How to Become a Nurse: Requirements to Study Nursing in Germany

Are you interested in becoming a nurse in Germany? This country has one of the best healthcare in the world, so good choice. However, everyone willing to become a practicing nurse must have a corresponding qualification.

In Germany, you can get a nursing certification by completing a vocational school or university. Both vocational school or university programs last for 3 years and include several months of internships, where students work at hospitals.

Nursing is one of the most popular professions in Germany. The interest in becoming a nurse is growing together with its salary. In this article, we have summarized the most relevant information about how to become a nurse in Germany and all requirements you will need to meet.

Related: “How to work as a nurse in Germany”

Requirements to study nursing at a university in Germany

Here are the requirements to enter a German university for a nursing degree:

  • University entry qualification A level (Matura) or
    • Preparation course with additional qualification
  • Sufficient German language level – at least B2
  • Financial proof of 10,000 EUR or
    • employment contract with a salary above 900 EUR
  • Entrance examination
  • After approval is required
  • Good health and mental condition
  • Proof of current vaccination status
  • Criminal record (from home country or Germany)
  • Relevant professional qualifications, if applicable
  • Trustworthiness and responsibility

If you are coming to Germany from abroad to study nursing, you will need to apply for a student visa in your home country. An essential aspect of this is financial security. Therefore, you must prove at least 10,000 EUR in your bank account.

Also, don’t forget to consider the tuition fee; you will also need to pay it. It will depend on the university you apply to. Usually, costs range between 120 EUR – 300 EUR per semester.

After you have considered every aspect up to this point, the next step to studying nursing in Germany will be to send your application to the university of your choice.

It’s recommended to send your documents as soon as the application procedure is open, so you will have enough time to prepare your visa. You can do it simply by emailing it to your university or through the admission portal www.uni-assist.de. 

For your visa application as well as for future stay you will need a German health insurance, check out the best ones in this post.

Working as a Nurse in Germany: Overview

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A bit of my background: In the past, I attended the Child Nurse Vocational training in Germany and did a practical part in the hospital; however, I left after four months. It was an entirely right decision to make since the job isn’t for me, but still, I want to share with you the information I know and hope it is helpful for your journey to becoming a nurse in Germany.

Becoming a nurse is a very popular destiny for many people in Germany, despite their gender. Nevertheless, many women and men have a beautiful and unrealistic image of a nurse’s job and overlook the fact that the job is often stressful and exhausting in practice.

If you are interested in becoming a nurse and fulfill the requirements, you need to know the main nursing duties:

  • Accompany and care for patients
  • Treat the elderly and sick according to doctor’s instructions
  • Plan care measures, notice and document them
  • Serve as a contact person for relatives, doctors, and therapists

The area of responsibility of the certified nurse includes caring for sick people of all ages with physical and mental illnesses, people with special needs, or seriously ill and dying people. In addition, they provide prevention, health promotion, and health advice.

Besides general tasks, you will face quite a lot of bureaucracy. Everything must be accurately documented – every change, every tablet.

Computer work often takes up to three hours of a nurse’s working day. Consequently, this leaves less time for direct contact with patients.

Completing an internship is very recommended, so future nurses at least will see a complete picture of the job.

University or Vocational Training in Germany?

There are two main ways to become a nurse in Germany:

  • University degree (3 years)
  • Vocational training (3 years)

Here are the main differences, requirements, advantages, and disadvantages.

University

In many other countries, completing a university degree is a classical way to become a nurse. However, in Germany, this system is still new; only in the last 10 years have nursing degree programs started to pop up in various universities across the country.

Usually, they are a part of (Dual) cooperation with the hospitals and clinics, so students study and work part-time.

The program lasts for 3 or 4 years. Graduates finish with a Bachelor of Science in Health + professional qualification in health and nursing or Bachelor of Science in Nursing + Diploma in health and nursing.

Although both a Bachelor’s degree and vocational nursing training allow you to work as a nurse, a university degree will offer more opportunities for your future career.

And most importantly, graduates will climb a career ladder faster than training nurses. The latter usually will need a significant amount of experience to get a promotion.

University graduates can take up more responsible and administrative jobs, so they don’t necessarily need to work as practicing nurses.

