English: Flag-Map of Germany EU (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One of the questions I get asked most frequently from family, friends, acquaintances and readers of this blog is about how they too can come and work in Germany. Considering how much I love living and working here I’m happy to promote Germany as a great country to live and work in but finding working here may not be as easy as people think it is going to be.
Here is my take on how easy it will be for you to find a job in Germany.
Do you speak German?
If you do and you are highly skilled in your field then finding a job in Germany will be relatively easy for you, regardless of whether you are an EU citizen or not. Germany is very welcoming to highly skilled immigrants, especially those that already speak German and by speak German I mean have at least a business level German or are fluent. If you can only string a couple of sentences together then your German will be deemed ‘not good enough’ and you will need to go and join the English-only speaking folks.
If you only speak English then, unfortunately, things become really limited for you. The huge bulk of English-only speaking expats work as English teachers or in a bilingual (German/English) pre-schools (with kids aged up to 6 years). If teaching English or taking care of kids is not for you, then the outlook looks less bright for you.
Are you an EU citizen?
So you don’t speak German and are not willing to teach English but you do hold an EU passport. Things are a little brighter for you than for the folks that don’t have one. There are jobs around that only require knowledge of English. These jobs are on the rare side, but since you hold an EU passport you will be a front runner for these positions than those that don’t. It is much easier and cheaper to hire someone who can already legally work in Germany than go through the bureaucracy of getting a work visa for a non-EU citizen.
Are you highly skilled?
So you don’t speak German nor do you have an EU passport, but in your field you are one of the best. Especially if you are an engineer, scientist or IT specialist then Germany wants you and in fact you qualify for a special type of work visa that will allow you to get permanent residency much faster than the average non-EU worker. Jobs may still be hard to find, but if you have the right skills you will find something, but it may take a lot of searching and time. You aren’t going to just walk into a job unless your career field is extremely specialised.
Does your current company have an office in Germany?
Welcome to the world of the internal company transfer. Most English speaking expats that don’t teach English are in this category including myself. We really are the blessed ones. We lucked out by getting a job in a global firm in our home country and now the company wants us to or are willing to let us work in Germany. We don’t speak German nor are we necessarily from an EU country, but that doesn’t matter. The majority of the people in this field are on a fixed term contract of about 1-3 years before they have to return back to their home country but some of us are here permanently or until we decide to return back to our home countries.
Don’t fit into any of the above categories?
Don’t give up. You may not be able to move to Germany in the short term but don’t give up on your dream. If Germany is really where you want to be, you will find a way to make it happen. Start learning German, up-skill and/or look for a job with a global firm in your home country that have an office in Germany and encourages internal transfers. You may need to wait 2-5 years to make your dream a reality, but you will get there. Good luck!
The information above comes from my own personal experiences and stories told to me by other expats working here, so I’m willing to bet that not everything here is 100% accurate nor applies to everyone looking for work. Also, the above is just concentrating on people coming here to work and not those that want to or have studied here or those that come as ‘trailing spouses’ or have married German citizens and are looking for work. You guys are in a whole different category that I readily admit that I don’t really understand. The best way to determine if you are eligible to work in Germany and how easily you can find a job is to contract the German Embassy in your home country. Those guys are the real experts and should be your ultimate source of knowledge. What I’ve written above is just to give you an idea of what your chances are to find work in Germany.
For those of you already working in Germany, do you agree with my assessment? Or have I gotten something wrong? Please let me know in the comments.