Germany attracts many foreigners who aiming to find a job there, Americans aren’t an exception. It’s not surprising since German economy is 4 biggest in the world and many companies operate internationally.
US citizens don’t enjoy the privileges of EU/EEA nations, so the process of getting a job can take more effort and time. In this article, you will find all you need to know about employment in Germany as an American.
Your chances of getting a job in Germany are high if you possess some relevant for the country skills and qualifications, most commonly in IT, Engineering, Health and research fields. American citizens belong to so-called privileged states, they may enter Germany visa-free for 3 months and apply for a residence permit afterward.
Nowadays 120,000 American citizens are living and working all over Germany. Most of them reside in big cities like Berlin, Munchen, and Frankfurt. Want to be one of them? This article will help you to understand how to get a job in Germany too and move there afterward.
All You Need to Know Before Coming to Germany
Germany welcomes migrants already for many years, millions of Europeans and Non-Europeans individuals head to this country to find a better future. Most of them from EU/EEA countries who can work without visa and permission in Germany.
As an American citizen, you need to have something to offer company so they will hire you instead of other low hanging fruits.
Luckily, people from the USA together with Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand and Korea have the opportunity to work in Germany without big difficulties. Since the process is much easier in comparison to other Non-EU/EEA citizens.
Americans can take any kind of employment if they have a job offer and the federal employment agency has agreed. Even the recognition of professional qualifications is only required if they want to work in a regulated profession (for example, as a doctor, nurse, nursery school teacher or lawyer).
Factors for the Employment in Germany
Your future employment in Germany depends on many factors, below you can see some most important:
Your Experience and Expertise
Logically the more you have relevant experience for the job you are aiming to get the better chances you will be hired. German employers have lots of potential workers from the EU, coming each year for a job search.
Your unfair advantage is your level of English, but without the professionalism and experience, it won’t bring you far.
English speaking jobs in Germany are in high demand because there are plenty of well-educated international jobseekers seeking work in Germany who don’t (yet) speak fluent German. Gain some experience so you can beat the competition.
The Seniority Of Your Position
This is probably the most critical factor. If your potential role in the company is senior, less important will be your country of origin and the more job offers you will receive. Good leaders are gold today, particularly with an international background and different working approaches. Especially in multinational, foreign-owned companies.
The Industry You Apply for
Some industries working more internationally, some only within Germany or DACH (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) region. To work there you will need to speak fluently german.
IT sector is mostly run internationally, on the other hand, if you are a banker and want to work in a bank or any other place in a predominantly customer-facing role you must speak german as well. Talking from my experience german companies will less likely to hire someone from abroad in such a position.
The Size Of The Company
Larger international companies have more employers from abroad and in fact, many of them have branches in the USA. Consequently, they will be more interested to have American workers, since it is an advantage for them.
If you are a college professor, business schools would be something you should consider to work in, compared to traditional universities with strong engineering or medical teaching.
However, there are many small start-ups hiring people from abroad, they have different approaches to work and want to be international right from the start.
My first job in Germany was in a multicultural startup with small branches in handfull other countries.Russianvagabond
Legal Side of Employment in Germany
Here you will find legal information about your employment in Germany depending on the purpose and length of stay.
If you are coming to Germany in terms of your employment in-home or other country you don’t need a visa or work permit. These special groups of US citizens can to enter Germany without a visa and allowed to work within the country:
- Business Travellers
- Internal Training
However, stay is limited and should not exceed 90 days within 180 days for executives and business travelers or 12 months for in-house training.
If the stay lasts longer, a residence permit with the purpose of employment must be issued before the start of working activity. It can be done after arrival but as soon as possible since the process can take a few months. There are two ways to make it either with or without the approval of the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit).
The residence permit can be issued without the approval of the Federal Employment Agency for the following US citizens:
- Senior executives and specialists
- Blue Card is for graduates of German Universities or recognized foreign University degree
All other cases need to receive approval of the Federal Employment Agency first, which can take some time and nerves. The following group is most common for this category and the most successful one:
- Blue Card for graduates of German universities or with recognized foreign university degrees in shortage occupations
- Graduates of German universities
- International Exchange Of Personnel
- Employment of privileged nationals, especially Americans
The bad news that general US nationals fall into groups who need the approval of the Federal Employment Agency before they start working. The good news is the success rate is high that they get permission to work in Germany.
