Jobs in Scotland for Foreigners Why Foreigners Want to Work in Scotland How to get a job in Scotland for foreigners Documents that help to find a job in Scotland The most demanded jobs in Scotland Final Thoughts
Jobs in Scotland for Foreigners Why Foreigners Want to Work in Scotland How to get a job in Scotland for foreigners Documents that help to find a job in Scotland The most demanded jobs in Scotland Final Thoughts
Updated 04/11/2020

Jobs in Scotland for Foreigners

Are you willing to work and live in Scotland? We have gathered all the necessary information in one article to help you start a career: visas, bank accounts, most demanded jobs, and much more.

Are you willing to work and live in Scotland? We have gathered all the necessary information in one article to help you start a career: visas, bank accounts, most demanded jobs, and much more.

Scotland has a long-established reputation of hospitality, and it warmly welcomes everyone who decides to come and stay. There are 388,000 non-UK residents (7.2% of the population) living in the country, and 222,000 are in employment (8.3% of the total workforce). These statistics show that building a career in Scotland is feasible. However, everything depends on your persistence and preparation.

This article will discuss what makes this country so attractive for expats, the documents you need to apply for, the most demanded industries, and the importance of professional self-presentation during the application process.

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Why Foreigners Want to Work in Scotland

There are many reasons why foreigners are attracted to Scotland, and a proper work-life balance is one of them. The annual leave is rather generous: if you work five days a week full-time, you can expect at least 28 days of paid holidays a year. Some enterprises offer even more.

Scotland’s job market is well-regulated by labor law, has good working practices, offers several employee benefits like sick pay, maternity pay (up to 39 weeks for mothers and 2 weeks for fathers), and a state pension paid weekly.

Scotland is home to more than 350 thousand enterprises from such giants as Tesco and Chivas Brothers to small IT start-ups, which means the availability of jobs and the demand for specialists in different fields. That is why so many foreigners dream of settling down and working in Scotland.


How to get a job in Scotland for foreigners

Scotland’s job market is very popular among foreigners, which means that you may face high competition when trying to enter it. To help you with the job search, we created step-by-step guidelines. Below you’ll find out about different visas, language tests, and industries where foreigners are eagerly hired.

Choose a suitable visa

If you live in the European Economic Area or Switzerland, you can live and work in Scotland without obstacles. However, people from outside the EEA require a visa. But this circumstance cannot prevent getting a job in Scotland for US citizens and a workforce from other countries. They just need to choose the appropriate type of visa, depending on their professional goals, financial expectations, and desired industry.

Here are some of the most common types of visas for those who are willing to work in Scotland:

  • General work visa. It is given to non-EU residents who have been offered a skilled job by a licensed sponsor. You can stay in the country for 5 years and 14 days, do voluntary work in your free time, study, and bring family members. The price for such a visa starts from £409. The general work visa is difficult to get because the hiring company must prove to the government that they couldn’t find a person within 28 European countries for the position.
  • Health and Care visa. It is offered to specialists who have a job offer from the National Health Service. You can stay for 5 years and 14 days and bring your family. This visa is available for doctors, nurses, health professionals, and adult social care specialists.
  • Intra-company transfer visa. To apply for this visa, you need to have worked for the company for more than a year and be offered a salary of at least £73,900. If you earn more than £120,000, the visa is valid for 9 years, if less – for 5 years and 1 month.
  • Charity worker visa. It is a short-term visa for those who want to do unpaid voluntary work. It costs £244, and you can stay in Scotland for up to 12 months.
  • Creative and Sporting visa. It is required for creative workers, including musicians, artists, and dancers. You can stay in the country for up to 12 months.
  • Seasonal worker visa. You can work and stay in Scotland for 6 months if you have a sponsor. Holders of this visa can’t take a permanent job and are not allowed to bring family members.
  • Start-up visa. If you want to set up a business in Scotland (or the UK), you should be supported by a UK university or a business organization. In addition, you need to prove that your idea is new and innovative. The start-up visa is given for 2 years, and you can’t extend it.

