Getting a job in Germany for international students: work & study
Germany is known for its innovation in fields such as Engineering and Automation, and its stance of having one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe. Students(current or aspiring) who wish to study in Germany have certainly chosen the right option.
It is normal for a student to almost always be short of money. The hang-outs and little keep-up won’t obviously pay for itself. Going further, you will understand the reason why Germany is the best place for international students to work and study.
There are numerous big companies in Germany that offer attractive jobs for international students in Germany. Universities also make available a number of suitable jobs that students can work with while studying.
In this article, we’ll show you how to combine your studies and work in Germany, the working hours and rates applied to working students, etc.
Students studying in Germany and are looking to supplement their income and basic needs can do so by taking up part-time jobs. However, it all depends on where you’re from. There are two different conditions to consider first;
- Students from European Union/European Economic Area(EU/EEA):
This may include students from countries like Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, or Switzerland). They have the same rights as German students and are also open to the German job market.
Students have the opportunity to work at least 20 hours per week while they study. If this work time is exceeded, you will be required to pay into the German social security system, and this might negatively affect your studies.
- Students from outside the EU/EEA:
These students can work for 120 full days or 240 half days a year while studying. If you take a job as a research assistant or student assistant in your university while studying, this limit doesn’t apply to you. However, you will need to notify the Alien Registration Office if you take such a job.
If you begin your internship during your semester break, it is called normal work, whether or not you are being paid. This will be deducted from your 120-day credit balance.
One exception to this is if you’re taking compulsory internships that you need for your course. Only then will your credit balance not be calculated towards your limit.
You should note that NON-EU/EEA students cannot be self-employed workers.
Are you allowed to work and study in Germany as an international student?
Part-time work options are a good option for international students who are looking to work and study. This way, you can be able to earn extra money while you have good memories in the country. It can also help serve as a warm-up towards your professional goal.
Whatever your reason may be, part-time jobs are a good way to make use of your time for monetary rewards.
However, international students are directed by a set of rules in order to take on part-time jobs. This is usually laid down by the administration.
In summary, as long as you hold a work visa or residence permit, you are entitled to work in Germany. However the requirements for different students change depending on their EU/non-EU citizenship and the period they plan to work for. It might be a temporary summer job in Germany or a part-time job taken up while studying.
Can international students work in Germany?
If you’re an international student, and you plan to work while studying in Germany, you’ll have to take up part-time jobs.
First, you’ll have to be familiar with a couple aspects related to part-time work for international students.
The first one is the requirements and set of rules that apply to international students. The second is the sources of the part-time job, and the last being the part-time jobs made available to international students.
Here are a few rules international students should have mind while working part-time jobs:
International students are only allowed to work for 120 full days or 240 half days each year as a student. However, this rule might vary depending on the employment rates at the region you reside.
For example, if your university is in a region where there is high unemployment rates or they need more manpower, you might be given access to work more than 120 full days.
Freelancing and self-employment doesn’t tick the part-time work options.
According to university laws, a student is not allowed to work for more than 20 hours in a week during a term. However, students can take up full-time jobs during their vacations.
Students will need to have a work permit from the Federal Employment Agency and the Foreigners’ Authority. The permit will show the maximum length the student will be allowed to work.
International students enrolled in a preparatory course or language course have stricter regulations. They will only be allowed to work during their lecture-free periods, and they would need to first get permission from the Foreign Authority and Immigration office.
Taxation is another factor to consider. If you work, and get paid less than £450 each month, you will be exempted from taxes/social security. The same goes for if you work for 50 continuous days over the period of a year.
You are not permitted to work for more than 20 hours a week. This is not only because of university norms, but also to cut down on unwanted expenses. If your work is more than the limit, you will be required to pay for health and nursing care insurance as well as unemployment.
Adhere to the rules provided by the Federal Law. If you’re found disobeying them, you are at risk of being expelled from the country.
Working within the University allows you to work for long hours(exceeding the 120-day rule) and is more suitable for students.
However, if you want to work for more hours, you’ll have to inform the foreigners’ registration office.
Note that getting a job at the university is not as easy.
Work placements are also regarded as regular work. So, the time you have used at your work placement will be deducted from your available working limit. You can work extra hours if the work placement is compulsory and is part of your study.
How Easy is it to get a job in Germany for international students?
Looking at the situation, it might sound like a lot of work, but it is quite easy, so don’t lose hope just yet. There are different workplaces where employers are looking for motivated and qualified staff, and they couldn’t care less about your home country.
You just have to improve your German skills, prepare for the interview and give it your best. Honestly, finding a job as an international student who doesn’t speak German, can be daunting. However, there are also English-speaking jobs in Germany for foreigners who cannot speak German.
