working in Germany

Working in Germany: your 2024 guide

10 things you need to know about working in Germany

Germany is the the world’s third largest economy, with a large industrial sector and well-known companies.

The country has a growing need for qualified professionals to fill the labor shortage in all fields.

You’re thinking of moving to Germany and finding your new dream job ?

This article will help you learn about the German job market as well as the working environement in Germany.

work in Germany and personal life

1. Benefits of working in Germany

  • 30 vacation days for full time
  • 24 vacation days for part time
  • Maximum working week is 48 hours (generally 40 hours/week)
  • Paid sick days.
  • Extra vacation and sick days if you have children / dependents.
  • Health insurance
  • Some employers offer a 13th month pay / an additional month as a bonus.
  • Some employers offer vacation and Christmas pay – a bonus towards your vacation and for Christmas.
  • Further education opportunities
    • Employers want their employees to develop personally and professionally and in a competitive market, employers need to be attractive to sustain a healthy work culture and prevent a high turnover rate.
  • Some employers may offer a company car and/or cellphone or laptop.

2. Job Market

Working in Germany can be very attractive for many professionals. There are fields or work in Germany with an abundance of job opportunities, such as in the medical field, trades and many more. These are the fields with the most vacancies according to Statista 2023:

  • Transport Logistics: Transport logistics jobs in Germany have the most vacancies as of January 2023, namely 63,000 vacancies.
  • Sales: Sales jobs in Germany follow right behind with the second most vacancies in Germany (56,000). If you are good at selling and negotiating, this could be a great opportunity for you to work in Germany.
  • Medical field: Many practices and clinics have vacancies (51,000) and are actively looking for professional, namely, specialized doctors, family physicians and nurses.
  • Electronics, Mechatronics & Energy: There is an abundance of job vacancies (49,000) throughout Germany in these professions.
  • Vehicle Technology: Germany is known for its automobile industry, so it is no surprise that there is demand for vehicle technology (48,000).

Further jobs in Germany offer opportunities:

  • Metal Production and Construction (46,000)
  • Corporate Management (42,000)
  • Operation of Vehicle and Transport Equipment (39,000)
  • Childcare and Social Services (36,000)
  • Non-medical Health Professions, Medical Technology (29,000)

Other attractive fields with many job opportunities in Germany:

  • IT: The future is digital and full of technology! There are many job opportunities, especially in software development and programming.
  • Landscapers: It can take years to have a landscaper get to your garden. They are swamped with contracts and new clients. If you are a landscaper, there will be lots of work in Germany for you.
  • Handymen: this is akin to landscapers. Working in Germany will keep you busy if you can tile floors or repair almost anything in a house.

For your job search in Germany, take a look to our article about the German job market or book a 1 hour job coaching session with our job expert

cover letter and job application

3. Foreign Qualifications

Depending on the country you obtained your qualifications from or studied and what your field of work is, you may need to have your qualifications recognized in Germany. This ensures the quality and comparability of your qualifications. Some fields, such as the medical field, require a more thorough and lengthy process before doctors can treat patients in Germany, and other fields have a quick and simple process.

The process of having your qualifications recognized can be initiated in the federal state that you live in or want to come to when you live and work in Germany.

Check these 2 websites to learn more about your qualifications and your university degree recognition in Germany:

https://www.anerkennung-in-deutschland.de/html/en/index.php

https://anabin.kmk.org/no_cache/filter/institutionen.html

(Federal Ministry of Education and Research)

4. Visa and residence permit requirements

For citizens of a country within the European Union

You are able to obtain work anywhere in the EU without a visa. EU citizens may enter Germany and are given six months to obtain employment. After the six month period, you may need to demonstrate that you are actively looking for work in Germany or have a pending opportunity. This also applies to citizens of EEA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).

For citizens with a specific agreement with Germany

If your country of origin is one of the following, you are also exempt from the visa requirements prior to entering Germany (but you still need to apply for a residence permit with a purpose once in Germany and you cannot start working without this residence permit):

    • Australia,
    • Israel,
    • Japan,
    • Canada,
    • The Republic of Korea
    • New Zealand,
    • United Kingdom
    • United States of America
For all other non EU citizens

You are required to obtain a work visa (Type D) prior to arriving in Germany or a Job Seeker Visa which allows you enter Germany to search for a job for up to six months.  Then, once in Germany, you must apply for a residence permit.

If you are an academic, it is possible to make a visa application for a Blue Card if:

  • You already have a specific job offer,
  • Your university degree or qualifications are recognized in Germany,
  • The job offer matches your qualifications, and
  • You will earn at least 45.300 €/year (in 2024 before taxes )* and 41.041€/year for bottleneck profession
  • The Federal Employment Agency (BA) needs to approve your request for employment if this applies to you.

Book a call with our German immigration expert to get help on your German visa application

(Federal Foreign Office and Federal Employment Agency)

german workers

5. Work Culture

  • The German language has a formal and informal form of speech. The formal way to address someone when saying “you” is “Sie” and the informal way of saying “you” is “du”. Informal speech is used when:
    • You know the person whom you are speaking to,
    • You are in an informal setting,
    • You are speaking to someone your own age, or
    • Someone addresses you with the informal form “du” first,
  • Whereas the formal form is used when:
    • You are speaking to someone whom you are meeting for the first time or don’t know well,
    • You are speaking to someone older than you,
    • You are speaking to someone in a professional setting e.g. a government agency, or
    • You are spoken to with the formal form “Sie”.
  • Another crucial feature of formal speech is addressing someone by their last name. This becomes apparent in department stores, where the name tags of employees state their title Ms./Mr. followed by a surname.
  • Formal speech has been traditionally used in work settings; however, the trend nowadays is to be more informal at work. You can typically know what the work culture is at a specific company when they reply to your resume by your first name or refer to you as “du”. Sometimes it is not quite as apparent at first, often when the employer is also hesitant to be that direct, in which case the signs can be more subtle. Oftentimes it will be cleared up directly in the first few meetings when one person “offers using a respectful du”.