Another popular path after finishing a university program is to become a nurse teacher at vocational schools. Many combine their nurse job at the hospital with teaching position.

Further education is also possible: those with a bachelor’s in nursing can apply for various Master’s programs to fast forward their knowledge and career.

In Germany, a qualified nursing graduate is guaranteed a job once they finish the program.

What will you learn at the university?

The courses at the university are adapted to international standards. They include not only nursing aspects but also Psychology, Health Sciences, Social and Human Sciences, and a comprehensive understanding of health and illness.

To be able to communicate with patients in the best possible way, consulting techniques are taught, conversation guidance, but also the crucial area of the organization as well as law and ethics.

In the end, the degree must give you all that nurses need to care for and treat sick people optimally. The training is comprehensive and prepares for higher job positions with more responsibility.

The university course covers all of the skills taught under the vocational training program and includes more complex needs of patients.

The study at the university include:

  • General medical basics
  • Basics of nursing
  • Theories and concepts in professional care
  • Profession, law, and economy
  • Scientific work
  • Social communication skills and self competences
  • Pathology and diagnostics
  • Health sciences
  • Special health and nursing care

In addition to the theoretical courses at university, a big focus is placed on the practical part. The length depends on the university; on average, about half of the study program will be dedicated to practical experience (internships).

It’s the perfect way for students to gain an insight into working life, implement knowledge and gain qualifications and competencies.

Everyone must complete the theoretical and practical part of the degree to graduate from university.

In the practical part, students go through classic nursing fields such as long-term care, acute care, or mobile care. In general, they complete internships in all areas of care, for example, in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, in-home nursing, or long-term care houses.

Vocational Training

What is a Vocational Training for Nursing?

Vocational training (Ausbildung) also known as the nursing apprenticeship, is the most common way to become a nurse in Germany. The program was made for people who are interested in pursuing a nurse career in Germany but don’t have the required prior education.

The training takes place at a nursing school, which has the necessary state recognition. The program lasts for three years and ends with the state examination.

After successfully passing the exam, students qualify as registered nurses, which enables them to start working immediately.

The training as a nurse is organized in schools, with the students later attached to the various hospitals and departments where they gather practical experience. During the three-year training, 2,100 hours must be invested in theory and 2,500 hours in practice.

Notice that the same as the university practical experience is obligatory while taking vocational training!

In both cases, while studying at university and completing the vocational training students receive a monthly salary, the amount depending on organization and year of education (see more details down below).

The content of the training is tightly organized and structured. It includes not only courses on health and nursing care, but nursing and health sciences, as well as scientific and medical basics, development of nursing – are relevant knowledge from the humanities and social sciences.

The training prozess is usually divided into six-week blocks, sometimes longer. Especially in the first year, students learn a lot of theory. It’s essential for future internships.

The practical lessons at vocational schools include the following subjects:

  • Body care
  • Prevention
  • General Wound Care
  • Administration of medication

As a part of the internships, students will need to work in all departments:

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics
  • General Internal Medicine
  • Geriatric
  • Obstetrics (women doctor)
  • Neurology
  • Pediatrics
  • Psychiatric
  • Maternity and newborn care
  • Ambulatory care

So after completing vocational training, they become general professionals and are able to work in all areas of medical care.

Nursing has a high demand in developed countries and is considered to be one of the most demanded jobs at the moment. Germany opened its door to non-European applicants a long time ago, so they could come to pursue vocational training and work afterward.

The advantages of attending either university or vocational school and becoming a nurse in Germany are :

  1. Financial independence – Individuals don’t have to depend on their parents for their living expenses or education. They earn enough to support themselves.
  2. Career opportunities – A straightforward way to get a job after completing the training or university.
  3. Practical and theoretical training – Both programs cover practical and theoretical parts, which helps nurses to have a wider understanding of the role and helps in their professional growth.

Want to get a job in Germany? Start learning German today with the biggest online platform for languages – Lingoda.

But there are also some disadvantages:

  1. High intensity – Studies and vocational training are loaded with exams and tasks.
  2. Hard work – Especially during the internships, hard, dirty, or noncompetence required work often deligated to the young nurses.
  3. Shift work – Even during the internships, you will have to work in shifts most of the time, however, this usually doesn’t include many night shifts.

