Work in the UK | (2024)

While the UK boasts the fifth largest economy and is home to a number of key business hubs, it still suffers from a shortage of skilled workers - discover the sectors taking on graduates and find out how to apply for role

The country's unemployment rate stands at a relatively low 3.7% (September 2022), and the graduate labour market remains robust and is as strong as it has been for some time. Competition for graduate jobs is fierce but candidates with the right qualifications, skills and experience stand a good chance of securing employment.

Language skills are increasingly important, making many foreign nationals desirable candidates. The UK has many international communities, so as a foreign worker you'll be in good company.

With the UK's diverse job sectors, good working conditions and numerous employment opportunities, it's no surprise that it's a popular destination for international graduates wanting to kick start their careers.

Jobs in the UK

Major industries in the UK include:

  • accounting, banking and finance
  • construction
  • education
  • engineering
  • healthcare
  • retail.

The services sector dominates the UK economy with banking, insurance and business all key drivers of the country's growth. Other important industries include metals, chemicals, aerospace, shipbuilding, motor vehicles, food processing, textiles and clothing, design, the arts and electronic and communications equipment.

In recent years there has been a decline in the manufacturing industry, although it's important to note that this sector still employs a large number of workers.

Popular graduate jobs

  • Business analyst
  • Data scientist
  • Finance analyst/adviser
  • HR manager
  • Marketing and sales professionals
  • Nurse
  • Project manager
  • Software developer
  • Teacher
  • Welfare/housing associates.

Graduate schemes are available at many of the UK's large and multinational companies, in sectors such as:

  • finance
  • HR
  • marketing
  • retail
  • sales

To find out more, see graduate schemes.

According to The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers 2022, the most popular graduate employers include the Civil Service, National Health Service (NHS), PwC, Deloitte and Google.

More information on particular industries can be found in ourjob sectors.

Look for job vacancies at:

  • Prospects job search - for the latest graduate schemes, placements and jobs
  • The Guardian Jobs- national news site advertising UK and international jobs
  • Indeed- job site listing vacancies throughout the UK
  • Reed- lists vacancies in a range of sectors throughout the UK.
Work in the UK | (1)

Skills shortages

There are currently a number of shortage occupations, including:

  • Accountancy, banking and finance - actuaries, economists and statisticians
  • Business services - analysts, market researchers, HR officers
  • Construction - surveyors, architects, planners and project managers
  • Creative arts and design - artists, dancers and choreographers, musicians, graphic designers, producers and directors
  • Education - primary and secondary school teachers (particularly maths teachers)
  • Engineering - electrical, design and development engineers, mechanical and chemical engineers, civil engineers and, product and process engineers
  • Healthcare - nurses, carers, health managers and directors
  • Hospitality - baristas, chefs
  • IT - cyber security analysts, SEO marketers web design, programme/software developers and systems engineers
  • Science and pharmaceuticals - nuclear medical scientists, biochemists, construction scientists, laboratory technicians
  • Social care - counsellors, social workers.

How to get a job in the UK

In the UK you can apply for most jobs online by sending a CV and cover letter or by filling out an application form. Where possible, CVs should be no longer than two sides of A4 and cover letters no more than a page. Learn more about writing CVs and cover letters.

Networking is important and many vacancies are filled through word of mouth. Use any pre-existing UK contacts to make enquiries about vacancies and let them know that you're actively looking for work in the country.

Speculative applications are also welcome and these can be useful when applying to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as they don't always advertise vacancies.

Apply for work as early as possible, as many companies have long recruitment processes. Complete the application in your home country and make the move once you have secured a position.

Due to a high turnover of staff, the hospitality and retail industries often recruit all year round. The creative arts and design sector often recruits in London, while marketing and PR is thriving in cities such as Birmingham and Manchester.

If you're shortlisted for a job, you may have to attend a series of interviews. These could be one-to-one interviews with your potential line manager or panel interviews with managers and HR personnel. Larger companies and graduate schemes often use a mix of psychometric testing, assessment centres and interviews to select successful candidates.

Get more advice onhow to find a job.

Summer jobs

There are many summer, seasonal and temporary jobs on offer in the UK and the majority can be found in the tourism, hospitality and retail industries.

Summer jobs include working at summer or holiday camps, at outdoor adventure and water sport parks, on campsites and at a number of UK festivals.

Hotels, bars and restaurants require causal workers all year round - opportunities are plentiful in large cities and tourist areas. The retail sector also employs temporary staff to cover the busy Christmas period.

There are lots of voluntary roles in the UK that can help you to develop your English skills and allow you to give something back to a charitable organisation.

If you can afford to work unpaid to gain experience, taking on a voluntary placement will be worthwhile and can help boost your CV.

