Types of Ausbildung (Apprentenship) in Germany: Guide

Types of Ausbildung (Apprentenship) in Germany titlecard

Ausbildung or vocational training is a great way to enter a German job market with minimal investment of money and time. Such programs are intended for fresh school graduates who want to earn money immediately. International students can also participate in most Ausbildung programs, assuming they speak German. By the end of the training, you will receive a vocational qualification recognized in Europe and beyond.

There are three main types of apprenticeship (Ausbildung) in Germany, including dual, school-based, and dual studies. All of them last between 1 and 3,5 years. Some of the significant differences are that school-based training programs are usually unpaid, and graduates of dual studies receive a bachelor’s degree at the end of the program.

In this article, we explain Ausbildung types in Germany, how they differ, and what you can expect in each of them.

What types of Ausbildung exist in Germany?

There are around 320 state-recognized Ausbildung programs and over one million apprentices in Germany. The majority of them participate in dual Ausbildung as it’s the most common one.

At the same time, younger people often prefer school-based training due to the low admission age.

Generally, there are three main types of Ausbildung in Germany:

A newer type of vocational training is dual studies. Here participants attend university and obtain an undergraduate diploma. It’s not a classic apprenticeship, but we include it in the list due to the high practical relevance and remuneration during the program.

All Ausbildung types last between 1 and 4 years, depending on the program.

Dual Ausblidung literally means two types of learning, where you spend half of the program at school and another half working in the company. Dual Ausblidung is always paid, which is a significant advantage.

Some examples of school-based Ausbildung are all medical professions, including nurses, educators, speech therapists, physical therapists, machine operators, technical assistants for computer science, and others.

Here is an overview of all three types of Ausbildung, their benefits and disadvantages:
CriteriaDual AusbildungSchool based AusbildungDual studies
MethodsTheory and practice happen at regular intervals.Training takes place mainly at vocational schools. Some programs include practice. Students attend universities and work in companies in blocks. Some might study several days per week and work other days.
Duration2–3,5 years1–3 years3 years
Salary during the programYesIn some casesYes
CostsFreeIn some casesDepends on the university and company
Required academic diplomasAll acceptedAt least a graduate equivalency degree
(a basic school diploma)
General high school diploma
Application process Vie Ausbildung companyVia vocational school Via universities or companies
Benefits– High practical relevance
– You get paid
– High among of theory ensures more comprehensive knowledge– Higher salary after graduation
– Practical relevance
– Good employment opportunities
Disadvantages – Not enough time for theory, more hands-on training
– Large differences in salary prospects depending on the program
– No salary during training
– Little practical experience
– High requirements
– Time-intensive

You can also read other Ausbildung-related articles like:

Dual Ausbildung (Duale Ausbildung)

The dual Ausbildung in Germany is the most common type of Ausbildung. More than half of all apprentices in Germany participate in the dual training program. This type of Ausbildung includes theoretical phases and practical experience at a training company.

A student usually works at the company four days per week and attends school one day a week. The exact schedule depends on the program.

Unlike a university degree, you will be familiarised with all the major tasks of your occupation from the beginning. You will also have a contact person or mentor who answers all your questions.

Before making an application for dual Ausbildung, make sure you meet all requirements, e.g., have certain grades.

The training period for dual Ausbildung can last between 2 and 3,5 years. Depending on your grades and prior work experience, the duration can be shortened.

Dual Ausbildung is always paid; the salary can range from 500 EUR to 2,000 EUR per month.

The remuneration amount increases with each training year. Of course, you will earn more after graduation than during the training.

Dual Ausbildung ends with a final examination, after which you will receive a certificate. Many students remain to work in the company they have been trained in.

Admission requirements for dual Ausbildung can range depending on the profession. However, you will need for sure:
  • School leaving certificate
  • To be of the age of 18 and older
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Communication skills

Examples of occupations that belong to dual Ausbildung:

  • Saleswoman/man
  • Bank clerk
  • Painter
  • Forester
  • Hotel manager
  • Industrial mechanic
  • Hairdresser

School-based Ausbildung (schulische Ausbildung)

Person flipping over a notebook page

Another form of Ausbildung in Germany is school-based training. Compared to dual Ausbildung, students spend more time at vocational school. Hence, it’s more theory-based education.

School-based Ausbildung is a common pathway for health, IT, and social professionals. Because of the absence of practical hours, students don’t get paid, as is the case with dual Ausbildung. Some vocational schools even charge tuition fees.

Therefore, you need to ensure you have enough financial means to support yourself in Germany.

That said, some programs in school-based Ausbildung include remuneration, such as nurses. As a future nurse, you will get paid between 900 EUR and 1,500 EUR every month.

Many school-based programs also include a phase or two of practical experience, where students complete internships.

The school-based Ausbildung can last between 1 to 3,5 years. Participants pass the final examination and receive their vocational qualifications.

Admission requirements for school-based Ausbildung in Germany:

  • At least a secondary school diploma
  • Minimal age of 16 years
  • Health test
  • Health certificate

Examples of school-based programs:

  • Nurse
  • Physical therapist
  • Welder
  • Musician
  • Foreign language correspondent

Short school-based programs

While a typical school-based Ausbildung takes several years to complete, you can also opt for some short programs that last only one year.

Therefore, you can earn a qualification within one year and start your professional life. One-year apprenticeships (Ausbildung) can be found in nursing, cosmetology, or the military.

For example, you can complete a one-year-long training to become a healthcare, and a nursing assistant lasts three years, during which you will also get paid.

After that, all doors are open, and you can either start working a job or continue with Ausbildung.

Some examples of one-year training are:

  • Geriatric nurse assistant
  • Health and nursing assistant
  • Specialist sergeant

Dual studies degree

Another type of Ausbildung, with a more high-level qualification, is a dual study program. Here, applicants must have a university entrance certificate, usually a high school diploma.

Germany has around 1,500 dual study programs, mainly in business, technology, and social.

Dual studies programs include an apprenticeship part in a company and study at a university. Students also get paid.

The main advantage of dual studies is that you will gain a significantly higher level of qualification and gain practical and theoretical knowledge at the same time.

By the end of the program, students pass a Bachelor’s exam and receive a subject-relevant Bachelor’s degree.

After your dual study program, graduates have excellent job chances thanks to their gained experiences during the training.

Examples of dual study programs are:

  • Business informatics
  • Fitness management
  • Event management

Keep in mind that both companies and universities collect applications very early on, usually a year in advance.

Most popular Ausbildung in Germany

Some Ausbildung programs are more popular than others. Every year, the German Federal Statistical Office evaluates which professional training has more trainees. Here are the Ausbildung programs and occupations with the most participants:

  • Industry and commerce: salespeople, office management
  • Skilled trades: automotive mechatronics technicians, electronics technicians, painters, and varnishers
  • Liberal professions: medical assistants, dental assistants, tax assistants
  • Public service: administrative assistants, social insurance assistants
  • Agriculture: farmers, gardeners and landscapers

Requirements for Ausbildung application

Dual and school-based Ausbildung are more flexible when it comes to entry requirements. Usually, a secondary school certificate (Realschule or Mittlere Reife) is more than enough.

However, some programs might require a high school diploma (12-13 years of school), while for dual studies, you will need to present a university entrance certificate.

In Germany, applicants are qualified for university if they have finished high school (Abitur).

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