bunch of other countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Many write off this small nation as an extension of Germany that’s a bit out of the way.
(Don’t ever say that to an Austrian, though, or you’ll risk being thoroughly told off in German!)
But there’s a lot more to Austria than Viennese Whirls, the Vienna State Opera and skiing. (Although, let’s be honest, these are all pretty great, too!)
Why Work and Travel in Austria?
So why should you go to Austria?
Although less frequently visited than larger Central European countries, Austria has a lot to offer that nearby nations just can’t match.
- Austria is one of Europe’s richest countries. While this means it can be a bit more expensive to travel and buy commodities, it also means most of the products you buy and the services you receive are high-quality. And if you work in Austria, the pay should match the cost of living!
- Austria’s capital is the beautiful Vienna, which is home to the Vienna State Opera, the world’s oldest zoo, and approximately one-quarter of the Austrian population.
- 62% of Austria is covered by the Alps. Wherever you go, you’ll never be too far from breathtaking mountainous landscapes.
- It’s home to the Eisriesenwelt, the world’s largest ice cave and a popular tourist destination.
- Working and traveling in Austria means that you can not only pick up or improve your German language skills, but you can also add Austrian-German slang into your dictionary. This is something that will definitely make you stand out from the crowd and impress your Austrian and German friends alike.
- Austria is a landlocked country, bordered by eight other nations. This makes Austria perfect for workers who want to travel all around Europe. Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, Germany, the Czech Republic and Switzerland are all just a short drive away!
Work and Travel Austria: Explore One of the World’s Richest Countries
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Work in Austria
When I decided to move to Austria, the first thing I did was sift through all the information on Google. There were pages. And pages. And pages.
It’s daunting enough moving abroad, let alone having to sift through a ton of overwhelming information.
So here’s a quick cheat sheet of everything you should know about moving to and working in Austria.
What can I expect working in Austria?
Austria is frequently ranked near the top of the list as having the highest standards of living in the world, and its capital Vienna nearly always hits the top for being one of the world’s most livable cities.
The working standard in Austria reflects this, with high salaries and benefits galore.
The logistics of working in Austria
- Salary: Your pay will depend on your job, but the net average for 2018 is €2,324 (2,626 USD) per month.
- Living Costs: €1,300 to €2,200 (1,500 to 2,499 USD).
- Office hours: 9-5 or eight hours per day. You’ll always be paid for overtime. It’s common to finish work by noon on Fridays.
- Holidays: 25 days per year.
- Benefits: Sick leave is provided and paid for (but a doctor’s note must be provided after the second day). Depending on your job and employment status, you could also receive other benefits, such as healthcare or a daily free meal at the office.
Citizens from the EU don’t need a visa to work in Austria. But if you want to stay for more than three months at a time, travelers from certain countries will need to get a residence permit.
Other visitors, including US citizens, will need to visit the Austrian Embassy, where you’ll have to provide documents and have your fingerprints taken. Due to these requirements, you have to actually appear in person—no exceptions!
You can read the details about applying for a visa to work in Austria here.
If you just wish to travel Austria without working, a 90-day visa-free entry is granted for American citizens within a 180-day period.
What jobs can I work in Austria?
Common jobs and sectors
Austria’s official language is German, so if you have German language skills, finding a job will be much easier.
Brush up on your German by watching videos with FluentU. FluentU takes a huge collection of language video clips from real-world sources—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and uses it to generate personalized German lessons for each learner.
By learning with authentic videos, you’ll also learn about Austrian culture, as well as the cultures of other German-speaking countries you might be visiting in your time off work.
You can even download FluentU files for offline use, so you can complete quizzes and review PDFs on your morning metro ride into work or on the train ride for your weekend trip to Switzerland.
Click here to check out FluentU. The first 15 days are free!
If you don’t speak German or your language skills are minimal, you can probably still find a job. You just might be limited to certain sectors.
Remember to keep an open mind when job hunting. Even if your first job offer isn’t for your ideal gig, remember that this job can open a lot of doors. And remember that you’re in a new country. You’re not just here to work, you’re here to explore Austria!
Here are your best options for work:
- English teaching (No German language skills are required)
- Tourism (German language skills are a bonus)
- Internships (German is usually required)
- Hospitality (Depending on the job, sometimes speaking German is just a bonus, other times it’s required)
- The business industry (Similar to hospitality, German skills are sometimes required and sometimes just make you stand out from other foreign applicants)
Seasonal work in Austria
- Au pair: Work for the summer holiday as a live-in nanny and become part of the family! Working as an au pair isn’t strictly seasonal. You can definitely find a year-round job. However, due to school holidays, even more families look for au pairs for summer months.
