Finding work in Greenland

Recently some people approached me with questions such as, why did I go to Greenland and how I found a job in Greenland.

It was a dream since as long as I can remember, to live in a place where winters are longer and colder than where I used to stay for most of my life before. Certain events happened at some point in time, which made it easier for me to push even harder for the goals that were important to me. Even though that initiating event was actually parting with my steady but stifling job, which of course also turned my life upside down, but in hindsight it was the best thing that could have happened to me!

For the first time I went to East Greenland for a skiing expedition. Over a year later I found myself moving there to take up a job and live in a settlement on the East coast overlooking the icebergs floating in a fjord. I haven’t been there before, but I knew there won’t be piped water at home or central heating, nor other things commonplace in bigger towns, that people have long since accustomed themselves to. The exciting part was getting to know all the people living there, made possible by the size of the village of about 80 people. There were instants or events all of us would share together and one such time was for example at Christmas. I cherish the memories of Christmas 2018, I made with those people.

At the airport in Kulusuk

Coming back to the subject, finding work in Greenland if you are a foreigner, is quite tricky to say the least. Greenland is not part of the EU and officially it is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark. There is all sorts of work in Greenland and the country needs skilled labour but most of it comes from Denmark. From my experience, I can only confirm that it is really difficult to get employed if you are neither Danish, nor Nordic citizen. There is a Nordic Passport Union which allows citizens of Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and of course Denmark, to settle and work in Greenland without a residence permit. All other nationalities are pooled as the “rest of the world” and finding a job can be daunting. When applying for work the employer is by law required to first hire the locals, Greenlandic and Danish, followed by the Nordic applicants, so unless you have some extraordinary specialized skills and knowledge, which the above applicants don’t have that Greenlandic employer desperately needs, you might stand a chance. But even then it might just turn out bureaucratically too complicated for the employer, to go through the red tape of employing a foreigner, or not practical for the company, given that the proceedings to get the work permit may take a few months.

To get an idea about vacancies in Greenland the best is to check the main job website in the country Sermitsiaq. More choice is in the capital Nuuk and possibly in a few of the bigger towns on the West coast. For majority of these jobs it is necessary or desirable to speak Danish. It is always the best to speak the local language, Greenlandic, even though in the bigger towns it should be possible to just get by speaking only English.

The work permit is valid only for the job and employer stated and has to be renewed or applied for every year. I can’t say whether Greenland is going to be THE destination for life for me. This quote comes to mind, the journey is more important than the destination, and success is a journey. The experience gained each time when moving to a different country and living in a different culture, is definitely worth it. Anything worthwhile does take time.

Here are a few photos from my first trip to East Greenland.

Courtesy of Pirhuk

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About my Blog

Travelling never ends.. for work and pleasure I spend much of my time on travels and this blog is an attempt to record (at least some!) of memories made and help me appreciate the value of my personal journey. I share here my passion for all things Arctic, Greenland in particular, and some tidbits about other cold places I visited. Thanks for reading!