Working as a nurse is a dream of many, statistics show that nursing is one of the most favorable professions nowadays and especially among the female population.
Be a nurse in Germany sounds even better, you can expect a well-deserved salary, good working conditions, and a chance to live in the middle of Europe!
However, before starting your application process you need to consider can you at all work as a nurse in Germany and which steps you need to take to get there. Germany is a very organized and structured country, with hundreds when not thousands of rules and especially when it comes to the qualifications.
Your chances of working as a nurse in Germany
Today you have even better chances and a year or two before, with the time the German population is aging and so the country needs more people to take care of sick people.
Moreover, Germany experiences a big shortage in medical professions. There are just not enough nurses to cover all the demand, therefore, Germany seeks help from abroad by hiring foreign nurses from around the world.
Hospitals actively employ foreign nurses and nursing assistants, as well as doctors. Some of them even organize support for foreign nurses to bring them to Germany from abroad.
Currently, Germany has around 80,000 open vacancies for nurses and expects to have around 150,000 by 2025. So there are definitely some significant chances of receiving a nursing job in Germany.
Moreover, there are plenty of recruitment agencies who works in partnerships with hospitals, to hire and train foreign nurses for future job.
To speed up the prozess you can directly contact such an agency and they will organize almost everything from connecting you with an employer to the preparation of required documents for the visa.
Some agencies in Germany only work with particular countries such as the Philippines, Mexico, Eastern Europe, but most of the time you can find one of these organizations also in your country.
Your nationality plays a role
Your nationality, country of residence, and country where you have received your nursing degree play the most significant role in the estimation of chances to work as a nurse in Germany.
Generally speaking, all European citizens have it very easy, but others will need to put effort to get a job and come to Germany.
1. For most European countries applies:
Your degree will be recognized in Germany and if you’re entitled to reside in the country, thus most of the healthcare institutions and agencies will happily employ you.
2. Citizens of Bosnia, Serbia, Tunisia, Philippines, and Vietnam
These lucky nurses (except Vietnam*) are eligible for the government-sponsored TripleWin recruitment program for foreign nurses. The government will support you to get a nursing job in Germany, apply and receive your residence permit.
Nurses from Vietnam required to have at least 3 years of experience before applying for the program.
*Vietnamese nurses are eligible for support of other state project, which works almost the same way as Tripple Win.
3. Citizens of countries from the WHO Human Resources for Health Crisis list
Counties such as Bangladesh, Gambia, and many more on this list because of the serious shortage of health workers, therefore they need their country more.
For this reason, nationals of these counties won’t be supported by the German government, and also commercial recruitment agencies can’t legally assist them in getting employed in Germany.
However, there is still a chance, citizens of these countries just have to go through all the procedures on their own.
4. Citizens of Non-EU/EEA countries
If you don’t fall into one of the previous category, as a qualified nurse you have the opportunity in Germany. These nationals can use professional services of recruitment agencies, which will help in finding a job, documents, and other important steps.
Requirements for foreign nurses
A nursing job is one of the most regulated professions in Germany, for this reason, there are some defined requirements that have been implemented by the government. It also means inflexibility and strick rules foreign nurses will be dealing with.
You can only work in Germany as a nurse if you have a certificate about your skills which is recognized in Germany. Below I will describe the prozess of recognition but now let’s list the main requirements:
- Qualifications in Nursing
Preferably a nursing degree, if you are from a Non-EU country a university degree with at least 3 years of study is a must.
- GOETHE/TELC/OSD Certificate of German language skills at level B1 or B2
Language is also the bigger challenge for foreign nurses. After all, as a nurse, you have to take care of people – who often speak only German.
Certified nurses are also required to document their daily work in health reports for each patient. This requires good language skills. It might take you a year of learning in order to speak on a required level.
After starting working at the hospital in Germany, most of the hospitals will provide a medical German course for foreign nurses, which usually also paid by the hospital.
There are so many specific words you need to know to work in a medical field, don’t underestimate this. Start learning German as soon as you have determined that you want to work in Germany.
