Want to move to Germany but haven’t found a job yet? No problem, there are plenty of opportunities in the economic center of Europe even if you don’t have a job offer. European and non-EU citizens can come to Germany and fulfill their goals.
It’s possible to move to Germany even if you don’t have a job. The ease of the process will depend on your nationality. EU/EEA citizens can simply travel to Germany and look for a job. Whereas non-EU/EAA citizens need to apply for a visa in advance.
Moving to Germany without a job isn’t easy, especially for people outside of the EU. It highly depends on your motivation, future plans, education, and knowledge of languages.
Can you move to Germany without a job
Germany is one of the best places for eager foreigners. Germany can offer a job almost for everyone despite their background and experience.
However, one should estimate his or her chances before making any serious decision. Do you speak German or ready to learn it? What is your educational background? What is your professional experience?
First, we need to separate European and non-European nationalities who are planning to come to Germany. The reason for this is that regulation will be significantly different for both.
- EU countries – Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.
- The European Economic Area (EEA) – Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway
You don’t need to apply for either a visa or a work permit to move to Germany. They are equal to Germans and have the same rights to stay there, work, study, and start a business.
If you are an EU/EEA citizen, you can just move to Germany without any reason and permission.
However, early or later, ALL non-EU nations will need to get a German residence permit and working permit after arrival to work in Germany.
Whether or not you can get a residence permit will depend on your qualifications and the area you want to work in.
Work in Germany
Germany has the largest economy in Europe and the fourth largest in the world. Therefore, there are plenty of jobs for foreigners with skills and qualifications, as well as for casual workers.
It’s also possible to find English-speaking jobs in Germany. However, little knowledge of German will help you a lot.
For now, there are around 2.5 million people from EU countries who are already working in Germany. They somehow made it, and so will you.
Start your job search
This information relates to EU/EEA nationals and citizens of the United States of America, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea. They can travel freely to Germany and search for work within the country.
Citizens from Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea, and the US can also come to Germany without a visa. However, they must apply for a German residence and work permit from their local foreign Authority (Ausländerbehörde).
It can be difficult for foreigners looking for jobs in Germany, especially if you are restricted to English-speaking jobs in Germany.
However, if you are well qualified with a degree or vocational qualification, have work experience, and can speak at least some German, you stand a good chance of finding a job in Germany, especially in specific sectors with German worker shortages.
Where to look for a job?
The most crucial step in this process it’s actually to find a job. Almost all jobs in Germany could be found at online job boards (Jobbörsen) or on companies’ websites.
Online job portals and company website
Maybe you already know the company you would like to work for? Many German companies publish open vacancies separately on their website. The job sections are usually called “Stellenangebote”, “Karriere” or “Vakanzen”.
Small and medium-sized companies will have their websites mostly in German, but they are an essential part of the German economy, so check out those in your field. Most big international companies will advertise in both languages English and German.
Top German companies for international workers include Adidas, Aldi, BASF, Bayer, BMW, Mercedes, Bosch, Daimler, Deutsche Bank, E.ON, Lidl, Merck, SAP, Siemens, and Volkswagen.
Most popular websites:
Other helpful resources:
For people with a high degree:
- Academics – academic and research jobs
- Jobware – management and specialist
- Staufenbiel – internships and graduate jobs
- Stepstone – includes internships and graduate positions
If you are living or you are staying temporarily in Germany, there are additional ways of looking for a job:
Newspapers: Many German newspapers publish job vacancies from all over the country in their weekend issues.
Local employment agencies (Agentur für Arbeit): The mission of employment agencies is to help people in their search for a job. You can find a local employment agency in nearly all towns and cities in Germany.
Talent profile: Take positive action yourself by publishing your resume on the internet, on business networks, on the Federal Employment Agency’s job portal, or on other job portals. Interested companies will then respond to your advertisement.
Job fairs (Job Messe): In each city, job fairs are organized regularly, often at fair halls, public places, or universities. There you will have the opportunity to make direct contact with companies.
