For members


What wages can you expect when working in Denmark?

Danish salaries are the highest in the European Union -- and given the prices, some would say they need to be. We looked at what jobs pay the most.

What wages can you expect when working in Denmark?
All of this lovely wonga could be yours. Photo: Mads Nissen/Ritzau Scanpix

According to Eurostat, Danish labour costs €44.7 an hour, considerably more than in neighbouring Sweden or Germany. 

Note that this figure does not separate wages from the overall labour cost – that data was not available in 2019, according to Eurostat.


But which jobs earn the most?

The Local made a spreadsheet using data for 2019 salaries downloaded from Statistics Denmark (here's where you can get the raw data), and analysed it to find out.  

Top managers earn the most 

It shouldn't come as a surprise that top executives pull in the most pay, although they do earn a lower multiple of the average salary than their counterparts in the UK or US. 

According to Statistics Denmark, chief executives in 2019 earned on average 104,896 kroner (€14,000) a month, or about 1.3m kroner a year (€170,000).

Presumably the heads of Danish giants like Lego or Maersk are earning quite a bit more than that. 

What about the rest of the board? 

Those on the next rung down in the corporate hierarchy earn about three quarters of what their bosses do. 

Somewhat surprisingly, advertising and public relations managers earn more than IT managers and finance managers, at 79,324 kroner a month or 952,000 a year, compared to 79,249 kroner and 951,000 kroner for IT and 78,956 kroner or 947,472 kroner for the finance head. 

Sales managers earn slightly less, 75,535 kroner a month or 906,000 kroner a year, and human resources managers earn less still at 73,000 kroner a  month or 877,051 kroner a year. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, restaurant managers can't expect the same pay levels as other managers, earning on average 42,170 kroner a month. 

Which non-management jobs pay most? 

If boardroom battles aren't your thing, you can still earn a lot in Denmark. Aircraft pilots earn almost as much as chief executives, banking on average 99,424 kroner a month or 1.2m kroner a year. 

Specialist medical practitioners are also highly paid, drawing 91,125 kroner a month, or about 1.1m kroner a year, compared to 71,514 kroner a month or 860,000 kroner a year for doctors on average. Dentists do less well, earning 61,874 kroner a month or 742,498 a year. 

Air traffic controllers are also among the top earners, drawing in 70,281 kroner a month or 843,372 kroner a year.

According to the database, pharmacists earn on average 67,425 kroner a month or 809,100 kroner a year, which seems strangely high (perhaps it includes people working more generally in Denmark's highly successful pharmaceutical sector). 

City jobs are comparatively less well-paid than in the UK or US, with securities brokers and dealers earning 65,967 kroner a month or about 791,604 kroner a year, financial analysts 66,206 kroner a month or 794,472 kroner a year, and finance professionals in general earn 59,532 kroner a month or 714,384 kroner a year. 

Lawyers earn on average 65,089 kroner a month, or 781,000 kroner a year.

Software developers also earn less than you might expect, taking home 57,973 kroner a month or 695,676 kroner a year on average. 

Engineers also do quite well, earning 59,089 kroner a month on average. The highest earners among them are chemical engineers and electrotechnology engineers on 67,365 kroner a month and 61,460 kroner a month respectively. 

