How to become a nurse in Finland 2023

Are you a foreign nurse seeking to work in Finland? This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the necessary information on how to become a nurse in Finland, including the career pathway, salary, working conditions, registration and practice.

Nursing is an essential and rewarding profession, and Finland, like many other countries, is currently experiencing a shortage of nurses. The demand for nurses is particularly high in the geriatric and home care services, making it an opportune time for foreign nurses seeking to work in Finland.

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The process of becoming a nurse in Finland involves several steps, including obtaining a nursing education, a nursing top-up degree in Finland, Valvira registration, good command of Finnish or Swedish language, and a residence permit. In this guide, we will provide an overview of the career pathway, salary, working conditions, registration, and practice, as well as frequently asked questions about becoming a nurse in Finland.

The path to become a registered nurse

A registered nurse (RN) is a person who has completed their education and training in the field of nursing. RNs in Finland perform tasks such as patient care, medication administration, and disease management. Advanced assessment, consultation, diagnosis, ordering and interpretation of tests, and care of numerous chronic conditions are all performed by a nurse practitioner/advanced practice nurse. Also included in their role is to follow-up, monitor and educate patients for non-acute cases. Clinical nurse specialist nurses provide broad-based work to ensure and improve nursing quality, promote evidence-based nursing, and support the organization’s strategic goals.

Different regulations apply to all other nurses with non-EU/EEA certificates: they must still have their qualifications recognized, but it will be more difficult and time-consuming. The full process can take up to a year, although you can usually work as a nursing assistant in the meantime.

Salary of Nurses in Finland

According to using data from 2021, the average monthly salary for individuals working in the position of Nurse in Finland is 3,261 euros per month. This salary varied based on the sector of employment: individuals working in the municipal sector had an average salary of €3,272 (based on 45,434 individual salaries), those in the state sector had an average salary of €3,518 (based on 510 individual salaries), and those in the private sector had an average salary of €3,129 (based on 4,643 individual salaries). It is important to note that the average salary increased by €76 (2.4%) from 2020 to 2021.

Salary information for the position of Nurse is usually compiled based on the nature of the job itself. It is worth mentioning that the title “sjukskötare” can also be used for this role. Other factors that can impact salary include location, level of education, industry, and work experience

Working Conditions

Nurses in Finland work in an environment where patient safety is highly valued. The nurse-patient ratio is at 7.6 to 1, indicating that nurses have a manageable number of patients to care for. The country has one of the world’s most efficient healthcare systems, with various digital solutions to increase efficiency. The working atmosphere is in line with other Nordic countries, emphasizing workplace equality and a typically flat structure. Finnish employers typically consider employee input when planning initiatives at meetings, and managers can be decision-makers. Nurses may work night shifts, which typically start earlier and last longer. However, the legislation in Finland allows for an acceptable distribution of responsibilities among healthcare providers, emphasizing patient safety. The development of Advanced Practice Nurses is culturally accepted, with registered nurses, public health nurses, and midwives having separate work descriptions on an international level. The creation of a distribution of duties between nurses and physicians that enhances patient safety has a long history in primary healthcare.

The  Application process to become a nurse in Finland

To work as a nurse in Finland, you must have a qualified degree or equivalent degree from a Finnish university in Nursing. If you have a non-EU/EEA certificate, your qualifications will still need to be recognized, which can be a difficult and time-consuming process.

National Welfare and Health Supervising Authority (Valvira)will evaluate whether your training qualifies you for the same profession as the applicable Finnish training. Work experience, supplemental professional training, and continuing education can all be taken into account in the comparison, and they can help to compensate for any variations in training between countries. Valvira may order you to conduct further studies if there are discrepancies between your training and the current Finnish training. Valvira has the option of requesting an expert opinion on your professional qualifications, for which you would be charged a fee.

If you have already finished a bachelor’s degree in nursing outside of Finland, have job experience, and have intermediate Finnish abilities, you can apply for the Nursing TopUp program. To meet the qualifying requirements, you must have a minimum of two years (24 months) of relevant work experience after completing your bachelor’s degree. Work experience must have occurred within the last seven years.

To work as a nurse in Finland, you must hold a license. Therefore, if you want to work as a nurse in Finland, you must first apply for a license from the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira).

Foreign nurses must learn the language and be aware of cultural differences, making it a challenging experience that differs from that of Finnish-born, Finnish-speaking nurses. You will require a residence permit if you come to work in Finland and are not a citizen of an EU member state or one of the Nordic nations. Before you arrive in Finland, you must apply for a residence permit.

You must find work in Finland before a residence permit can be granted. Once you’ve found work, you can apply for a residency permit. To work in Finland, you’ll usually need either an employed person’s residence permit or another type of residence permit that allows you to work. The type of permit you’ll need is determined by the type of work you’ll be undertaking.

Registration and Practice

Valvira grants the right to practice as a licensed professional upon application. Valvira maintains information on all registered nurses and registers all people with professional practice rights in the Terhikki-register. A person who works as a healthcare practitioner without a license in Finland may be fined or imprisoned.

Furthermore, all medical and healthcare workers in Finland must be able to communicate effectively in either Finnish or Swedish.

As soon as you have registered as a nurse in Finland with Valvira, you can apply for membership in the Finnish Nurses Association and Tehy, the Finnish Union of Health and Social Care Professionals. It is optional to join, but it is highly suggested.

Current demand for nurses in Finland

Finland is currently experiencing a shortage of nurses, especially in geriatric and home care services. This is due to factors such as retirements of experienced nurses, new nursing needs, and the low attractiveness of the nursing sector. The government has recognized the issue and is taking steps to address it, including measures to attract more people to the profession and training programs to increase the number of nurses in the workforce. Reports suggest that Finland will require around 30,000 nurses by 2030, making it a promising time for those interested in pursuing a nursing career in Finland.

Finnish healthcare system

The Finnish healthcare system is considered to be one of the world’s most efficient systems, with high levels of patient satisfaction. Healthcare is funded mostly through taxes, with a range of services available to all citizens. The country emphasizes preventative care and early intervention, with a focus on primary healthcare. There is a strong emphasis on patient safety, and healthcare providers are encouraged to work collaboratively. The system is technologically advanced, with many companies offering digital solutions to improve efficiency. While there are some challenges, such as a nursing shortage, overall the Finnish healthcare system is well-regarded and strives to provide quality care to all citizens.


Becoming a nurse in Finland can be a fulfilling career choice, but it requires significant effort and dedication. Foreign nurses must obtain a nursing education, a nursing top-up degree in Finland, Valvira registration, with time a good command of Finnish or Swedish language, and a residence permit. While it may be a challenging experience, the demand of  30,000 nurses by 2030, makes it a promising time for those interested in pursuing a nursing career in Finland.

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