Home FAQ Can I work in Amsterdam without speaking Dutch?

Can I work in Amsterdam without speaking Dutch?

by Rafal Sulowski

Amsterdam is a multicultural city and there are more than 180 nationalities. In the capital of the Netherlands, you can meet people from all over the world. Becoming a part of this varied community is an amazing, life-changing experience. But when it comes to employment, finding a job in a new city is always challenging, especially when you don’t speak a local language. How is it in Amsterdam? Is it easy to find a job for non-Dutch speakers? Let’s get straight to the point!!

Can I work in Amsterdam without speaking Dutch?
Yes, in fact, English is the first language in many companies. You can surely find a job in Amsterdam without speaking Dutch. Everything depends on what kind of work you are looking for. You easily find a job in tourism, IT and corporate sector. Your education, skills, and experience will determine the chance of getting a good position.

Photo by millionairemob || Pixabay

However, be aware that there are many positions you can’t even apply for without knowing the Dutch language. In this article, I will explore the topic of Amsterdam labor market for non-dutch speakers. I will also share my point of view on living in the Netherlands without speaking Dutch. At the end of this article, you can find some helpful websites with job offers.

Can I work in Amsterdam without speaking Dutch?

Of course, you can work in Amsterdam without speaking Dutch. You can easily find a job, but to be honest you will be somewhat limited.

Small companies often require you to know Dutch. Big companies in the main towns use English but if you plan to stay in the Netherlands for an extended period of time you should definitely invest time and effort into learning this language. It will give you more opportunities and it will make your daily life much easier. It is always nice to interact with random people and from my own experience without speaking Dutch it’s difficult. You can imagine how you feel when someone starts speaking to you and you have no idea what this person is saying.

Amazing photo by @jules_abcxyz

In my opinion, it is important to speak a local language when you want to become a part of a local community, but from my experience, the Dutch are a slightly specific nation. When Dutch people recognize that you are a foreigner they immediately switch to English ( even if you know basic Dutch and you try to speak Dutch ) In general, nobody expects you to talk ‘Nederlands’ and Dutch people don’t really encourage you to learn their language. If you want to learn Dutch you will have to constantly remind people about talking Dutch with you ;P If you live in a little city it would be important to speak Dutch, but in Amsterdam, you’ll be just fine speaking English. As I said everything depends on how long you want to stay in the Netherlands and what are your priorities.

Can you live in the Netherlands without speaking Dutch?

I’ve lived in the Netherlands for 6 years now. Of course, I know Dutch basics and it makes my life much easier. When it comes to the importance of speaking Dutch, it depends where in the Netherlands you live. There are cities such as Amsterdam, where there are more than 180 different nationalities and there are little towns where only Dutch people live. In small cities, it will be much more important for you to learn Dutch.

Photo Courtesy of misign || Pixabay

Most Dutch people speak almost perfect English. Really, often you won’t even recognize they are Dutch. You may easily confuse them with native English speakers. That’s great for anyone visiting the Netherlands, but it makes learning Dutch difficult. Mostly when you try to speak “Nederlands” they immediately switch to English. It’s because the Dutch accent is difficult to learn and they barely can understand what you are saying. Even when you know the word it can be difficult to say it correctly. Sometimes I was in a situation when a Dutch person couldn’t understand me but when I typed a word, there was like “aaa… That’s what you mean :)”

I was learning Dutch with the help of Rosetta Stone App and I will mention my favorite methods of learning Dutch further on in the post. After learning on my own I went to school. Under certain circumstances, you may be granted a free Dutch course. For more information about these courses, you should contact your municipality(gemmente). I joined a group of people learning for one year and I could speak better than them. That’s why I’d suggest you learn basics on your own and then hire a tutor, who will correct your mistakes.

What is like to live in The Netherlands without speaking Dutch?

Photo Courtesy of RalfGervink || Pixabay

As I mentioned before it all depends where you live. If you live in Amsterdam and you work in an international company you’ll barely feel that you are in the Netherlands. There’s a huge English speaking community in the Netherlands and you often attend events that are held in English.

