WORK IN GERMANY: FINDING A JOB IN GERMANY
If you're hunting for a job in Germany, here's a guide on where to look for jobs, plus information on the current job market, job requirements and German work permits.
This guide explains everything you need to work in Germany, including information on what jobs in Germany are available, shortage German jobs, German job websites and other places where you can find jobs in Germany for foreigners.
German job guide:
Work in Germany
The job market in Germany
Germany has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the EU, reaching a record low of 5.8 percent in March 2017, while in some parts of southern Germany, such as Bavaria (where you’ll find Munich), the unemployment rate is significantly lower. A study by the German Federal Institution for Population Research showed that a third of non-EU migrants in Germany in 2010/111 found work within 12 months, although this situation has significantly changed following Germany’s refugee influx since 2015. However, if you are well qualified – with a university degree or a vocational qualification such as an apprenticeship – and have work experience and a basic knowledge of German, there are much higher chances of finding a job in Germany, where such qualities are valued.
Shortage German jobs
There’s a shortage of skilled workers in certain professions in Germany. These include qualified engineers (mechanical, automotive, electrical and building), IT specialists, health and social workers and certain manufacturing positions. Professionals with vocational qualifications are also in demand in certain fields (see here for a list in German). With an increasingly older population, workers in the geriatric, health and nursing professions are also in short supply. English teaching, casual work and hospitality jobs are also available.
There are several large international firms in Germany, such as Adidas, BMW, MAN, Siemens, Volkswagen, Daimler and Eon. However, the prevalence of small and medium-sized businesses is a key feature in the German economy, with more than 90 percent of German companies being SMEs and accounting for two-thirds of jobs.
German work environment and management culture
The average working week is just over 38 hours, with a minimum of 18 days holiday a year. German business culture is traditionally hierarchical, with strong management. Germans work on carefully planned tasks and make decisions based on hard facts. Meetings are orderly and efficient and follow a strict agenda and schedule, where discussions are held with the aim of reaching compliance and a final decision. Time is a well-defined concept in German business culture and people are very punctual, and you should be too in any professional environment. The national German minimum wage was increased to EUR 8.84 per hour in 2017, and salaries in Germany are expected to be reviewed every two years.
German work visas and residence permits
If you’re from the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you don’t need a permit to work in Germany as long as you have a valid passport or ID card, although registering your address is required. Read more in our guide for EU/EEA/Swiss moving to Germany.
Citizens from Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea and the US can also come to Germany without a visa, however, must apply for a German residence and work permit from their local Alien’s Authority.
Everyone else will need to get a German visa and residence permit in order to work in Germany. Whether or not you are able to get a residence permit will depend on your qualifications and the sector you want to work in. It may be hard to get a residence permit to work in Germany, but it is not worth being tempted to work in Germany illegally.
Read more in our guide to German work permits.
Languages to work in Germany
While you may find English-speaking jobs in Germany, you’ll need to be able to speak at least some German to get a job (even if you want to teach English), and it’s unlikely that you would get a professional level job without good language skills. There are many language schools in Germany if you need to brush up on your German.
Qualifications and references
There are around 60 regulated professions in Germany, including teachers, doctors and opticians. If yours is one of them, you’ll need to get your qualification recognised by the relevant German authority or professional association before you can work in Germany. Check out your occupation on Recognition in Germany and find out how to get it recognised. Contact the Central Office for Foreign Education (Zentrale Stelle für die Bewertung ausländischer Qualifikationen, ZAB) to get a foreign university degree verified. Countries signed up to the Bologna Process will have their qualifications recognised in Germany.
Finding jobs in Germany
For expat-focused and English-speaking jobs in Germany, check out Expatica jobs. There is a constantly updated selection of jobs for both English speakers and speakers of other languages, in a range of different sectors.
