Working in Germany



The German economy is holding its ground despite the global recession and unemployment rate of around 12%. This is mainly due to strict labour market regulations and the changing nature of the German economy. A number of unemployed have little luck re-entering the job market, and for those foreigners not speaking fluent German, it will be a long road to land a job.

"Germany was way easier than France. Americans can get their visas after moving to Germany. It is a little more complicated with the ongoing refugee crisis, but, in general, the German immigration system is organized and efficient."- Christy Swagerty, Expat in Bavaria, Germany

Traditionally in Germany, the heavy industries such as mining, construction and shipbuilding have high structural unemployment, widespread in the rural areas. Another factor for unemployment relates to strict government regulations; companies require formal qualifications, although most companies offer apprenticeship programs wherein new graduate workers must pass a 2-3 year training program before stepping into the corporate world. 

"Being Swiss, the process was quite smooth. I did not need a visa or a work permit and getting my residence permit was very straightforward. Once we were married, my husband's health insurance covered us all."- K. D. Jennings, Expat in Frankfurt, Germany

The service industry remains the most viable for job hunting. Manufacturing accounts for a quarter of Germany's GDP. The country's niche markets are aircraft and automobile export. The country is also making its mark as a technologically advanced producer of:

  • Iron
  • Steel
  • Coal
  • Cement
  • Chemicals
  • Machinery
  • Vehicles
  • Machine tools
  • Electronics
  • Food and beverages
  • Shipbuilding and textiles

"In Germany, it’s nice that you don’t have to apply for residence until after you arrive, so you do it in person. You need a letter from your job to say that someone wants you to work there and then the residence permit will allow you to begin working."- Alison Chino, Expat in Tübingen, Germany

Business Etiquette 

When working with Germans, it is important to be objective about decisions and day-to-day relations in the workplace. Personal contacts hold little value when it comes to career or business growth and exerting personal influences always makes a bad impression on colleagues or associates. A knock on the door before entering an office is still appreciated along with straightforward communication and dark or subdued colours for business attire. The working conditions in Germany are excellent. You can get a high profile job, generous wages, great benefits (paid sick leave, maternity and paternity leave) and state-mandated job protection. 

"Germany loves paperwork, and that can be tedious to the point of torture when you’re navigating them in your second language."- Nicolette Stewart, Expat in Frankfurt, Germany

Working Hours 

When you're living in Germany, you should be aware of the work hours in the country. A typical work week of 35 hours is a sign of the Germans' tendency to work short hours but with efficiency and productivity. White collars in Germany are some of the highest paid in the world and some of the luckiest recipients of special benefits and hefty bonuses. A 13th-month salary is commonly paid in full each December or in two instalments, with the second payout in the summer. In some cases involving high management positions, a 14th-month pay is possible. It may take expats a while to adjust to the still conservative ways of a typical German workplace, but once they find their rhythm, things will frequently fall into place.


See more

Expat Services in Germany

Don't miss our Expat Services in Germany