  • Do-itis the UK's national volunteering database, listing opportunities from thousands of charities and social groups.
  • Volunteering Englandis part of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).
  • Volunteering Mattersworks in partnership with UK organisations to deliver programmes that enable people of all ages and backgrounds to put something back into the community.

Find volunteering projects that are happening locally by checking local newspapers and notice boards. Make sure you research all volunteering opportunities and check the terms and conditions before committing to a scheme.

Teaching jobs

The main languages taught in schools in the UK are French, Spanish and German. If you are coming from outside the UK and possess skills in one of these languages, you may be able to find teaching work as a modern foreign language (MFL) teacher.

Due to a shortage of professionals in these subjects there is a high demand for talented individuals. If you have a university degree or English equivalent, and a good grasp of the English language, you may be entitled to bursary support to complete the required postgraduate study.

For more information on teaching languages in the UK, available bursaries and training options, go toTeach Modern Foreign Languages.

The British Council also provides opportunities to teach foreign languages in British schools through their Modern language assistant programme. If you are a fluent speaker of French, German, Irish, Italian, Mandarin or Spanish you could spend a year teaching in the UK, gaining valuable teaching experience and transferable skills. Salaries average at about £20,000 while in London this is closer to £38,000.


To get a foot in the door of an organisation, many students in the UK look for relevant work experience. Work experience opportunities are available in almost every sector and will vary in length, depending on the organisation. In some cases a placement will be as short as one day; others may last for several months and lead to a permanent position.

Remember that all work experience is valuable and many students are successful in securing a placement lasting several months.

Your university's international office can help you find and apply for work experience and internships.

Search for work experience in the UK.

Work in the UK | (2)

Placement Year International

Provides paid business and hospitality internships for students and recent graduates.

UK visas

A Graduate visa will allow you to stay in the UK for two years after completing your course. This will give you time to find employment and then apply for a work visa.

A Skilled-Worker visa will allow for five years of residence in the UK, after which you can apply for permanent settlement. Apply for the visa three months before you start work with proof of your job offer from an approved employer.

To meet demand within the healthcare sector you could get a Health and Care Worker visa. You need to be a qualified doctor, nurse, health professional or adult social care professional and your employer must be approved by the Home Office.

There are also Innovator and Start-up visas for those who are self-employed. They allow for two to three years' residence, as long as you can prove that your idea is viable and original.

If you are visiting for work, study or pleasure, for a small amount of time you could get a Short-term visa to allow you to stay for up to six months.

The visa you need will differ depending on the purpose of your visit. Take a look at GOV.UK - Work in the UK to see what you're eligible for.

Work in the UK | (3)

Language requirements

If you are over 18 and wish to settle in the UK you may need to prove your proficiency through an English language qualification or a degree taught or researched in English.

Certain nationalities such as those from Australia, Jamaica and the USA are exempt from having to prove their proficiency - as are those with a long-term physical or mental condition. GOV.UK has details on language requirements, recognised English Language tests and other criteria for people wishing to live in the UK at GOV.UK - Settle in the UK.

How to explain your qualifications to employers

In certain countries higher education qualifications are directly comparable to those in the UK - all thanks to the Bologna Process.

If you're an EU (European Union) national who has studied a degree in your home country, it should be recognised by UK employers.

However, before applying for a job and approaching potential employers, be sure to check your current qualifications and discover whether they'll be recognised in the UK.

To learn more about the recognition of qualifications, see UK ENIC.

What it's like to work in the UK

In the UK the average working week is Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Hours of work should be set out in your contract of employment and unless you choose to, you shouldn't have to work more than 48 hours a week.

All employees also have the legal right to request flexible and part-time working practices.

Adult workers are entitled to at least one day off a week, four weeks paid annual leave, sick pay, maternity and paternity leave. Employers are not required by law to allow days off on bank or public holidays, although many honour these dates.

There are eight bank/public holidays per year in England and Wales, nine in Scotland and ten in Northern Ireland.

In the UK, apart from a few exceptions, you are entitled to receive the National Minimum Wage (NMW) or the National Living Wage (NLW). As of April 2023, for workers aged 21-22 the hourly rate is £10.18 and £7.49 for those aged 18 to 20. If you are working and aged 23 or over and not in the first year of an apprenticeship then you are entitled to the government's NLW of at least £10.42.

Income Tax is the tax you pay once you start earning a wage. Taxable income includes the money you earn from employment and any profits you make if you're self-employed. Most people get a personal allowance of tax-free income, which is currently £12,570. The basic rate of Income Tax currently stands at 20%.

Find out more

  • Discover what it's like to study in the UK.
  • Learn about living in the UK.

