With the fourth-largest economy in the world and a population of more than 80 million, Germany offers an impressive range of opportunities for international workers

Jobs in Germany

This densely populated and highly industrialised country is home to Europe's largest economy, which means that the German job market is generally very strong. Employment prospects are high for skilled immigrant workers, especially those looking to enter the IT, healthcare, science and pharmaceuticals, and engineering and manufacturing sectors - even though the latter has suffered a decline in recent years.

While German-based multinational companies, such as Allianz, BMW, Siemens, Adidas and Volkswagen, employ thousands of people, it's the plethora of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that can be held accountable for the economy's success. Many of these, however, don't run graduate schemes - instead, previous work experience tends to secure students jobs after university.

The most thriving economic regions are found in the south, particularly Bavaria, Hesse and Baden-Wurttemberg, thanks largely to the cities of Munich, Frankfurt am Main, Stuttgart and Mannheim.

You can search for jobs in Germany at:

How to get a job in Germany

The process of applying for, interviewing for and getting a job in Germany is similar to that of the UK. Most job applications should consist of a cover letter, a two-page CV, references, and any academic or professional certificates; however, like in the UK, some companies will expect applications to be made through their own careers portal. You can find more detailed information in the specific job post.

Shortlisted candidates are then typically invited to an interview, sometimes initially over the telephone. The same tips that you'd use when applying for jobs in the UK apply when job-hunting in Germany.

Summer jobs

Voluntary work is a great way to build your skillset, network with professionals, learn a new language and, ultimately, improve your employability. What's more, opportunities are widespread in Germany.

The European Commission (EC) funds a scheme called the European Voluntary Service (EVS), which offers young people aged 17 to 30 the chance to volunteer for up to 12 months in a number of countries, including Germany.

Opportunities vary from placements concerned with sport and culture to those focused on social care and the environment. Accommodation, travel, food and insurance are all covered by a European grant, and you even receive a personal allowance each month.

You can search for summer jobs, seasonal work, and gap year and volunteering opportunities at:

This information is still valid following the UK's decision to leave the European Union and will be updated if changes happen.

Teaching jobs

Germany is a popular destination for those who want to teach English as a foreign language. However, it's one of the few countries that expect English teachers to be able to speak the native tongue. For more information, read i-to-i Teach English in Germany.

The British Council's Language Assistants in Germany scheme is available for students who have a minimum of an AS level in German, or equivalent.

To find out more information about teaching English in Germany, check out TEFL.com.

Internships

Internships in Germany typically last between eight weeks and one year. Whether you get paid depends on the individual organisation.

They are widely available in Germany, but there is a high level of competition. Internships can be arranged through:

  • AIESEC UK - for students and recent graduates;
  • IAESTE UK - for science, engineering and applied arts students;
  • your university;
  • companies directly;
  • networking.

You can also search for internships at:

To find out more about internships in Germany, visit DAAD.

German visas

While non-European Union (EU) nationals should visit the Federal Foreign Office website to find out their precise entry requirements, EU citizens have the right to:

  • move to another EU country to work without a work permit;
  • enjoy equal treatment with nationals in access to employment, working conditions and all other social and tax advantages;
  • stay in the country even after employment has finished.

For more information and to check what conditions and restrictions apply, see Europa.

All international workers must obtain a certificate of residence upon gaining employment. To do this, you'll need to show proof of work and accommodation. This certificate will be allocated by the local Central Register of Foreign Nationals or resident registration office.

This visa information is still valid following the UK's decision to leave the European Union and will be updated if changes happen.

Language requirements

The majority of well-educated Germans have a strong grasp of English and can speak the language fluently. However, you'll still be expected to have a good knowledge of German, both spoken and written, to stand a chance of finding work. It's therefore worth learning it before you leave your home country.

There are lots of German language courses in the UK, and many useful websites exist to test and then sharpen your skills. One of these is BBC Languages.

How to explain your qualifications to employers

UK qualifications are almost always comparable to their Germany counterparts, and will therefore be recognised by employers. However, professionals of regulated professions, such as doctors and lawyers, will need their qualifications recognised in Germany before they can begin work.

Certain authorities are responsible for the recognition of professional qualifications. For more information, see the Recognition Finder. As a rule, applications for recognition cost between €200 and €600.

Applicants in a non-regulated profession should also consider having their professional qualifications recognised, so that companies have a better idea of their skills.

What it's like to work in Germany

There are more public holidays in Germany than in any other European country, and most employers also provide paid holidays of six weeks. The average working week is around 40 hours long but, like in the UK, provisions for overtime, holidays and weekend pay will vary.

There's no legislative minimum wage, but collective bargaining agreements set pay rates and are enforceable by law for an estimated 80% to 90% of wage earners. Net average monthly salaries are slightly lower in Germany (€2,225) than in the UK (€2,312). German income tax is progressive, ranging from 0% to 45% depending on your earnings.

Businesses and shops have restricted trading hours, controlled by German law and the individual regulations of different states. Supermarkets, for example, close at 10pm at the latest and open before 9am or 10am. On Sundays, almost everything is closed.

German business culture prioritises a well-defined hierarchy, while professional status is generally based on achievement and expertise - making academic titles and backgrounds important. Work ethic and promise-keeping are both highly valued traits for those working in Germany.

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