Live, Work & Travel in Iceland
Though Iceland declined to join the EU, the country is part of the European Economic Area and EU citizens are entitled to work there for three months before requiring a residence permit. However, the recession and banking crisis hit Iceland hard and this, combined with a high cost of living, makes Iceland a relatively unattractive place to look for work for those without funds to sustain themselves before landing a job. The fishing industry and hotel jobs are the most likely roles working travellers are likely to find.
Au Pair & Nanny Jobs
TheBestAupair does a good job of summarising Iceland's official au pair programme with further information on applying for a residence permit as an au pair found at www.utl.is/index.php/en/au-pair. Ninukot is a local agency accepting applications from au pairs. Expect to work 30 hours a week in return for €80 pocket money, accommodation and meals, plus flights dependent on length of stay. Good English is required and a driving license is a big plus.
Other Ways to Work in Iceland
In June 2016, 4700 people were unemployed in Iceland where, according to The Reykjavik Grapevine, foreigners are still needed for tourism jobs, especially in the countryside where convincing Icelanders to fill these positions is a difficult sell. The situation is likely to have since become more acute due to a tourist surge off the back of featuring as filming locations for Game of Thrones and Star Wars.
The official tourism website, Visit Iceland, can be used for a spot of research, including finding contact information for tourism businesses. Ninukot, mentioned above in the au pair section, also accepts applications for work in the tourist sector.
The same agency places workers in the horticulture industry too. Work includes sowing, planting, watering, weeding and pruning as well as packaging the end products. Pay is around €1500 per month with room and board provided at 15 euros per day. Employees who work at the same farm for six months will have a one way flight ticket reimbursed. Work 12 months and it's flights both ways. Applicants must be EEA nationals, speak English or a Scandinavian language.
Ninukot no longer seems to be involved in the fish processing industry. Though the sector lost thousands of jobs a few years ago even in times of higher unemployment few Icelanders want to give up unemployment benefits to do unpleasant factory jobs. A mixture of www.infoiceland.is/fisheries.html and Google will unearth links to websites of fish processing companies, some of which have English language job pages and application forms.
The usual stalwart for English speakers of imparting their language to the natives won't work so well in Iceland. Not when the people here speak absurdly good English. Prospects for teachers are sparse but a few vacancies are listed at http://global-teachers.org/jobsiniceland.html. Fulbright has a few awards that will interest Americans.
Low Cost Options for Volunteering
Conserving Iceland's rugged environment is the main focus of the projects we list on our Free or Cheap Volunteer Work in Iceland page.
Other Ways to Travel or Stay for Free
Stay for free in return for caring for local residents' homes or pets. Join Trusted Housesitters to live rent free as a house sitter (Americans may prefer this link).You can get a free $25 Airbnb credit from us here.
More Resources from our Sites
More Working in Iceland Resources
Work in Iceland - Careers advice.
Iceland.is - Some useful links for working and living in Iceland.
EURES in Iceland - The EURES job mobility portal does Iceland, covering living conditions, social security, the labour market and even things to consider once you have decided to leave.
All You Need to Know About Moving to Iceland - Useful information from Jenna Gottlieb, a New Yorker and journalist that moved to Iceland in 2012 to be with her Icelandic husband.
Articles on Living, Working & Travelling in Iceland
Articles on other websites and blogs:
How I Found A Job in Iceland - Kaelene, an American in Iceland, attempts to spread some positive vibes to encourage anyone out there looking for work abroad that it is possible.
Got information about living, travelling or working in Iceland? Write us an article or pass on a tip to other travellers here