How can a student get a job in Germany?
You should start by checking with the Federal Employment Agency to see if they have any vacant spaces for students. If you want to work within the university, check with the HR office or the faculty secretary.
You can also go as far as checking advertisements on newspapers, job agencies, online portals, or notice boards in the university.
Many universities’ websites have job exchanges, and they also post job vacancies on the blackboard found in hallways. The jobs can be within the university or the local area.
For a student to successfully get a job in Germany, he/she has to understand the different types of student work available in Germany.
Most people are unaware of the fact that there are different types of jobs when they first arrive in Germany(international students) until they find out that German employment is quite complicated.
So, before you start job-hunting, it is advisable to get familiar with the different terms used to describe student jobs in Germany, and what it really means to accept those roles.
(1)Mini-jobs: These are also known as side-jobs. Mini-jobs are a special type of German employment system that is made to make the labor market more adaptable, so that employers can employ as many workers as they want to.
Mini-jobs always come with a salary of £450 a month which doesn’t demand income tax. There is also a similar category of limited term jobs that last for only three months or 70 working days(if it’s a 5-hour a day working policy).
It is not usually available to students due to the need to focus properly during the semester, however, they can take it up during their vacations. Just like mini-jobs, they do not demand income taxes, but all the legal guidelines should still be strongly followed.
(2) Midijob: The midi-job falls in between a mini-job and a full-time job. The difference between a mini-job and midi-job is that a mini-job comes with health insurance and unemployment insurance and the employer pays a higher share than what is usually paid in a full-time job.
The earnings in a midi-job falls in the range of €450-1300 per month. Just like in a normal job, you are entitled to holidays and continued payment of wages in the times of illness like every other employee. Students are only allowed to earn a minimum of €850 per month to avoid losing student health insurance.
(3) Self-employed/freelancer: You can decide to work without an employer. Jobs like tutoring, copywriting, web design, etc can fit in this description. Confirm with your tax office to see if a trade license is needed for this.
(4) Internships: This is a common term for students in the university. Students usually take this up to prepare themselves for their professional lives ahead, and to build relationships with companies.
Internships that run for less than 3 months don’t require payments, but if it exceeds 3 months, it should be paid for. Whichever may be the case, your working hours will be counted against the annual work quota. Generally, internships are arranged by the university which has a medium to connect students with employers.
Student jobs: Sometimes, student jobs are closely similar to mini-jobs especially if it is a part-time job and they pay less than £450 a month. Although, it doesn’t always have to be like this because students can also find well-paying(more than £450 a month) part-time jobs.
Students can work in companies that are related to their field. This gives them more experience in the future and possible permanent job opportunities in the company that they work with after graduation.
Don’t just assume that your part-time student job is untaxed. Make enquiries first, and choose a part-time job that you enjoy and doesn’t clash with your study program.
Here are a few pointers that will assist students while looking for jobs:
- Make sure your CV is perfectly put out with excellent references.
- Search for jobs on campus before searching elsewhere.
- Try to learn the language and have a good relationship with the local residents.
- Look for job openings around your residence to cut down on transport costs.
- Students can look for employment in places like restaurants, bars, libraries, clothing stores, etc.
- Don’t be picky with whatever job vacancy that you find such as waitering, etc.
Can I get a job in Germany without a degree?
Germany has the largest economy in Europe, and the fourth largest economy in the world. So, of course there are many business opportunities for skilled experts and casual workers without a degree. Though, Germany is quite obsessed with possession of degrees and qualifications, yet they have a school for waiters.
There are different factors that could contribute to getting a job in Germany without a degree. One of them is your home country.
Foreigners in Germany without a degree might find it quite hard to look for a job because they wouldn’t know exactly where to start. Also, you may face some challenges especially when you come from a non-EU country.
So, it all comes down to your nationality. For certain nationalities, it might be difficult, while for some, easy. Individuals from the EU/EEA states can apply for any job of their choice without any restrictions.
Foreigners from non-EU/EEA countries are allowed to work with certain qualifications for a specific occupation. These people in this category(the latter) will have to put extra effort into getting a job in Germany especially if they are only fluent in English.
However, qualifications, work experience, and standard knowledge of German, will make it easier for them to find jobs in particular industries where there are labor shortages. An exception where you wouldn’t require the knowledge of German is in English-speaking jobs.
For EU citizens:
If you’re from EU/EEA countries, and you move to Germany, you can decide to look for a job in Germany without a university degree. There is definitely no need for you to apply for a work permit.
