Moving to Belgium for work? One of the most important questions you’ll be asked during your job interview is ‘what’s your salary expectation?’ But as a foreigner in Belgium, this can be tricky to answer. After all, you don’t know the job market too well. So, to answer this question, a good place to start is the minimum wage and average salaries in Belgium.
To help you negotiate your worth, we’ll walk you through:
Unlike other European countries, Belgium sets the minimum wage both at a national and industry level.
As of 1st December 2022, the Belgian minimum wage equals €1,954.99 for a 38-hour work week.
The nationwide gross minimum wage in Belgium will further increase by €35 in January 2024 and again in 2026, according to the new EU minimum wages directive.
But for majority of the economic sectors such as the food industry, construction, logistics, hotel, etc., the minimum wage in Belgium is set by sector specific collective labour agreements (CLAs) that’s agreed upon by a competent joint committee. They determine the minimum wage based on a scale that looks at seniority, age, and sometimes the number of years working at a company.
Because the sector-specific minimum wage in Belgium can vary a lot by your age and seniority at work, it’s good to bookmark the sector specific official documents as they’re updated frequently.
The minimum wage is much higher for non-Europeans who need a work permit to work in Belgium.
This is what you’ll need to earn:
|Minimum Wage per work permit||Brussels region||Wallonia region||Flanders region|
|Highly skilled (manager)||€47,174||€47,195||^€36,787.20/€45,984|
|Highly skilled (director)||€78,704||€78,704||€73,574|
|ICT (specialist)||€48,798||€48,799||€ 45,984|
|EU Blue Card||€60,998||€60,998||€55,181|
^ In Flanders, how much you get paid depends if you’re younger than or older than 30 years old.
If you’re under 21, your minimum wage will vary according to your age:
|Age||Minimum monthly gross salary||Minimum hourly wage|
|21 and older||€1,842.28||€11.19|
One thing to keep in mind is that as a non-EU national on a student visa in Belgium, you’re only allowed to work 20 hours per week next to your studies. However, during official holiday periods, those hours can be extended.
If you’re older than 21 and you’re doing an internship in Belgium, you must earn at least €751 per month. Moreover, your contract must specify clearly the conditions and learning objectives of your employment or training. So, if you’re above 21 and offered an unpaid internship, bear in mind that it’s against Belgian national legislation.
However, Belgium remains the country with the highest rate of unpaid internships in the EU. To improve that, the Belgian government is currently working on measures to prevent the exploitation of young people.
A good salary in Belgium not only depends on your lifestyle but also on where you live as the cost of living in each Belgian region is different. For instance, assuming that you’re a young starter moving to Brussels, a good annual gross salary would be between €47,600 and €52,299 or €33,300 - €38,000 after tax deductions.
This is because you’d spend around €1,772 per month in total, including rent. That means that you need to earn a bit above the Belgian minimum wage to live comfortably in Brussels. But hey, that doesn’t mean that you should sell yourself short! Earning the average net salary of €2,428 or higher would mean you can save more and afford a bigger flat in one of the best neighbourhoods.
Don’t let the gross income fool you. Belgium's the third-highest taxed country in the EU after France and Austria. Tax rates in Belgium range from 25% – 50% and on average, Belgians spend about 40% of their income on taxes!
On top of the income tax, you also have to pay regional tax and a social security contribution of 13.07%. What’s left of your pay makes up your net salary. This is why it’s important to know this before you negotiate a good salary for you.
The average gross monthly income in Belgium was €3,832 in 2022. After taxes, you’d bring home a net salary of €2,463.
Let’s put it in perspective:
|Country||Average Net Salary|
Once the taxes are deducted, we can conclude that the average Belgian salary is pretty much the same as in the neighbouring countries!
Naturally, the national average salary only gives you a benchmark of what you can expect. In the end, your actual gross salary depends on these 6 factors:
Salaries vary greatly depending on the industry you work in. For example, the best paying jobs in Belgium are in the petrochemical sector, with an average salary of €5,282 – that’s 40% higher than the national average. At the bottom of the list are the catering (horeca) industry workers who are paid about 15% below the national average.
Here’s an overview of the Belgian net monthly average salary per industry sector:
|Industry||Average gross monthly salary (2023)|
|Computer Programming & Consultancy||€4,485|
|Energy & environment||€4,380|
|Education & research||€4,064|
|Electronics & technology||€4,063|
|Food and other consumer goods (FMCG)||€3.859|
|Logistics, transport & distribution||€3,790|
|Telecom, ICT & internet||€3,762|
|Legal services, notary & law firm||€3,643|
|Socio-cultural sector & non-profit||€3,530|
|Agriculture, horticulture, livestock & fishing||€3,359|
|Textile industry and fashion||€3,354|
|Retail and wholesale||€3,158|
|Media, marketing & communication||€3,104|
|Tourism, sports & recreation||€3,081|
Needless to say, the positions with the highest income in Belgium are company executives and managing directors with salaries that’re 178% above the national average. Contrarily, the lowest-paid jobs are service-related positions such as waiters and bartenders. They generally get paid 37% below the national average. So, just like anywhere in the world, the more working experience you’ve got and the more responsibility you take, the higher of a salary__ you can ask for.
Did you know that with a master’s degree you can earn around 47% more than the Belgian average salary? Yes, your diploma indeed makes a difference. Statistics show that those who didn’t finish their studies get paid 26% below the national average.
Generally, larger companies have more budget to spend, including the budget to pay their employees. So working in an international corporation in Belgium (5,001 - 10,000 employees) will surely secure you a decent sum. At the same time, getting a job in a small company of under 250 employees means you’ll earn the least.
It’s safe to say that life is more expensive in the areas around the capital and people there generally earn more too. That’s also true for the Brussels region where employees earn 20% more than in Wallonia.
Here's what you can expect from average salaries in different regions:
|Region||Avg. gross monthly salary||< 2 years of experience|
|Brussels capital region||€4,507||€3,658|
Yes, the gender pay gap is still a thing. And while it’s the highest for higher functions, Belgium still has one of the lowest gender pay gaps compared to the Netherlands, Germany and, actually, most of the EU countries.
If you consider all the above factors that influence your salary, you can probably see why some of the highest paid jobs in Belgium are:
These jobs generally involve greater risks and responsibilities. And we all know that with great risk often comes great reward, right?
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