Ships' engineers earn 62,348 kroner a month, electrical engineers earn 60,794 kroner a month, and mechanical engineers earn 60,415 kroner a month. 
The worst paid engineers are civil engineers and industrial engineers on 57,994 kroner and 56,855 kroner a month respectively. 
What are the worst paid jobs? 
It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that farm labourers are the lowest paid in Denmark, earning 22,693 kroner a month or about 272,316 kroner a year. 
Bartenders are also pretty much at the bottom, earning 24,361 kroner a month. They earn less, in fact, than “food service counter attendants” at places like McDonalds, who earn on average 25,494 kroner a month. Waiters earn slightly more, taking home on average 26,908 kroner a month. 
You can earn a bit more cleaning offices, a job that pulls in on average 28,254 kroner a month, although domestic cleaners earn just 26,465 kroner a month. 
Fast food preparers earn more than their counter attendant colleagues, pulling in on average 28,690 kroner a month. 
Being a travel guide might be a fun job, but it's also a poorly paid one, with guides on average earning 28,349 kroner a month. 
Working in retail is slightly better paid, with shop salespersons earning 28,773 kroner a month on average. 
The highest paid non-management restaurant workers are chefs, who earn 37,795 kroner a month on average. Ordinary cooks earn on average 30,879 kroner a month. 
Taxi drivers earn on average 28,959 kroner a month, while bus and tram drivers can earn 31,601 kroner a month, heavy truck drivers 32,308 kroner a month, and train drivers can earn 45,371 kroner a month. 
Hairdressers and beauticians earn on average 33,403 kroner a month, with hairdressers earning the most. 
The creative professions 
Just like everywhere else, the creative professions tend to pay less well, although they earn a better wage in Denmark than in some other countries. 
Dancers and choreographers get paid 35,733 kroner a month on average, visual artists 38,806 kroner a month. Performing artists do a bit better, earning 43,590 kroner a month. 
Photographers earn 40,550 kroner a month on average.
Journalists earn 50,019 kroner on average a month (which is a lot more than this journalist!), and advertising professionals earning 50,303 kroner a month. 
Architects earn slightly more, but perhaps less than you would expect, pulling in 51,162 kroner a month on average. 
What about teaching? 
Teachers' pay in Denmark is less dreadful than in a lot of other countries, with primary school teachers earning 43,627 kroner a month, secondary school teachers earning 49,152 kroner a month and university teachers earning as much as 49,152 kroner a month. 









Member comments

    1. Salaries in scandinavian countries are allways written as before tax (gross) , when published in newspapers and generally speaking.Its in the scandinavian culture to allways say your salary before taxes, maybe to attract foreigners here.

      Denmark has in average 55% tax because of all the extra taxes and fees. You have to calculate -40% tax in average on income after deductions. You will also pay in average over 200% tax on new cars, but it can be less, if you lease the car, if you are the kind that wants to drive a new car all the time. If you like used cars then you are fine, this is not a culture where showing off wealth is possitive. Do not think you are better then anyone is a unwritten rule.

      As a foreigner you will most likely ony get work in nightlife(taxi, bartender, restaurants, cleaning, driving jobs, labor jobs), if you do not speak danish perfectly and/or do not have a education that makes you very needed and wanted (specialist, programmer etc). I am a a norwegian citizen, born in sweden, but ended up in Denmark because i married someone here.

      Denmark has one of the biggest black economies in the world because of the high taxes. The taxes do include healthcare, but not dental. Its basic healthcare, its typical for a scandinavian doctor to say everything is fine and send you off after 5 mins. If you want a prescription on something specific, you have to pay a private doctor very often.

      Copenhagen people are more open minded and more friendly to foreigners then in other parts of Denmark, but Copenhagen is a extremely expensive city.

      Danes are generally direct, and you can easily feel that everyone is rude, but its just the culture to be direct. You don’t walk around the bush. This is my experience as a male, you do get used to it, and in many ways it makes work more efficient, but socially danes are not very welcoming to foreigners who do not speak danish perfect.

      Danish is very hard to speak perfectly. You will be told if you are good at your job or not pretty fast very directly, and it’s a national sport to get fired. I have been fired 5-7 times and i have lived here for 3 years. Alcohol is cheap compared to Norway where there is 60-80% tax on alcohol. My job life became stable when i started working as a taxi driver which is what happens to many foreigners who work here. After 1991 , try and hire is a normal way to hire people and fire them fast if they are not fit for the job or efficient enough after the companies standards. Unions are very common, they make the salaries higher, but the work life is hard generally speaking.

