The 10-Step Job Guide for International Students & Young Professionals in Germany

User Rating: 5 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Active


All you need to know as an international talent for starting your career in Germany!


Sebastian, CEO and CO-Founder of JA JOBS


Table of Content

If you are a fast reader, you can quickly jump to the topic you wish by clicking on one of the steps.

1. Preparing for Your Global Career – Studying in Germany as an International Student
2. The Economy & Job Market in Germany for International Students and Young Professionals
3. Visa & Residence in Germany for International Students and Young Professionals
4. Social Security & Taxes in Germany for International Students and Young Professionals
5. Part-Time Jobs in Germany for International Students
6. Internships in Germany for International Students
7. Job-Hunting & Career Start in Germany for International Graduates from German Universities
8. Job Application in Germany for International Students and Young Professionals
9. Career Start in Your Home Country as an International Graduate from a German University
10. Living in Germany – Tips for Your Daily Life as an Expat



Remember Everything: Download the FREE CHECKLIST of the 10-Step Job Guide for International Students & Young Professionals in Germany. Get your FREE CHECKLIST here!


1. Preparing for Your Global Career – Studying in Germany as an international student


Studying abroad is a fantastic and personality-shaping experience which results in you becoming a highly skilled young professional with long-standing international friendships. But what are the exact advantages of your studies abroad that add value to your perspectives for an international career in Germany?

Excellent Reputation of German University Degrees Among Employers

The fact, that German university degrees enjoy excellent reputation among top-employers worldwide proves that studying abroad in the heart of Europe may be the proper basis for a successful career in Germany. No matter if you as an international student have a passion and talent for science and engineering, business administration, or humanities - the German higher education institutions belong to the best in the world and offer courses in any discipline and academic level from Bachelor’s, over Master’s to PhD. Many degree programs are also offered in English and several of Germany’s universities rank among the top 200 in the world. Which one you should choose depends on your specific discipline and degree. Some of the most prestigious academic institutions are in Aachen, Berlin, Freiburg, Heidelberg, Karlsruhe and Munich. You may check out Germany’s biggest and most recent CHE University Ranking here.

Variety Within the German System of Higher Education

In Germany, you can earn academic degrees at technical and regular Universities, Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule), Cooperative State Universities, and Colleges of Art and Music. This enables you to get educated specifically in the academic environment that fits best to your career dreams.  

  • Universities – If you aim at a more scientific career, a PhD, a job in academia, or a leading role in a company, then universities are the right place for you. Technical universities like TU Munich, TU Berlin or RWTH Aachen are especially good at natural sciences, engineering and information technology. Regular universities like the University of Freiburg, LMU Munich or Humboldt University Berlin are appropriate for studies like medicine, law and social sciences.
  • Universities of Applied Sciences – If you prefer a more practical education with integrated internships at companies, you should choose Bachelor or Master degrees at one of the Universities of Applied Sciences or the Cooperative State Universities. Those academic institutions are often good for solid technical or business studies.
  • Colleges of Art and Music – If you consider yourself an outstanding talent in Arts, you may visit one of the Colleges of Art and Music.


Advice – consider studying a natural science discipline!

Before you start your studies in Germany, you should take into account both, the talent you have and the employment situation. In case you prefer staying in Germany after your studies, you should know that due to demographic changes there is a shortage of skilled labor in certain medical and technical professions. Consequently, it might be easier for you to get a good job in Germany right after graduation when you have studied a natural science discipline.


Learning German Serves Your Career Goals

One of the biggest advantages you have when studying in Germany is that you will learn the language of Europe’s economic and technological powerhouse. To know German does not only look good on your CV, it also enables you to be part of the worldwide economic success stories of Germany’s top companies. For specific advice concerning learning German please jump to Step-10 of this job guide.

Studying in Germany Is Affordable

Studying as a foreign student in Germany is quite affordable. Most universities are financed by the government and to pursuit a degree you only pay very low tuition fees, many programs are even free of any charge. In addition, the cost of living in Germany is relatively low. Therefore, almost any talented and hard-working international student can create the prerequisites for a promising career by studying in Germany - independent of socio-economic background.

You Benefit from Many Different Scholarships

Besides, as an international academic top talent in Germany you can profit from many scholarship programs from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and several other organizations, as for example political foundations like the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung or the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. Scholarships do not only help you to finance your studies but also allow you to take part in inspiring events and activities for high potentials with skillful mentors and likeminded people. You may search for scholarships especially for foreign students at the DAAD`s website.

You Benefit from The Attractive German Labor Market

Furthermore, when studying in Germany you may benefit from one of the most attractive labor markets in the world and acquire valuable professional experience. Please jump to Step-2 of the job guide for more information.

