Working in Berlin



The prospects of working in Berlin are good for expatriates setting their sights on the German capital, for the city holds offices for major multinational corporations in almost all commercial industries.


Widely recognised for having many of the world's highest paid professionals, Berlin's job market looks more attractive than ever. Despite the rising unemployment rate in the city, now at 10.7% which is higher than the country average, I.T. professionals remain in demand in the city. One thing foreigners moving to Berlin need to take note of, however, is the fact that English will not necessarily be a big advantage when working anywhere in the country. There are jobs that require German-speaking applicants for positions that are normally paid higher than those where English suffices. On the other hand, there are positions that require knowledge of special languages, usually Asian, although generally, English remains an advantage over those who do not speak either English or German. 

Work Visa and Other Requirements    

EU citizens will not need a permit to take up employment in Berlin. However, they need a valid passport or national identity card, compliance with certain labour laws and regulations that exist between Germany and other EU countries, and an EU residency permit.   

For non-EU residents, a work permit (Arbeitsgenehmigung or Arbeitserlaubnis) comes with a residence permit which means no non-EU citizen may work without first securing a residence permit, applied for under terms that are specific to the type of employment to be secured. An application also needs a tax card (Lohnsteuerkarte ) and a social security number (Sozialversicherungsnummer) to be issued by pension insurance institutions, with the employer processing all these transactions for first-time employees.   

Business Etiquette 

People in Berlin work shorter hours than usual but put great emphasis on efficiency. This means employers are more particular with productivity and give less attention to the amount of work spent at the office. Workers in Berlin rarely have time for socialising, as they would rather finish up as soon as possible without compromising the quality of their work. Germans are very organised and particular about time, and tardiness will never be excused unless for extreme reasons.  

The Arbeitszeitgesetz, Germany's law on working hours, dictates that Berlin workers spend from 38-40 per week at work, with a daily schedule never having to go beyond eight hours. After six hours of being in the office, workers are obliged to take a thirty-minute break. People normally don't work on Sundays and public holidays, but certain exceptions may be applied as necessary. Working hours in Berlin have also gone from traditional to "flexi-time," which means employees are expected to work during "core hours" during the day.    


German labour laws do not specify a definite rate as minimum wage, but there are special policies that exist from sector to sector. For example, certain industries need to pay hourly as agreed between workers' unions and the companies that employ them. There are, however, salary patterns or trends in Berlin which amount to the average wage of 3,387EUR or about 40,644 EUR yearly. Employees of private companies receive on average $556 weekly or about $28,912 yearly while local government workers are entitled to around $535 per week or $27,820 per year. Those who work for the federal government receive the highest at an average of $824 per week or $42,848 per year with state government workers receiving slightly lower wages of $792 weekly or $42,184 annually.  

Although workers in Berlin are some of the best paid in the world, expatriates may have to go the extra mile when marketing their skills as the city also has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. While opportunities remain abundant, one needs to do a better job at making himself worthy of a position to be offered employment. 



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