Degree and certificate
You can normally find a good job in Germany if you have a degree or vocational training. You need to have completed your vocational training. And you need a certificate. Do you have certificates from your native country? Have them translated and authenticated.
Vocational training – the process
You need a minimum of a leaving certificate from the Hauptschule to qualify for vocational training. Without this certificate it is very difficult to secure a vocational training place. In Germany there is a dual system for most professions in which vocational training is offered. You learn the profession through practical experience in a company. And you go to a business school. Here you learn the theoretical principles for that profession. And you also have a few general subjects such as German, politics or sports.
You do the practical training in the company. You work for 3 or 4 days a week in the company and attend the business school for 8 to 12 hours a week. Or you spend a few weeks in the company and a few weeks at the business school. You can do vocational training in many companies, and almost all professional areas. Finding a place on a vocational training course is just like finding a job. You also have to write an application (see: „Finding work“). You are paid some money during your vocational training in a company.
Vocational training - duration
Vocational training usually lasts 2 or 3 years. But training is also available in professions you can learn more quickly, for instance childcare, caring for the elderly, catering or cosmetics. Find out from the employment agency in your town or city.
If you have the Abitur qualification you can study at a university. If you have the Fachabitur you can go to a technical college (Fachhochschule; FH). A degree at a technical college is usually more practically-orientated than at a normal university. Students in higher education in Germany (uni and FH) must have a very good command of German. If German is not your native language, you need evidence of your proficiency in German. You usually need the “Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang” (German Language Examination for University Admission; DSH) or TestDaF (Language Examination for German as a Foreign Language).
In some federal states you have to pay to do a degree course, in others not. Information on this is available from studieren.de. The tuition fees vary. You pay between 150 € and 700 € per semester (6 months). For a Bachelor’s degree you need 6 to 8 semesters. After a further 2 to 4 semesters you can do a Master’s degree.
Every town/city has a careers advice centre (BIZ). You can find the BIZ through the employment agency in your town. The staff here can advise you on the subjects of vocational training, degree courses and further/higher education.
Frequently asked questions
Where can I do vocational training?
Many companies train apprentices. Think about what you want to do later. Then look for a vocational training place. If you are not sure, do a work experience placement before you start your vocational training.
Make it Germany – gefragte Berufe in Deutschland
When can I do vocational training?
Usually vocational training starts in August or September. So look for a vocational training place well in advance.
Do I have to go to business school?
Yes, that’s part of the training. If you do not attend classes at the business school on a regular basis, you will not receive your vocational training qualification.
Is financial support available for degree studies?
Many students can apply for BAföG. You borrow money as you would with a loan. After your degree you have to pay the money back but without interest. And there is also the Bildungskredit (education loan). You can find out further information about the BAföG and Bildungskredit student loans from the
Federal Ministry of education and Research.
How can I have my qualifications recognised?
In Germany, many professions (e.g. doctors or teachers) can only be practised with specific qualifications. Have you completed vocational training or do you possess a degree? Then your documents must be checked for recognition. If your documents are recognised in Germany, you will find it much easier to get a work permit.
Do you need help with recognition of qualifications? Then please consult the information portal "Recognition in Germany". There you can find a hotline to call: +49 30-1815-1111
Recognition in Germany
BQ-Portal: Information about foreign professional qualifications