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Professional recognition under EU law

Have you completed a course at a higher education institution in the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, and do you now want to take up a career in Austria which requires an Austrian higher education qualification by law? If so, you may be able to have your professional qualification recognised under EU law.

What is professional recognition?

Recognition of qualifications for professional purposes (usually referred to as ‘professional recognition’) is a way of becoming authorised to exercise a particular profession on the basis of foreign qualifications.
The professions in question are normally ‘regulated professions’. As a general rule, these are professions for which authorisation depends on a higher education diploma: the classic examples are doctors, civil servants, teachers, accountants, civil engineers and many trades. There are different levels of education needed for the requisite qualifications, depending on the profession and applicable legal provisions.

Adoption of the law on professions

It is up to each country to establish its own regulated professions and the authorisation for these. In Austria, this responsibility falls to either the national or federal state governments, depending on who is responsible for authorising that particular profession. This does not apply to citizens of EU and EEA countries or Swiss nationals, whose qualifications are automatically recognised for professional authorisation, provided they have acquired the relevant professional rights in their original country. If this is not the case, they may take the validation route.

Requirements

The main features which determine the ‘academic’ level of a diploma are the completion of at least three years’ full-time higher education, the completion of any further vocational training required (for example, in Austria, the induction stage for teachers or the training for doctors after graduation), and the direct authorisation to exercise an equivalent profession in the applicant’s original country.

Which authority is responsible?

You should approach the Austrian authority which is responsible for regulating the profession you want to exercise. This may be a government ministry, a professional chamber or a federal state office. An overview is available here.