What Is Ausbildung in Germany?

Person punching money on the cafe counter

Ausbildung, also known as vocational training or apprenticeship, is a profession-related education leading you toward a specific job. Germany has more than 300 vocational occupations; for each, you can find an Ausbildung program. Every program has different requirements, but it’s possible to find training with any educational background.

In Germany, vocational training (apprenticeship) is called Ausbildung, a dual training program for non-academic professions. Participants gain theoretical and practical knowledge for their professional activity. At the same time, they receive a monthly salary during the entire program.

If you aren’t looking for a degree and a sedentary job, this program will be the right choice for you. Moreover, you don’t need to finance your education; students will get paid! Read all about Ausbildung (vocational training) in Germany in this article.

Ausbildung in Germany: all you need to know

Doctors looking at a patient's brain scan on the computer monitor

Ausbildung is a dual professional training, a combination of theory and practice. It is a common way to receive a qualification in Germany without attending a university; however, jobs are usually trade and craft-orientated.

Typical professions include nurses, bakers, merchants, electricians, ambulance workers, doctor assistants, plumbers, masons, painters, and hairdressers, as well as jobs in gastronomy and hotel personnel.

But often, you will find an Ausbildung profession in almost all fields and industries.

Nevertheless, Ausbildung occupations are paid less than academics and have limited responsibilities.

However, an increase in both is possible with experience and further training. Graduates have great job opportunities as vocational professions are in high demand in Germany.

During the Ausbildung, students study at vocational schools and work in the company. The time load is divided as follows: 50%-70% of the time they spend at work and rest at school. Participants receive a salary the entire time, including time in school and work.

Therefore, it is a common path for people with fewer years of school who don’t want to study at university and would instead work and earn money right after school.

By the end of the program, students pass the exam and receive a certificate that allows them to work only in the concrete occupation they were trained for.

This certificate is also recognized in many other countries, including the EU/EEA states so that Germany won’t limit you.

Since graduates are only allowed to complete tasks in their area of expertise, they need to complete further training and pass additional exams to expand these.

One fact you need to remember is that Ausbildung won’t serve you as a ticket to the university; one needs to have Abitur (12-13 years of school) to attend a high-degree institution.

Some foreigners have misconceptions about Ausbilding in Germany that they can study after, but it’s wrong.

The goal of Ausbildung

The main objectives of Ausbildung in Germany are:

  • to provide a broad vocational education
  • to provide professional skills and knowledge which are required for a professional activity
  • to obtain the necessary professional experience

Types of Ausbildung in Germany

Woman walking into an ongoing lecture

Ausbildung in Germany can be of two types: dual (duale) and educational (schulische). The first one is much more common than the second.

Dual Ausbildung also provides students with a salary and a lot of hands-on practical experience when educational programs don’t always compensate participants and are more focused on the theoretical part.

Students of dual Ausbildung spend 3-4 days a week at work and 1-2 days in professional school. A block system is also possible when they visit a school for some months and some months spent at work.

Although educational programs are more theoretical, some also include practical work in companies or organizations. If the chosen occupation has practice, trainees will attend school and work in blocks, for example, 3 months of school and 2 months of internships.

This allows students to fully focus on one activity at a time, whether it’s studies or work.

Some examples of dual Ausbildung will be training to become a salesperson, mechatronic technician, clerk, industrial clerk, etc.

Occupations that logically should include more practice are usually dual, and more theoretical ones are educational.

However, educational Ausbildung is also possible in technology, foreign languages, health and fitness, design, etc.

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

The second type of Ausbildung requires practical experience in the fields you want to apply for, but only for some occupations.

Both Ausbildung variations last between 1 and 4 years, depending on the program. In most cases, a student receives a salary for the entire time; the salary also ranges widely from occupation to occupation.

Upon completion, participants can continue to work as experts in the company in Germany, obtain further qualifications (e.g., master craftsman, study at university), become self-employed, or return to their home country.

Ausbildung in other countries

Ausbildung isn’t known worldwide. It’s quite a unique program and exists only in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland in the same form. This educational path is way more popular in Germany than in other countries.

However, similar versions of German Ausbildung are available in other European countries, including France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Luxemburg, the Czech Republic, and Poland.