You Establish an International Network

In addition, you can use your time while studying abroad to establish an incredibly important international network of contacts. As an increasing number of students at German universities comes from other European and non-European countries you can build up far-reaching personal relations not only with Germans, but also with people from all over the world - a major career factor for your future. Behind the US and Great Britain, Germany is the third most popular target country for foreign students. In 2015 the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees reported more than 300.000 international students, meaning one out of nine students in Germany came from abroad.


Conclusion – Increase Career Chances by Studying in Germany

To sum up, the highly respected German university degrees from different academic institutions, the low tuition fees and living cost, the access to scholarships, the fact that you learn the German language, the great employment opportunities on the German job market, as well as the opportunity to establish an international network of contacts, are unique advantages for embarking on a successful career in Germany.


2. The Economy & Job Market in Germany for International Students and Young Professionals


The German Economy

Germany is not only the economic powerhouse of Europe, but also the fourth-largest economy in the world behind the US, China and Japan. Through its high innovative power and its focus on exports it has a huge global influence. In 2016 Germany is going to overtake China as world export champion, as the Ifo Research Institute in Munich expects the country to have the world largest export surplus of 310 billion dollars. The 80 million people’s export driven economy is a proof of the efficiency and competitiveness of its industrial companies in sectors such as mechanical engineering, chemistry, medical technology or automotive. The “Made in Germany” trademark stands for high quality of German products and enjoys the trust of consumers worldwide. As the EU’s geographic center, Germany exports most of its goods to other European countries.

The economic policy in Germany is based on the concept of social market economy (soziale Marktwirtschaft), which combines the freedom of the market with a strong social safety net. In addition, Germany is a safe country with a rich cultural heritage, first-class infrastructure and cool cities like Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf or Stuttgart which guarantee a high quality of life.

The German Job Market

Due to the high performance of the economy, the German labor market is one of the most attractive for highly skilled employees. For excellent workforce as foreign students and young professionals, Germany has great working conditions: interesting jobs at top employers in a broad range of industries, low unemployment rates, high salaries, generous social benefits, a guaranteed minimum wage of 8.84 euros and up to 30 day vacations plus public holidays. Why not work in Germany?

Germany’s Employers – Job Opportunities in Germany for International Students

It´s a real option to start your international career in Germany after graduation with a full-time job at one of the world market’s leading employers. Irrespective of whether you are aiming at a career in business, engineering, science, media, arts or the academic world - Germany is one of the best places for highly skilled and ambitious young professionals.

  • Global Players – Internationally leading Global Players such as Allianz, Bayer, BASF, Daimler, Volkswagen, SAP and Siemens are an important pillar of the German economy and the strong labor market in need of international talents.
  • German Mittelstand – 62 percent of all employees in Germany work at one of the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) of the globally famous German Mittelstand. Many of these SMEs are world market leaders in their field and have successful business activities around the globe. Therefore, the so called Hidden Champions pose a real alternative to the huge multinational companies for many high potentials in terms of employment.
  • Startups – Germany has a thriving startup scene and especially Berlin has become a European startup hub, which offers many employment opportunities to qualified young professionals.
  • NGOs – Young talents who aim to have a social impact through their daily work, can find interesting opportunities at one of Germany’s top NGOs.

Concerning concrete advice for job opportunities in Germany for international students and graduates, your job search and application please read through the following chapters of this job guide.


Conclusion – The Economy & Job Market in Germany

The heart of Europe is an export driven economic powerhouse with a very attractive labor market, great working conditions and top employers that provide many job opportunities for international students and young professionals in Germany.


3. Visa & Residence in Germany for International Students and Young Professionals


Public Authorities for International Talents in Germany

There are two important official administration offices you need to know about concerning work permits and visa for Germany.

  • The Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit/BA) – The statuary agency of the federal government of Germany provides all kind of services concerning the labor market for German citizens and companies as well as for foreigners who want to work in Germany. You should address to the branch which is closest to where you live and work.
  • The Foreigner Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde) – The second important official office for international students and young professionals in Germany is the Foreigner Registration Office. The office next to where you live is responsible for you.

Student Visa for Studying in Germany

If you want to study in Germany, you must apply for a student visa at the German embassy or Consulate General in your homeland. You will need to bring your passport, as well as a confirmation about your application or admission to a German university and a proof about your financial ability to finance your studies. You must prove that you have at least 8.820 euros per year at your disposal. This can be done through statements of income and assets of your parents, a blocked bank account, scholarships you receive or through a financial guarantee of someone living in Germany. Once you have arrived to Germany you must convert your visa into a residence permit for studying at the local foreigner registration office. You should not enter Germany with a tourist visa, as you cannot change it into a residence permit once you are here. Make sure to apply for your student visa in your country of origin several months in advance.

Residence Permit for Foreign Graduates from German Universities

EU nationals may accept jobs in Germany without any restrictions, while third country nationals must comply with the official procedures when starting their career in Germany. If you are a graduate from a German university, you can take up a job in Germany which is in line with your studies. The decision on whether you are granted a residence permit entirely depends on the local immigration office, the BA must not approve you being employed.


