Working in Germany

working in germany as an international student

Germany is the fourth largest economy in the world and the largest in entire Europe. Its rate of unemployment is among the lowest in EU. As of March 2017, the rate of unemployment in Germany was, on average, 5.8% with many cities like Munich or Berlin being way much lower. Many nationally and globally renowned companies are located in Germany offering countless job opportunities.

These factors, in combination with highly affordable living costs, future prospects, excellent higher education, and an outstanding healthcare system have made Germany a hub for expats who are looking for a good job.

Being such a developed country the need for educated professionals who are ready to take responsibilities over important duties in different sectors is higher than ever before. If you have attained a qualification that is recognized in Germany and you’re looking to find a job and start a lifetime career then this article is for you.

Am I eligible to work in Germany as a foreigner?

In simple words, everyone who has been issued a work and residence permit from German authorities is eligible to work in Germany. But there are certain rules and restrictions applied to different categories of applicants in regard to their nationality and specific agreements signed between Germany and the respective country.

Eligible foreign workers in Germany can be divided into three major groups:

EU and EEA nationals

EU and EEA citizens are subject to the Freedom of Movement Act of EU, which enables them to work and reside in Germany freely without pursuing a work and residence permit beforehand. If you’re a citizen of any of these countries you can enter Germany for job-seeking purposes by only showing a valid ID of yours to the authorities. However, once you enter the country and reside in a particular place you must go to the local authority for foreigners to register your residence.

Nationals of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand or the USA

If you’re a citizen of any of these countries you can enter Germany without a visa and then seek work and residence permit. For that, as soon as you enter Germany you can reach a local authority for foreigners and get your residence and work permit. Note that if you have found a job you cannot start working without getting your work and residence permit.

Non-EU nationals

If you come from a country outside EU you must apply for a visa to work in Germany.  Note that short-stay visas cannot be converted into a residence one, and because of that, we suggest you always check if you’re applying for the right type of visa according to the purpose of your visit in Germany. Following your visa approval and arrival in Germany, you must reach authorities to get your work and residence permit. When requesting a work and residence permit authorities will require you to show an evidence that you are employed by a local company in Germany.

Working hours in Germany

On average, employees in Germany work five days a week or around 38 hours per week.

Saturdays and Sundays are usually off-days, but it depends on your contract. The working schedule in Germany is flexible and under the current labor law, employees are allowed to work up to 48 hours per week.

Types of residence permits in Germany

As specified by the Immigration Act or also known as Residence act, depending on the intention of your visit to Germany, you will be entitled to one of the following residence titles

  • Visa pursuant,
  • Temporary residence permit,
  • EU Blue Card,
  • Settlement permit,
  • EU long-term residence permit

Working in Germany as a foreign Academic

Typically, those foreigners who are highly qualified have a higher employability rate in Germany. In order to be able to work in Germany as a foreign academic, you must first get your qualifications recognized in Germany. Once your qualifications are translated into the German qualification framework you can get an EU Blue Card.

The EU Blue Card is a document issued by EU countries, enabling non-EU nationals to reside and work in the EU. This document enables an individual to seek permanent settlement permit after 33 months (or 21 months if the candidate has gained a B1 level in the German language) of residing in Germany

When applying for an EU Blue Card authorities will ask you to show the contract of your employer and your salary must be above a threshold. Note that you’ll be issued a Blue Card only if your future job is related to your qualifications and the annual salary is at minimum €52,000.

Working opportunities for international students in Germany

By law, international students are eligible to seek a job in Germany after they have graduated.  If you’re amongst these students, we suggest you reach the Foreigners’ National Authority and ask them how you can get a residence permit for job-seeking purposes. Such a permit will allow you to remain in Germany for up to 18 months to find a job. If you manage to find one in your professional field and you’re granted a legal contract then you’re eligible to get an EU Blue Card.

Working opportunities for non-EU graduates

If you have attained a qualification in a foreign country you can still get work and residence permit in Germany. But, first, your qualifications must be assessed in accordance with the German qualification framework. If your academic competence is evaluated to be equal to those required in Germany you’re eligible to seek work and residence permit.

If your qualifications are not recognized, the German authorities may require to undergo temporary training to prepare you for the job market. You can stay in Germany for this period of time while having a short-term residence permit.

What professionals are an in-demand?

Although there are countless jobs available for incoming expats, and you will find something regardless of the region where you’ll willing to reside, your skills and education and your age (to a certain degree), there are specific who are highly sought-after due to short supplies in the job market.

Some of the most in-demand professionals in Germany include health care practitioners, engineers and IT specialists.

Speaking in demographic terms, Germany is getting old. A large portion of its population is old and not able to work. Germany is experiencing an exponential gap in medical sectors and this trend is about to continue for many years. On the other hand, this older population needs a continual medical care which can only be given from qualified individuals. Thus, qualified medical professionals are much-needed in Germany and job opportunities for this category are tremendous.

Also, Germany is a global leader in the automotive industry and the chemical production, therefore professionals qualified in these fields enjoy a higher employability and are highly required in Germany. Additionally, at the time where everything is going through the Internet the need for IT specialist protect important information from harming threats is higher.

How to find a job in Germany?

We came into the most important section of working in Germany as a foreigner. Now that you’re introduced with all required procedures and steps you need to follow for working in Germany you may want to know how you can find a job.

Fortunately, this is not a hard mission to accomplish. In addition to having a lot of job opportunities in Germany, you will also find a lot of helpful resources which will guide your way to finding a job in Germany.

If you cannot enter and reside Germany before signing a job contract, there’s no need to worry because there are many useful online resources.

Some useful resources to address your job-seeking request

  • Federal Employment Agency
  • European Employment Service (EURES)
  • Monster
  • Local Job Portals

Job Requirements and application process

Now that you have found a job in Germany is time to initiate an application. Documents required for an application vary according to the type of job and employer you’re applying for. Overall, the following documents are required

  • Education qualifications
  • CV
  • Cover Letter
  • Language Skills
  • Computer Skills
  • Additional Skills

The application can be carried online or by post. If you upload them online you first need to scan your documents most of the time in PDF or JPG format. Note that there may be companies which may require you to make a job application in person. Also, some employers may also invite to an interview.

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