How Easy Is It To Find A Job In Germany?

English: Flag-Map of Germany EU

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.

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18 thoughts on “How Easy Is It To Find A Job In Germany?

  1. A bit of information for teachers:
    Teachers who received their qualifications outside of the EU are not qualified to teach in Germany automatically.

    The acceptance of teachers depends on each state’s legislation, and you must be accredited by the state in which you are wanting to teach.

    Generally, for Non-EU teachers, Germany will only allow you to be accredited for one of your subjects and you will be looking at a minimum of 3 years to retrain your second subject, in a German language learning environment.

    You also need a masters, as a minimum level of education, to qualify to teach the Abbitur (11-12 class, prep for University).

    I can definitely say that’s a good summary of the job situation.

    There are expat blogs all over the internet with people asking, begging, pleading for a job in Germany… however they don’t speak German, they indicate that they can speak English (but their written evidence begs to differ), and they quickly follow up with “and can I bring my family”.

    In my experience the Ausländerbehörde, or the formidable office for international persons, doesn’t take kindly to this kind of person.

    Learning German, by the by, is not impossible. It takes time, but with enough motivation it’s actually fun.

    • Thanks so much for the info about teachers looking to teach in the German public school system. However, for the private system some schools are not so strict and do employ teachers that do not hold a teaching degree (German or otherwise) to teach English. Again this states the importance of doing your own research & talking to the embassy as there does appear not to be a blanket rule for quite a lot of things (which is very un-German :) ).

      The Ausländerbehörde is a very unfriendly place at the best of time, but I find the Embassies to be a little more sympathetic. However, it is very important to do your homework before turning up in Germany expecting to find a job asap.

      • Ahh this may be the case for teaching English, but I was actually talking about transferring your teaching skills (eg HS Maths or Computer science or English as literature) to Germany. For degree qualified, accredited pedagogues who wish to continue working in their field, the rules are a bit different.

        I’m not sure about Primary, as I’m a secondary teacher by profession. You are right about the non-governmental schools. But I was informed roughly 3 months ago that, pending legislation changes, in an effort to crack down on teachers not currently accredited with the state, they are implementing measures requiring at least 75% of teachers working in non-governmental schools will require to be accredited with the accreditation body. (This was from the Accreditation authority of Baden Wurttemburg, my new home state).

        This may have changed since I found out about it, but at least for the high school system, this is something to keep in mind. And, with that in mind, competition is FIERCE!

        Generally, however, international schools and schools operating on behalf of international companies or governments have different regulations of which I’m not aware. It is my understanding, from talking to a colleague whose wife teaches for the American Army, that at least in her case she is operating within American standards.

        Another excellent opportunity for those seeking employment as Native English speakers is in the field of journalism/editing/communications. This is the field I’ve moved into, as teaching English pays very poorly and often requires you to work as a freelancer.

  2. You’re right it’s different if you have a German spouse. My wife says she’ll put me behind the grill at one of her McDonald’s restaurants before she lets me file for unemployment! :-)

    Another possibility for native English speakers is to work for an English-language publisher (my first real job in Germany) or as a technical writer for German firms who export. Such jobs are probably not easy to find, and it helps to have Vitamin C (connections). (Or as they say in German, Vitamin B, Beziehungen.)

  3. Hi, I’ve been following your blog for a while but I don’t think I’ve ever introduced myself. I’m living in Hamburg, too, and I fall into the EU citizen category and the highly skilled (or at least, unusually skilled) category, but my husband doesn’t and he hasn’t been able to find a job here. I think you have everything covered, but if someone is desperate to move to Germany, they could consider applying for grad school since some majors are taught in English for the first year or two (giving you time to learn German) and I think you get a short visa extension to look for a job after graduation.

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  5. My experience matches what you’ve written here, more or less. My company transferred me here, but there were caveats- because of the employment rules, a) my company had to post the job locally first and prove to the government here that they could not fill it with someone already here, and b) I had to be declared a “specialist” of some sort. I’m not clear on the paperwork that went into getting me here because it was all handled by my company.

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  7. I live in Spain, and this topic comes up often – Spain’s youth unemployment stands at 56%, so many want to find work in Germany. And many have returned, after an unsuccessful attempt. I tell them that you need very specific qualifications to get a job in Germany, and that you need to speak the language. On the whole Spaniards, even university educated ones, don’t even speak English well, never mind possessing usable German skills. How on Earth do they think they are going to communicate…?

    • My German language classes have been full of Spanish students trying to learn German so that they can find a job there after they graduate or finish their Praktikum. I really feel for them, to be honest, as they have no prospects back in Spain. That must be a really hard place to be in.

  8. Really useful advice! I think there are massive regional differences. English-speaking work can be found more easily in Stuttgart, Frankfurt or Munich, but the opportunities in Berlin are much more limited. I teach English in Berlin and whilst I found a job easily, all the work is freelance and you have to sort out health insurance yourself. I have heard that in the South, you can find teaching work with a proper contract.

    • Jobs to teach English are relatively easy to find in Germany, although they may not meet your requirements in precisely the ways you mentioned eg freelance, not enough hours etc.
      However, if you don’t want to teach English & don’t speak German, your chances of finding a job shrink dramatically in even the regions where there are more English speaking jobs around.

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  10. Do you have any tips for someone like me who’s a non-EU citizen, did his Bachelor’s in engineering from his country and is almost done with his Master’s from a German university? I can converse in everyday German but don’t know the technical terms in German. What sort of companies do you think I should go for?

    Whatever you say, I know it’ll be based on your experiences and isn’t coming from an official source. So feel free to give me your opinions :)

    • If I was in your position, I would be talking to the careers advisor at your University or else someone in your department, say your Master’s supervisor. These people should have an intimate knowledge of your field of engineering and what jobs are out there for people with your current skill level. Good luck!

  11. hi, do you have any advice for a French speaker ? My husband is working in Germany for a couple of months and I will move there soon. I speak French and English and I have economic background. started to learn German, but this will probably take some time until I can speak it fluently … so for the next months I cannot use it :(

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