Advice – 18-month job seeker visa for foreign graduates with German degree!

Foreign students can extend their residence permit after graduation from a German university for up to 18 months for job seeking at the foreigner registration office. Thus, you have enough time to find a job that corresponds with your qualifications. A big advantage is, that during these 18 months you can do any kind of job to finance your living in Germany. To get your 18 month jobs seeker visa as a foreign graduate in Germany you will need your passport, a proof about your university degree, a health insurance certificate and a financial certificate stating your ability to fund your life.


When having found a suitable job after graduation from a German university, you can either apply for an EU Blue Card or a German residence permit. Which one fits better to your situation depends on various aspects. Both, EU Blue Card and German residence permit will be issued for a limited period and may be extended if you continue to be employed. After two years, you can apply for a permanent residence permit, if you are having a job. You should know, that you are only allowed to stay 12 months abroad when having an EU Blue Card and six months when having a German residence permit. To avoid problems when reentering Germany don’t forget to consult your immigration authority before you leave the country in case you intend to stay abroad for a longer period.



Remember Everything: Download the FREE CHECKLIST of the 10-Step Job Guide for International Students & Young Professionals in Germany. Get your FREE CHECKLIST here!


Visa and Work Permit for Foreigners without Degree from German University

If you have only done a semester in Germany but not accomplished a complete degree from a German university or if you did not study in Germany at all you may still be allowed to work here. Citizens from the EU as well as from Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland enjoy unrestricted freedom of movement for workers and will not need a special work permit. So-called third country nationals from outside of these nations need a specific residence title, for which several hard to achieve bureaucratic rules apply.


Advice – 6-month job seeking visa!

Highly skilled foreigners with academic education from outside of Germany, can apply for a 6-month job seeking visa for Germany. While this visa entitles you to search for jobs, it does not allow you to work during your six months stay. You must prove your financial stability and document your university degree when applying at the German mission in your home land. When having found a job, you can directly apply for a residence permit in Germany. Note: Only nationals of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand or the USA can come to Germany without a visa and directly apply for a residence and work permit at the local foreign nationals’ registration authority. All other third country nationals must apply for visa at the German visa center in their home country before entering Germany.


When having found a job, you can choose whether you apply for the German Residence Permit for gainful employment or the EU Blue Card.  

  • German Residence Permit – The German Residence Act (AufenthG) and the German Employment Regulation (BeschV) regulate the access to the German labor market. It determines that a residence for gainful employment always requires the approval of the BA. You may obtain this approval in the German visa center abroad or the local immigration authority in Germany. The following three conditions need always to be fulfilled for the approval: first there needs to be a relevant legislative provision for the access to the German labor market, second you have a concrete job offer with similar employment conditions to domestic employees, third there are no preferential EU citizens available for the concrete job.
  • EU Blue Card – An alternative would be to apply for an EU Blue Card, for which in 2016 you need to earn an annual gross salary of at least 49.600 euros. Besides, you need to be highly skilled and have a recognized university degree. The advantage of the EU Blue Card is that you will have a residence title without the BA’s consent being required. For certain specialists from mathematics, IT, life sciences and engineering as well as doctors the required salary may be minimum 38.688 euros per year, if they earn as much as their German colleagues and the BA gives its consent.


Conclusion – Visa & Residence for Germany

Depending on your situation, you must choose between various visa for international talents. Please notify that this guide does not provide legally binding information concerning working in Germany. Contact the experts of the statuary employment agency (BA) to know more about your specific visa case (phone number 0228 / 713-2000). Alternatively, you may call the official hotline for working and living in Germany that is operated jointly by several Federal Offices (phone number 0049 30 1815 1111).


4. Social Security & Taxes in Germany for International Students and Young Professionals

When you start working in Germany after having finished your studies as an international student, you must make contributions to the statuary insurances and pay taxes. Both, taxes and contributions will be directly deducted from your gross salary as an employee. Therefore, it is important that you understand the basic principles of the German social security system and taxation.


The Five Statuary Insurances in Germany

The well-developed social security system in Germany consists of five statuary insurances. When you start working, you will get a national social security ID. You may ask your German health insurance for your personal social security number.

  • Health Insurance Germany – It covers the cost if you need to see a doctor, rely on medication or if you get a therapy at a hospital.
  • Pension Fund – When having retired, you will receive a pension from the pension fund. The money you receive depends on your income and the number of years you have been employed in Germany.
  • Unemployment Fund – It guarantees you an income when being dismissed at work.
  • Nursing Care – It protects you in case you might be dependent on long-term care due to illness.
  • Accident Insurance – It pays for medical treatment if you experience an accident at work.

The employee as well as the employer must pay a fixed percentage as a contribution to the social security. In total each side corresponds to approximately 21 percent of the employee’s gross salary.

