How to Get a Job in Germany Without Speaking German?
Germany has the largest economy in Europe and the lowest unemployment rate; hence its job market must be great. But what about English-speaking jobs in a country with strong domination of the German language? If you are looking for a job in Germany and don’t speak the local language, this article is for you.
In this article, we discuss how you can get a job in Germany with no German, which includes everything from eligibility, possible visa options, requirements, and of course, where you can find the best job offer.
Getting a job in Germany with no German
Which country are you from?
When looking for a job in Germany without speaking the language, a crucial factor is your country of origin or which passport you have.
If you aren’t speaking German, finding a job will be more complicated. For native or fluent English speakers, it is possible to find English-speaking jobs.
If you’re a citizen of an EU/EEA country, you can easily move to Germany and start your job search without a university degree since you don’t need a work permit.
Depending on your goals and interests, you can choose from a wide range of jobs for unqualified workers in all sectors. Some can offer you a career, some don’t have any perspective and suit more to work occasionally.
For non-EU/EEA citizens, the process of finding a job without a university degree in Germany is not easy. Here are the main options if you fall into this category:
- International developers can apply for EU Blue Card if they demonstrate at least 5 years of relevant professional experience
- If you find a job in an area from the shortage occupations list, you can apply for a work visa in Germany
- Apply for an apprenticeship (Ausbildung) in Germany
- Get a degree in Germany, you will be able to work and study at the same time, and after graduation, apply for the EU Blue Card
To employ non-EU/EEA citizens, companies need to prove the reason why they don’t hire Germans or someone from the European Union. That’s why shortage occupations work in this case; there are simply not enough workers.
Nowadays, companies are slowly changing their approach to hiring people. Instead, they start to employ more people without a traditional degree but with experience and knowledge.
These changes open new opportunities for foreigners to come to Germany and find work. For example, your chances of getting a job without a degree are very high in the tech sector.
To find a job, you need to have experience or expertise in that field. If you can convince the employer, and he can justify his choice to hire you over a local applicant, you are likely eligible for this working visa.
Most people stay and work in Germany on the EU Blue Card. However, a university degree is compulsory. With the exception for developers, they can receive it by having 5 years of experience.
Finding a job without speaking German
So you know which visa you can apply for, but now how do you find this job without speaking German? Only 2 options are left – seek a job where German isn’t a requirement or start your own business/become a freelancer.
Working in Germany in English is possible; however, you will be limited by employment in big international companies, innovative startups, or particular jobs requiring you to speak English, e.g., teacher and tutor.
Moreover, for some professions, lack of german isn’t an issue, for example, in the IT sector, which doesn’t require much interaction with customers.
You also might be lucky to find a big international company that has a presence abroad, for example, in the USA. Also, tourism might offer a wide range of jobs for English speakers.
Overall your chances are highly dependent on the following:
- Your nationality
- Your skills and work experience
- The industry
- Your location within Germany and willingness to relocate
Country of origin
As we already spoke, people from the EU have higher priority for German employers than people from the rest of the world (especially if they don’t fall into privileged countries).
Are you a US citizen moving to Germany and looking for a job? Read this article about jobs for Americans in Germany.
Your chances of finding a job will be generally higher if you have a highly demanded skill that doesn’t require much interaction with customers and such. IT jobs might suit very well in this case.
All professions on the shortage list offer great opportunities for foreigners who are willing to work in Germany, even if they don’t speak the local language.
When looking for a job in Germany from outside always recommended to apply for a shortage profession, if you have the right skills.
The country certainly doesn’t experience a shortage of English-speaking managers, sales professionals, marketers, and other very popular professions.
Some jobs aren’t offered in English at all, such as lawyer, doctor, nurse, and generally speaking, most typical occupations.
On the other hand, foreigners without German skills can have good chances in STEM professions. For example, IT specialists, engineers, scientific researchers as well as English tutors, and college professors are most welcomed in Germany.
Also, tourism offers English speakers a wide range of jobs.
Berlin is great for expats, as it is by far the largest city in the country and probably the most international, not only socially but also professionally. It has a high concentration of start-ups and global companies, and many of them use English for daily work.
Secondly, you can have a look at Munich, yet another English-friendly city to work in Germany. It’s a great place for accounting, finance, and engineering.