6. Language

  • German is the only official language of Germany and the most common language in workplaces in Germany. Since Germany needs professionals from other countries to fill vacancies, speaking English at work is becoming more common. Many international and German companies in various fields are seeking employees that speak German and English, especially if the job involves international contact, and there are more and more english speaking job offers
  • Even if it is possible to attain employment without speaking German well, it is always strongly recommended to learn the German language to have more work opportunities. Management positions require German language skills and there are far more job opportunities if you speak German.
  • There are many fields of work in Germany that still require full German language skills or at least a B2/C1 level (being able to converse).
  • Other reasons to learn German are to integrate into the culture and learn about the country you will be living in, being able to navigate better in your everyday life in Germany and dealing with potential emergencies.
  • There are many migrants from various countries that have immigrated to Germany throughout the past decades. Germans are used to diversity and different accents.

Start learning German before arriving in Germany:

  • Start with online tools or free podcasts
  • The main German language schools offer online sessions

germany working

7. Labour Law

Minimum wage
  • The minimum wage was raised to 12,41 €/hour (before taxes) on January, 1st 2024 and a second increase to 12.82€/hour is planned from January,1st 2025.
Temporary employment and outsourcing
  • Many companies contract temporary employment agencies or outsource certain tasks. This provides employers flexibility; however, it can create less secure working conditions for employees. There are laws in place encompassing temporary employment and outsourcing to protect workers in Germany.
Collective agreements
  • There are collective agreements which apply to all employees in certain fields of work.
Posting of workers (Entsendung von Arbeitgebern):
  • This law implements the EU posting of workers directive regarding the place of work principle. This means the employers must provide employees with essential working conditions for the interim while they are working in Germany.
Part time and flexible working hours
  • There are different ways to adjust working hours. This encompasses part time work in Germany, remote work / home office, arrangements between care, family and career and savings plans for future childcare, caring for family members, sabbaticals, further education or early retirement.
Workers’ Rights (Arbeitnehmerrecht):
  • There are various laws to protect employees, which are listed and elaborated on below.

(Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs)

8. Workers‘ Rights (Arbeitnehmerrecht)

Protection against termination (Kündigungsschutz)
  • A termination of a work contract by the employer or employee has to be submitted in writing and must include the contractually defined notice.
  • Certain demographics such as pregnant women, employees with special needs, employees who are providing care to a family member, etc. are especially protected by law.
Protection of working hours (Arbeitszeitschutz)
  • This law protects the maximum number of hours an employee can work in Germany.
  • This protects employees from only working on days such as Sundays or statutory Holidays under specific circumstances.
Protection for Minors (Jugendarbeitsschutz)
  • Minors under the age of 15 are considered “children” under this law. Minors between 15 to 18 are considered “youth”.
  • This law defines the amount and type of work minors are legally allowed to engage in when working in Germany. An example of admissible work for minors is delivering newspapers.
Rights to voting for a Work Council (Betriebsverfassungsgesetz)
  • The Works Constitution Act is in place so that employees have the right to vote for a work council, depending on the size of the company, if one isn’t already in place.
Data protection (Beschäftigtendatenschutz)
  • This law protects the data and personal information of employees.

(Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs)

contract and jobs in Germany

9. Contract types

Work in Germany can be obtained in numerous forms. There are different types of work contracts and types of employment in Germany: Permanent, Temporary (maximum two years) ,Temporary employment agency, Minijob, Midijob.

  • Permanent contracts are certainly the most secure type of work contract. Besides the probation period, employers are restricted to worker rights. Permanent contracts are not limited in time, so the only way it can be dissolved is if the employer goes bankrupt or is downsizing, or workers are terminated for breaching the contract or perhaps engaging in illegal activities. In the case of bankruptcy of the employer, it is possible to receive one last month’s salary through the employment agency. The probation period is typically six months in length.
  • Temporary contracts are limited to a certain timeframe. Typically, employees will receive a temporary contract for one year. It can be extended to a maximum of two years, at which time the employment either comes to an end or the employee is entitled to a permanent contract.
  • Temporary employment agencies are not rare in Germany. This means that one works at the temporary employment agency and can be placed to work in different companies with which the temporary employment agency has a contract. As indicated by the name, the employment contract is also held within a certain timeframe, until the contract either ends or becomes permanent. For some, this offers an attractive opportunity since specific fields of work in Germany that some temporary employment agencies specialize in are competitive for good employees.  They offer benefits such as company cars, flexible work hours and good wages. This is true, for example, in the field of nursing. 
  • Minijobs are jobs that are limited to earning a maximum of 520,00 €/month or 6.240,00 €/year. However, you are not required to pay taxes on these earnings or declare them on your tax return. You can have more than one minijob, as long as you do not earn more than the maximum amount, otherwise it will be a Midijob.
  • Midijobs are jobs with an income above 520,00 €/month and a maximum of 2.000 €/month. The social insurance deductions are limited, so that employees with a midijob have more net income than employees who earn more per month.

10. Retirement

  • Although there are many benefits when working in Germany, including a tax and social system that provides a lot of security, it is important to consider the amount of years you will work in Germany before retirement and calculate your pension.
  • Speaking with a financial adviser early on can have vast benefits for your retirement, as you have opportunities to invest your earnings now and enjoy a better retirement later.

You are now ready to start your job hunting in Germany.

The next step ?

Book a call with our job expert to start looking for your job in Germany