Personnel recruitment agencies: Another alternative is to use the services of private recruitment agencies. They look for suitable jobs on your behalf. If you decide to use the assistance of a private recruitment agency, inform yourself in advance if there are any fees.
Friends and family: If some of your friends or family members already had the experience of working in Germany, they can share helpful information and essential contacts.
English speaking jobs in Germany
Working in Germany in English is possible, however, you will be limited by employment in big international companies or some English-speaking jobs, such as teacher and tutor.
Once again it strongly depends on your skill set, 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 might be lucky to find a big international company, which has a presence abroad, for example, in the USA. Also, tourism might offer a wide range of jobs for English speakers.
Read this article on jobs for Americans in Germany. There you will find useful information on English-speaking jobs.
Your situation is highly dependent on:
- Your skills and work experience
- The industry or career you hope to work in
- Where in Germany you’re living (or where you plan to relocate)
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 in the shortage list offer great opportunities for foreigners who are willing to work in Germany, even if they don’t speak the local language.
Tourism can offer English speakers a wide range of jobs, as well as IT, engineering, and scientific research. English tutors and college professors are most welcome in Germany.
Berlin is a great place for expats. It’s by far the largest city in the country and probably the most international socially and professionally. It has a high concentration of start-ups and international companies. 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. 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 here than in other regions of Germany.
You can receive a perspective job in manufacturing, technology, or medicine.
Finally, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt are financial cities and also have a significant amount of international workers.
University degree required:
- Software Developer
- Systems Administrator
- Social Media Manager
- Content writing
- Digital Marketing
- Customer Service (International)
- English Teacher/Tutor
- College Professor/Tutor
No qualifications needed:
- City Guide
- Flight Attendant
- Pet Sitting
On these websites, you can see all available English-speaking jobs in Germany:
- The Local.de
If you are a native English speaker, you certainly have an advantage, but be aware that millions of foreigners come to Germany and search for English-speaking job placements.
The offer is there, but it’s still not enough to cover all demand. Consequently, you will compete with so many people.
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
- Tutorial teaching of English subject at university
- Job in international companies
Jobs without a degree
Getting a well-paid and prospective job without a degree isn’t an easy task. German salaries are one of the highest globally, although the employer will try to save some money on poorly qualified workers.
To increase your chances get some qualifications and gain experience so that you can require a higher wage.
All of these professions don’t require a degree, but for most of them, you need qualifications, which can be completed either in Germany or your home country.
Here is the list of best-paid non-degree jobs and average starting salary:
- Dental Hygienists – 3,300 EUR
- Real Estate Agents – 3,000 EUR
- Nurse – 2,900 EUR
- Truck Driver – 2,500 EUR
- Air traffic controller – between 6,000 and 8,000 EUR
- Aircraft mechanic – 3,100 EUR
- Bank clerk – between 2,500 and 2,900 EUR
- Policeman – 3,300 EUR
- Ship mechanic – 2,700 EUR
- Biologielaborant – 2,700 EUR
- Senior caregiver – 2,640 EUR
- Mason – 2,400 EUR
- IT specialist – 2,400 EUR
- Investment fund manager – between 2,300 and 2,500 EUR
- A merchant insurance and Finance – 2,400 EUR
- Media technologist – 2,800 EUR
- Technical system planner and product designer – between 1,600 and 2,900 EUR
- Social Security Specialist – 2,000 and 2,500 EUR
- Physics laboratory technician – 2,200 EUR
- Mechatronic – between 2,000 and 2,900 EUR
- Administrative specialist – 2,000 EUR
- Undertaker – between 1,900 and 2,200 EUR
- Electronics Technician – between 1,600 and 2,000 EUR
- Civil Servant (Bundesbank) – between 1,800 and 2,200 EUR
See the full list here.
For more information, check the post about how to get a job in Germany without a degree.
Get a job in Germany without work experience
It’s possible to receive a job without a degree. But it very depends on which job you are looking for, your language knowledge, and skills, and where you have studied.
