Working in Italy sounds like the ultimate dream. Gorgeous landscapes, incredible food, and friendly people -- why wouldn't you want to up and move to Italy to work?
Unfortunately, picking up a student job in Italy isn't as simple as it sounds. If you're an American citizen, you'll struggle to obtain a work visa, and if you're a student, it'll be even trickier. Like many countries around the world, to gain a work visa for Italy, you'll have to be sponsored by an Italian company.
To gain sponsorship from a company, they'll need to prove to immigration that you can perform a job for them that no Italians can. As a student with very little work experience, this is going to be tough to prove.
My readers who are EU citizens, however, won't have a problem with working in Italy. As you know, EU membership entitles you to live and work in any country in the EU, so you won't have the same barrier that Americans do. You'll just need to fly to Italy and start job hunting -- it's as easy as that!
One alternative for American students, though, is to arrive in Italy on a student visa. Once you've arrived in the country, you can then attempt to convert your student visa into a work visa -- it's not possible to convert a tourist visa into a work visa, so entering on a student visa is your best bet.
So let's say you've found a way to work in Italy. How do you actually find a job?
Well, Italians are all about family and tight friendships, so they do tend to hire people they know. When searching for student work in Italy, you might be better off arriving with your backpack and getting to know some locals before you'll be able to land a job that isn't unpaid, like picking olives in return for a jar of olive oil.
It's also worth checking out the information board in your hostels, as they often advertise short-term job availabilities for travelers.
Finally, prepare yourself for when you do go with some guidebooks and online research, and brush up on your Italian. If you want a well-paying job, you may struggle to get one if you just speak English.
With all that said, try these sources of information:
Websites to Check First
- Jobs in Rome -- some professional and some "non-skilled" job postings (secretarial, nannies, au pairs, possible hostel or bar and cafe work)
- Jobs in Milan -- if Milan is more your type of city, check the listings here to start researching what's available and typical salaries.
- Italian work permits are very complex - unless you have a company sponsoring you, you may want to look into declaring yourself to be self employed in order to work in Italy (as a translator, say) while you scope out the work scene and try to find an employer to sponsor you
Teaching English in Italy With a TEFL
If you're looking to make money while you travel and don't have the foundations to work online, I recommend taking a Teaching English as a Foreign Language course. Once you have this qualification, you'll be able to teach English around the world, which is an excellent way of funding your travels.
Check out the detailed guide on i-to-i to learn everything you need to know about teaching English in Italy, from expected salaries to how to find a job to where you can be placed.
WWOOF stands for Willing Workers on Organic Farms, and is a way for you to see some of Italy, while still saving money. You won't make money WWOOFing -- it's a volunteer opportunity -- but you'll most likely get your accommodation and meals covered during your stay, so you won't have to worry about spending money.
I have a friend who runs a restaurant in Lake Como who uses WWOOFers throughout the summer. The workers help him plant the food for his dishes and keep his restaurant running, and in exchange, they get to live in a beautiful village with free accommodation and amazing meals throughout the day.
Or Even WorkAway
WorkAway is all about a cultural exchange, much like WWOOFing. But unlike WWOOFing, you won't just be focusing on farms. You could be helping to build houses for communities in need; you could take care of injured animals; or you could even help renovate an old farmhouse in the Tuscan countryside.
You won't be compensated for your time, but you will receive free accommodation and food, so this gives you a chance to hang out with Italian locals, while not having to spend a penny.
This article has been edited and updated by Lauren Juliff.