- Ski resorts: Work as a ski and/or snowboard instructor at one of Austria’s many ski resorts.
- Vineyards: Work on a vineyard and pick grapes for the upcoming harvest.
There are multiple resources for finding a job in Austria. After arriving, you could look in the local newspaper or go to career centers. The best way to find a quality job is usually to search in-person once you’re already in Austria.
However, you may want to have a job secured before you arrive. Turning to the internet is the easiest and most practical way to find a job.
Most websites will offer English translations. But to get a full view of all available jobs, try searching in German or ask a German-speaking friend to assist.
- Jobs in Vienna: A wide range of jobs are available for both English- and German-speakers.
- Indeed: This is a familiar face that also works in Austria!
- Der Standard (The Standard) and Karriere (Career): These newspapers’ websites always have job listings for multiple sectors posted and kept up to date.
- Monster Austria: One of the oldest and most trusted websites for finding a job, this is the Austrian version of Monster.
- Career Jet: This is yet another popular choice for finding jobs around the world. Including in Austria!
Volunteer in Austria
Sure, working in another country is a great way to travel. And simply grabbing a backpack and hopping on a train is a fun way to explore. But have you ever considered volunteering abroad?
Volunteering in Austria will give you a unique opportunity to learn about a the country, culture and language.
At the same time, volunteer positions usually offer free accommodation, food and other benefits that will help you spend as much time in the country as possible without financial problems popping up. This is a godsend, because finances tend to be the most stressful part of traveling!
If you want to volunteer in Austria, I seriously recommend going through Workaway. This website has over 300 listings for volunteer positions around the country in a myriad of sectors.
Here are some of the most common volunteer opportunities in Austria:
- Volunteering with children
- Volunteering with animals
- Volunteering on a farm
- Volunteering to teach English
- Volunteering on a vineyard
Travel Around Austria
Austria is a relatively small country, with a total area of 83,878 km² (32,385 mi²). This means you can easily use the train and bus systems to get around the country.
If you have an International Driving Permit, there’s nothing better than driving through Austria’s mountainous roads on a summer afternoon. With no one else around and the music blasting!
Austria has both big, bustling cities and stretches of countryside that remind you of childhood fairy tale settings. But the thing that really sets Austria apart from other nearby countries? The history and culture that seem to be everywhere and are deeply routed in locals’ mindsets.
Whatever you’re looking for, you can find it in Austria.
Austria’s capital is a must-visit while you live in Austria.
Take in the history at the Vienna State Opera and Schönbrunn Palace. Learn about famous residents such as Mozart, Beethoven and Sigmund Freud.
Salzburg has the perfect balance of an exciting city vibe and beautiful landscapes. It’s been said that Salzburg has more tourists per year than Florence, Italy!
Go for a “The Sound of Music” tour or spend your time wandering the mountains and salt mines.
Innsbruck is a haven for sports lovers—winter and summer activities abound! Fairy tale landscapes, picturesque towns and Olympic ski jumps await you here.
You’ll never be bored here if you’re an avid snowboarder or skier. But if sports aren’t your thing, you can spend your days perusing the streets of the Altstadt (Old Town) or add in a bit more culture by visiting the Tyrolean Folk Art Museum.
Visit the second largest city in Austria. This ancient Roman town is home to six universities and a never-ending supply of beautiful buildings. It’s definitely a must-visit for architecture lovers.
Don’t focus so much on big cities that you miss out on some amazing scenery.
The popular Neusiedl See (Neusiedl Lake), which belongs to both Austria and Hungary, is just an hour outside of Vienna and offers swimming in summer and ice skating in winter.
Or head inland to the Grüner See (Green Lake) in Steiermark to see glorious, vibrant green colors that really make Green Lake live up to its name.
With job and travel opportunities galore, why wouldn’t you choose to work in Austria?
Log into one of those job portals and let the journey begin!
Zoe Stephens lives in Beijing, where she works in Chinese social media and as a freelance tour guide for North Korea. She began freelance writing when she moved to China over a year ago. Driven by her love for traveling and learning about new cultures, she’s tackling her fourth language: Chinese.
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