Taxation in Germany

In addition to contributions to the social security system, you must pay taxes when working in Germany. You will need a 11-digit tax identification number (steuerliche Identifikationsnummer, Steuer-ID) which can be obtained from your local citizens' administration office. You need give this number to your employer.

  • Wage-Tax – In 2016 employees had to pay a progressively increasing wage tax from 14 to 42 percent for incomes between 8.652 and 53.665 euros. Incomes from 53.665 euros up to 254.447 euros are taxed at 42 percent while the income of less than 8.652 euros is tax-free. Very high incomes of more than 254.447 euros are taxed at 45 percent.
  • Solidarity Surcharge – Furthermore, there is an obligatory solidarity contribution of 5.5 percent, for covering the cost of Germany`s reunification.
  • Church-Tax – If you are a member of the protestant or catholic church, you must pay an additional 8-9 percent for the church.
  • Income Tax – For incomes from other sources, such as self-employment, rents or investments people must pay income tax to the tax office on their own responsibility.


Advice – German wage tax calculator!

To have an idea how much you must pay for statuary insurances and taxes and how much will be your net salary, you can use our unofficial JA JOBS wage tax calculator for Germany.



Income tax declaration and tax refund in Germany

At the end of the year you have the chance to get back taxes in Germany by submitting an income tax declaration (Steuererklärung) to the tax authorities (Finanzamt). You can also do this online via the official tax website of the German government If you earn less than 8.652 euros a year you will get back the taxes you have paid. In addition, the German government allows for a broad range of tax deductions that can significantly lower the amount of taxes you must finally pay. Taxation is highly complex in Germany, to save real money its recommended to address a professional tax consultant (Steuerberater).


Conclusion – Social Security & Taxes in Germany

Your wage tax and your contributions to the statuary insurances will be directly deducted from your gross salary. To have a better estimate what net salary you will receive, we recommend you to use our wage tax calculator.



Remember Everything: Download the FREE CHECKLIST of the 10-Step Job Guide for International Students & Young Professionals in Germany. Get your FREE CHECKLIST here!


5. Part-Time Jobs in Germany for International Students


Doing a part time job during your studies in Germany may not only help you to finance your daily student life abroad. It is also a great opportunity to dive into German culture, get in touch with potential employers and the work ethic. Thus, a student job may be a valuable first-hand experience for you and may facilitate the start of your professional career after graduation. The range of salaries for student jobs is from 9-15 euros per hour, depending on the job and location. In restaurant industry, you can get additional tips.

Have a Clear Career Focus!

Before deciding for a student job, you should think of your career and make a solid plan for it. Stand a step aside and ask yourself what are you good at, what talents do you have and what kind of tasks and surroundings do you like most. If you prefer to work in research and academia after graduation, it would make sense to get a student job as an assistant researcher (HiWi) at your university. If you dream of a career in hotel and tourism you could work part time as a waiter or city guide for visitors from your country. Practical experience as a cashier may help you to later climb up the career ladder in retail, doing promoter jobs at trade fairs could be useful when aiming at full-time jobs in sales when finishing your studies. Engineering students can do student jobs at industrial production plants while marketing and accounting students may work some hours in the respective departments of companies.  

Legal Regulations for Student Jobs in Germany

To help you to comply with the legal regulations, we have summarized all you need to know for doing a part time job as a foreign student in Germany.

  • Students from EU countries – You may work during your studies in Germany without work permit and to the same rules as their German fellow students. However, if the number of work hours per week is higher than 20, or your monthly income exceeds 450 euros you are subject to taxes and required to pay social security contributions.
  • Non-EU students in Germany – You can work 120 full days or 240 half days per year just with your student visa and without a special work permit. A full working day in Germany is 8 hours. For not wasting your work-contingency you better work four than two or eight than five hours. For jobs as research or teaching assistants at your university and affiliated organizations there are no time limits. However, you still must consult the foreigners’ authority which is responsible to decide if your job falls into the category of such assistant work.
  • Mini-Jobs in Germany – Many part-time jobs are offered as mini-jobs with a salary of up to 450 euros per month. Minor employment workers can be released from the pension insurance, normally don’t have to pay taxes and are not insured in statutory health-, care- or unemployment insurances. You may have several mini-jobs at the same time as long as your total income does not exceed 450 euros per month.


Advice – Self-Employment While Studying in Germany!

Foreign students are generally allowed to work on their own on the sideline while studying at a German university. However, your self-employment should not endanger your studies and if you work more than 20 hours you must pay a much higher health insurance contribution. The foreigner´s office must agree to your plans of self-employment. In addition to your sideline work you are still allowed to work your 120 full work days as an employee.


Finding Student Jobs in Germany

Please go forward to Step-6 on tips for finding the best internships and student jobs. For specific advice on your application for student jobs, please jump to Step-8 of this job guide for international students and young professionals in Germany.


