Career Planning


Starting a career in Germany is an exciting prospect, as the German job market has consistently stood as a stable and appealing destination for workers worldwide. Currently, your chances of finding work in Germany are quite good, especially in professions in STEM and medicine.

Skilled workers are in great demand and changes in immigration policy can make it easier for certain groups of people to come or stay here for a job. Different regulations apply whether you are from the EU or elsewhere in the world.

However, before starting your job search and career in Germany, there are quite a few issues to consider. Most importantly, unless you are seeking a job in research or IT, employers will probably expect you to be fluent in German. Below we have collected information on other things to keep in mind or check off your list to help you get started.

I have a German degree and want to work in Germany

I don’t have a German degree but want to work in Germany


I have a German degree and want to work in Germany

There are numerous resources available in Germany to assist your job search. Using the various online portals at your disposal is a great way to see what types of jobs are available. International portals you probably already know might be helpful, but you should also search online for portals that are popular in Germany, but not widely used in your home country. The job board of the Federal Employment Agency for example is such a specific portal (only in German). You can also find help through career coaching websites such as the Career Coaching Alumni Portal which also has a search engine for open job positions.

Another helpful resource is the career service office which is most likely run by your higher education institution. It can have many names – career service, career centre or career service centre – but they always help students and graduates of their higher education institution enter the workforce. They provide career guidance, seminars, company fairs, lectures, and help get into contact with employers to enhance graduates' employability.

You are most likely looking for a job directly related to your degree. You should however also keep in mind that jobs that do not directly correspond to your study subject might also be a match for you.  Also, don’t forget about small and medium-sized companies which play a decisive role in the German economy. These companies might also be easier to get in touch with and contacting them directly could lead to more opportunities. Sending a blind application to companies is also a way to get employers to notice you. If a company feels like a perfect fit but doesn’t have any open positions currently, there is no harm in sending your CV to them.

Also, don’t neglect to gain practical experience while you are studying. Your future job applications should demonstrate that your experience isn’t only in the classroom. Signing up for a summer internship in an organisation or company that is related to your studies will go a long way in rounding out your CV. Even showing that you have worked a part-time job during your studies can show an employer a lot about your work ethic.

A thorough summary of what it takes to get your career going in Germany is offered on the website “Make it in Germany” by the German government. If a research job is your preference, then have a look at the website “Research in Germany” from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

What are the legal conditions for staying in Germany?

If you are an EU resident, you are allowed to work in and move freely to other EU countries, including Germany. There are no special visas or work permits needed. However, there might be certain registration requirements. Please visit the website of the Federal Foreign Office for more details.

Residents of countries outside the EU will need a visa to stay and work in Germany. Since you completed your studies in Germany, you already have a student visa. To stay in the country while searching for a job after your studies, you must apply for a residence permit for jobseekers (go to “Staying in Germany after obtaining your degree”). It is issued for up to 18 months as a means of finding qualified employment. A qualified position usually requires a degree or vocational training. According to new regulations your position does not have to match your degree any longer to be accepted by the authorities for a work permit. Since some jobs and some residence titles are exempt from this and different time schedules apply to specific regulations, make sure to read through the current regulations thoroughly. A good overview is available at “Make it in Germany”. Part-time jobs alone will not be suitable for fulfilling the requirements. By the way, while actively searching for a qualified position, you are permitted to hold any job to meet your living expenses.

When you have found such a position you can convert your residence permit into a work permit for qualified professionals or into an EU Blue Card. Please have a closer look at the website “Make it in Germany” to find out about the differences between these residence permits and which one best fits your individual situation.

If you plan on staying in Germany, you may want to apply for a settlement permit. Among the requirements are that you have been in Germany for at least four years, can cover your costs of living, and possess sufficient knowledge of the German language (B1).

Has Germany become your permanent home? The next step, if you wish to take it, would be naturalisation. This gives you the right to vote, choose any profession you would like, and travel/live/work anywhere in the EU. A summary of the procedure can be found at “Make it in Germany”.

What is my German degree worth for a career outside of Germany?

If you are working towards a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree at a German higher education institution, it is safe to assume that these will be recognised outside of Germany. The Bologna Process ensures that Germany and all its signatories recognise each other’s Bachelor’s, Master’s and doctoral degrees. However, there are some degrees such as the Diplom or Magister which are unique to the German system, where international employers might require further information regarding comparability. Easy recognition can also depend on the subject area. For example, due to the different healthcare systems in other countries, a German medical degree might not be fully recognised internationally. It’s best to look up the required qualifications in the specific professional field you are pursuing. Countries might vary in the details.

I don’t have a German degree but want to work in Germany

For those of you who have received your degree outside of Germany and either have a job offer or want to search for work, there are different paths to begin your journey.

I have a job offer in Germany, what are the next steps?

Citizens of EU countries can work and live in Germany without any restrictions. Therefore, if you have a job offer and you are from an EU country, simply register in Germany with the local (residents' registration office) and complete all necessary paperwork.

If you are a non-EU resident and have a job offer in Germany, you will need to register for a work visa for qualified professionals. An EU Blue Card is another permit given to international academics and people with comparable qualifications. It can be more easily awarded to you if you work in a “bottleneck profession”. In Germany, this refers to job sectors where the demand for skilled workers significantly exceeds the supply and applies to e.g., medical doctors, dentists, professional service managers, etc. “Make it in Germany“ explains the differences between the visa and blue card more thoroughly. In all cases, you need to complete a recognition procedure for your degree by German authorities. Details regarding the acceptance of international professional qualifications are available on the "Recognition in Germany" portal.

To make it easier for skilled workers to immigrate to Germany, the German parliament recently passed the Skilled Immigration Act. It is important to read about all the recent developments and inform yourself about the law. A good source is the website “Make it in Germany”.

I don’t have a job offer yet – Can I search for a job while staying in Germany?

As an EU resident, you can stay in Germany and seek a job as long as you need to. Don’t forget to use the resources mentioned previously, such as online job portals.

To stay in Germany while searching for a job as a non-EU resident, you need a visa. There are several options and with the implementation of the new Skilled Immigration Act, there are many changes on the horizon for people wanting to work and search for work in Germany.

The most basic visa is the visa for jobseekers. After you are approved, you will have six months to find a job in Germany.

The visa for the recognition of foreign qualifications is useful for persons who have not obtained full recognition of their qualifications. It allows you to attend a qualification programme in Germany, for example, technical training courses, preparatory courses, or job-related German language classes. As of March 2024, this can be issued for 24 months with the possibility of an extension of up to 12 months.

Another change is that further opportunities will open up for nursing and healthcare professionals from other countries who have undergone training in Germany. They will have the opportunity to apply for a jobseeker's residence permit.

In June 2024, Germany will introduce an opportunity card for jobseekers. There are two ways to obtain this card: those with full recognition of their foreign qualifications can receive it as so-called skilled workers; others need to provide proof of their education or qualification and language skills. The card allows the recipient to stay for one year (with the possibility of an extension for up to two years if they have an offer of qualified employment but can't obtain another employment-related residence title).

If you are a citizen from a Balkan country, you might have unrestricted access to Germany’s labour market. The Western Balkans Regulation, initially scheduled to conclude at the end of 2023, will now be extended indefinitely. It only applies to non-regulated occupations.

As mentioned before, there are many changes on the horizon, so it’s best to keep yourself informed about what could affect you and your job search or employment in Germany. All information is easy to find at “Make it in Germany“.

There are also possibilities for vocational training (in German: Ausbildung) in Germany. If you are interested in that topic then please visit the website of the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training.

DAAD - Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst - German Academic Exchange Service