Types of Residence Permits for U.S Citizens
As we said before US citizens in possession of a valid US passport do not need a visa for airport transit, tourist or business trips for stays up to 90 days. All persons who wish to stay in Germany for more than 90 days are required to obtain a residence permit for the purpose of work.
American citizens may apply for their Residence Permit after entering Germany in the immigration office in the city where they want to live or before their arrival at the German Embassy in Washington or a German Consulate (currently located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York or San Francisco). There are two different kinds of residence permits available:
- German Temporary Residence Permit
- German EU Blue Card
German Temporary Residence Permit
The standard temporary residence permit allows foreign nationals to move to Germany for a limited period of time. This period of stay can be extended and visa can be changed to a permanent residence permit or EU Blue Card. The standard residence permit is granted for these reasons:
- Working in Germany
- Attending training courses in Germany
- Family reunion
- Former Germans who want to return to Germany
German EU Blue Card
EU Blue Card was made for high skilled non-EU/EEA workers, so they can start their career in Germany in an easier way. Although this residence permit has restrictions for applicants, for example, the minimum annual salary must be 55,200 EUR and 43,056 EUR for shortage occupations.
Other requirements are:
- German or foreign recognized higher education qualification
- At least 5 years of work experience in the field
You must apply for one of these permits within three months of your stay in Germany and before you start working. It is unlikely that there will be problems in issuing a work permit for a US citizen. However, the procedure normally takes four to six weeks from the date of application, the EU Blue Card might take even several months.
Best German Cities to Work and Live
The German capital Berlin has a big startup and tech scene. It has the biggest number of expats in the entire country. Also known as home for big and globally recognized companies which are amongst the biggest employers in the globe.
Munich is a cultural hub and southeast city with a population of 1.5 million people. The 3rd largest city in Germany has high living standards and a great international atmosphere. Munich headquartered many companies like BMW, Siemens, and others.
With more than 530,000 people of foreign backgrounds, about 37.7% of Munich’s population consists of people from other nations. Don’t forget the biggest beer festival in the world – Oktoberfest. Which actually attracts a lot of visitors from the US.
The cost of living in Munich is higher compared to the majority of German cities. Fortunately, wages stand well above the national average thanks to a large supply of highly qualified employees.
As the 5th largest city in Germany, Frankfurt is a global hub for commerce and education. Banking is the main sector in the city with the highest buildings in Germany. It makes it the perfect place for expats seeking jobs in banking and finance.
With about 735,000 residents, it’s an ideal choice for those who prefer a smaller but vibrant city, which never sleeps.
Hamburg is the 2nd largest city in Germany. With a population of approximately 1.8 million people, it is also a popular destination for tourists from around the world.
Home to many professional sports teams, Hamburg is a large banking city, and it is a favorite among expats looking for jobs in finance. In addition to its banking industry, Hamburg boasts the 3rd largest port in Europe, making it a source of many logistics jobs.
And other: Leipzig, Dresden, Stuttgart, Cologne.
Can You Get a Job in Germany Without Work Experience?
Yes it is possible, but it very depends on which job are you looking for, your language knowledge, skills, where have you studied.
Below you can see the best opportunities for Americans who want to find a job in Germany, but don’t have work experience yet:
- Internship. It’s a great start of your career, get to know the company and people from inside. Most times emloyers offer fixed fulltime jobs after you finish the internship.
- IT Industry. Many jobs that do not require an experience if you know how to code or other skills. German IT companies 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.
Working in Germany Without Speaking German
Generally, it 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 skillset, 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.
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 hope to relocate to)
Your chances of finding a job will be generally higher if you have a highly demanded skill which 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 willing to work in Germany, even if they don’t speak the local language.
Tourism can offer Americans a wide range of jobs. As well as the IT sector, Engineering, Scientific Research. English tutors and college professors are most welcomed in Germany.
Berlin is great for expats, as it is by far the largest city in the country and probably the most international not only socially but also professionally. It has a high concentration of Start-ups and international companies and 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.
List of Jobs will suit someone who doesn’t speak german:
High 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
- Germany StartUp Jobs.com
- Berlin Top Jobs.com
As a native English speaker, you for sure have an advantage, but be aware that there are millions of foreigners come to Germany and search for English speaking job placement.
Offer is there, but it still not enough to cover all demand. Consequently, you compete with so many people. Also, most majority of the available working places are in German.