Conclusion – Student Jobs in Germany

Doing a student job or your diploma thesis gives you some extra money as well as valuable experience. Before deciding on your student job, you should have a clear career plan. Make sure to comply with the legal regulations for EU or Non-EU citizens.


6. Internships in Germany for International Students


Nowadays, internships in Germany have become a substantial part of student life. Like student jobs, internships are an excellent opportunity to establish connections with employers of your choice and get to know the professional world. During the application process, you should clarify if you will have challenging tasks that allow you to learn new things and develop your skills.

Payment for Internships

Some companies pay their interns between 300-1.200 euros, others don’t pay anything. If you don’t rely on the money, you should choose the one that fits best to you and your career perspective. For compulsory internships during your studies and for those with a duration of not more than three months, employers are not obliged to pay you a salary. For all other internships, the minimum wage of 8,84 euros in 2017 applies.

How to Find an Internship as an International Student in Germany

How to find an internship as an international student in Germany is a relevant question for many foreign talents. The notice board (Schwarzes Brett), the university website and well known job exchanges can be suitable sources to finding the right internship. Furthermore, you can have a look through advertisements in the local newspaper. To quickly find the right internship, we recommend you to sign up for free at JA JOBS, which is a job board specialized on connecting foreign students and young professionals in Germany with top employers.

Statuary Regulations for Internships

Before completing your internship, you should know about the specific statuary regulations.



Remember Everything: Download the FREE CHECKLIST of the 10-Step Job Guide for International Students & Young Professionals in Germany. Get your FREE CHECKLIST here!


  • Compulsory internships – For required internships during your studies, if you get paid or not, an official approval is not needed. Your obligatory internship is not affecting the 120 approval-free working days you have at your disposal as a foreign student at a German university.  
  • Voluntary internship – If you want to do a voluntary internship it is deducted from your 120 approval-free work-contingency. If you wish to do a longer elective internship or if you have already taken your 120 work days for other jobs, you must obtain an extra approval from the foreigner’s authority and federal employment agency which is only granted rarely.
  • Internships after graduation in Germany – If you want to work in Germany after graduation from a German university, you can get your residence permit extended by 18 months for job searching. During the 18 months’ period, you look for suitable jobs in Germany, you can do any kind of job. Please go back to Step-3 of the job guide for international students, to read more about visa regulations for working in Germany.


Advice – Doing Your Diploma Thesis at a Company!

Doing your diploma thesis at a company is another good way to gain relevant work experience. Through your thesis project, you will be able to apply your theoretical knowledge from university to the real world – a first step on the way to become a highly-courted expert on your field. If you are doing good, you might have the chance to continue working at the same company after finishing university. Even if you should decide to start your career at a different company, the professional experience from your thesis makes it easier for you to find a good job in Germany. Employers in Germany reward it if you proved being able to successfully complete a project outside the world of academia. Your thesis counts as an obligatory internship.


Conclusion – Internships in Germany

Internships are a great opportunity for international students to get some work experience. The notice board, university website and specialized job exchanges as JA JOBS make it easy for you to find a suitable internship, whether it is a compulsory or voluntary one. For many internships, the minimum wage applies.


7. Job-Hunting & Career Start in Germany for International Graduates from German Universities


Returning Home Versus Staying in Germany

Returning home or staying in Germany after finishing studies is a far-reaching question for many international students. In both cases, you may strive for an exciting career with international top employers. Should you decide on starting your career in your home country, please have a look at Step-9 of this job guide. According to surveys, most foreign students wish to stay in Germany after graduation, however, due to various problems, less than 50 percent make this dream come true finally. Therefore, JA JOBS has specialized in helping international talents to kick-start a successful career in Germany. As you have seen in this career guide, the huge economy, the excellent labor market, attractive employers and high chances for receiving a working visa as a graduate from a German university are good reasons to stay here.


Advice – Self-Assessment!

Before applying for jobs in Germany, you should make a solid career plan. Ask yourself about what are your interests, what are you best at and at what kind of job can you benefit most from your experience at campus, as well as in student jobs and internships. If you need to get some inspiration just read through job descriptions on the internet, talk to alumni of your studies and ask your family and friends for advice. Then, take your decision and apply for the most adequate jobs for you.


Will My Mother Tongue Be an Advantage for Me?

As an international graduate in Germany you may benefit from your mother tongue for some roles at global companies. In addition to Spanish, French and other European languages especially Chinese, Arab and Russian can be a huge advantage when applying for a job. JA JOBS connects you especially with employers where you can profit from your mother tongue. Don’t forget to speak German as well. However, your language skills should not be your only asset. Make sure you get a job where you can make use of your personality as well as your academic and professional experience in addition to your mother tongue.

How to find work in Germany as an international graduate from a German University?