Below you can see the best opportunities for finding a job in Germany without work experience:
- Internship. It’s a great start for your career; get to know the company and people from the inside. Most times, employers offer a fixed full-time job after you finish the internship.
- IT Industry. Many jobs do not require experience if you know how to code or other skills. German IT companies are also open to hiring people from abroad.
- Service. You want to start your journey in Germany in Gastronomy or maybe tourism. Here you can easily find a job without previous experience.
- Apprenticeship (Ausbildung). Vocational training is a dual education system and another way to enter the labor market in Germany. Many Germans choose this path right after school since it’s not required experience at all. (Read below)
That’s pretty much all you need to know about your job search in Germany. Let’s move to other options, particularly for people outside of the EU/EEA.
Get a Germany Job Seeker visa
The German Job Seeker visa is a long-term residency permit, which allows you to stay in the country for up to six months and look for a job.
This visa is an initiative by the German Federal Government to encourage qualified professionals from third countries (except for the nationalities mentioned above) to enter the country, find a job, and settle to work in the long term.
Furthermore, with a Job Seeker visa, you can work in Germany for up to 10 hours a week. It can be any kind of job.
This option is suitable only for non-EU/EEA citizens. The visa enables them to enter Germany and stay for 6 months to look for a job. After the holder of the visa finds a suitable job, it can be exchanged for a working residence permit within the country.
By obtaining this visa, a skilled worker gets access to the German job market.
Best chances for non-EU/EEA international professionals can be found in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-based (STEM) professions.
Last year, German companies could not fill 337,900 STEM vacancies and more than 1.2 million open vacancies in total.
Job Seeker visa for people without an university degree
Originally, a Job Seeker visa was created for people exceptionally with a high degree, but from March 2020, also professionals with a vocational training qualification can receive this visa. It’s possible thanks Skilled Workers Immigration Act.
The main requirement is that foreign qualifications must be recognized in Germany or be equal to German. And also, a sufficient level of German language (B1) is necessary. Moreover, regulations for qualified professionals with university degrees will be more straightforward.
Before the Skilled Workers Immigration Act, you could only look for a job on a Job Seeker visa. You were not allowed to take any employment as such.
With the option for trial work to be incorporated from March 2020, Germany-based employers and foreign workers will be able to find out if they are mutually suited to each other.
A major change to be introduced by the new act is that you will also be allowed to work on a trial basis during the time spent in Germany job-hunting. This means you can work for a maximum of 10 hours per week on a job seeker visa.
With the Skilled Workers Immigration Act coming into force in March 2020, Germany will undoubtedly become more attractive for international workers from non-EU countries than ever.
You are required to meet specific eligibility parameters to apply for a Germany Job Seeker visa. These include:
- Bachelor’s Degree or higher in subjects related to STEM (from a recognized University)*
- Sufficient funds to prove that you can stay in Germany without any financial dependency on the government or any other body (853 EUR per month).
- Medical Coverage plan (that takes care of your health-related expenses until you receive a Germany Work Permit)
*from March 2020, professionals with a vocational training qualification can also apply for this kind of visa.
Processing time for a Germany Job Seeker visa is 4 to 6 weeks, but it can take as long as 12 weeks.
Which jobs are in high demand in Germany? There is a big lack of employees in these professions:
- Aged care workers
- Electrical engineers
- Computer scientists
- Software developers
- Mechatronics engineers
Read the full article about jobs in high demand in Germany in 2023.
Who can apply for Germany Job Seeker visa?
Highly skilled citizens of non-EU/EEA countries, who can prove their academic qualifications and work experience, can apply for a German Job Seeker visa. Nationalities of EU countries can enter Germany, find a job and take employment without a visa.
From March 2020, also people with vocational training can apply for Germany Job Seeker Visa. Furthermore, they don’t have to prove 5 years of work experience.
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 as well as eventually apply for a permit in Germany. So there is no need for a Job Seeker Visa.
What is next after you have found a Job?
