If you are an expat looking for a job in Germany, it can be difficult to know where to start your job hunting. If you are well qualified with either a degree or a vocational qualification, have work experience and can speak at least some German, then you stand a good chance of finding a job in Germany, especially in certain sectors. Germany has the largest economy in Europe and the fifth largest in the world, so there are plenty of jobs for skilled workers but casual work is also fairly easy to come by.
Here’s what you need to get started on your search for a job in Germany: information and advice on what jobs are available in Germany and where to look to find them.
Work in Germany
The job market in Germany
Germany has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the EU at just 6.4 percent (www.destatis.de December 2014) and 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. 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, then you have a good chance of finding employment in Germany, where such qualities are valued.
Available jobs in Germany
There’s a shortage of skilled workers in many professions in Germany. These include qualified engineers (mechanical, automotive, electrical and building), scientists, mathematicians, IT specialists and both hospital doctors and GPs. Professionals with vocational qualifications are also in demand in certain fields (see here for a list). 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.
German work environment and management culture
The average working week is just over 38 hours, with a minimum of 18 days holiday a year. The German organisational culture is 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. Discussions are held with the aim of reaching compliance and a final decision. Time is a well-defined concept and people are very punctual, and you should be too in any professional environment. A national minimum wage of EUR 8.50 per hour was adopted in 2014.
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 work permit to work in Germany as long as you have a valid passport or ID card, unless you’re from Croatia, where restrictions are in place until at least June 30, 2015, and potentially until 2020, requiring Croatians to get a work permit for their first year of employment.
Citizens from Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea and the US can come to Germany without a visa and apply for a residence and work permit from their local Alien’s Authority.
Everyone else will need to get a visa and residence permit in order to work in Germany. Whether or not you are able to get a residence permit in order to work in Germany will depend on your qualifications and the sector you want to work in. It may be hard to get a residence permit for work, but it is not worth being tempted to work in Germany illegally.
For more information on German work permits and immigration, see our guide to working 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.