Working life

On the following page you will find information regarding employment and education in Sweden, what rights you have as an employee, what it means to be a tax payer as well as what you need to consider in order to start your own business.


  • Work is an important part of everyday life.
  • The establishment programme increases your chances of getting a job.
  • Many jobs in Sweden have educational requirements and foreign education is not always approved. The road to higher education can be long for new arrivals.
  • Swedish residents contribute to society and the welfare system by paying taxes on their income.

Employment in Sweden

Working is part of the Swedish lifestyle. By working you provide for your family, get a sense of belonging and create a social network. Working also creates new opportunities in life and promotes lifelong learning and personal development. There are various jobs available in Sweden and in many sectors there is currently a shortage of labour.

Some of these professions require higher education in the form of a university degree or other qualifications. Professions that require a university degree are for example midwives, doctors, nurses, engineers and teachers. Qualifications may also be needed for professions such as electricians, cooks, carpenters, assistant nurses or mechanics.

If you are looking for a job where education is not required you can work in various service professions, for example as a cleaner, a dishwasher and a restaurant assistant. If you want a practical job you can work as a labourer or an apprentice in the construction industry. Getting a job in a sector that is in need of labour is usually easier than getting a job where there is no shortage of labour.

A man who works in healthcare.

Photo: Maskot/Folio/

Woman working as a firefighter.

Photo: Maskot/Folio/

Your rights as an employee

In Sweden there are many laws and agreements that apply to employers and employees. Employees have special rights regarding working hours, salary, safe working environment, equal treatment and protection against discrimination. These rights apply to all employees.

Paying taxes

When you work in Sweden you pay taxes on the money you earn, a so-called income tax. How much you pay in tax depends on your salary and which municipality you live in. Usually taxes are 29-35 percent of your total income. If you receive sickness benefit (money you can apply for if you are unable to work for an extended period of time) or a pension you also have to pay income tax.

We pay taxes to create a better society together where everybody receives the same support and have equal opportunities. It is important that all adults, regardless of their gender and background, work and pay taxes. The taxes are for example used to pay for education, healthcare, social services, childcare, elderly care, roads, public transports and environmental work. Even the reception of refugees and the services that new arrivals use are tax-funded.

Swedish Public Employment Service

Most adults who come to Sweden need to register at the Swedish Public Employment Service. If you are between 20-64 years of age you can participate in the Establishment Programme. The Employment Service functions as a platform for job-seekers and supports people in their search for a job or other activity. They also give guidance on how to proceed if you want to validate your previous professional experience or education and how to get your foreign degree approved in Sweden.

Working undeclared

Working undeclared means that you have a job where the employer does not pay taxes and where your rights as an employee do not apply.

Most people in Sweden have a declared job, which means they thereby earn a pension and have the right to paid parental leave and sickness benefits.

Read more about the consequences of undeclared work and how it can affect you directly (in swedish) External link, opens in new window.

Star­ting your own busi­ness

Anyone who wants to start their own business in Sweden can do so but there are certain rules that need to be followed. You need to register your business with the Swedish Tax Agency for taxation purposes and ensure that the accounting is done correctly. If you want to start your own business there is guidance and other resources to help you. The Employment Service and other organization, for example ALMI (ALMI Företagspartner AB) External link, opens in new window. provide support and guidance to self-employed persons. Starting your own business usually requires that you have your own financial resources but you can apply for a loan from the bank to be able to finance your business at the beginning. You can also find investors or apply for grants and loans from the public sector.


In Sweden you usually work or study until you have reached the age of 66 but you can work even after that age. After you stop working you receive a pension. The national public pension is the money you receive from the state when you leave your working life. There are also other types of pensions. The occupational pension is paid by your employer and you can also have your own pension savings.

Read more on the Swedish Pensions Agencys website External link, opens in new window.

Educa­tion and quali­fi­ca­tions in Sweden

Using previous experience and education

It is important that you bring documents that prove your education or degree to Swedish employers and schools. If you want to use your previous education or your degree certificate in Sweden you must first contact the Swedish Council for Higher Education. On their website you can make a free assessment of what different foreign educations are equivalent to in Sweden. You can also apply for the Swedish Council for Higher Education to assess your educational documents.

Read more about assessment of foreign education. External link, opens in new window.

If you have a profession that requires a specific degree or certification you apply for the right to practice that profession from the competent authority in Sweden. You may only start to work after you have received a permit. Which authority you need to contact to get the permit varies depending on the profession and the field of work.

Regulated education – Swedish Council for Higher Education (in swedish) External link, opens in new window.

Educational opportunities in Sweden

If you want to work in a profession that requires a specific degree there are several options. You can attend a post-secondary vocational education, a university of applied sciences, a folk high school, a college or a university.

In order to be accepted there are different requirements regarding which subjects you must have studied, depending on the education you are applying for. Initially you will study Swedish for Immigrants (SFI).

You can choose from different courses depending on what you want to study, if you have studied before and which way of studying suits you best.

Read about several different courses for adults. External link, opens in new window.

A woman studying.

Photo: Ida Ling Flanagan

Topics to discuss

  • How could you use your previous experiences to find work in Sweden?
  • Which job or training opportunities interest you the most?
  • How can you find out more about the requirements for the occupation you prefer?

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