Thirdly, Hamburg – the third biggest city in Germany, located on the river Elbe. The city is known as a hub of technology and industry, meaning that English will be at least a bit more commonly spoken than in other regions of Germany.
For example, you can receive a perspective job offer in manufacturing, technology, or medicine.
Finally, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt are financial cities and also have a significant amount of international workers.
Requirements for an English-speaking job in Germany
Of course, not everyone can come to Germany and receive a job without speaking German. You already possess a disadvantage in the eyes of the employer; you need to offer more than other applicants to get a job.
However, these requirements only apply to non-EU citizens. People from the EU have the same chances as Germans.
- Have a degree or vocational qualification which is recognized in Germany
- Experience in the field you apply for will be a huge advantage
Finding a job without speaking German is possible, but it’s difficult, and options are limited. Answer this question before starting your job search:
Do you have skills that no one else has? Skills that will get you hired even without German?
Probably your English is excellent if you are thinking about working in Germany. Otherwise, think once again. Also, make sure your qualifications and experience are relevant to the German labor market. Your target zone will most probably be larger international companies or multicultural startups.
Be aware of visa requirements; for non-EU/EEA citizens, there is the EU Blue Card and the German working visa available.
Nationalities of Canada, the US, Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea can come to Germany without a visa and start a job search.
After receiving a job offer, they also must apply for a residence permit with the ability to work (EU Blue Card or German working visa).
Europeans (EU/EEA) can just come to Germany and start working; no paperwork is required.
Depending on your nationality, getting a job in Germany without a degree can be easy or hard. People from the EU/EEA can take any employment without restrictions. Citizens of non-EU/EEA are eligible to receive a job if they have some experience/qualifications for this job category in Germany.
Are you an American looking for a job in Germany? Read this post.
English Speaking Jobs
So you are still motivated to find a job in Germany without German, keep on reading. Which job positions can you expect when going through your search? Below you can see all the most common vacancies offered in English in Germany.
But first, here are some tip – don’t be too picky. There aren’t many English-speaking jobs out there. For this reason, apply for every job that you are eligible for, not only for your “perfect” job and company.
You can apply for many still but be invited for the interview only for a few, if invited at all. That is why you need to use any chance.
And small start-ups could be much better placed to work than well-known corporations with dozens of applicants for one position.
Note also that when you send out applications to many different positions, do not use a generic application. You should always tailor-made your application to each job based on the job requirement.
List of jobs for non-German speakers:
University degree required:
- Software Developer
- Systems Administrator
- Data Specialist
- International customer service manager/representative
- Social Media Manager
- Content Writer
- Digital Marketing
- Customer Service (International)
- English Teacher/Tutor
- College Professor/Tutor
Partly no qualifications needed:
- City Guide
- Flight Attendant
- Pet Sitting
On these websites, you can see all available English-speaking jobs in Germany:
If you are a native English speaker, you for sure have an advantage. However, be aware that millions of foreigners come to Germany and search for English-speaking job placements.
The offer is there, but it is still not enough to cover all demand. Consequently, you compete with too many people. Just keep it in mind.
In most cases, there’s no need to worry about the local language if these criteria can apply to you or your plans in Germany:
- Highly skilled professional
- Teaching English
- English teacher at universities
- Job in an International Company
However, if you want to fully integrate into your new country, and make strong friendships, you’ll need to learn the local language.
Residence permits in Germany
Not all residence permits will be issued without a German language certificate. You need to be aware of which visa is available for you as someone who doesn’t speak the language.
As a non-EU citizen, you will need to apply for it before entering Germany (see exceptions above)
1. Job seeker visa
First on our list is a Job seeker visa. As it says in the name, it allows you to come and stay in the country for a job search for up to 6 months.
By obtaining this visa, a skilled worker gets access to the German job market.
After you have found the job, it can be converted into a working residence permit within Germany. To apply for this visa, you need to have a degree or completed vocational training, as well as have some funds in the banking account to support yourself.
From 2020 holders of job-seeker visas can also work up to 10 hours per week.