If you’re from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you can look for a job in Germany through the EURES (European Employment Services) website. EURES is a job portal network that is maintained by the European Commission and it’s designed to aid free movement within the EEA. As well as looking for work, you can upload your CV and get advice on the legal and administrative issues involved in working in Germany. EURES holds job fairs in spring and autumn.
Public German job sites
The Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit, BA ), the largest provider of labour market services in Germany, has a network of over 700 agencies and offices around the country. Its International Placement Service (ZAV) has information about work opportunities, including casual work. You can also post your profile on their job portal – as well as your qualifications and career highlights, you can say what kind of post you’re looking for within which type of company.
Job websites in Germany
Jobs in Germany are often advertised on German job and recruitment websites (Jobbörsen), with some specialising in certain industries or focused on jobs in Germany for foreigners.
English-speaking jobs in Germany
- Craigslist – casual and out-of-the-ordinary jobs, including some English-speaking jobs in Germany
- English jobs
- The Local
- Toplanguage jobs– English-speaking jobs in Germany (and other languages)
Recruitment agencies in Germany
Look in the German Yellow Pages (Gelbe Seiten) under Arbeitsvermittlung for agencies. They’ll be reputable if they are members of the Federal Employer’s Association of Personnel Service Providers orBundesarbeitgeberverband der Personaldienstleister (BAP). Before you sign on, check whether a company which will look for a job on your behalf will charge you a fee for doing so – some may ask for a hefty fee of up to EUR 2,000. You will find several international recruitment agencies operating in Germany, many of which list specialist jobs for foreigners.
Teaching English in Germany
There are lots of opportunities for native English speakers to teach English in Germany: school children, older students in language schools, private tutoring, as well as teaching professional English to staff of international companies. You’ll need to have a degree and experience as well as a TEFL qualification. You can look for TEFL jobs here and here (although many online sites liust jobs) or check international schools in Germany, language schools in Germany or German universities.
German jobs in newspapers
Some international companies will advertise on their company websites in both English and German. Vacancies are usually listed under Stellenangebote, Karriere or Vakanzen. Top German companies include Adidas, Aldi, BASF, Bayer, BMW, Bosch, Daimler, Deutsche Bank, E.ON, Lidl, Merck, SAP, Siemens and Volkswagen. But don’t forget the plethora of small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) that are an important part of the German economy, so check out those in your field. You can find all companies in Germany via the government’s company register (in English).
Embassies and consulates
Look out for vacancies at your home country’s embassy or consulate in Germany. Whatever the job you are sure to need a high standard of spoken and written German.
For many Germans, networking is something done between friends or close colleagues, so while you can try making contacts (and therefore a job) through professional organisations and conferences don’t bank on it. LinkedIn’s Germany Business and Professional Network has job adverts. Alternatively, link up with like-minded expats through Meetup groups or form your own; you never know who you might meet and where it might lead.
Speculative job applications
It’s totally acceptable to approach German companies with speculative applications but make sure that you do your homework thoroughly and ensure your qualifications and experience are exactly what the company is looking for.
Traineeships, interships and volunteering in Germany
Find traineeships in the EU for university graduates via the European Commission Traineeships Office (Bureau de Stages), or look for internships and summer placements at AIESEC (for students and recent graduates) or IAESTE (for students in science, engineering and applied arts). Europlacement and Intern Abroad also advertise internships.
You can also work abroad as a volunteer typically in exchange for board, food, insurance and a small allowance; for those aged between 17 and 30, find volunteer programs up to 12 months at European Voluntary Service (EVS). Concordia is another organisastion for volunteer opportunities.
Applying for a job in Germany
Once you’ve found a job in Germany to apply for, you will need to prepare your application according to German expectations. In Germany, this often means putting together an application file containing your CV, copies of your educational certificates and employer testimonials and even samples of your work, if appropriate. You’ll also need to write a cover letter to go with your application file. Plus, if you get through to the interview stage, you’ll need to know what to expect in a German job interview, and what to do – and not to do – during the interview. We provide details in our guide on how to create a German-style CV and tips for job interviews in Germany.