How to work as a nurse in Austria?

Working as a nurse in Austria means having a safe job, good working conditions, and an above-average salary. This article is a full guide about working as a nurse in Austria and it explains how you can work as a nurse in Austria whether you are from an EU or non-EU country. Also, you will learn where you can study nursing in Austria and what are the requirements.

At the beginning, it is important to understand that healthcare and nursing is a regulated profession in Austria. You can work as a nurse in Austria only if you have completed your nursing education in Austria or you have a diploma from abroad which is recognized in Austria. 

Are nurses in demand in Austria?

Yes, nurses are extremely demanded in Austria. The Austrian population is very old and the number of old people in Austria will increase sharply in the coming years. During the Covid crisis, the nursing shortage has become more acute.

It is estimated that by 2030 there will be a shortage of 24,000 skilled nursing staff in Austria according to the WIFO (Austrian Institute of Economic Research).

The authorities are working on strategies to make the nursing profession more attractive and to attract nurses from abroad. They are planning further improvements of working conditions for nurses, increasing salaries, no tuition fees for schools and universities for social care professions, etc.

Does Austria need foreign nurses?

Yes, Austria urgently needs foreign nurses. A nurse is officially a nationwide shortage profession in Austria in 2021. All nursing professions have been included in the shortage professions list. This initiative makes the recognition of professional qualifications from abroad faster and easier. This means that it is relatively easy for qualified nurses from abroad to immigrate to Austria. Qualified nurses from non-EU countries can apply for a Red-White-Red Card

Currently, 30% of all nurses in Austria are foreigners. In recent years, private sponsoring associations have increasingly recruited staff from foreign countries such as Croatia, Morocco, and India. 

What are nurses called in Austria?

Gesundheits- und Krankenpfleger-in is the name for nurses in the German language. You can also hear names such as Krankenschwester (female nurse) and Krankenpfleger (male in nursing).

Is Austria good for nurses?

Yes, Austria is a good country for nurses.

Nursing is a very safe job in Austria since there is a nationwide shortage of qualified nurses and this trend will continue in the future. The salaries for nurses are above the average salary in Austria and they will only increase in the future. The working conditions are good and there are several initiatives to improve these further in the future. There are also employers offering small apartments extremely cheap (around 200 EUR) as well as many other benefits.

Is Austria or Germany better for nurses?

Austria and Germany are similar regarding the job opportunities and working conditions for nurses. Many people consider Germany as a country which is providing better chances for finding a job since it is a much bigger country than Austria. This is not relevant for the nursing profession since it is very highly demanded in both countries. The average salary for nurses in Austria is slightly higher than in Germany. 

Can I work as a nurse in Austria without speaking German?

No, English speaking nurse can’t find a job and work in Austria. At least some basic knowledge of the German language and medical vocabulary in German is necessary. Employers are usually asking for B1 or B2 level German language knowledge. There are many employers which are helping their nurses with learning the language by offering German language classes and by having understanding and being more flexible in the beginning.

Can I apply as a nurse from abroad to Austria even if I am over 40?

Yes! There is no age restriction for applying for a nurse job in Austria as long as you are fulfilling the requirements. This means you either have an Austrian nursing diploma or you have successfully nostrified your diploma in Austria.

How do I get a visa to work as a nurse in Austria?

As an EU citizen, you don’t need a visa or residence permit to work as a nurse in Austria.

All non-EU citizens have to apply for a residence permit called an RWR card. You can apply for an RWR card only once you have finished with the nostrification of your diploma and you have a job offer from your employer.

Where can I work as a nurse in Austria?

There are so many different types of private and public institutions where you can work as a nurse in Austria. These are various hospitals, homes for elderly people, clinics, private doctors’ offices, etc.

From which countries can I apply to work as a nurse in Austria?

You can apply to work as a nurse in Austria from any country and with any citizenship. There are certain restrictions for non-EU citizens. They have to first do nostrification of their diploma in Austria to start applying for jobs.

Where can I learn German to become a nurse in Austria?

There are so many private and public language schools where you can attend German courses. 

Which country pays nurses most?

