Shaping the technology of tomorrow

von Allwörden / DAAD

Last update: September 2017

“Made in Germany” is regarded as a seal of quality all over the world – German engineering is well respected. Career prospects are good: in Germany there are hardly any unemployed engineers. More and more women are also opting for degree courses in engineering.

The four main areas of engineering are mechanical engineering/process engineering, electrical engineering, civil engineering and architecture. More than 3,500 engineering degree courses are offered in Germany, including around 250 international Master's courses.

Interdisciplinary networking is also becoming increasingly important in the technology sector. Traditional engineering subjects are growing at German universities and universities of applied sciences together with other subject areas from the natural sciences, medicine and environmental sciences. Mechatronics is a very dynamic subject area that combines elements from mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science. It is hard to imagine everyday life without innovative mechatronic developments such as ABS systems and industrial robots.

Range of courses: Which degree course is right for me?

In mechanical engineering alone, the scope of subject areas stretches from automotive engineering to nuclear reactor technology. The range of specialised degree courses is therefore large. There is also a lot happening in electrical engineering. New courses are now offered, ranging from sound and video engineering to process automation and microsystem technology. Town and spatial planning are key subject areas within architecture degree courses and to some extent overlap with the content of civil engineering degree courses.

Those interested in an engineering degree course in Germany should carefully compare the courses offered at the universities. The options and specialisations available can vary dramatically. Universities of applied sciences place a particularly high value on a practice-oriented education. Information on the university websites can help students to find out what content best suits their own interests and ideas. Major associations, such as the Association of German Engineers (VDI) and the Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau (VDMA) [Association of German Mechanical and Plant Engineering], give an overview of the various degree profiles.

Requirements: Creativity and mathematics talent

How does the modern world work? Fascination with technology and the desire to shape technological development are the best prerequisites for an engineering degree course. Curiosity and creativity are important in all technological subject areas, as are a talent for mathematics and natural sciences, and a high level of determination. The TU9 SelfAssessment International website provides orientation. It provides advice from leading technical universities in Germany and is directed at international students who are interested in studying subjects in the fields of technology and the natural sciences in Germany. The free test makes it easier for prospective students to assess their own abilities and make a decision on the subject to study.

Women as engineers

“Technology is missing something without women!” says Sylvia Kegel, Chairwoman of the deutscher ingenieurinnenbund e.V. (dib) [German Association of Female Engineers]. The dib network campaigns for women in technical jobs and demonstrates the opportunities and career paths open to them in both Germany and all over the world. Engineering is traditionally a male domain, but things are changing. The proportion of female engineers in Germany has increased by 3% to at least 18% since 2005. The number of women employed as engineers was 50% higher in 2014 than nine years before. Women often decide for comparatively less technology-oriented degree courses, such as environmental engineering, medical technology or new mobility and communication technologies. “They choose engineering because they want to drive the development of human, social and environmentally friendly technologies,” observes Anna Biermann, who holds a Diplom degree in engineering and heads the “Women in Engineering” working group at the Association of German Engineers (VDI). “That’s good,” she says, “because to save the world you have to know something about engineering.”

Career prospects: The transition to greener energy sources is driving the job market

The career prospects for graduates from engineering degree courses are very good: demand in Germany has been increased unabated for years. The unemployment rate is under two percent, even though the number of students has almost doubled since the turn of the century. The automotive sector remains a key industry and is particularly popular as a first job. A continued building boom and redevelopments as part of a transition to greener energy sources is driving the demand for civil engineers and graduates from the fields of power engineering and electrical engineering.

However, first-year students should not make their decision on a subject too dependent on current trends on the job market, as economic conditions can change during the course of the study. It should not be forgotten that the requirements of an engineering degree course are high. Personal abilities and motivation therefore play a particularly large role.

Dual study programmes in Germany

Dual study programmes allow those studying technology-related subjects to get into professional practice quickly. It combines an apprenticeship within a company with a degree course at a university. This makes it possible for students to put specialist theoretical knowledge into practice. Another advantage is that students earn their own money from the very start. Here you find more information on dual study programmes.