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Do you really need to speak Norwegian to work in Norway?

Knowing how to speak and understand Norwegian is definitely an advantage when living in Norway, writes Agnes Erickson.

Do you really need to speak Norwegian to work in Norway?
Photo: Robert Tudor on Unsplash

The Norwegian language itself is a cultural entity, but is it necessary in the workplace? There are different factors to explore when considering exactly how important knowing Norwegian is in finding employment. Here are a few key ones. 

Which company you work for

You may find Norwegian as a helpful advantage even though it isn’t listed in the job requirements.

Russian native Ekaterina Jensen works in a management position for Cameron Sense AS, in Kristiansand, Norway. The business specialises in delivering high performance drilling equipment to international energy industries abroad. 

“The company, which was formally a Norwegian one, was bought out by a company with American and French origins,” she explains.

“They believe diversity is a key value to success and the working language is English.” 

Despite the company’s working language being English, Jensen admits “my interview to get the job was conducted in Norwegian, I have received emails in Norwegian and have asked meetings that began in Norwegian to be continued in English.”

Jensen believes knowing the native language “is always a plus.”

English is no longer in demand

When it comes to finding a job, it is most likely that anyone who knows the Norwegian language will stand in front of you as a more desirable candidate. Proficiency in English was more in demand 5 to 10 years ago than it is now. Oil companies have shed a great number of jobs in the past few years, leaving a surplus of English speakers on the job hunting market. 

Manager of southern Norway’s job recruitment and hiring agency JobZone, Ulf Singstad, told The Local that around 50 percent of the jobs listed on JobZone’s website have a requirement for speaking Norwegian. But he adds, “without having the exact statistics, I would guess only around 5 to 10 percent of the job seekers using the site can’t speak Norwegian.” 

It was more common in the past for restaurants and cafes to hire servers who didn’t speak Norwegian. Although this is still the case in communities relying heavily on tourism, the desire for a Norwegian speaking service staff is strong. According to an analysis carried out by opinion on behalf of the Language Council of Norway,  80 percent of guests prefer their server to speak Norwegian. Such a high percentage suggests Norwegian speaking candidates will be preferred in the recruitment process.

READ ALSO: Should Norway’s cafe and restaurant staff speak more Norwegian?

Where you live

Areas with a higher density of tourists are more prone to accept workers who don’t speak Norwegian. The popular tourist destination Lofoten, for example. Located in the North of Norway, the area is  highly dependent on international visitors to support their economy.  English is the dominant language used to communicate with foreigners. Food menus are printed in both Norwegian and English and it would be surprising to not to be greeted in English at a restaurant in Lofoten.  

READ ALSO: In pictures: Surfing above the Arctic Circle in Norway

Larger cities such as Oslo and Bergen have a higher percentage of international residents as well as international companies making English in the workplace more likely. 

“The south of Norway has a lot of export jobs which use English as the working language,” Singstad said.

In smaller towns and villages, the possibility for employment without knowing the language is extremely low. The few jobs offered will most likely go to those who can communicate in Norwegian.

The professional advantages of knowing Norwegian 

Professionally, there is stronger unity between coworkers who use the same language.

Researcher Jon Rogstad has discussed the use of language and its inclusive and excluding power in multicultural workplaces.

At an annual conference in Norway, Rogstad said he believes language is an important part of integration in working life, in large part because we are working as a team and there is more writing than before. Both those who are Norwegian and those who aren’t have a responsibility. 

Generally speaking, your Norwegian colleagues will switch to English if they know you do not understand, but it is greatly appreciated when you make an effort to learn the language.  Their willingness to speak English may decrease after time if they see no effort has been made on your behalf to learn their language. 

Singstad also points out the safety benefits of speaking the same language as your colleagues explaining, “people should be able to communicate with each other if there is ever an emergency situation.”

Possible jobs for those who do not know Norwegian

Singstad recommends jobs within warehouse facilities.

“There are a lot of workers hired that cannot speak Norwegian, there are also some that don’t speak English in warehouses,” adding that he recommends “looking for jobs that don’t require a lot of verbal exchanges.” 

That could include jobs within the construction, hospitality, and tourist industries, where contact with the customer is not a part of the job, such as a chef or dishwasher.

READ ALSO: Readers reveal: This is the best word in the Norwegian language

Restaurants and shops located in tourist dense areas such as Karl Johans gate and Aker Brygge  in the country’s capital city, Oslo. As stated above, the data shows guests preferences towards Norwegian speakers but it is worth searching. In a recent study, NRK reported one in two people in Norway has experienced being served in English by a non-Norwegian speaker during the last year. 

Foreign language teachers, or similarly jobs in sales of exports or purchasing of imports that  require a mastery of a foreign language, may not require Norwegian.

Starting your own business. You can set up and establish your own business in any language while living in Norway, although most rules and country guidelines for doing so are available in Norwegian.