Depending on your interests, you can go for a range of jobs for unqualified individuals in different sectors. Some of these jobs might offer you a career, while some don’t have any specialty and focus mainly on plain work.
For non-EU citizens:
The process of finding a job in Germany without a university degree is not easy for individuals from non-EU countries. Here are some options you should try out if you fall under this category:
International developers can apply for an EU blue card if they have proof to show at least 5 years of professional experience. Once you are able to obtain a job from shortage occupation lists, you can now apply for a work visa in Germany.
Apply for Apprenticeship in Germany.
Try to get a degree in Germany. While at it, you can work and study, and after graduation, apply for the EU blue card or work permit.
These days, companies have gradually changed their approach to their hiring process. Instead of going for people with the traditional degree, they go for people with more experience and knowledge.
These kinds of changes have opened more doors for foreigners looking for jobs in Germany. For example, the chance of you getting a job in the tech sector as a foreigner is very high.
To be able to secure a job, you have to be confident in your expertise in that particular field, and of course, convince the employers. If the employer sees meaning in it and employs you over a local applicant, you will likely be due to get a work visa.
Most foreigners work in Germany using an EU blue card, however it requires a university degree. Some exceptions are made for developers, allowing them the opportunity once they have 5 years of experience.
Can I get a job in Germany without speaking German?
To be able to work comfortably in Germany, you should have a good knowledge of the German language and/or have successfully completed an internship while studying. If you’re currently studying a language or a starting course, the requirements will be tighter.
How can a student get a work permit in Germany?
First, you have to be familiar with the categories of work permits in Germany. German work is grouped into different types depending on your qualifications and employment type:
General work permit: When you can apply for this type of work permit is when you have obtained a job in Germany that wouldn’t have been normally secured by an EU national. There is no need to have special skills as long you have the necessary qualifications.
Highly skilled worker permit: When you can apply for this work permit is when you have extraordinary skills with a lot of experience and a high income.
The EU blue card for Germany: You can apply for this if you know your salary will be in the range of €56,800-€44,304(if working in a shortage occupation) per year.
Work permit for freelancers: You can apply for this type of permit if you are a freelancer or self-employed and have proof to show your prospective clients.
As a student looking to work while studying, you are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during the semester.
Students from EU countries(except Croatia) do not need a work permit to work while studying in Germany.
Students from non-EU countries and Croatia are allowed to work while studying in Germany for 120 days or 240 half days per year without a work permit.(1 day= 8 hours; half day = 4 hours).
You must print the following text in your passport: [Employment of up to 120 days or 240 half days and part-time student work permitted.]
If you work any part-time job and it takes more than 120 days per year, you will need a work permit. Ask for guidance from the Immigration Office or the Federal Employment Agency.
What do I need to know about student work permits in Germany?
If you’re an EU/EEA citizen, you don’t need a work permit to be able to get a job in Germany. There is also no set limit for you to work. However, if you work for more than 20 hours a week, you will be required to pay taxes to the German Social Security system.
For example, if you earn more than €450, you will be given an income tax number. Tax deductions will be automatically made from your salary, and at the end of the year, your tax which has been paid throughout the year will be returned. If you work less than 20 hours a week, you are exempted from these taxes.
If you’re a non-EU/EEA citizen, you are required to work for 120 full days or 240 half days throughout the year. You are exempted from this only if you work as a student assistant in the university. There is no work limit attached to this student job.
If you want to work as a student, you have to submit an application to the Federal Employment Agency and the Foreigners’ Office. It is evaluated based on the job market in the area where you do your Bachelor’s.
Is IELTS required for a German work permit?
IELTS is a language proficiency test for English for individuals who want to study or work in another country. A work permit for foreigners is usually needed to be able to work abroad in a country like Germany. It is provided by the German government once you have been found to reach all the requirements. But, before you begin to prepare for IELTS or apply for a work visa in Germany,
does Germany accept IELTS?
Aspirants applying for work visas in Germany are unsure about the need for IELTS as a requirement for their work visas/permits.
Many people want to know if IELTS is accepted in Germany or if it is a requirement to get a work permit or work visa in Germany. And, if it is, what is the minimum IELTS band score they can score to be able to get a work visa/permit for Germany.
Well, the answer is IELTS is not a requirement for a work permit/visa in Germany. However it still remains a requirement for people who aspire to work in an environment where English is the means of communication.
Here are some reasons why some foreigners still take professional IELTS for work permit:
- If your place or area of work requires you to travel outside Germany, you will need to take IELTS to prove your proficiency in English.
- A good IELTS proves your efficiency in global communication. Taking the IELTS test and scoring well will give you better work opportunities as it will serve as a proof of your global communication skills.