Be aware that just professional experience without special training and certificate isn’t sufficient to work in Germany as a caregiver/nurse or nurse/nurse.
Recognition of foreign nursing certificates
If you are from EU/EEA country and completed your nursing education in one of the European/EEA counties there are no worries to be made, your degree will be easily recognized in Germany and you can start working straight.
For all other nurses with Non-EU/EEA certificates applies different rules: they need to get their qualification recognized too but it will be more difficult and time-consuming. The entire process can take up to 12 months, but usually, you can work as a nursing assistant during this time.
Germany sets high standards for medical professions and foreign nurses must fulfill all criteria in order to work in a medical field in Germany. As I already mentioned nursing is a highly regulated profession.
To be recognized as a nurse in Germany you will need to wait till authorities verify your certificate and all criteria in it as well as pass a special nursing exam.
As soon as after receiving a job offer or arriving to Germany, foreign nurses have to submit their degrees and qualifications to the competent authority of the federal state in which they stay. However, you can apply for recognition even without a working contract.
Only after receiving a recognition, you will be granted a visa for working as a qualified nurse, however, you can receive another type of visa before that and come to Germany. But overall provide all required documents to the recognition authority as soon as possible. (B2 level of the German language is required!)
After foreign nurses went through the process of recognition and successfully pass needed exams, they will receive a permit to practice in the nursing profession (Berufserlaubnis). They also required to have at least a B2 level of the German language in order to start work.
However, there also might be a situation when a professional degree/qualifications of foreign nurses couldn’t be recognized or fully recognized, so they don’t receive a permit to practice in the nursing profession in Germany.
In this case, they can pass the necessary exams and take additional courses in Germany, so they can cover this lack of theoretical or practical knowledge.
In a meanwhile, they might be allowed to work as a nursing assistant. This is other the case.
You can check this official website for all information about recognition in Germany.
Steps you need to take to work as a nurse in Germany
Currently, there are 154,000 foreign nurses and nursing assistants working in Germany. Numbers are very promising, so you can also do it and move to Germany for pursuing a nursing career.
So you found yourself fulfilling the requirements and want to work in Germany as a nurse in the nearest future? Then you need to follow some steps in order to accomplish this important mission.
I assume you already have some knowledge of German or at least ready to actively learn the language.
1. Learn German
Obtain at least a B1 language certificate before you mail off your first job application. So you can attach your certificate to the application and make a good impression for the employer. Moreover, some organizations even don’t accept applications in English.
2. Translate or your credentials and certificates into German
Also, most of the organisations will need your certificates in German, otherwise, it won’t be accepted.
3. Apply for as many job offering as you could
Look for a job on websites like Monster, Medijobs, Stellenanzeige, Make it in Germany: Job Listings, Stepstone and Kimeta. Send your application with all the required documents attached and wait for answers.
You might want to get professional help in completing a German job application. It’s very advisable to apply in German, so organizations see you speak the language.
4. Attend interviews
If the company showed its interest and invited you to the interview be prepared to show up in person in Germany. This means you will need to fly there. Unfortunately, not many hospitals will agree for video interviews. You also can’t rely on that they will reimburse your costs of traveling.
They also would expect you to volunteer for a couple of days in the hospital, so they can really see your work and how you match with the team.
5. Sign up a working contract and fly back home
6. Apply for recognition of your nursing qualification
File for recognition of your degree at the German authority in charge in the state you’re going to work (ask your employer). Wait. This can take more than a year. While you’re waiting, upgrade your German.
7. Apply for a working visa
After your qualifications were recognized by Germany you can apply for a working visa in your home country.
8. Finish line – Get your visa, move to Germany and start your nursing career!
Nurse salary in Germany
There are very many factors that can influence the nursing salary. But overall the job paid well and it grows with years of experience and expertise.
On average nurses in Germany earn 33,000 EUR annually and between 2,800 EUR and 2,900 EUR gross monthly. The salary also depends on the region, experience, qualifications, working time (night shifts are paid better).
