Seasonal, temporary & holiday jobs in Northern Ireland

Map Of Northern Ireland

Despite the negative image of Northern Ireland held in many foreign countries, on account of the Troubles which occurred between the late 1960s until the mid-1990s, tourism is an important part of the Northern Irish economy. Tourism has risen steadily since the peace process took hold and is considered likely to become one of the main growth areas of the economy in the near future, which is great news for working travelers wishing to visit Northern Ireland. Temp job hot spots include Belfast and Armagh. While you are there you might want to get out of buzzing Belfast for a bit and see the Giant's Causeway, and Northern Ireland's many castles.

More good news for the temp job market in NI is that unemployment in Northern Ireland has decreased substantially in recent years, and is now 4.5%. This is amongst the lowest of the regions of the United Kingdom. Northern Irelands jobs have traditionally been industrial (you’d do well to get a holiday job welding!) but most heavy industry has since been replaced by services which provide lots of temporary jobs and opportunities.

Northern Ireland, along with Scotland, Wales and England is part of the UK so British Work Permit rules apply. If you are not a UK or EEA citizen, please see the Government Immigration website for info or give them a call.

Belfast is one of Europe’s favourite weekend destinations.  But if you want to stay a little longer, you’ll need to know more about the employment market.  What, where, and how should you look for work in Belfast?

Finding work in Belfast

Since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, Belfast has become more attractive to investors and visitors alike; house prices have boomed, jobs have multiplied, and the city centre has seen significant redevelopment. Visitors to this attractive city, with more than 40 parks and dozens of architectural landmarks, are often tempted to stay longer.

And, if you’ve time on their hands, you probably can!  Belfast’s unemployment is lower than the average in Northern Ireland and in the UK – making it popular among travellers and backpackers. 

So what’s the employment situation here?  For several centuries, Belfast’s economy has revolved around the port – its exports started with corn, butter and beef and, when the Industrial Revolution took place, linen became the city’s most important product.  Later, ship and aeroplane builders started operating from the port.  These pioneering companies made a name for Belfast, building the very first aircraft – and the Titanic.  Today, Shorts Bombardier is the world’s biggest manufacturer of airplane components – it’s still based in Belfast, along with several world-class, long-established textile and engineering businesses.

Of course the industrial landscape has changed in the last century.  Today, tourism creates a number of jobs (16,000 in 2006) but financial services (50,000) and creative services (17,000) are important too.

Seasonal and Temporary Jobs

So what kinds of opportunities are available for travellers and backpackers?  For the best seasonal work, look in the tourist and service industries.  You may also come across companies that need people to take part in medical experiments (not always as frightening as it sounds!).

Where to find temporary jobs

  • Register with the agencies: key agencies in Belfast hospitality industry.
  • Off the cuff: Shops, bars and hotels often need extra staff – people to help with catering and childcare in summer, retail assistants, waiters and bar staff in the winter.
  • Pick up the jobs pages: the Belfast Telegraph publishes a recruitment section on Tuesdays

Summer jobs in Belfast

If you’re travelling to Belfast this summer, don’t forget that employers usually leave it until the last minute to recruit their seasonal staff.  It’s a good idea to budget for a couple of weeks’ job-hunting because summer jobs will be handed to people who are immediately available.

Finding seasonal accommodation in Belfast

Hostel prices start at around £5-£6 per night and this is a great option if you don’t know anyone in the city.  Use an online search engine such as Hostel Belfast and look for backpacker reviews (or post a question on a forum) – your best source of recommendations.  Queen’s University Belfast lets out a small number of apartments on short-term lets.

Next Steps