These are the top 5 countries in the world that are paying nurses the most:

  1. Luxemburg 114.000 USD 
  2. Belgium 89.500 USD
  3. USA 77.600 USD
  4. Island 74.500 USD
  5. Netherlands 71.497 USD

The above-stated salaries are the average annual gross salaries. 

As you can see Austria is not among the countries that are paying nurses the most. However, you have to take other important factors into account.

Austria offers much more paid vacation days and time off (in total 43 days per year).

The costs of living in Austria are lower than in the above-stated countries.

When you consider these two factors you will have a different picture.

What is the salary of a nurse in Austria?

The average income for nurses in Austria is € 32,100 gross per year (approx. € 2,290 gross per month) in 2021. The salary of a nurse is € 186 (+ 9%) higher than the average monthly salary in Austria.

As a qualified health care professional, you earn between a minimum of € 29,000 gross per year and a maximum of over € 51,000 gross per year.

Note that these salaries are already supplemented by allowances such as difficult and dangerous allowances or allowances for night / Sunday / public holiday services.

Why you should work as a nurse in Austria?

How can I work in Austria as a nurse?

What qualifications do I need to work as a nurse in Austria?

The following factors play a role and determine how easy or how hard it will be for you to start working as a nurse in Austria:

  • Your nationality, 
  • Your place of residence, 
  • The country where you earned your nursing degree
  • Knowledge of the German language.

If you have EU nationality and residence, a diploma from an EU country, and German language at the level B1 or B2 it will be easy for you to get a job and start working as a nurse in Austria. Otherwise, you will have to invest some effort to achieve your goal and work in Austria as a nurse. 

If you have your diploma from an EU country you have to submit a request for the recognition (not nostrification) of your diploma in Austria.

There is an exemption from this rule and recognition is also possible in the following case:

A third-country diploma in a member state of the EU, in a contracting state of the EEA, or the Swiss Confederation for the legitimate exercise of general health and nursing care and proof of at least three years of lawful and relevant professional activity in the territory of this state. (Source: OEKGV)

You can send a request for recognition or ask questions via the following email address: anerkennung@bmgf.gv.at

How to become a nurse in Austria if you are from a non-EU country?

As explained at the beginning of this article the nursing is a regulated profession in Austria and you must have either an appropriate education acquired in Austria or if you acquired your nursing diploma abroad this must be recognized in Austria.

Therefore, the first step would be to submit a request for the nostrification of your nursing diploma from a non-EU country.

These are general requirements for nostrification:

  • A completed training outside of an EU member state, an EEA contracting state, or Switzerland.
  • A third-country diploma in a member state of the EU, in a signatory state of the EEA or the Swiss Confederation for the legitimate exercise of general health and nursing care and less than three years of professional activity in the territory of this state. (Source: OEKGV)

Other requirements for nostrification:

  • The qualification was acquired within regular schooling.
  • The professional exam has been passed in the home country afterward the internship.

The provincial service government is responsible for the processing of nostrification applications and issuing nostrification decisions (“Bescheid”). 

You can find relevant contacts here. In Vienna, this is MA40.

If everything is fine with your diploma the next step of nostrification will be to pass the theoretical and practical compensation part by passing an exam in Austria.

There are nostrification courses in health care schools that prepare students for exams and these courses are subsidized:

Vinzentinum

Wien KAV

The nostrification course (level B1 or B2) requires good knowledge of German since the examinations are conducted orally before the commission. 

If you want to attend German language courses in Austria you will need a residence permit. You can’t get a residence permit only based on attending a German course.

To get a residence permit in Austria you should apply for a pupil/student residence permit by enrolling at a nursing school or University of Applied Sciences. The pupil/student residence permit provides you with the possibility to work up to 20 hours per week.

The nostrification decision also contains a paragraph suggesting that you are eligible for employment in the field of assistance (PflegehelferIn) up to two years after they receive you receive your nostrification. However, you can work in the field of assisted care only if you have the right to work under the law on foreign employment. If you find a part-time job you can work with your “pupil/student residence permit” for twenty hours per week. 