EU Blue Card
To be able to get the EU Blue Card you must have an employment offer with at least 58,400 EUR annual gross salary. If you are a specialist in the field of engineering, science, a medical doctor, or certain other shortage occupations, the annual gross salary must be at least 45,552 EUR (2023).
The permit will allow you to stay up to 4 years. After just 33 months of working on the EU Blue Card, you can obtain a Permanent Residence Permit in Germany.
If you prove sufficient German Language level (B1) – you can get this permit just after 21 months. Read more about Permanent Residence Permit in Germany.
Germany Employment visa
In most cases the employer will be your sponsor, so you can apply for a German Employment Visa. You can get the Permanent Residence Permit after 5 years in Germany with an employment visa.
The length of this visa usually aligns with the length of your contract. 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.
Start your own business
Ready to start your own business in Germany? It is a great place to become an entrepreneur since the German economy is booming.
By opening your business, you become self-sufficient without being at the mercy of the local jobs market and without necessarily needing to speak fluent German.
When can foreigners start a business in Germany?
There are certain regulations when foreigners want to start a company in Germany. First of all, it depends on whether the person comes from the EU or non-EU/EEA countries, as there are considerable differences.
It’s also important to speak the German language to be able to complete administrative procedures when starting a business in Germany.
People who come from the EU usually have it very easy when starting a business in Germany.
They have certain freedoms that make it possible to establish a business in all EU member states.
These freedoms are:
- Freedom of settling down
belongs “to the fundamental freedom of the free movement of persons.” In principle, this gives an EU citizen the right to relocate within the EU, to settle and work in a freely chosen country.
- Freedom of trade (Gewerbefreiheit)
Is also referred to as” free entrepreneurship ” and gives you the fundamental freedom to engage in business activities. EU citizens can establish a business in any EU state if the rules and conditions of the respective country are observed.
- What also plays a role in opening a business by a foreigner from the EU:
- Level of German and English
- Business plan
- Prove of profitability, starting capital
- Reasons for starting a business
For non-EU/EEA citizens:
The drawback for non-EU/EEA is that they need a residence and work permit to be able to start a business in Germany. The main requirements are:
- A valid residence and work permit with permission for self-employment
- Trade permit
- A credible business idea
Rules are pretty tough for entrepreneurs outside of the EU. Your business idea will go through examinations. The German government will decite if a foreigner can open a company and, therefore, receive a residence permit.
The examination will prove:
- Economical or regional interest in your business
- The amount of invested capital
- If labor and education markets are affected by your business
- Sustainability of the startup
- The profitability of the startup
Keep in mind that you will most likely need to sell your product or service to the local market unless you create a location-independent online business. Before taking any step further, it’s recommended to take some legal advice from the local lawyer.
Working for yourself in Germany
There are several ways of how you can become self-employed in Germany, including:
- Freelance (Freiberufler)
- Enterprise or Tradesman (Einzelunternehmer or Gewerbe)
- Freelancer (Freiberufler)
As you know, freelancers are self-employed, independent, and offer some services, often working on several jobs for multiple clients at a time.
Freiberuf is characterized as a qualified, independent profession where you are an expert in. But not every freelancer is a Freiberufler! Life in Germany is much easier for freelancers than for business owners.
This title is reserved for specific professions in Germany such as engineers, doctors, lawyers, artists, architects, teachers, etc. Typical jobs like food delivery driver or tour guide don’t qualify as Freiberufler but as a Gewerbe. Hence, only they can be called Freiberufler.
- Tradesman (Einzelunternehmer/Gewerbe)
It’s the most common self-employment form in Germany due to its ease of registration and low costs.
When becoming a sole proprietor, an individual has unlimited liability for the debts and obligations that arise. Often online and small businesses fall into this category.
