Education has always been of fundamental importance to the people of Scandinavia. In fact, some of the world’s oldest universities can be found in the region. According to some scholars, universities are a distinctly European institution, dating back to medieval times. The tradition continues to this day, and careers in higher education are highly coveted by countless job seekers across Scandinavia, and around the world.
Higher learning institutions first sprang up in Scandinavia in the late 1400s. Sweden’s Uppsala University, founded in 1477 via papal decree, is the region’s oldest. The University of Copenhagen, in Denmark, was established two years later. Both institutions have become world renowned, even ranking among the best universities in the world, and providing myriad opportunities for students and prospective professionals alike.
If your career aspirations are rooted in academia, here’s what you need to know about securing employment in the competitive landscape that is higher education in Scandinavia.
Intro to the Application Process.
In many ways, higher education can be a cutthroat industry. Much like the application process for acceptance to a university, securing a job in higher education involves numerous steps. Not only should you have relevant experience and a strong academic record; you’ll also want to find a way to stand out from the crowd.
Your first opportunity to wow potential employers in academia is via the application process itself. Rather than simply submitting a concise resume, consider using a Curriculum Vitae instead. Commonly known as a CV, this type of document includes a comprehensive run-down of your professional achievements, academic accomplishments, and relevant skills. In general, CVs are much longer than a traditional resume, encompassing between 3-6 pages of information.
But before you write that eye-catching CV, you’ll need to have a potential career path in mind. While teaching may initially come to mind as you consider your higher education job options, you could also opt for a career involving education policy or scientific research. The following are just a few of the job opportunities available in higher education, whether you hope to secure work in Denmark, Sweden, or Norway.
Teaching Professional (Professor or Similar Position)
No matter where you are in the world, teaching can be a rewarding career, as well as a lucrative one. On average, the median salary for lecturers in Sweden just starting out is 36,900 SEK per month. In Denmark, introductory salary numbers are similar, and pay is often dependent on job rank and seniority.
Keep in mind that it could take years for you to rise to the rank of “Professor.” Further, your teaching position in Sweden is highly dependent on your education level. You can likely secure an Adjunct teaching position, for example, with only a bachelor’s degree on your resume. The equivalent position in Norway is that of Universitetslektor, who bring in an average of 565,418 NOK on an annual basis.
For the bulk of Scandinavian teaching positions, however, a Ph.D. is generally required.
Education Policy Analyst
While teaching jobs are arguably the most popular in the realm of higher education, work opportunities are nonetheless myriad. If you hope to facilitate lasting change at a higher learning institution, perhaps you’re well suited for an administrative position, such as that of education policy analyst.
In Scandinavia and beyond, education policy analysts “perform detailed research on current issues affecting schools, and then test hypotheses on how to improve conditions through legislation,” reports Bradley University. In this way, a career in education policy allows you to advocate for issues that are personally important to you, and perhaps facilitate lasting change at your institution.
As for compensation, you can expect to bring in around $58,828 USD annually, which is equal to more than 514,000 SEK.
Scandinavia has always been at the forefront of global scientific innovation and research, and the tradition spans millennia. Today, Sweden ranks fifth in the world in the realm of scientific research and development, spending an estimated 3.4% of its gross domestic product (GDP) towards scientific innovation.
A large chunk of that scientific research happens at the university level. Fellowships are widely available to post-doctoral candidates looking to enter the field of academic research, and span virtually every discipline. For example, you could apply for a fellowship in psychology, sociology, medical anthropology, astrophysics, or another industry altogether.
A fellowship position provides an ideal stepping stone to full-time employment in higher education. Research work also affords you a more nuanced set of opportunities once your fellowship is complete. Fellows can opt to remain on the research career pathway, or embark on one that integrates research with teaching.
Careers in Higher Education in Scandinavia – Final Thoughts
As we face an uncertain future, job security is of paramount importance. In Scandinavia, higher education careers can give you long-term employment stability and plenty of opportunity for advancement. You’re also likely to find plenty of personal fulfillment, no matter if you aspire to teach and mold the young minds of the future, or hope to become a scientific pioneer at the forefront of academic research and innovation.
Careers in Higher Education in Scandinavia, is written exclusively for Daily Scandinavian by Beau Peters. Beau is a creative professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he’s learned a slew of tricks of the trade that he enjoys sharing with others who have the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work. When he is not writing, he enjoys reading and trying new things.
All images © Unsplash
Feature image (on top) Photo by Element5 Digital
Application process: Photo by Ben Mullins
Teaching professional: Photo by Daniel Hopper
Educational analyst: Photo by Adeolu Eletu
Research: Photo by Michael Longmire
From Bergen, Norway: Photo by Florencia Viadana