Working in Germany


Over the last few years, Germany has become a very attractive labour market for foreign workers. With a constantly decreasing unemployment rate and an economy, which is recovering rapidly from the 2009 economic crisis, it is no longer difficult for foreign nationals to find jobs in Germany. With an ever-growing industrial production, large exports worldwide, and quality working conditions, Germany remains an attractive destination for those wishing to start or continue a career abroad.  

The unemployment rate is around 5.7% of the total workforce in Germany, mainly affecting rural areas and eastern regions of the country. Major German cities like Berlin, Munich or Frankfurt centralise most economic activities and a large part of the industry and services workforce. 

 Good to know:

Most job opportunities arise in Southern Germany in Baden Württemberg and Bavaria, namely in the Stuttgart and Munich areas. Also, Frankfurt and the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area offer major job opportunities.

Job opportunities in Germany

In most fields fluency in German is essential to take up employment in the country, unless you work for a multinational company, or in an agricultural or unskilled job. A good knowledge of English or other languages is also desirable if you wish to work in a large export-based company. 
Best job opportunities are to be found in the service sector, health and social services and in industry. 

For working holiday visa holders and foreign students, job opportunities are available in the tourism sector (winter and summer) and in several seasonal activities such as picking fruit or grape harvesting. Look out for “Studentenjobs” and “Ferienjobs”.

Low skilled jobs or student jobs are frequently offered as “Mini-jobs” or “450 euro jobs” with a monthly salary of up to 450 euros. Generally, it’s a part-time job exempt from income tax. It can be a great opportunity to get started in Germany while improving your language skills.

Labour conditions in Germany

Regarding working conditions in Germany, the legal working hours are set at 48 hours maximum per week. Collective labour agreements in German companies may reduce the working time to 35 to 40 hours per week. Most full-time positions are based on 40 hours per week. However, on average the Germans work 41,4 hours on a weekly basis.

German employees benefit from a minimum of 24 holidays per year, bank holidays and weekends excluded, but most employees benefit from additional holidays specified in their employment contract or in the collective agreements. In fact, most employers are offered 30 days per year.

 Good to know:

The German labour market can be quite traditional. Even for non-managerial positions notice periods can range from 3 to 6 months, which also has implications for potentially slow recruitment processes. Most companies are highly hierarchical in their structure with strongly defined roles and decision processes.

Wages in Germany

There is no minimum wage per se in Germany, each company sets its own salary scales according to collective labour agreements and based on ability, skills and experiences of each worker (Tariflohn). In practice, several building trades have introduced minimum wages.

On average, salaries are higher in west Germany than in the eastern regions and women earn 7 to 21% less than men. Note that the average full-time wage in Germany is about € 3000 per month (€ 36,000 yearly) in west Germany and about € 2600 per month (€ 31,200 yearly) in east Germany.

 Good to know:

In 2016 the best-paid Bundesländer were Hesse, Baden Württemberg, Bavaria, Hamburg and North-Rhine Westphalia – with the top cities being Stuttgart, Munich and Düsseldorf.

 Useful links:

Bundes Agentur für Arbeit or National Employment Agency website
Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziale or German Ministry of Labor

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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Member since 01 June 2008
Small earth, Mauritius
2 years ago

The newly introduced minimum wage, which applies to most (but not all) types of jobs and employment situations, is €8.50/hour. Please note that this is before tax and deductions, which might take 30-50% off this in some cases. A full-time job at this minimum wage is thus barely above the poverty line (approx. €800/month) for a single person and not sufficient to feed a family.

4 years ago

The average wage in Germany is now around EUR2500/month (2014).

5 years ago

2000 euro per months netto brutto? as young people is more like 1500. 2,2 unemployement isn\'t the reality there is a lot of hartz iv, part ime job, mini job and mother at home germany isn\'t a paradize

6 years ago

Hi everybody, I do not agree with the negative situation described from HERVER, but on the contrary I can say that the Unemployment rate is sinking in Germany and there are areas in wich you can find the 2,2 % of Unemployment! These areas for are for exemple Bavaria and Baden Württemberg. The only difficulty is that most of employers want people that speak German. This is where I find most difficulties. I work for a Company of termporay staff and Search and selection and I can tell you how difficult is to find skilled people in Germany. The Industry is going really well and we need constantly specialised Workers in the production.


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