If you’re new in Amsterdam, you can look for English speaking events on Meetup. This is an app where you can find a lot of events in English. Join also a group on Facebook called ISN Amsterdam. This is one of the largest groups of expats online. Join also our Amsterdam Hangout group on facebook so you can meet other foreigners living here.

From my experience, it’s very easy to live in the Netherlands without speaking Dutch. I mean, I speak basic Dutch but I feel more comfortable speaking English. In the very beginning of my adventure in the Netherlands, when I couldn’t speak a word in Dutch, the only problem I had was managing formal things such as contacting with tax office, municipality or insurance company. If you have other priorities in your life and you don’t feel like learning this language, you’ll be fine. But if you plan to stay here for a long period of time, you should definitely learn Dutch.

Is English widely spoken in Amsterdam?

Yes, you can talk in English with everyone. Dutch people can speak English very well, so you won’t have any problems with communication. If you aren’t a native English speaker, you’ll be surprised that most people can speak English better than you do.

During my 6-year adventure in the Netherlands, I was only a few times in a situation, when someone couldn’t speak English, and it wasn’t a Dutch person but a tourist. The Dutch can speak English very well. It’s also pretty easy for native English speakers to learn almost perfect Dutch accent.

Is it easy to find a job in the Netherlands?

The short answer is that it depends on what kind of job you are looking for and what education, skills, and experience you have. But in general, yes, it is easy to find a decently paid job. Even if you don’t get your dream job at the very beginning of your stay in the Netherlands then you can easily find a temporary job via a work agency.

It is easy to find a job in the Netherlands without knowing the local language when you compare it to other countries. In the end, it’s all about your skills. Nowadays when you have a lot of experience you can even work as a freelancer and that becomes more and more popular.

If you’re looking for a job that needs some particular skills then you should go to Undutchables.com. They have some good offers. You can read more on their website – Link Here
They offer jobs which require English and other foreign languages. You can find a job in Danish, Croatian, Romanian, Polish, Asian Languages, Spanish, Swedish and many more.

If you’re looking for a temporary job I can recommend you Tempo-Team work agency (Link Here) or Randstad (Link Here)

Find a job in the Netherlands for English speakers

Below you can find websites with job offers for internationals:





On this website you find more recrutiment agencies –> Link Here

Is it easy to learn Dutch?

It depends on what your native language is. If your mother tongue is similar to Dutch it’ll be much easier than it would be, for example, for a native Chinese speaker. Dutch is pretty easy to learn for English speakers. Native English speakers can even learn a Dutch accent close to the original one. For me, learning Dutch was very difficult at the beginning. But to be honest, it’s not as difficult as it may sound. The hardest for me is the pronunciation.

What’s the best way to learn Dutch and to learn a new language in general? It’s full immersion. The best thing you can do when it comes to learning Dutch is diving deep into this language by surrounding yourself with it for 100% of the time.

  • listen to the radio, podcast
  • focus or remembering phrases and repeating
  • learn every day
  • talk, talk and talk as much as possible
  • watch Dutch TV, go to the cinema, and watch Youtube with Dutch subtitles

Do I have to speak Dutch to find a job as a waiter in the Netherlands?

If you’re looking for a job as a waiter in Amsterdam, in most restaurants and bars you’ll be good only with English. Some places for sure will expect you to speak Dutch, but most won’t. In other cities in the Netherlands, you’ll need to speak Dutch. In coastal cities such as Zandvoort, you can easily find a job if you can speak German. There are a lot of German tourists visiting seaside each summer.

Things to do in Amsterdam

I work in a hotel, close to the Vondelpark and only 3 people out of 7 can speak Dutch. How did I get this job? I walked from one hotel to another and asked them if they looked for a receptionist. I visited maybe 15 hotels and 3 of them offered me a job.

English speaking companies in the Netherlands

There are a lot of companies where English is the main language. Among them are Booking.com, Netflix, Nike, Shell, Philips, Unilever, Google, Ikea, KPMG. I have a few friends working for a Booking.com

In the Netherlands and especially in Amsterdam there are a lot of startups and they’re definitely searching for skilled international employees.

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