There are various ways foreign students can find their dream job in Germany. You should take advantage of the activities and advice from your university’s career office, as well as international office. Sometimes, taking part in career fairs on campus and other locations may help you to get some idea where your career path could lead you after graduation. Furthermore, of course the online search engines and company websites may serve you for reading through a few vacancies and perhaps even applying for one of them. Don’t forget to network with people from the university, your internships and student jobs. Finally, we recommend you to register for free at JA JOBS, the job board which cooperates only with top employers who rely on and are willing to employ international graduates from German universities.

Visa Rules for Taking Up Employment in Germany

EU-citizens can work in Germany without any special regulations. As a foreign graduate from a German university you can get a job in line with your studies. For further visa rules concerning all non-EU nationals please read Step-3 of this job guide for international talents.

Self-Employment as a Foreign Graduate from a German University

As a graduate from a German university you can start your own business in Germany. After your studies, you have 18-month time to plan your self-employment. From the day on you get self-employed you will need a residency permit. You may inform yourself at the iQ-web-portal which is run by the German government.

Job Application as an International Talent in Germany

For advice concerning your application, please read through Step-8 of the job guide for foreign students in Germany.

Salary and Work Contract in Germany

  • Regular Work Contracts in Germany are unrestricted but usually include a six-month probationary period during which the contract can be terminated by both, the employer and the employee, with a two weeks’ notice. After the first six months, the employment contract can only be terminated by either party through a written letter of termination observing a mandatory notice period which depends on how many years one has been employed.
  • Fixed-term Work Contracts in Germany end automatically on a certain date, without the need of an official dismissal. Both parties have to agree to renew the contract or not.

The salary in Germany depends largely on your qualifications and experience, but also on the size of the company and the industry. As a graduate from a German university you may earn a gross salary between 30.000 euros for entry level positions in the social or media industry up to 65.000 euros in business consulting and engineering. Most young professionals lie in between those two extremes. To make money in Germany you should decide for big companies in industries like consulting, banking, automotive or pharmaceutical.

Doing a PhD in Germany

Instead of starting to work after your Master’s you could also decide on a PhD program in Germany. Doing a doctorate is a possibility to increase your career chances in Germany. Normally, it takes you between three and five years. With more than 28.000 doctoral graduates Germany ranks second behind the US according to the World Economic Forum. The DAAD and the Hochschulkompass provide good databases for PhD programs.


Conclusion – Job-Hunting & Career Start in Germany

No matter if in Germany or your home country, with a German university degree international multilingual talents have great chances for a successful career. Graduates can easily get a residence and work permits for regular and temporary jobs with top-employers or even start their own business in Germany. Career fairs, university offices, job search engines or the specialized JA JOBS career board for international students and young professionals support you in finding the right work.


8. Job Application in Germany for International Students and Young Professionals


When applying for jobs and internships in Germany as an international student or young professional, you should know what German employers expect from you. Normally, applications consist of a motivation letter, your CV and several attachments like your certificates from studies and work.

The Motivation Letter

The motivation letter should give the company a first idea about who you are, what expertise you have and why you apply for a certain role. It should not be longer than one page and be correct concerning grammar and spelling. It is essential that you carefully read the job vacancy before writing your cover letter. Only then, you can address the specific requirements of the position you apply for. An individual and specific cover letter where you carefully choose every single word to convince the company is a very important condition for the success of your application.

The Curriculum Vitae (CV)

The second important document is your Curriculum Vitae (CV). On one to two pages you give a short overview on your personal and professional career using bullet points. This includes your personal data as well as your educational and professional experience – all starting with the most recent ones. Moreover, you should add your language and computer skills. Different from many countries, in Germany candidates usually attach a professional photo of themselves, which is considered important by many employers. Don’t include details that are not relevant for the job you apply for.

Certificates and Diplomas

The certificates of previous jobs and projects as well as your diplomas from university are the third pillar of your personal application dossier. Although you might be very proud of what you have done in life, don’t include any certificate you have but only the relevant ones for a specific position.


Advice – Find out the specific demands!

Normally, all your application documents should be in German or English. Make sure you apply in the language that is used at your future job. In many cases, especially in small firms, it can be useful to have a short call with the responsible HR person or the boss of the department where you want to work. Like this, you can find out about the specific demands concerning the job and your application.


The Job Interview & Assessment Center

Many companies also use video calls and telephone interviews before inviting somebody to a job interview. When being invited to a job interview as a foreign student or young professional in Germany, you should know several things for being able to succeed.