Read more about vocational training (Ausbildung) in Germany in these articles: What is Ausbildung? and Vocational training for foreigners in Germany.

Requirements for a Nursing Vocational School

  • Sufficient German at least B2 level
  • A school-leaving qualification which is equivalent to the German
  • The minimum age is 17 years old, and successful completion of 10 school levels or
    • 18 years and corresponding additional education
  • Physical and mental health and fitness
  • Trustworthiness and responsibility

Whether you want to study at a university or vocational school applicants, need to bring several key skills to the job. They need to be diligent, emphatic, responsible, emotionally stable, and in good physical shape in order to meet the wide range of tasks, they will be faced with.

To apply for the vocational school, you will need to reach hospitals because they usually post job ads and hire for this position. Each such a hospital has a vocational school where you will have a theoretical part.

Therefore, you will be employed in this hospital and its partners during the practical part.

After you send the application, CV, and cover letter to the potential school, you will generally be invited for an interview, sometimes by telephone. 

Usually, you will hear from them in a couple of days or weeks. They will inform you if you are accepted for vocational training or not. You should hurry up to apply for an apprenticeship visa if the response is positive.

You can either do it from your home country or already in Germany. Logically, in Germany, this process will be way easier and faster, and you can start working and attending school within a couple of days.

For an exact list of documents, check the website of your local immigration office or the German embassy in your home country.

Which Career Opportunities Can You Expect?

There are so many opportunities with a nursing degree or vocational training that it’s hard to list them all. The most important factor is by far your specialization.

Since the german medicine industry is very diverse and specialized, most nurses choose one direction and work there all life.

In general, there are the following specializations to choose from:

  • regular nurses
  • geriatric (gerontological nurse)
  • pediatric (child nurse)
  1. The first category is for general nurses working with adults in different departments.
  2. The second is a type of nurse that helps care for aging and elderly individuals. They can complete special training that helps them better understand the special needs of many older adults.
  3. The last type is children’s nurse; they care for sick, injured, or disabled children, young people, and infants.

Usually, when you apply for university or vocational training, you can already choose your direction. In apprenticeship, you can also decide on the 3rd year of training because the first two years will usually provide you with general knowledge.

In addition to the standard three years of education, nurses can take additional courses to specialize in the following fields:

  • Anesthesia and intensive care
  • Operations and endoscopy service
  • Oncology
  • Clinical geriatrics
  • Rehabilitation and long-term care
  • Palliative and hospice care
  • Hygiene
  • Nephrology
  • Psychiatric care

Potential employers for nurses are hospitals and nursing homes, but also, depending on the type of training completed, ambulatory care, residential homes for the elderly, home care, children’s hospitals, and many more.

Some popular places for work as a nurse are:

  • Specialist practices
  • Health centers
  • Older people’s homes and nursing homes
  • Dormitories for people with disabilities
  • Outpatient social services
  • Insurance companies

How Much Do Nurses Earn in Germany?

In Germany, the average salary for nurses is between 2,500 EUR – 2,800 EUR per month.

Yet, when I googled this question, I found astonishing information about salaries in nursing. The Salaryexplorer states that the lowest salary among nurses is 6,280 EUR, which is insane. This salary might earn a CEO or a leading engineer, but not a nurse.

Related: “How much nurses earn in Germany?”

So don’t trust all the information out there. The real salary is between 1,000 – 1,200 EUR during the vocational training and 2,500 EUR while working as a qualified nurse full time.

The best and most trustworthy source to check the salary of a particular profession in Germany is Gehalt.de.

There you can even calculate the exact amount which finally lands in your bank account (brutto/netto). Usually, other resources share only the gross salary.

The tool also compares your salary with other nurses in different departments/hospitals. Here are more exact numbers on paycheck during the vocational training: in the 1st year, you will earn about 1,100 EUR, in the 2nd year about 1,200 EUR, and the 3rd year about 1,300 EUR.

The amount varies slightly from one state to another. Be aware that is it the gross salary, without the tax, it will be around 200-300 EUR less.

Want to get a job in Germany? Start learning German today with the biggest online platform for languages – Lingoda.

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Anna

Anna is an enthusiastic expatriate with experience of living in Germany, Austria and Greece. She shares her passion for living abroad on this website.

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