Expat-jobs in Bulgaria
An overview of the labour market for expats in Bulgaria.
Finding a decent job in Bulgaria can be hard for foreigners wishing to start their life here, yet there are some general tips that could be helpful. There are certain rules to employment of foreigners in Bulgarian legislation that should be considered. First of all, expats that have a permanent residence status qualify for each job they are offered the same ways Bulgarian do. The rest of the foreigners, however, are subject to strict control. Starting a job involves issuance of working permit which is applied for by the employer and which has to be annually renewed.
In addition, a certain position could be given to an expat only if there is no qualified Bulgarian personnel that could perform the job involved. However, the contemporary labour market in Bulgaria requires highly qualified and multilingual specialists. In addition, many international high-profile corporations that have outsourced some of their service-, production- or marketing teams here need a multicultural staff. The foreign investment in different spheres in the country often requires the ‘know how’ of international experts.
Things to be considered when looking for a job in Bulgaria
In addition to the willingness of the employer to go through the work permit procedure, there are a few more specifics or general tendencies of the Bulgarian market. The first one is that the greatest share of the jobs offered is full-time. In Bulgaria the working week is usually 40 hours, and in generally the office time is 8 hours plus an additional hour for a lunch break and pauses.
General spheres where a foreigner could find a well-paid job
The salary standards in most sectors in Bulgaria are in general lower than in other EU countries. Yet some spheres offer competitive even on international level remunerations. Professionals that are well paid include highly qualified IT specialists, visual artists and engineers with foreign languages. On the other spectre, there are well for the Bulgarian standards paid jobs in the so called contact centres that offer customer support and sales services to countries throughout the world. For the latter positions oftentimes there is no particular requirement apart from a proficiency in the targeted language and certain knowledge of English.
Another developing job market in Bulgaria is tourism. The country boasts a wide range of landscapes and rural and urban areas where tourism is already well established or is emerging. There are winter sports in the mountains, hiking throughout the year, sports like mountain and cross-country biking, etc., and of course the summer peak season on the Black Sea seaside. The hospitality industry in Bulgaria can offer jobs around the year. The payment, however, is relatively low. A good option is to try looking for a job in tourism with an agency based in a foreign country aimed at entertaining or servicing foreign tourists. In this way one can work in Bulgaria but receive a salary based on foreign standards.
Yet another opportunity for expats in Bulgaria could be teaching. Bulgarians, especially in big cities, are keen on learning foreign languages, especially English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian and recently – Chinese. And native speakers are always needed. If not a full-time job, teaching could be a source of additional income.
Among the other sectors that need qualified specialists in Bulgaria are private properties, construction, environmental companies, renewable energy sources, consultancies and recruitment agencies. The country also offers business opportunities based on franchising. Though the procedures for setting up a business in the country could be cumbersome, they are not insurmountable and could lead to successful and lucrative entrepreneurship, as Bulgaria is still a market that is developing in many areas.
Management positions suitable for expats are in most cases filled through foreigners that are sent by their employer straight to Bulgaria (i.e. from another country where the mother-company operates – if not directly from their homeland). And as this is common standard in most European countries, Bulgarian firms are using the services of executive search firms if they want to fill such positions on the local market, too.
Where the job opportunities are centred
Apart from tourism, job opportunities in Bulgaria are centred in the urban areas. There are three industrial and technological hubs in the country where the chances for a foreigner to get a decent job are the highest. Let us briefly look at each of them:
Sofia – the capital city of Bulgaria is also the place with lowest unemployment rate throughout the country. There is a booming IT- and customer care and marketing sector that offers competitive salaries to both Bulgarians and foreigners. There is also a demand for highly qualified personnel with degrees in engineering, accounting, law, etc, as many multinational companies have outsourced important departments in Sofia in the recent several years. More on jobs for expats in Sofia.
Plovdiv – this charming second biggest city in Bulgaria has also something to offer expatriates in terms of employment. The IT and marketing firms there are expanding and engineers in computer sciences have high chance on landing a decent job. Since Plovdiv and its roundabouts are populated with industrial factories, mechanical engineers with relevant experience could also find a satisfactory position. The companies in the region could also use skilled marketing experts for expanding their trade, so that is an option too. More on jobs for expats in Plovdiv.
Varna – last but not least, in addition to the IT sector and customer service and marketing area, the biggest city on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast offers its specific employment possibilities mainly in the private properties and hospitality industry. Due to the port and the ship manufacturing, some experts in maritime vessels and floating could also sport a chance in Varna. Gas and petrol exploration and extraction are also developed in the region. More on jobs for expats in Varna and the Black Sea area.
Information for candidates from outside the European Union
If you are not a citizen of one of the EU-member-states, you will need a working permit for the EU-country of your choice. One way to achieve this is to apply for the Blue Card EU. This is however only possible if you have a university degree and an adequate position is proposed to you by an employer.