Normally, there are two or three interviewers from the HR department and from the respective department where you applied for. You should check their Xing or LinkedIn profiles to get an idea about who they are and to demonstrate your interest. The interview normally lasts for 1 to 2 hours and is held in German. For some roles, the interviewer can switch into English or any other language needed at your future job. A short self- presentation, your expectations and what salary you expect as well as your strengths and weaknesses will normally be part of the interview. Questions about specific problems you have solved in past projects and about your previous experience from internships, student jobs or full-time jobs also belong to the standard interview. Sometimes, you also must do role games or solve specific case studies during the interview so the company can see your abilities and how you approach, organize and solve problems. Before the interview, the company should tell you who will take part and roughly inform you about the agenda. Don’t hesitate to contact the HR department when not being sure about these things. Last, but not least: make sure you arrive punctual to the interview!

For many entry level positions, candidates must pass an assessment center. If you are invited to one, make sure you know the agenda and prepare for it. For many of the tasks and case studies you can train in advance. Stay natural, polite and focused on the assessment day.

How to Dress at a Job Interview?

Many applicants don’t know how to dress for their job interview and foreign students might be used to different costumes. The most important rule is, that you adapt the specific surroundings of the industry and company you apply for. Look at the company´s homepage and the employees LinkedIn profiles to get an impression.

The Business Lunch

Sometimes a business lunch may be part of the application process in Germany to test the candidate’s behaviors and table manners. It is important that you interact in a friendly way with other candidates, the interviewers and employees from the restaurant. Don’t act too shy, but respect hierarchies.

The First 100 Days at Work

For any employee but especially for foreign students or young professionals who have recently started their career in Germany the first 100 days at work are very exciting. Be self-confident but don’t pretend to know everything better than your colleagues and show that you are willing to learn. If, in addition you socialize well with people at work, you will have a successful start for your global career!


Conclusion – Job Application in Germany

Make sure to hand in a complete and specific application consisting of your letter of motivation, CV and diplomas. When being invited to a job interview, get well-prepared concerning standard questions before you go there. Stay natural, polite and focused.


9. Career Start in Your Home Country as an International Graduate from a German University


Should you prefer to go back to your home country for family or any other reasons, this does not prevent you from starting an exciting global career.

German and Other International Top Companies

German and other international top companies are doing business around the world and there is a real chance that they have production sites or sales activities in your country for which they need the best talents. For example, there are more than 5000 German enterprises who have investments in China. In addition to the huge multinational corporations there are many medium sized companies from the German Mittelstand who are world market leaders in their field and rely on qualified employees. Your academic and professional experience in Germany can be a clear advantage when searching for an attractive job with an international employer back in your home country.

How to Find a Job with a German Company in Your Home Country?

There are various options to search for those highly attractive jobs in your country of origin. You can just directly have a look on the career websites of the corporations and Hidden Champions or use the big job search engines. Another good advice is to network during your studies abroad and connect with valuable contacts from the business world. Doing internships or student jobs at German companies which also have branches in your home country can be a very effective way get a suitable job when finishing your studies and leaving Germany. However, the most efficient way to find great jobs at international employers at home is to visit JA-Jobs, which is a job board especially for foreign talents who have studied in Germany. At the career platform, you can search not only for employment opportunities at interesting companies in Germany but also at global enterprises in your home country. The best registered talents might even get directly placed at Hidden Champions and similar firms.


Conclusion – Career Start in The Home Country

You can start an exciting career in your home country with German and other international top employers and thus benefit from your academic and professional experience in Germany. JA JOBS is specialized on connecting top employers with international talents and thus might be the right platform for you.


Living in Germany – Tips for Your Daily Life as An Expat


For making the most out of your living in Germany as an international student, graduate or young professional you should know the following things.

Bank Account

As a foreign student or young professional, you will need a bank account to pay your monthly rent, receive your salary, pay contributions to university and withdraw money from cash machines. To open a bank account, you will need your passport and a confirmation about your job or your enrollment at the university. You may also get a visa card from the same bank, which you can use for buying flights or doing shopping. Some banks offer you to withdraw cash worldwide free of charge. The online banks DKB or ING-DiBa can be recommended.

Housing & Moving

Normally, you will pay between 400 to 900 euros per month for a single or two-room apartment in Germany, depending on the city and neighborhood. In big cities like Munich, Frankfurt and Hamburg and some typical student towns like Freiburg you will pay much higher rents then in other cities or on the countryside. As a student or young professional, you can also share a flat with two or three other people. This helps you to save money and to make friends more easy in a foreign environment.

Public Broadcasting Contribution Fees for International Students in Germany

Every household in Germany must pay a public broadcasting contribution fee to a special agency. Until 2013 this agency was GEZ, now it is renamed into “ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio Beitragsservice". In general, foreign students and young professionals are not eligible for exemption from the broadcasting fee. Per month, a payment of 17,40 euros must be made per household no matter if you use the public media or not. If you share a household with other people, you can also share the broadcasting contribution fee. In this case, one person must take responsibility for the payment. The others can ask the broadcasting agency for an exemption by sending a letter to the “ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio Beitragsservice”, 50656 Köln. In this letter, you should tell the agency your client number as well as the client number and address of the person who is doing the payments now. If you don’t ask for a sign off, you will continue paying the fee, although you share a flat.