This type of self-employment is divided into the following areas:
- Publishing industry
- A home-based business
The registration of trade is done quickly and simply. Compared to freelancers, tradespeople have a few special obligations:
- They must register in the Handelsregister, the German Trade Register
- They must apply for a Gewerbeschein (trade license) and pay 20 EUR the Gewerbesteuer (trade tax)
- They will need to register the business with the tax office (Finanzamt)
- They must use double-entry bookkeeping (Bilanz)
Companies are divided into 4 primary forms:
- GmbH – Limited liability company
- KG – Limited partnership
- AG – Public limited company; Joint-stock company
- Offene Handelsgesellschaft (OHG) – General partnership
GmbH – is what you are looking for when starting a proper business in Germany. Indeed, it’s the most widely used business form across the world. GmbH is a limited liability company and is suited for small and medium-sized businesses.
Unfortunately, starting capital must be at least 25,000 EUR from which 12,500 EUR have to be deposited in a corporate bank account during the registration procedure. Meaning, to start, you need only 12,500 EUR.
The incorporation procedure is relatively simple, as the company’s shareholders have to sign the deed of formation and the articles of association. The process is performed with the assistance of a public notary in Germany.
KG – The limited partnership – to start a German limited partnership, you need a capital of 50,000 EUR, which has to be split into shares. This type of company is more suitable for small and medium-sized businesses.
A KG has two kinds of partners:
1) the general partner (Komplementär), who has an unlimited liability extending to his or her personal assets, and
2) the limited partner (Kommanditist) whose liability extends only to his or her nominal holdings in the company.
The business has to be registered with the Trade Register, and the articles of associations have to be notarized.
AG – Public limited company – also not a rare case in Germany, many big companies operate in this way. To start AG, you need a capital of 50,000 EUR and must be registered in the Register of Companies.
As an advantage for foreigners, there are no restrictions or requirements on the nationality of the shareholders.
OHG – General partnership – in order to start a general partnership in Germany, there is no need for capital. In contrast to GmbH and AG, the partners in an OHG have unlimited liability. A general partnership has to be registered with the Trade Register.
Accounting procedures are different and more straightforward than all other forms of company. Also, it’s necessary to have at least two associated partners in order to start a general partnership.
Now you have an idea about which kind of business you can start in Germany and what it will cost you.
Perhaps the biggest, and definitely the most obvious obstacle to starting a business as a newly arrived immigrant is that you won’t have access to any capital or financing from traditional lending sources. Banks and other credit institutions rarely lend money to someone with no credit history in Germany.
This shouldn’t stop you since you can loan money at your home bank or start a business that doesn’t require starting capital.
Starting a limited liabilty company in Germany isn’t as simple as it is in the UK or US. It requires a 25,000 EUR in starting capital! No wonder that the World Bank ranked Germany lower than Uzbekistan, Rwanda, and Colombia in the “ease of starting a business”.
Freelancing in Germany
Freelancing will be the easiest and quickest way to make some money while living in Germany without a job. You can also take advantage of a German Freelance visa.
Read about the differences between freelancers and self-employed in Germany.
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 choose German companies so that you can introduce yourself personally.
This isn’t an option for everybody, but the opportunities are growing every year. More and more people are working online now, and most of them are freelancers.
Besides, more companies are running their businesses online. Even Germans learn how to embrace technology and manage their teams online.
Freelancing in Germany is a good option if you are young, single, and less likely to require the safety net of the German social security system. As a freelancer, you will be responsible for your health insurance and taxes. Btw, Feather provides the best solutions for foreign freelancers in Germany.
Learning German in Germany
Au Pair is a nanny who comes from another country to Germany for one year to learn the German language and culture. It’s a very popular way to travel and learn a language on a small budget.
A host family provides you with a roof above the head, food, and an additional 260 EUR per month to travel around.
Costs for language courses are normally split half-half between the Au pair and the family. In return, Au Pair takes care of children and does light housework, in total up to 30 hours per week. It’s a good option for young females. They can apply before turning 26 years.
Volunteering – Social Year FSJ/BDF
The social year is a volunteer program for young foreign or German nationals. They can spend up to 18 months in the country by doing voluntary work in one of many public and private organizations.
