Working in Turkey



Expatriates will face a huge challenge to be part of the Turkish workforce. The unemployment rate in Turkey remains relatively high and is at 11.3% as of August 2016. But expats must not be disheartened since there are still job openings for skilled and talented foreign workers in specific fields.

Truth of the matter is, lack of jobs is not the biggest roadblock for expats who want to work in Turkey but the country’s conservative and stringent rules in issuing work permits. In fact, the International Monetary Fund described the Turkish economy as an emerging market economy that managed to produce a Gross Domestic Product of USD 1.756 trillion which is the 15th highest in the world in terms of Purchasing Power Parity of PPP. Turkey’s economy continuous to grow and is now described as a mixture of modern commerce and industry blended with a traditional agricultural sector.

Job Market

Stringent rules are being implemented in Turkey on hiring foreign nationals. Only Turkish graduates are allowed to work in medical professions (doctors, dentists, midwives, pharmacists, opticians, veterinarian and chemists) and legal professions (judges and lawyers). If one can speak Turkish, then the chances of being employed are far greater. Teaching English is in demand, especially in middle class. There are numerous English schools in Istanbul that offer language classes for all ages. Expats who are not sent on an intra-company transfer or as diplomats can also find jobs in the fields of:

  • Health Care
  • Translation Services
  • Management
  • Technical Engineering
  • Electronics Programming
  • Hotel and Restaurant Management
  • Tourism

Average Salary and Work Conditions

The current minimum wage in Turkey is TRY 1,777 or USD 476 per month while the average monthly salary is at TRY 6,900 or USD 1,850. The average salary of expats teaching English (who have a TESOL/TESL/TEFL Certificate) ranges between TRY 900-2,500 (USD 240-670) monthly for 20 to 35 hours a week. Private tutoring can also be a rewarding part-time job for any foreigner at TRY 22.00 or USD 5.90 per hour.

The legal workweek in Turkey is 45 hours with a weekly rest day. Overtime is limited to three hours per day up to 270 hours a year. Business hours are usually from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday. Lunch breaks are usually an hour or even longer. A majority of Turkish employers offer at least two weeks of vacation annually, but expats should not expect Western holidays to be honoured in Tunisia unless they are working for a large or major international company.

Income Tax

One will have to register with the MALIYE or Ministry of Finance which is usually located in town or city halls, for a Vergi Numerası or a tax number when commencing work. Photocopies of the passport, residence permit, and work permit are the basic requirements. The income tax rate for Turkey is at 15% to 35%. Corporate tax is at a flat rate at 20%.

Taxable Income in Turkish Lira

Tax Rate (%)







110,000 and above


The Turkish Work Culture and Etiquette

In the corporate world, expatriates can shake hands of business associates as a form of a greeting. Male colleagues are addressed by using his first name followed by ‘bey' (Sir) while ‘hanim' (Miss) is used for female business associates. These are the usual method of address when one does not know the person's name or title. It is also advisable to greet the Turkish with their Islamic greeting ‘Asalamu alaykum’ which means ‘Peace be upon you’.

By nature, Turks do not pay too much attention to personal space, and they have the tendency to stand close to each other when conversing. Expats should remember not to back away because they might see it as a sign of rudeness or being unfriendly. Many Turks also take vacation during the months of July and August so avoid scheduling appointments during these times of the year. Since 99.8% of the national population are Muslims, expats, particularly women, in Turkey should remember to dress conservatively.

See more

Continue reading:

Work Guide

Expat Services in Turkey

Don't miss our Expat Services in Turkey