Health Insurances for Foreign Students and Young Professionals

To study in Germany, you need a health insurance, which you can apply for after your arrival. There are public and private health insurances. Normally, it is recommended to choose the public one like DAK, AOK or TK. In addition, you should be aware that once you decided for a private health insurance you are not allowed to change anymore to a public one. With many European and some other countries there are social security agreements, meaning that your public health insurance from home might be recognized in Germany. When starting a job as a foreign graduate in Germany, you either remain at the same health insurance you have been before as a student or you change into a different one. Sometimes, this might make sense as there are some price differences among public health insurances. It is recommended to stay a member of the public health insurance as in many cases this is cheaper on the long run.

Learning German

If you speak German, your daily life will be much easier and your career chances will increase. Most employers in Germany want you to know German in addition to your mother tongue and other languages. At Goethe-Institute´s website you may test how good your German is. At Deutsche Welle’s website, a public broadcasting channel, you can learn German through videos, audios and texts which is a fun and useful way to improve your language skills.

Mobile & Internet

It is quite cheap to use a mobile phone in Germany. You can purchase a pre-paid card which provides you with flexibility without contractual obligations or sign up for a mobile phone contract, often with flat rates. Sometimes you may get better deals when having your mobile contract and your internet access for your flat at the same service provider.


IGermany is generally a safe country and the police is trustworthy. You can call the police free of charge by dialing 110 from any phone whenever you need help. Nevertheless, Germany has its share of crime and you should avoid any unnecessary risks like walking alone through dark streets at night.


Groceries are quite cheap in Germany, above all if you buy them in the discount supermarkets Aldi, Lidl, Penny and Norma. In the more expensive supermarkets Rewe and Edeka you can always buy the stores “own brands”, which are much cheaper than the brand products but of similar quality. Store hours vary from state to state, usually shops open from 8am to 8pm. On Sundays shops are closed. At petrol stations, you can often buy if everything is closed.

Traveling & Transportation

The cheapest way to travel between different cities in Germany normally is by far distance bus. Flixbus is the biggest bus company in Germany, they also offer trips to other European destinations. During weekends and holidays prices may rise, so you should book your ticket in advance. If you prefer taking the train you should apply for the Bahn card 50 which guarantees you 50 percent discount on normal prices. As a student, you will get the Bahn card 50 for only 127 euros per year. For longer distances you can also get surprisingly cheap flight tickets at EasyJet or Ryanair. Another cheap alternative is BlaBlaCar which connects people who need to travel with drivers who have empty seats. Within cities public transport is a convenient option for travel. It includes buses, trams and the underground, as well as trains. As an international student in Germany, you will be allowed to buy a semester ticket for very little money, which allows you to use all public transport in the region where you live. Many Germans prefer to use the bicycle. Taxis are quite expensive.


Advice – How to Integrate into German Culture?

First, of course you should give a strong effort in learning the local language. It will just facilitate your daily life, help you to get in touch with Germans and it is a necessary condition for a successful career. Second, you should become a member of the active citizenship in Germany which is organized in sports clubs, social and environmental associations, charities, migrant organizations or religious groups. Especially sports are a good occasion to get in touch with the nature-loving locals no matter if you play football or do take part in outdoor activities. You may also visit cultural events, festivals, concerts and museums. Third, be active, direct and try to get involved. Most Germans are nice people, but they won´t give you a special treatment, they expect you to speak out and to take part in, or organize events.


Driving License in Germany

To get a German Driver's License (Führerschein) you must sign up at a driving school and finally you must take both the written and practical tests. Altogether, it will cost you around 1.500-2.000 euros. If you have already got a license from your home country, in some cases a conversion will be possible by filling out some paper work. If you are only visiting Germany without having residency, you can drive with your home country’s license. For further information please visit the website of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Industry.


Conclusion – Tips for Your Daily Life in Germany

To integrate quickly as a foreign student or young professional in Germany, become a member of the active citizenship in Germany, which is organized in sports clubs, social and environmental associations or charities. To save money, make use of far distance buses, as well as the Bahn card 50 and prefer public health insurance over private one. Finally, to avoid problems, don’t forget to pay public broadcasting contribution fees.


Conclusion – The 10-Step Job Guide for International Students & Young Professionals in Germany



Get a Job - Sign up for free at JA JOBS for finding vacancies & being directly placed at top employers in Germany!

Remember Everything: Download the FREE CHECKLIST of the 10-Step Job Guide for International Students & Young Professionals in Germany. Get your FREE CHECKLIST here!


Please notify, that the content displayed in this Job Guide only serves informational purposes and is not legally binding. Especially for advice concerning visa and residence permits we recommend you to contact the relevant public authorities.