The benefits are improving your German through daily life and gaining some life experience. This was my choice after the Au Pair program. It’s also the easiest and most cost-effective way to spend another year in Germany.
A social year visa requires neither funds nor accommodation. Moreover, the institution where you will work pays you a salary and sometimes accommodate you.
The maximum salary is 402 EUR plus the amount of your rent if the organization doesn’t provide accommodation.
Usual places to work are state organizations like:
- hospitals, junior sports clubs, services for disabled people, preservation of historic monuments, ambulatory services, integration houses, civil protection and disaster management, church communities, children’s homes or kindergartens
You can obtain a visa for the German language course and come to Germany with the goal of learning german full-time (otherwise, you won’t get a visa).
A German language course visa is the type of educational visa issued for foreigners willing to complete an intensive language course (minimum of 18 hours per week) lasting 3 to 12 months.
A German language course visa is valid initially for three months, possibly extending up to your course length. This visa isn’t meant to be changed into a visa for studies, so, you have to leave Germany as soon as you complete the course.
An exception will be if you find a job that fulfills the criteria for obtaining a Blue Card or a residence permit during your language course.
If you’re moving to Germany without a job and you don’t yet speak German, an intensive language course is going to expand your horizons of finding a job and help you in the long run.
B2 level German would be considered a minimum to work in a company where the official business language is German, almost every company except those major multinationals that operate in an international environment.
Study in Germany
Get enrolled at a German university
Germany became one of the favorite countries in the world for international students. Many of them also stay after graduation to work in their fields. Germany is especially interested in foreign professionals who finished a degree within the country.
A student visa can be extended after completing a University for 18 more months! That way, graduates for sure can find a job during this time. Additionally, students can work up to 20 hours per week during their studies.
The Bachelor’s program in Germany lasts 3 years and the Master’s 2 years. Both of them are free for local and international students (150-300 EUR per semester for the administrative fee applicable).
All EU and non-EU citizens can study in Germany for free. For admission, a high-school diploma is usually sufficient.
In order to fulfill student visa requirements, you will also need to prove access to around 8,700 EUR for a year of studies to cover your living costs. This can be done through a blocked banking account.
For most subjects, you can apply directly to the international office of the university. Alternatively, you can use the website www.uni-assist.de, a centralized admissions portal for international students, although not all universities use this.
You may apply for numerous courses and universities separately to increase your chances of being admitted.
At many German universities, it’s possible to apply for admission twice a year – in the winter or summer semester. In general, applications for winter enrolments need to be made by 15 July, and applications for summer enrolments by 15 January.
However, application deadlines vary between institutions, and the same institution may set different deadlines for each program – be sure to check the specific dates for your chosen course carefully.
It’s recommended to submit applications at least six weeks before the deadline to ensure you have time to submit missed documents. You should expect to receive a formal acceptance or rejection approximately one to two months after the deadline has passed.
Read more about studying at a German university
Apprenticeship (Ausbildung) in Germany
Ausbildung is theoretical and practical training in the chosen occupation, where you go to school and work simultaneously. It lasts between 2 and 3 years.
The most common jobs are various handicrafts, electrician, plumber, mason, painter or hairdresser, salesperson, etc. But often, you will find an Ausbildung profession in almost all fields and industries.
During the process, one part of your studies will be working practically at the company/factory/firm/shop wherever you applied for. Another part will be spent learning at Berufsschule (professional school).
The advantages of this type of education are that you won’t need to prove funds and will get paid while you are working and being in school. At the same time, you are getting qualified for your future job! To apply, you must have at least a B1 level of German.
The disadvantage of this program is the pay which is pretty low and may not be enough to cover your rent and living expenses. Especially if you live in a major city or the south of the country (the most expensive part).
And the last options for desperate people
- Get married
- Move to your relatives who are living in Germany
- Apply for asylum in Germany
Hope after reading this article you know that the absence of a job offer isn’t a reason not to move to Germany. There are so many opportunities, and nothing should stop you.