Jobs in Germany

The Workplace in Germany

The Workplace in Germany

When working in Germany it is important to know what taxes as well as other fees you will be obligated to pay.

Income tax is the big one. All those who are working in Germany are subjected to income tax. Income tax starts at a little of 8% and rises to between 42 and 45 percent depending on your salary.

Solidarity tax. Accounts for 5.5 percent of ones income tax.

For those who are a part of a church, you will be expected to pay Church tax which is between 8 and 9 percent of your income. The difference in the percentage is based on the state that you are living in.

If you are married, a joint tax return may work in your favor

Social Security contributions are also something that you will have to pay when working in Germany. These costs are split between the individual and his or her employer. The employee pays half and the employer pays the other half. Social security contributions are typically deducted from your salary and paid to the government by the employer.

The Social Security Contributions include:

  • Rentenversicherung: Pension Insurance
  • Krankenversicherung: Health Insurance
  • Pflegeversicherung: Nursing Insurance
  • Arbeitslosenversicherung: Unemployment Insurance

Though paying these costs may seem like a burden at first, they may come in handy at some point during your life in Germany. There are benefits available to help you with rough patches, which are what a large portion of the taxes cover. These include: Wohngeld which is there for those who can't cover housing costs, Kindergeld received by those with children 8 years and under, Mutterschaftsgeld for those who are employed and are pregnant and have just had a baby, Arbeitslosenversicherung providing you with a portion of your previous salary when you have lost your job.

Once you have secured a job in Germany you are typically put in a three to six month trial period where the employer will decide if you really are the right person for the job. Provided they have a viable reason not to continue with you, you may be released from the company with a two week's notice.

If you are planning on resigning, you are required to notify the company four weeks prior to the beginning of the next month.

How much will you be expected to work?

Most full time jobs carry on for up to forty eight hours a week with Fridays typically being a shorter workday. Most businesses in Germany close on a Sunday and thus this will generally be a day off for you. You will also receive vacation days, which varies between twenty and thirty days per year depending on the company you work for. In the case of an illness, you will be paid sick leave which covers your entire salary for six weeks. Provided you are missing from work for a longer duration of time, the costs will be covered by your health insurance. This however, will not be your full salary as insurances usually only pay up to seventy percent of your salary.[...]

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The social security system in Germany

Even though it is likely not in anybody’s best interest to fall into financial disgrace, the German security system is in place to help out in such cases.  Unlike the system in place in other industrialized nations, the German security system is based on a direct redistribution system. This means that social security paid out to individuals is directly financed by those paying taxes. While this is basically an effective system, it can lead to problems if for any reason the money paid by tax payers decreases and does not cover the financial cost of the social security system anymore. A reason for such decrease could be a recession that leaves many people looking for work and therefore also in need of help by the social security system. Another problematic situation occurs when demographic change is in progress. The latter is a problem that Germany has had for many years, with a decreasing birth rate as well as an increased life expectancy. This leaves, an increased demand for pensions based on social security, while the workforce that itself is not increasing in size has to cover this increasing amount of money distributed to people receiving social benefits. Germany has been trying to counter this alarming trend by attracting more immigrants as well as by offering large financial benefits for parents with young children, unfortunately with not much of a positive result to show for. Birth statistics are still showing too little of an increase to significantly improve the demographic change.




Many financial benefits besides pensions are available for both citizens as well as people legally residing in Germany. One of the most commonly occurring situations requiring social security benefits is unemployment. When people living in Germany lose their job, for the first few months they are entitled to receive a fairly large percentage of their former income called Arbeitslosengeld I (ALG I). This amount is both based on the amount that they used to earn as well as the time that they have earned it for and the age of the applicant. During their employment a part of the salary is deducted immediately and transferred partially to an unemployment fund. The deducted amount is matched by the employer and made available once somebody loses his job, in the form of said ALGI. For example, somebody aged 35 who has worked a job that had money deducted for unemployment insurance for 24 months, benefits are available for 2 months of unemployment. After this period passes and the individual is still unemployed, and has no financial reserves, this person is now applicable to receive Hartz IV, a form of unemployment benefit for those unemployed for longer periods of time. More information about the eligibility and duration of receiving ALG I can be found here .

Besides providing pensions for the elderly and unemployment, the German security system is also in place for the following (but not limited to):

Health care

Nursing Care

Accident Care [...]

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German salaries versus quality of life

Figuring out whether or not the salary you are offered will hinder your quality of life is something that expats are adamant to know before agreeing to a job in Germany. With the conversion rate between the US dollar and the Euro, lots of gray lines are created in this area. Another thing that comes into play and needs to be thoroughly assessed is the price of rent. Housing prices in the United States are relatively cheaper than the housing prices in Germany.