Below you can see the main requirements:
- Bachelor’s degree from a recognized university or vocation qualification (min. duration of 2 years)
- Sufficient funds to prove that you can stay in Germany without any financial dependency on the government*
*853 EUR per month or 5,118 EUR in total for academics and 600-700 EUR per month or 3,600-4,200 EUR for vocational specialists
- Health insurance (that takes care of your health-related expenses until you receive a Germany Work Permit)
- And other documents: CV, motivation letter.
For applicants without a degree but vocational qualifications, it’s necessary to have at least level B1 of the German language.
Processing time for a Germany Job Seeker visa takes 4 to 6 weeks but can take as long as 12 weeks.
This option is suitable only for non-EU/EEA citizens. EU citizens don’t need a visa, and people from privileged countries (the USA, etc.) can travel to Germany and stay for 90 days without a visa. Therefore, a job seeker visa isn’t really necessary.
The main requirement for this visa is higher education, but from March 2020 also qualified workers (without a degree) can apply for this.
Best chances for non-EU/EEA international professionals with a degree can be found in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-based (STEM) professions.
Last year German companies were unable to fill 337,900 STEM vacancies and more than 1.2 million open vacancies in total.
People without a degree and looking for a non-academic job should pay attention to occupations that are in great demand in Germany. These include:
- Aged care workers
- Computer scientists, programmers
The Skilled Workers Immigration Act, which came into force in March 2020, opens opportunities for non-academic foreign workers to come to German. Still, they need to have good German language skills.
Who can apply for Job Seeker Visa?
Highly-skilled professionals from non-EU/EEA countries, who can prove academic qualifications and work experience, can apply for Germany Job Seeker Visa. Nationalities of Schengen states can enter the country, start the job search, and take any employment without a visa.
Read the detailed article about how to apply for a German Job Seeker Visa.
From March 2020, also people with vocational training can apply for Germany Job Seeker Visa.
Foreigners from Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, or the USA will need a residence permit for work purposes.
Yet they can enter the country visa-free and stay up to 3 months and eventually apply for a permit in Germany. So there is no need for Job Seeker Visa.
2. EU Blue Card
EU Blue Card was made for highly skilled workers from non-EU/EEA countries so that they can start their careers in Germany in an easier way. Although this residence permit has restrictions for applicants, for example, the minimum annual salary must be 56,400 EUR or 43,992 EUR for shortage occupations (2022).
Other requirements are:
- German or foreign higher education qualification recognized in Germany
You can check if your diploma fits into the criteria under “foreign university degrees” on this website.
- Have either a job offer or a signed employment contract in your field of study
EU Blue Card – is a permit that allows highly skilled workers from Non-EU/EEA counties to live and work in Germany for a duration of up to 4 years.
However, sometimes it could be hard to find an employer, who is ready to pay such a high salary. The salary for shortage occupations applies to professionals like doctors, engineers, natural scientists, mathematicians, and IT specialists. Not many of these vacancies are offered in English in Germany.
Benefits of EU Blue Card
EU Blue Card was inspired by Green Card from the USA, but in my opinion, it’s much better and more perspective for appliers. Here are some exceptional advantages of the EU Blue Card:
- Equal work and salary conditions for national citizens
- Free movement throughout the EU
- Social rights, including education, economic, cultural, human, health rights,
- Your family can move with you
- Rights on permanent residency
Furthermore, after 33 Months of residence holder could receive a permanent residence permit. It does not have a limitation on the duration of stay.
If you can prove German language skills (B1) earlier, then a settlement permit can be obtained already after 21 months. Read more about a Permanent Residence Permit in Germany.
Also, EU Blue Card holders are allowed to go back to their home countries or other non-EU states for a maximum of 12 consecutive months without losing the EU Blue Card ownership.
3. Residence permit for work – Aufenthaltserlaubnis
The alternative to the EU Blue Card is a regular residence permit with permission to work. You might want to choose this option if your annual salary isn’t high enough for the EU-Blue Card.
In most cases, the employer will be your sponsor so that you can apply for a German Employment Visa. You can get the Permanent Residence Permit after 4 years in Germany with an employment visa.
The length of this visa usually aligns with the length of your contract but can be issued for a maximum of 4 years. So, if your agreement is for two years, your visa will also be for two years.
It’s possible to extend an employment permit if your contract is extended as well or by receiving a new one.
This residence permit is usually more challenging to get than EU Blue Card if you are applying from abroad. German employers and Federal Agency for Employment will need to prove that there are no applicants from EU countries pretending for this job.