Useful information: You will need to have a tuberculosis test (chest x-ray or sputum sample) if you are coming to Scotland for more than 6 months and are a citizen of selected countries, including Algeria, Bolivia, China, Ecuador, Hong Kong, India, and Peru.

Get a National Insurance Number

If you want to learn how to get a job in Scotland as an American, being aware of the NIN is necessary. To work in the country legally, every employee needs this number, which the government uses to track taxes and contributions.

To apply, you should call the National Insurance Number application line. The only difficulty is that, to get a NIN, you need to have a UK address. Before applying, make sure to rent an apartment to receive the documents and the NIN card by post.

It is possible to start working without the NIN as long as you inform the employer that you have already applied. If you are a non-EU citizen, you should first get a visa as proof that you can work in Scotland.

Open a bank account in Scotland

To receive a salary, you need to open a bank account and get a Visa/Mastercard. There are many options, including Natwest, Barclays, Lloyds, and Royal Bank of Scotland. To open an account, you should provide an ID and a UK address. Usually, a visa and an apartment leasing agreement are enough.

Check your qualifications and language skills

The National Academic Recognition Information Center for the UK (NARIC) will compare your qualifications with the UK academic requirements. After evaluation, they will send you a letter of comparability with qualifications’ equivalents. To apply online, head to the UK NARIC website, and provide all the necessary details. The fee depends on the application type.

Almost every type of visa has strict requirements concerning English level skills. You can prove them by completing an approved English language test or having an academic qualification recognized by UK NARIC. However, if you are a national of the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, St Lucia, Dominicana, and a few other countries, there is no need to prove English proficiency.

Search for vacancies

Some job seekers leave this stage for last or even obtain a travel visa then search for vacancies while already in Scotland. However, we recommend starting beforehand because this will help you learn more about the Scottish job market and boost your skills and qualifications.

There are several ways how you can find a job in Scotland. The most popular are:

  • Get familiar with vacancies on job advertising websites, for example, MyJobScotland and Reed.
  • Apply to companies that interest you. If you know enterprises where you’d like to work, head to their websites and find out whether they have open positions. Even if there are no vacancies at the moment, send your resume and cover letter to their email. If you have the necessary qualifications, they might save your application documents for the future, and you will become one of the primary candidates for an interview.
  • Network on social media and professional websites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Follow the companies and experts with similar values and interests, like and comment on their posts. Thus, you will not only stay updated on the new openings but will get a chance to be noticed. But don’t forget that your page should look professional.
  • Contact job agencies in Scotland. For a certain fee, a recruiter will search for the vacancies based on your criteria. This significantly saves time, but you should pick a reputable agency with experience in the field. The most popular are Firstsource Careers, Eliss Mack Recruitment, and Agency Central.


Documents that help to find a job in Scotland

A job search can be quite stressful, especially if you are willing to move abroad. You should prove to the hiring manager that you are a valuable worker, so they will invest their time to help you with papers and relocation.

The best way to show how professional you are is to apply for a role with a great resume and cover letter.


A resume is a formal document which shows your education, experience, and skills. It follows a particular structure and format. The most common is reverse chronological order, where all the entries are organized from the latest to the oldest.

Usually, a resume doesn’t exceed one page (2-3 pages for specialists with a broad list of experience and qualifications). Write it in the third person and stick to a formal and professional tone.

A candidate should provide the following details:

  • Personal information
  • Education
  • Qualifications
  • Key achievements

Optional details may include completed courses, awards, certificates, soft skills, fluency in languages, and other facts that you consider relevant.

Your resume should be tailored to the vacancy’s description, so don’t forget to refer to the main requirements and insert keywords. Nowadays, hiring managers use software that analyzes resumes to find the necessary keywords, so some applicants are rejected immediately.

Cover Letter

While some labor market experts are still debating whether a cover letter is necessary, statistics show that 49% of recruiters consider it the second-best way to bolster a resume. Many recruiters start reading the cover letter first, and some don’t even read the resume if you failed to impress them from the beginning.