Where someone in the United States may be living in a house that can very nearly be called a mansion, having to move to Germany and not being able to afford, or even find something with that amount of square meters can be disappointing. This however, all depends on where you live in the United States and where you're planning on relocating to in Germany. A comparison can be drawn between house prices in Albany, Georgia and New York City for example. You may pay less for a five bedroom house with a big yard and a swimming pool in Albany, than you would pay for a two bedroom apartment in New York City, where prices are very similar to those in Germany. This however, does not mean that regardless of the salary you earn, you'll be living in a box in Germany. Germany has some very beautiful apartments as well as houses. The further you move away from the city centre, the cheaper rent becomes. In some cases you may be looking at a 300-400 euro difference. If you're flexible with the location, there should be no problem finding a place that you can call home, without spending your entire monthly salary on it.

Healthcare is a big plus for Germany, especially in comparison to the United States. With insurance, you'll be able to break your leg as many times as you please, get treated and still have the same amount of money that you walked in with. The healthcare system in Germany offers you the security that if something happens, no matter how big or small it may seem, you can go to the doctor without worrying about the cost. The only down, or upside, depending on how you look at it, is that over the counter pain killers, like Aspirin tend to be a lot more expensive in Germany, and don't come in the XXL packages that are available in the United States. 

Food in Germany is rather inexpensive which comes as a shock to most people when they check out a full cart at the grocery store and pay half the price of what they would pay in the US. We're talking about vegetables, fruits, organic products, meat, bread, cheese and even pizza. The cost of pizza in Germany is so unbelievably low, that it leaves you even more surprised with each bite you take. The price does not in the least bit affect the quality. German frozen pizza tastes great.


To conclude, your salary may affect your quality of life, but doesn't have to. If you're already paying New York prices, then Germany will be a positive change due to other aspects that come out more inexpensive. However, if you're paying Georgia prices, then you may be disgruntled that you'll have to downsize the grand house, for something a bit cozier. [...]

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Working in Germany without speaking German

Because of the language barrier, English speakers may experience some difficulty when trying to find a job in Germany. This however, doesn't mean that there aren't jobs available for people who haven't yet managed to master the German language or for others who are looking at moving to Germany with little or no language experience. Depending on what specialty you are considering, may determine just how easy or hard your quest is to find a job in your field.

Native English speakers who have relocated to Berlin express a higher difficulty in the work market than those who have relocated to places like Frankfurt and Munich. Though Berlin is a fairly large city, the job market here for both native Germans and non-natives is a tricky one. Berlin still has a certain hype to it and thus, many people make Berlin their first choice when moving to or within Germany causing the job market to be a tad bit crammed. There are a lot of jobs, but perhaps a larger amount of job seekers resulting in a deficit. Provided you are adamant to get to Berlin and be able to finance your way of life through working there, consider making use of the available job portals as well as getting in touch with any Berlin contacts you may have in order to acquire as much knowledge as possible.

Frankfurt is the finance capital of German and hosts the largest international airport in Germany. The job market there may be a bit more in favour of the English speaking crowd compared to Berlin. With lots of companies looking for English speakers in a variety of departments Frankfurt is a great option to consider.

Munich, like Frankfurt tends to have numerous jobs opened to English speakers. In general the unemployment rate in Munich is very low, substantially lower than Berlin for example. The majority of jobs available to English speakers in Munich are within the Information Technology sectors. These are usually very well paying jobs, a vast amount of which are offered by renowned international companies.

For more information on job openings consider the following sites:







Unskilled jobs available to native English speakers:

·         babysitting/nanny

·         delivery driver

·         cleaning

·         bar tending

·         tutoring

·         telemarketing

·         check in assistant (airport)

Skilled jobs available to native English speakers:

·         IT tech

·         Secretary

·         Journalist

·         English correspondent

·         Teacher

·         Translator



Don't be turned off if you can't find something immediately or if you don't get accepted to the first job you apply for. There are many jobs out there suited for you and even if it means taking something temporary while you brush up on your German skills, think about it as an opportunity rather than a setback. You'll more than likely make new friends and get a better knack for the language. The key is to never give up, stay confident, enroll in a German class, build up your resume and soon enough you'll be able to apply for any job with confidence. [...]

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Gaining Self-Employment and Starting Your Own Business in Germany

As an expatriate in Germany, it is already difficult to find work. There are strict regulations allowing only those who are highly skilled and educated to earn work permits in Germany. This is because Germany wants to encourage more Germans to integrate themselves into the workforce. So, while you are in Germany, should you decide to become self-employed, it may be a bit difficult.