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Work in the UK | (2024)


Work in the UK | › - the UK's biggest graduate careers website with more than two million monthly browsers.

What is prospect AC UK? › - the UK's biggest graduate careers website with more than two million monthly browsers.

How do I get a job in the UK as an American? ›

Most jobs in the UK require English fluency, which eliminates language barriers for many American expats. Most Americans will need to secure a job offer in the United Kingdom before applying for a work visa. The UK has work visa programs for high-demand fields like health care.

How can a foreigner get a job in the UK? ›

You will need to have a certificate of sponsorship from your employer, a job that is on the list of eligible occupations, and offer a minimum salary. You will also need to be able to speak, read, write and understand English. Once approved, your visa can last for up to five years before you need to extend it.

What jobs are in high demand in UK? ›

However, to give you a brief insight into the most in-demand jobs in the UK, here are some of them:
  • Archaeologist.
  • Architect.
  • Care worker.
  • Cyber security specialist.
  • Engineer.
  • Graphic designer.
  • Laboratory technician.
  • Software developer.
Aug 31, 2023

What is a prospect job? ›

A job prospect refers to a person's potential ability to apply for a get a particular job. It can also refer to the probability of future success in a position or career. Job prospects are directly related to the career outlook of the position.

What do prospects do? ›

A prospect is a potential customer who has been qualified as fitting certain criteria. Prospects fit your target market, have the means to buy your product or services, and are authorized to make buying decisions.

Can I work in the UK if I am a US citizen? ›

If you are a US national and would like to work in the UK, you will need to secure a work visa before you travel here. In most cases, to secure a UK work permit, you will need a suitable job offer from a UK employer with a sponsor licence granted by the UK Home Office.

Can I work in the UK remotely as a US citizen? ›

Visa And Work Permit For Foreign Remote Workers

For example, if you are a citizen of the United States and want to work remotely in the United Kingdom, you will need to obtain a Tier-Two General visa. The process of obtaining a visa can be time-consuming and expensive, but that's where we come in.

Can a US citizen live in the UK? ›

As an American citizen, moving from the US to the UK to travel, study, and live is permitted for up to six months at a time. However, you cannot work during this period. If you want to hold down a job, you'll have to have a suitable visa. There are UK work visas for just about every possible profession.

Which jobs are in demand in UK for foreigners? ›

List of 9 In-Demand Jobs in the UK for 2023
  • Perks Of Working In The UK.
  • Top Demanding Jobs In The UK.
  • Programmers and Software Developers.
  • Cyber Security Specialists.
  • Health Services and Residential Care.
  • Architects.
  • Graphic Designers.
  • Physical Scientists.

Can I migrate to UK without a job offer? ›

Depending on which visa you choose to switch to within the UK, you may need a job offer before you apply. In practice, this means that you can come to the UK without a job offer on an HPI visa and find a job within the 2 or 3-year period granted before making the switch to another work visa type.

Is it hard for foreigners to get a job in UK? ›

While the competition for many jobs remains high, with the right experience, language skills, qualifications and professional attributes, you will find that finding a job in the UK is more than achievable.

What is the biggest shortage jobs UK? ›

Shortage Occupation List Jobs in Science/ Engineering
  • geophysicist.
  • geoscientist.
  • geologist.
  • geochemist.
  • technical services manager in the decommissioning and waste areas of the nuclear industry.
  • senior resource geologist and staff geologist in the mining sector.
Jun 2, 2023

Where is the easiest place to get a job in the UK? ›

The top three easiest places to find a job are all in the South East, and most spots in the top 10 is taken by areas in the south of England, with Oxfordshire followed by Surrey and Berkshire.

What is a good job in the UK that pays well? ›

Highest paying jobs
  • Lawyer.
  • Chief executive officer.
  • Actuary.
  • Marketing director.
  • Managing director.
  • IT director.
  • Director of engineering.
  • Tax director.
Aug 1, 2023

What does AC stand for UK? ›

ac (short for academia) is in use in many countries as a second-level domain for academic institutions such as universities, colleges, and research institutes. In the United Kingdom and Japan, for example, academic institutions use domain names ending in . and . respectively. Many countries use .

What is York AC UK? ›

York is one of the top universities in the UK for teaching and research - and is first in the UK and seventh in the world in the Times Higher Education world rankings of universities less than 50 years old. In 2012, York became a member of the influential Russell Group of leading UK universities.

What is the best career choice for me? ›

Take a Career Test

Taking a career test is probably the easiest way to figure out the perfect job for you. There are a lot of career assessments that are readily available online and are intended to guide you in choosing a career path. It is important you understand which type of career test you are taking.

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