      I have worked in Sweden, Norway, Canada and the US. Denmark is a hard place to live the firs year. If you do not believe what i am writing, come and live here. I will not argue. You are welcome to try the danish life. You will maybe earn more, but be careful with spending, its not a cheap country.

  1. Looking at the median income instead of the average salary will give a much better picture of the normal salary here.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Feriepenge: Denmark’s vacation pay rules explained

If you work for a company in Denmark, your yearly time off is likely to be provided for by the 'feriepenge' accrual system for paid annual leave.

If you work in Denmark, a good understanding of 'feriepenge' (holiday allowance) rules will help you plan time off in the summer and around the calendar.
If you work in Denmark, a good understanding of 'feriepenge' (holiday allowance) rules will help you plan time off in the summer and around the calendar. Photo by Felipe Correia on Unsplash

One of the perks of being a full-time employee in the country, Danish holiday usually adds up to five weeks of vacation annually. There are also nine days of public holidays, which everyone benefits from.

The Danish Holiday Act (Ferieloven) provides the basis for paid holiday through accrued feriepenge (‘vacation money’ or ‘vacation allowance’). This covers most salaried employees, although some people, such as independent consultants or freelancers, are not encompassed.

What is feriepenge?

‘Holiday money’ or feriepenge is a monthly contribution paid out of your salary into a special fund, depending on how much you earn.

You can claim back the money once per year, provided you actually take holiday from work. It is earned at the rate of 2.08 vacation days per month.

If you are employed in Denmark, you will be notified when the money can be paid out (this is in May under normal circumstances) and directed to the website, from where you claim it back from national administrator Udbetaling Danmark.

Anyone who is an employee of a company registered in Denmark and who pays Danish taxes is likely to receive holiday pay, as this means you will be covered by the Danish Holiday Act (ferieloven). You are not an employee if, for example, you are self-employed, are a board member on the company for which you work or are unemployed.

How do I save up time off using feriepenge?

The law, which covers the five standard weeks or (normally 25 days) of paid vacation, states that you are entitled to take vacation during the vacation year period. You earn paid vacation throughout a calendar year at the rate of 2.08 days per month.

You earn vacation time in the period September 1st-August 31st. You can then use your vacation in the same year that you earn it and up to December 31st the subsequent year – in other words, over a 16-month period.

These rules also mean that holiday earned during a given month can be used from the very next month, in what is referred to as concurrent holiday (samtidighedsferie).

So when can I take time off using this accrued vacation?

The Danish vacation year is further broken down so that there is a “main holiday period” which starts on May 1st and ends on September 30th. During this time, you are entitled to take three weeks’ consecutive vacation out of your five weeks.

A lot of people take three weeks in a row while others break it up – which is why you often hear Danish people who work full time wishing each other a “good summer holiday” as if it’s the end of the school term.

Outside of the main holiday period, the remaining 10 days of vacation can be taken whenever you like. You can take up to five days together but may also use the days individually.

If your employer wants to decide when you should take any of your vacation days, they have to let you know at least three months in advance for main holiday, or one month in advance for remaining holiday (barring exceptional circumstances, such as an unforeseen change to the company’s operations or if the company closes for the summer shortly after you begin employment).

If you have not earned paid vacation, you still have the right to take unpaid holiday.

Public Holidays

In addition to the vacation days, there are also public holidays. These are bunched up mostly in the early part of the year and around Christmas. However, the period between June and Christmas includes the above-mentioned main annual leave, so there’s not usually long to wait until you can take time off.

Denmark has public holidays on:’

  • New Year’s Day  
  • Maundy Thursday
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday  
  • Great Prayer Day (Store Bededag)
  • Ascension Day
  • Whit Monday
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day

In addition to the usual public holidays, companies can choose to give extra time off, for example on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve. There are also differences regarding Labour Day and Constitution Day, depending on where you work, what kind of work you do, or the collective bargaining agreement under which you are employed.

Sometimes you can get a whole day off for these extra holidays, sometimes just a half day. Check with your employer for details.