If you go to Germany looking to be self-employed, you are going to run into a long of legal red tape. Your best bet is to contact a lawyer who specializes in business, labor, and tax laws, and who is knowledgeable in dealing with expatriates. This way you can know precisely what you need to do in order to establish your own business. The laws are ever-changing in Germany, so hiring a lawyer is helpful to keep you up to date on those laws and regulations.

Residency Permit

Before you can even look into starting your own business, you need to establish residency in Germany. What makes that difficult is that in order to get a residence permit, you need to prove that you are generating a stable income. For those with a highly specialized or sought after skill, this may be easier to work around. If you can prove that the business you wish to establish in Germany will be beneficial to the German economy, then it should be less difficult to get your residence permit; however, there may be some restrictions applied to your residence permit.

Once you have dealt with and received your residence permit, then you have to deal with the steps necessary to establish your business in Germany. In order to do that, you must first figure out the classification of your career field. With each classification comes a different set of regulations. In this situation, again, it would be best to speak with a lawyer who can help you deal with all of the legalities, regulations, and registrations.


Free-Professionals is the classification for those who have academic training in their field. For example, doctors, lawyers, and scientists would qualify as Free-Professionals. Free-Professionals, due to the highly skilled nature and high demand for most of those jobs, typically have fewer issues with the registration process. However, they do have their own set of regulations and procedures, which they will have to deal with when attempting to start their own business.


If your career is in the field of trade, then this would be your classification. Tradesmen typically, after receiving their certificate of registration from the local Trades Office, must pay local trade taxes and become members of the Chamber of Commerce, to which they pay an annual membership fee.


Craftsmen need the approval of the Trade Association and need to meet Germany’s standards for qualifications in their craft. The types of careers in this classification include barbers, florists, and butchers.




The types of careers in this classification include writers, individual consultants, performers, and artists. Freelancing has so many different and additional laws and regulations that it is highly recommended that you consult with an attorney or expert who deals with freelancers, expatriates, and labor laws and regulations.


Becoming self-employed and establishing your own business in a new country is difficult, as there are many laws and regulations that you must deal with along the way. If this is the path you wish to take, and then consult an attorney who can help you achieve your goals. Do not get discouraged and do not give up if this proves to be difficult. If it is in your heart to start your business in Germany, then you can and will make it happen.[...]

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EUR 400 Basis —Taking a Mini-job in Germany

In order to gain a work permit in Germany, you need specialized skills and a well-paying job. However, there are some instances when a lower paying job is necessary for some individual. In those situations, Germany offers the EUR 400 Basis jobs, or mini-jobs. Keep in mind; the mini-jobs do not qualify you for a work permit in Germany.

Pay and Taxes

The point of the mini-job is to offer the employee a small but tax-free income. The mini-job is also helpful to the employer because they receive a break and pay less taxes and fees for those mini-job employees. Employees working mini-jobs are only allowed to receive a maximum of €400 per month. How that money is divided up is up to the discretion of the employer. You could work for ten hours at a rate of €40 per hour, or you could work 40 hours at a rate of €0 per hour, just so long as the monthly total does not ever exceed €400. On the other hand, the €400 is a maximum, so there is always the possibility that you could pay less. When you earn €400 per month or less, you will have no taxes to pay because of your low income. The employer still has to pay taxes, but the percentages have been reduced.

Regulations and Warnings



The employer and employee must agree upon the EUR 400 Basis and declare it as such. If your income exceeds €400 per month, then both you and your employer will have to pay additional taxes and health insurance. If you decide to work multiple jobs and each job does not exceed €400 per month but your total monthly income does exceed that amount, then each of your employers will not be required to pay any additional taxes; however, you will have to pay additional income taxes and pay for your own health insurance, which can be quite costly.

There are some schemes that you should look out for when looking into mini-jobs. If your employer hires you on the EUR 400 Basis, and also requires additional freelance work from you, they are cheating the system by not paying the additional taxes for employing and paying someone more than €400 per month, and they are cheating you out of a stable paycheck while sticking you with all of your health insurance costs and the tax hike that comes with earning more than €400 per month.

If your employer agrees to the EUR 400 Basis for your employment and then give you any additional pay over the €400 per month in cash, then both you and your employer are avoiding the taxes and health insurance costs for those who earn more than €400 per month. This is illegal.


While living in Germany, a monthly salary of €400 per month is not enough to live off of comfortably. On top of that, you cannot earn a work permit off of a mini-job and low salary. However, certain situations are perfect for the EUR 400 Basis jobs, such as mothers looking for part-time work to supplement their partner’s income, or students looking to make a little bit of extra cash. Mini-jobs are not ideal for an expatriate looking to live and succeed in Germany, but mini-jobs can be useful for some. [...]

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