Moreover, the graduates from these countries can work in Germany too, as certificates are easily recognized.

There might be significant differences in length, salary, structure, and program content in each of these countries.

Who can do Ausbildung in Germany?

After changes in Germany’s immigration law in March 2020, people from non-EU/EEA countries have better opportunities in Germany if they have vocational qualifications or want to complete vocational training (Ausbildung). 

Foreigners from all countries in the world can start vocational training in Germany. Graduates have excellent career opportunities in Germany based on the current legislation: after the vocational training, foreigners can stay in Germany to work in this profession.

After two years of work, they can receive a permanent residency in Germany.

Move to Germany as a qualified worker

Firstly, if you already have qualifications that can be recognized in Germany as vocational, you can move to Germany for work.

Previously, this was only possible for people with a high degree diploma which is recognized in Germany. 

The reason for this is the shortage of skilled workers in the country. There are plenty of highly educated people who can do academic work and very few qualified workers. 

All occupations have chances in Germany

The second change is that the shortage list doesn’t restrict you. You don’t need approval from the employment agency (Agentur für Arbeit). Hence, you can apply for any occupation you are qualified for and obtain a visa.

Come to Germany and look for a job

The third charge was made in the Job Seeker visa: now, holders of lower-tier qualifications (equal to vocational training) from non-EU/EEA countries can apply for this visa to seek employment in Germany. Before, this opportunity was only available to university graduates. 

Come to Germany and find your Ausbildung place

And lastly, if you want to come to Germany to find a place for Ausbildung, you can do it! No more months-long searches for a place and Skype interviews; get to know your future employer and school personally. Furthermore, you can also work up to 10 hours per week during this time. 

Requirements for an apprenticeship seeking visa:

However, if you are already in Germany, providing proof of German language proficiency is not necessary. It is not a requirement for the Ausbildung program.

What about Ausbildung in English? Does it exist? Read in this article.

After successfully finding a spot in a professional school, you can apply for a visa for Ausbildung from Germany.

Read more on Vocational training for foreigners.

Will you get paid during the Ausbildung?

Hairstylist fixing a customer's hair

A student receives a salary during most Ausbildung programs (vocational training); however, some don’t get paid at all.

It’s only typical for educational Ausbildung, such as physiotherapists, educators, fitness trainers, and other educational and medical professionals (nurses are the exception).

If you choose these programs to be prepared to finance your life on your own, Ausbildung is free itself.

Salary during vocational training

The salary strongly ranges between the professions. On average, a trainee earns around 908 EUR gross, which is undoubtedly not bad. However, some programs pay only 500 EUR-600 EUR per month. 

The training allowance depends on the occupation, federal state, and employer. In addition, many companies offer their trainees some benefits, such as free transportation tickets, food, discounts, and others.

However, if you depend on the Ausbildung salary, check carefully. 500 EUR won’t be enough to live in Germany. For example, a hairdresser earns only between 340 EUR and 600 EUR per month.

Engineering trainees and nurses earn 1,088 EUR gross on average. The salary you receive as a trainee increases with each year of training you complete. But part of your wage will be deducted for social security contributions and partly for income tax. 

What programs pay the best? Read here.

Salary after the vocational training

After completing your program, you will be fully qualified and eligible to work in your profession and earn a good amount of money. 

The average starting salary after the Ausbildung is around 2,000 EUR. The amount is growing with time, and obtained further training. Salary very much depends on the occupation; nurses start at 2,500 EUR and young chefs in the kitchen at 1,600 EUR.

Below you can see the average salaries for the best-paid Ausbildung occupations when working full-time:
  • 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
  • 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

If you already have vocational qualifications

Since 1 April 2012, it has become easier to recognize foreign (non-EU/EEA) vocational certificates in Germany. Therefore, if you have already finished the training, you theoretically can work in Germany in the same or similar occupation.

Moreover, qualifications obtained in the EU/EEA are automatically recognized in Germany, and to start working, candidates must go through a small bureaucratic process.

Although, the potential employee will most likely be required to have some level of German. Ausbildung in Germany taught in the German language, with some exceptions.

Moreover, the work environment for trade people is less international than for academics and requires you to work with Germans.

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