Writing a remarkable cover letter is not easy and takes time, knowledge, and attention. It is a great instrument to target a vacancy in a specific way and market your experience and skills. A successful cover letter shouldn’t repeat the resume: it needs to explain why you are willing to work for the company. It is also an excellent place to include unique traits and qualities that were out of place in a resume.

Your goal is to explain how your proficiencies and experience can help the company. Usually, a cover letter consists of 2-3 paragraphs. Unlike a resume, it is written in the first person and in full sentences.

Here are a few useful tips:

  • Research the employer. Learn more about the company’s history, traditions, and culture. Show that you share their values and vision.
  • Use keywords. They should be suitable for the job and show that you have read the vacancy attentively.
  • Don’t use ‘To Whom It May Concern’ or ‘Dear Madam or Sir’ at the beginning of your appeal. Recruiters disapprove of generic greetings, so you should try and find the hiring manager’s name.
  • Get familiar with examples. It may be difficult to write a cover letter on your own, especially if you have never done it. Fortunately, GetCoverLetter is a professional builder that helps to craft an outstanding self-presentation that strengthens your resume.

A cover letter increases your chances of being hired. And with our builder, your chances will sky rock.

The most demanded jobs in Scotland

Scotland is a service-based economy, and the demand for workers significantly depends on the area. For example, Edinburg is known for tourism and IT, Glasgow – for finance and heavy industries, while Aberdeen is about oil and gas.

Here are Scottish industries with the biggest share of non-UK workers:

Industry sectorsStats on foreigners working in the industry
Sustainable tourism16.0%
Distribution, hotels, and restaurants12.5%
Agriculture and fishing9.0%
Banking, finance, and insurance8.9%
Health and social care8.2%
Public sector6.1%

  1. Health and social care
    Scotland’s National Health Service is the largest employer and provides people with more than 70 professions. This makes the industry extremely favorable for foreigners. Healthcare jobs for Americans in Scotland include medical assistants, physicians, registered nurses, and physical therapists.
  2. Teaching
    Teaching is another highly demanded industry in the country and offers a competitive salary, career prospects, and a solid pension scheme. Foreigners can work as preschool teachers, English teachers, principals, and health educators.
  3. Technologies
    Technologies also offer jobs in Scotland for expats. According to a report, Scotland employs more than 161,000 tech experts in over 10,000 IT and engineering companies. International companies, such as Hewlett Packard, Outplay, and CGI have their offices in this country. You can work as a software developer, information security analyst, or network engineer.
  4. Finances
    Scotland gave birth to the oldest banks globally and hosts such financial companies like JP Morgan and Standard Life. Foreigners with finance and banking experience can search for such vacancies as financial analysts, accountants, and even attorneys.
  5. Oil, gas, and renewables
    This country is a recognized player in the oil and gas industry. It also has a diverse network of ports with a good connection to the UK, Europe, and other parts of the world. Specialists such as mechanical engineers, geophysicists, reservoir engineers, and drilling supervisors can find many options in Scotland.
  6. Sciences
    Scotland is one of the pioneers in research, development, and implementation of ideas and projects from hospitals to leading laboratories. If you have experience in the sector and want to make Scotland your home, consider such occupations as research scientists, clinical research coordinators, and geologists.
  7. Occupations in high demand

    The UK government regularly publishes lists of occupations that lack qualified workers. This means that there are not enough UK-based specialists. It becomes simpler to occupy one of these positions if you are from America or another country outside the European Economic Area.

    Scotland’s Shortage Occupation List includes chemical scientists within the nuclear industry, Gaelic teachers, and Gaelic-medium teachers. The list is regularly updated, so follow the news not to miss a suitable offer.

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Final Thoughts

Scotland can boast beautiful nature, friendly people, and multiple opportunities for those interested in immigration. If you are looking for a country with an outstanding work-life balance, well-though legislation, and solid pay, Scotland may be the right choice.

The road to finding a dream job can be pretty challenging. Still, if you follow the steps discussed in this article and prepare all the necessary documents, your chances of landing an interview and moving to Scotland will significantly increase.

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