RED-WHITE-RED CARD (Rot-Weiss-Rot Karte)

The diploma was nostrified only after all the prescribed exams and practice were successfully passed. Once your diploma has been successfully nostrified you can start looking for your full-time job. Once you have a job offer your employer will submit for you an application for the issuance of an RWR card for shortage occupations. The RWR card gives you residence and working permits in Austria.

This was the last step. Congratulations! You became a nurse in Austria.

Where can I study nursing in Austria, what are the requirements and how long the nursing education takes?

Studying nursing in Austria will provide you with a qualification that will be immediately recognized by employers and you will become fluent in German during your school or studies. Even if you are from a non-EU country you will get a student residence permit once you are accepted at your school or University of Applied Sciences. With your student residence permit for non-EU citizens, you can work up to 20 hours per week which should help you to cover your basic living expenses during your studies. 

There are three different education and career paths for nurses in Austria which differ in duration and education/training which are showed in the table below.

Nursing AssistantNursing AssistantFH Degree
Duration1 year1-2 years3 years
Minimum Age17th18thx
GraduationtranscriptdiplomaBachelor of Science
Sourse: AMS

Nursing Assistant

Care assistants are responsible for observing the state of health and implementing care measures. Other tasks include performing emergency procedures and participating in diagnostics and therapy, such as taking blood from an adult’s vein or suctioning the airways.

The nursing assistant training takes one year (1,600 hours) and takes place in schools for health and nursing. 

Requirements for the application are:

  • Minimum age 17 years
  • successful completion of the 9th grade of compulsory schooling
  • health suitability (medical certificate)
  • Trustworthiness (extract from criminal records)
  • Knowledge of German at level B2 or higher

If you are doing your training at the Vienna Hospital Association (KAV), the selection process starts with a computer test. This checks the following topics:

  • Logical reasoning
  • Math skills
  • Long-term memory concentration

The second part of the admission process is an interview. This interview is about your motivation for nursing and an assessment of whether you will be a suitable person for this job.

Nursing assistant

Nursing assistants with this type of education have the same duties as previously described nursing assistants. In addition, this nursing assistant is performing diagnostics and therapy according to a written doctor’s order. These could be the following responsibilities: the implementation of an EKG or EEG, insertion of gastric tubes, connection, and termination of infusions, and the application of corsets and orthoses, etc.

Nursing assistant training takes one year if you are already a fully qualified nursing assistant, otherwise two years (3,200 hours). To get this diploma you are attending a health and nursing school.

After passing a final examination before a committee, you will be awarded a diploma.

Requirements for the application are:

  • positive completion of the 10th grade
  • The candidate hast to be at least 18 years old
  • German language skills at B2 level
  • flexibility in terms of time (Lectures are taking place in the evening and on weekends)
  • health suitability (medical certificate)
  • Trustworthiness (extract from criminal records)
  • Completed military or community service (for male applicants)

Regarding the admission process, it is very similar to the previously described education. As already described at Vienna Hospital Association consists of two parts: computer test and interview.

University of Applied Sciences in Health and Nursing

If you decide to study nursing at the University of Applied Sciences it will take three years and in the end, you will earn a Bachelor of Science in Health (BSc).

There are several Universities that are offering this bachelor programs:

FH Campus Wien, the FH St. Pölten , the FH Joanneum, the FH Wiener Neustadt, the FH Health Professions Upper Austria and the FH Carinthia.

The requirements and admission process for these bachelor programs are relatively similar. We will illustrate these on the example of FH Wien Campus:

Main requirement: High school diploma, university entrance qualification examination, or relevant professional qualification with additional examinations. 

The necessary documents are:

  • Birth certificate
  • Proof of citizenship
  • High school graduation certificate/university entrance qualification test/proof of professional qualification
  • Tabular CV

The admission process consists of two parts:

Computer test. This test is about professional motivation, professional understanding, performance behavior, problem-solving, ability to reflect, and verbal expression.

The interview is about your motivation.

Cost of Studying Nursing in Austria

If you are studying nursing at health and nursing schools in Austria there is no tuition fee or tuition fee is very low.

The tuition fees for students at Universities in Austria, in general, vary between 363.36 and 726.72 EUR per semester and this depends on whether you have EU or EEA citizenship or not. The living costs for students in Vienna are around 950 EUR per month.


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