However, if the job, you apply for, belongs to the shortage list, the employer can offer the position to a non-EU national without any approval.
Also, people without a degree can apply for a working residence permit. In this case, they need to have some vocational qualifications.
Thanks to the new Immigration Law, the process of receiving a visa doesn’t involve either employer or the German Federal Agency for Employment.
The required criteria for a residence permit for work purposes include the following:
- Have an employment contract or specific job offer in Germany
- Get approval from the Federal Employment Agency
- Have an equivalent to the job offer qualifications (university degree or vocational training)
For both the EU Blue Card and the regular Residence Permit for work, applicants need to have a job offer before applying for these permits.
4. Freelance visa
Let’s look at a different approach to working in Germany. Why not just come and work independently and even be self-employed rather than spend all this time on the job search?
Freelancing will be the easiest and quickest way to make some money while living in Germany without a job. And I am not talking about German freelancers (Freiberufler); it’s two separate things.
Some classical freelance work includes content writing, copy editing, marketing/PR services or social media marketing, business consulting, graphic design, photography, web development, virtual personal assistant, and translation & interpreting.
You can work with clients from all over the world or offer your services to German companies and private clients. This way, you can still work in English, choose your clients, and let them choose you on the platforms like Upwork or Freelancer.com
This isn’t an option for everybody, but the opportunities are growing by the month; as more businesses are running online, companies embrace technology and learn to manage their teams online.
A freelance or self-employed visa has different requirements than a working visa:
- Business plan (if starting a business)
- Proof of income
- Portfolio of work
- Prior experience
- Proof of funds to independently support yourself
- Letters of intent from German companies who express an interest in contracting your services
Read more about the German Freelance visa.
Where to look for a job in Germany?
If you don’t know where to look, you won’t find it. Most of the jobs in Germany are posted in German, and some are in English, but even then, they can have proficiency in the German language as a requirement. So read job ads carefully.
On these platforms, you can see both English and German job postings.
Major job platforms where you can see both English and German job postings:
On these websites, you can see all available English-speaking jobs in Germany:
LinkedIn is one of the most popular places to look for a job and connect with the right people, the similar platform only for Germany is Xing, which works the same way as Linkedln. You could also use LinkedIn to connect with German headhunters.
- English-speaking jobs in Berlin
- English-speaking jobs in Munich
- English & International Jobs In Frankfurt
- English Jobs Düsseldorf
- English Jobs in Hamburg
Is it necessary to learn German?
Looking for English-speaking jobs in Germany was one of the most challenging things I faced in my life. Many American companies here don’t require you to read and write in German at work. Yet, if you can speak German, you would have a MUCH better chance.
As you can see from this article, it’s possible to find a job without speaking German in Germany, but does it mean that you never have to learn the local language?
Yes and no. While you can live comfortably without knowing any word in Germany, we still would advise you to learn the language. When it comes to everyday life, knowing a little German really makes a difference. So you can communicate with your colleagues, and understand the world around you.
I personally wouldn’t enjoy living in a bubble, if my plans for Germany were long-term, and I am not a digital nomad who just arrived at the next stop.
Also, the ability to communicate in German will increase your chances of getting a job and moving your career forward in Germany.
Read below some arguments why you should learn German if you are planning to live in Germany for the long term when not even forever.
Learn German online with Lingoda:
Just like most other places in the world, German people in small cities, the older generation, and business people prefer speaking their native language. Sometimes people feel uncomfortable speaking English, because of their strong accent.
A bank clerk, a lady in the bakery, a cashier at the supermarket, a policeman – they all might face some difficulties in switching the conversation to English, or it will be very awkward.
So, if you want to make Germany your home, you should consider taking some German-language courses while working here.
German for unforgettable experiences
However, keep in mind that one of the ultimate goals of working abroad is to meet and interact with a new culture very different from your own.
If you plan to simply attend classes taught in English and interact only with fellow English speakers, you limit your experience abroad.
Maybe better will be staying at home and save the effort needed to work abroad in Germany. Learning German will give you all the insides of the german way of life, local culture, and mentality.
Only through learning their language, will you deeply understand the country and people.
If you want a more in-depth experience – learning German is a must.