The Guide to Working in Turkey as a Foreigner

The Guide to Working in Turkey as a Foreigner
What jobs can foreigners working in Turkey do?
Written on: 20 February 2018

The official stats are in and the Turkish Ministry of Labour and Social Security say that in 2017, 87,000 foreigners working in Turkey had their work permit applications approved. The many different nationalities included Syrians, Georgians, Ukrainians, Chinese, Indian, Russian, and Brits.

Receiving 100,000 applications, they rejected 3,600, have not yet decided on the answer for 1,762 applications and returned 13,000 to the applicants, probably for not providing the required information.

The vast diversity of approved nationalities show Turkey is becoming a multicultural hub for workers and in line with earlier results, it also shows an increase in approved applications from 17,467 in 2011 to 73,584 in 2016.

In the past, navigating the workforce of Turkey as a foreigner usually involved working illegally, a lack of pay and threats of deportation. However, to the relief of many, the process is now more straightforward and streamlined, leading more foreigners to seek employment within the country.

So what jobs can foreigners working in Turkey do?

It is easier to list the jobs that foreigners CAN’T do while in Turkey. These include dentistry, nursing, pharmaceutical, veterinarian, private hospital directors, lawyer, notary, security, customs, tourist guide and specific occupations within the maritime industry that are covered by the Cabotage Law.

Popular industries for Foreign Workers in Turkey

Foreigners work in many different sectors of Turkey, especially in big cities where international companies are based. Some workers often move to Turkey at the request of their employers who also deal with legal procedures like work permits and press cards.

However, many other foreigners look to work in Turkey as a means to supporting themselves, rather than advancing in a career. In which case, some industries are more popular than others.

Teaching English

A popular choice is to gain a TEFL or TESOL qualification and teach English as a second language. Specific Internet job boards display teacher vacancies around Turkey, but some schools have a terrible reputation for not paying wages or getting work permits, so research thoroughly before committing.

Summer work with Holiday Companies

Major holiday companies like TUI, Thomas Cook and Mark Warner employ many foreign workers in Turkey as hotel reps, hotel entertainment or office staff. It is challenging work, the hours are long, and it is only seasonal, but they can be great fun if you are physically active. Usually advertising at the beginning of the year for summer reps, online jobs boards such as are a source of employers looking for summer seasonal employees.

Traveling and Working in Turkey at the Same Time

Many of the jobs listed above aren’t suitable for someone who wants to work and travel at the same time because they require you to stay in one place and work long hours. If you are looking for work to fund your short-term travel around Turkey, consider programs such as

This organisation lists temporary part-time positions, in which you swap your time and skills for accommodation, and/or food. Several types of establishments in Turkey advertise on there including farms that want help with gardening or hotels who want you to teach English to their staff in return for bed and breakfast.

For most positions, you work 4 hours a day, which leaves you ample time to explore. You also save money on food and accommodation and the online reviews ensure your host is genuine.

Internet Freelancing

Internet freelancing is an excellent job because you get to work when you want, with who you want and for how much. However, the Turkish government is very slow to recognise this line of work and will class you as self-employed so you need to form a business, list your business promises, pay an accountant and so forth. For this reason, it only pays internet freelancers to look at this avenue of work if they plan to stay in Turkey for the long term.

Getting a Work Permit in Turkey

Working in Turkey as a foreigner is covered by the International Labour Force Law No. 6735 that came into effect in August 2016. The work permit is employee specific, so you must already have an agreed contract with your potential employer.

The process also differs according to whether you are applying from your home country or within Turkey, having been a resident for at least six months. To find out the step by step process please visit the Social Security and Labour website Alternatively, more information about living and working in Turkey, read the lifestyle section of our blog



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