If you are currently looking for or planning on looking for employment in Norway, the most popular website to find available jobs is on Finn.no. Finn does not offer an English version of its site, but if you type inEnglish or the language you speak in the search heading, possible job openings including your search word can appear.

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MONEY

How and where to get the cheapest fuel in Norway

Norway is leading the pack when it comes to the sales of new electric vehicles. In fact, nearly 60 percent of all new car sales in this country are electric. But for petrol and diesel car owners who have yet to make the switch, knowing when and where to find the cheapest fuel can end up saving you thousands of kroner.

A petrol station in Norway in 2021. Refuelling your car is a pricey business in the Nordic country, but there are ways to limit costs.
A petrol station in Norway in 2021. Refuelling your car is a pricey business in the Nordic country, but there are ways to limit costs. Photo by Malik Skydsgaard on Unsplash

Why is it so expensive to fuel up?

Fuel – gasoline, petrol and diesel — is an expensive monthly bill for many. Norway typically has some of the highest fuel prices in Europe. The at-times sky high prices are mainly due to taxes on fuel imposed by the government, as well as the usual international market factors.

The Norwegian Competition Authority or Konkurransetilsynet recently stated that it is perhaps now more important than ever before to be aware of the ever changing fuel prices.

We have registered price differences of 2-3 kroner in the same local area. There is undoubtedly money to be saved by following along,” said Marita Skjæveland, deputy leader of the Norwegian Competition Authority’s energy section to broadcaster TV2.

The average price to fuel up between the months of July to October this year was 18.8 kroner per litre (2.26 dollars or 1.94 euros). 

READ ALSO: Five things that are becoming more expensive in Norway (and why)

Does it matter which day you fuel up?

As of writing, routinely fueling your vehicle on a specific day of the week will likely no longer save you money. 

“We see that the players in the market still raise prices two to three times a week, but that it happens on different days from week to week,” Skjæveland told TV2. The competition analyst added that by the end of the year, fixed price increases may also happen over the weekend. As such, it’s important to stay updated not only on the weekdays, but on the weekends as well.

Previously, Sunday evenings and early on Monday mornings used to be known as the cheapest time to fill your vehicle’s tank with petrol or diesel.  This is now a practice of the past. 

Where can I find cheap petrol prices online?

Hunting for the cheapest fuel prices in Norway is quite common. It’s also a normal discussion to have with your neighbours and colleagues. So don’t be worried about appearing ‘cheap’ if you want to talk about the high price of fuel. Or share which local petrol stations you have noticed to be less expensive. 

You can check Facebook for groups that are committed to informing the public on where to find the cheapest petrol stations. 

For Oslo and its surrounding areas, you can try here, and if you live in or are driving through the south of Norway, check here.

Drivestoff is an app designed to compare prices of petrol stations you will drive by on your journey so you can plan ahead to get the cheapest fuel. You can find more information and download the app here.

You can also save money by looking for a queue of cars at a petrol station. Yes, it may be just busy. But oftentimes, a queue is a signal for cheaper petrol prices. 

Memberships and credit cards can save you money on fuel

If you’re in the market for a credit card, look for one that might save you money on fuel. Credit cards such as 365 Direct and Flexi VISA will give you good discount options at all petrol stations. If you have a particular station you always fill up at, such as a YX, you can sign up for the company’s credit card to receive discounts on fuel. 

There are also benefits to be had if you sign up for a credit card or a drivstoffkort or “fuel card”.

A drivstoffkort is a special credit card which you use to pay when refuelling your vehicle. The cards generally only work at the stations run by the company to which the card belongs. Different deals and types of card are available, depending on the company.

Specific deals on credit card and drivstoffkort discounts can be found (in Norwegian) here

You can sometimes use membership cards with grocery stores or real estate organisations to give you discounts on fuel. For example, the Coop Medlemskort will save you 45 øre when filling up at Circle K petrol stations. Trumf kortet, which is associated with the chains Kiwi, Meny, Joker and Spar, gives you bonuses when you fill up at Shell stations. OBOS members receive a 27 øre discount on petrol and diesel at both Statoil and 1-2-3-Automat stations. 

Where can I get the lowest priced petrol?

Petrol stations in Norway are extremely competitive. There is no one company that is known to sell gasoline or diesel cheaper than the others

Like many other goods, fuel prices around Norway will rise and fall with demand. Typically, fuel stations located in mountainous towns or areas that heavily rely on tourism will have more expensive fuel. If you’re on holiday in such a town or area, and can wait to fuel up when you get to a more trafficked motorway, it will likely save you money. 

Petrol stations that don’t have employees on location tend to be slower at increasing their prices to match the competition. So if you know you’ll be passing by an ubemannet or “unstaffed” petrol station on your trip, it may be cost-effective to wait and fill up there. 

Consider how much time you want to invest

Joining the hunt for cheaper fuel may not be for everyone. It is time consuming, and admittedly hard to achieve due to the ever-changing prices. If you are not dependent on your vehicle for your daily commute and don’t often drive long distances, fueling up at your local gas station may be the best choice. 

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