- IELTS is not an eligibility for work visa/permit in Germany, although it may prove beneficial to aspirants looking to study or work in Germany.
- As a foreigner, if you want to work for a German multinational company, you will need to have a certain level of proficiency in English, the right qualifications, experience, and basic knowledge of the German language as it will help improve your prospects of getting the job.
- In cases like this, there is no harm in getting an IELTS certification which will prove your English proficiency. An IELTS certificate will give you an edge over other applicants without one.
- Other than this, a minimum level(B2 or C1 level) of proficiency in German improves your chances of getting a job in Germany. It will give you an edge over other applicants with no knowledge of the German language.
- English proficiency in the form of an IELTS test is not an eligibility requirement for work visas/permits in Germany. Though, if you have an IELTS certification, it can increase your chances of getting job opportunities.
How much does a student earn in Germany?
Students studying in Germany can earn up to €450 every month, free from taxes. If you happen to earn more than this, you will be given an income tax number and your tax will be automatically deducted from your salary.
Students are allowed to work 20 hours a week, and if they work more than 20 hours a week, they risk breaching the annual limits which is 120 full days or 240 half days. As a student, if you work too many hours, you might lose your health insurance subsidies.
How many hours are students allowed to work in Germany?
In Germany, a full day is seen as ‘8 hours’, and since students can’t work full days, due to their lecture periods. It is unreasonable for a student to work a full-time job, because that would only mean studying is no longer the main goal.
They can work half days as part-time jobs, which is 4 hours per day. 4 hours per day in a week will give 20 hours every week, giving them that much time to make money while studying.
Students are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week. If they work more than 20 hours a week, they will be required to pay into the German Social Security system, which could have a negative impact on their studies.
How much do international students earn per hour in Germany?
International students in Germany usually earn around €9.5 per hour. In student positions that require higher skills, the pay ranges from €11-20 hour.
For online work, there is no minimum payment, meaning students can earn without any strict regulations here. Students babysitting, working in cafes and catering services earn just around the minimum.
Minimum wage for students in Germany
The minimum wage for international students in Germany is €9.19 per hour. Students can earn more than this, depending on the type of work they do. The minimum wage is usually updated every two years.
The wages are usually higher if you live in a big city. So, living in big cities will have you making good money, however, the living costs are just as high.
Average Cost of living
The average cost of living in Germany is quite reasonable when compared to other European countries. You will need at least €861 a month or €10,332 a year to be able to cover your living expenses in General in the present times.
Costs of food, bills, clothes, accommodation, and entertainment corresponds with the EU average. Monthly rent is the biggest expense in Germany, so students have to watch out especially for that.
If you plan to study and live in Germany as an international student, you should be aware of the accurate expectations about the cost of living in Germany.
List of jobs that has the highest salary in Germany
- Managing Administrators
- Federal Minister
- Investment Banker
- Sales Manager
- Laboratory Manager
- Attending Physician
- IT Specialist
List of jobs that are in high demand in Germany
- Software developers, architects, and programmers
- Electronics engineers, electricians, and electrical fitters
- IT consultants and analysts
- Economists and business management experts
- Customer advisors and account managers
- Production assistants
- Sales representatives and assistants
- Sales and product managers
- Architects and civil engineers
Top city in Germany that has more job opportunities
Berlin is the capital of Germany, so it is only normal for it to be home to globally recognized companies. Berlin has a continuous line of job opportunities, making it the top city that expats come to seek jobs.
There is a wide range of salaries capable of building a good future in Germany despite the slightly higher living costs in the German capital.
Other than offering never-ending job opportunities and financial benefits, Berlin is a good environment for expats who are willing to start a career in recognized companies. ICT, media, and innovative technologies have the strongest employment sectors in the German capital.
Berlin is a leading city in energy, environmental technology, and the manufacturing sector which combines traditional and modern means of working in the industry. It is also becoming a good tourist location.
What ways students can make money in Germany
There are various kinds of work available for students in Germany looking to build their future professional experience.
Here are some ways students can make money in Germany:
- Research assistant at the university
- Office assistant
- Language tutor
- Support staff/waiters at cafés/bars
- Retail store shopping assistant
- Call center office
- Field interviewer
- Home delivery
Students(including international students) can easily make money for themselves while studying through part-time jobs.
This could also help them build up their future professional career and gain more experience.
Germany is a good place to work and study, and the living conditions are suitable for even students.
Here is a tip for aspiring students in Germany: If you’re looking to study and work in Germany, be sure to follow all the necessary rules and guidelines to avoid getting deported.
Michael Larry is an instructor and an educationist, who like to bring out the best in other through his inspirational writeup.