Germany is beautiful dressed in any season, whether it’s the bright yellow fields of spring or the snow covered castles of Bavaria in the winter, the country’s charm is apparent year round.
With a long standing reputation as a leader in research and scientific innovation, jobs in Germany are often focused on these major fields. Although many European economies have declined greatly over the past several years, Germany still remains strong. Working in Germany means you will be part of a dedicated and passionate workforce that values hard work and lengthy holidays.
Berlin. Germany’s capital has a population of 3.5 million people and is home to some of the most riveting historical sites in the country, yet it still has an altogether modern and edgy feel. Berlin is home to Museum Island, the famous Radio Tower, the remains of the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate, and more. It is a wonderful city to live and work in Germany. Very international in nature, people come from all over the globe to acquire jobs in Berlin. The workforce in Berlin is considered the most educated in Germany, with the highest number of researchers and “academics” per capita.
Munich. Bavaria’s capital is the cultural center of Germany’s most powerful economic area. It is located in southeast Germany, where the annual Oktoberfest takes place. Munich is known as the artistic and cultural center of Germany, with architecture that is unrivaled anywhere else in the country. Professions that flourish here include automotive and mechanical engineering, tourism, and information technology.
Cologne. This city sits along the Rhine River in Western Germany and offers up beautiful bridges and the Cologne Cathedral. The gothic structure took over 600 years to finish and the detail it includes looks like it would have required each and every day of the time span to achieve its greatness. Cologne is Germany’s most popular tourist destination and the Kölsche, as those born and raised in Cologne are called, are heralded as jovial welcoming people extremely proud of their lovely city. Engineering, technology, and management positions are popular jobs abroad here, but Cologne is literally the bread and butter for expats interested in jobs in Germany in the hospitality industry.
Heidelberg. A city that is endlessly charming, a large castle sits on the hill overlooking its narrow streets, which are filled with fountains and lined by pubs. Heidelberg is one of the few cities that has managed to go relatively untouched by the bombings of WWII, so it is a true historic gem. It is also an academic city with a large student population. The city’s strong suits are medicine and natural sciences, but Heidelberg is also a haven for entrepreneurs and wineries.
Jobs in Germany
German companies look for skilled workers in a variety of fields, but jobs in Germany are often centered in the STEM fields: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. There is a shortage of graduates in these fields and Germany is feeling it, especially since throughout history it has been a leader in research. There are also many opportunities to work abroad in Germany in the manufacturing and healthcare industries, or work in childcare (as an aupair or nanny) and English Teaching or Tutoring.
One of the reasons Germany has so many foreign workers is because it has become a sort of stronghold for other European nations experiencing extreme unemployment, such as Spain. Many people from throughout the European Union have sought to live and work abroad in Germany for this reason.
German Work Environment. The German workplace is highly structured. Your day will be planned and your boss will expect you to abide by the schedule down to the second. Get into the mindset that if you arrive on time you’re late and shoot for a few minutes early. Things are done by the book in Germany; all forms and procedures will need to be followed precisely. This can be a benefit for expats, because this also means Germans don’t typically work late or take their work home with them. Plus, the work week usually runs closer to 35 hours.
Individuals who work in Germany enjoy an average of 35 vacation days a year, some of the best in the world, yet they are still among the most productive in the world as well. It is one of the most best developed countries to work in, in terms of the work life balance.
Don’t expect a quick chat about the weather at the water cooler. There is either meaningful talk or no talk in the German workplace. Politics or something important may come up, but they don’t feel the need to fill silence the way many other cultures do.
It is usually required that you have some knowledge of German. You must also have your education verified by the Central Office of Foreign Education (ZAB). This proves the your education is equal to the German degree.
Salary & Affordability
The average monthly salary ranges from 3,500 to 4,000 EUR, but many of the jobs in Germany popular among expats pay even higher because they are usually specialized. Germans are known to be frugal but also fair when it comes to money, in both social and work environments.
The cost of living in Germany is comparable to the U.S., but taxes can be high. Meal prices will seem consistent as well as most everyday items, such as groceries. Beer, which is sort of like Germany’s calling card, is actually cheaper when you buy it in the supermarket. Plus, it’s not just any beer, it’s some of the world’s best.
Germany has incredible public transportation for both around the country and traveling to other parts of Europe. You can buy long term passes depending on how long you will be living and working in Germany, to make it even more economical.
Tip: If traveling from city to city, you should go to the counter and ask the teller which is the best ticket. For example, Rostock to Hamburg might be 28 Euros, but a Land Ticket which allows you to go anywhere in the state is just 21. This doesn’t apply to every state, but it is a good thing to ask about because the savings can really add up.
Accommodations & Visas
The process of finding accommodation and the available variety of options in Germany is very similar to developed countries throughout the western hemisphere. In cities, apartments and semi-detached homes are the norm. The prices will vary depending on the amount of rooms and level of furnishings, but housing in Germany is known to be expensive across the board. Even a one bedroom apartment in most city centers cannot be found for less than $500. Expect to spend a large percentage of your income on housing and utilities.
Hamburg, Munich, and Cologne are some of the more expensive cities in terms of rent. Like most things in Germany, there is a great deal of regulation surrounding renting so expect well laid out guidelines for the process of acquiring accommodations.
Citizens of the United States can enter Germany without a visa and stay for 30 days, but they can’t legally work in Germany during this time. This can be a good period to search for jobs in Germany or complete interviews and applications.
To stay longer than 30 days, you must apply for a Residence Permit, which can be done either beforehand or from within the country after arrival. Then to work in Germany legally, if not expressed on your Residence Permit, you will need to apply for the ability to work in Germany separately. You will need to go to the Immigration Office once you have obtained a job in Germany and apply for a visa based on your new position. The basis used for granting workers visa is whether or not a German citizen could viably fulfill the same role, which makes the process easier for certain skilled workers. As with most things in Germany, the process will be done exactly according to standards.
Benefits & Challenges
- Work Life Balance. Germans are experts in balancing work and play. They are diligent workers that know when to start and when to stop. There isn’t as much pressure for overtime work in Germany and German employees should expect over a month off each year.
- Titles. Titles are very important in Germany, especially in the workplace. Germans place emphasis on using proper titles Dr., Mr., and Mrs. (Herr, Frau in German).
- German Culture. It is often said that a circle of Germans can be a hard one to break into and that seems to be true. They tend to be extremely loyal and dependable which are incredible traits in a friend. It might take a little more time, but you will be welcomed and make lifelong friends eventually working abroad in Germany.
- Festivals. German festivals are a force to be reckoned with; they tend to be large and fun. Try the world famous Oktoberfest or the Frankfurt Book Fair, which is the largest book fair in the world. There are local festivals all over the country.