After deducting the taxes you can expect between 1,580 EUR to 1,800 EUR on your card monthly.
Foreign nurses who are not fluent in the German language will need to attend a German language course. For this reason, they will work less -around 36 hours per week and receive a lower salary – roughly 1,800 EUR gross and between 1,250 EUR to 1,420 EUR without tax.
Salary during the vocational training depends on the year of studying: 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.
You can check the salary on this platform which allows you to set a location, experience, and many other factors, which influence the wage.
Study Nursing in Germany
If you don’t have a nursing qualification yet, you can always start vocational training in Germany in order to become a nurse. Your nationality doesn’t play a role here, more so your knowledge of the language and school leaving certificate.
Read our guide on nursing salaries in Germany.
Vocational training is also known as the Nursing Apprenticeship program, its a very popular 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 education.
Basically, the training takes place at a nursing school, which has the necessary state recognition. It usually lasts for 3 years and ends with the state examination.
After successfully passing the exam, students qualified as a Registered Nurse which enables them to immediately start working accordingly profession.
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.
In both cases, while studying at university and completing the vocational training students receive a monthly salary.
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 all these, 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 and clearly, it’s important for future internships.
So after completing vocational training, they become general professionals and able to work in all areas of medical care.
The advantages of attending vocational school and becoming a nurse in Germany are :
- Financial independence – Individuals don’t have to depend on their parents for their living expenses or education. They earn enough to support themselves.
- Career opportunities – A straightforward way to the job right after completing the training or university.
- Practical and theoretical training – A program covers practical and theoretical parts, which helps nurses to have a wider understanding of the role and helps in their professional growth.
- No need to recognize qualification – you can start working as a registered nurse in Germany and in other developed countries right after completing the training.
- No age limit – you can become a nurse in Germany at any age!
But there are also some disadvantages:
- High intensity – Vocational training is loaded with exams and tasks.
- Hard work – Especially during the internships hard, dirty, or noncompetence required work often deligated to the young nurses.
- Shift work hours– Even during the internships you will have to work in shifts most of the time, however, this usually doesn’t include many night shifts.
- Sufficient German level at least B2
- School-leaving Qualification which is equivalent to the German
- The minimum age is 17 years and successful completion of at least 9 or 10 school levels or
- 18 years and corresponding additional education
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 their partners during the practical part. After you have sent the application, CV, and cover letter, you will be invited for an interview, sometimes first by telephone.
Usually, you will hear from them in a couple of days or weeks if you are accepted for vocational training or not. After that you need hurrying up to apply for an apprenticeship visa.
You can either do it from the home country or already in Germany. Logically, in Germany, this process will be way easier and faster and you can start working and attending the school with the couple of days.
For an exact packet of documents check out the website of your local immigration office or german embassy in your home country.
What is Tripple Win?
Tripple Win is a recruitment program for foreign nurses started by the German government back in 2013. Tripple win is the win from all 3 sides: country of origin, German employer, and foreign employee.
They support employers in Germany in the selection, recognition, and integration of foreign nurses. Hospitals benefit from this and can fill vacancies with well-qualified staff.
The foreign nurses on another hand receive a professional and personal perspective. They receive support from the organization in job finding, the entire migration process from visa application to integration in Germany.
Tripple win ensures a fair and transparent hiring process for nurses, without unwanted side effects such as lower wages or other drawbacks. Nurses from abroad have the same rights and obligations as German nurses.
The countries of origin benefit from a reduction in their labor market. The Tripple Win project only hire nurses from countries with a surplus of health professionals.
Thus, they avoid that the migration of nurses to Germany triggers a shortage of skilled workers in other countries.
With that said foreign nurses from counties with a shortage of medical workers can’t attend this program. Today Tripple win supports only professionals from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, the Philippines, Tunisia, and Vietnam.
Selection and obligations:
Candidates need to pass a language test as part of the selection procedure. (at least B1). After coming to Germany participants are required to obtain the recognition of their professional qualifications within the first year of their stay in the country. After they can start work.
Nursing professionals can work in hospitals, outpatient care, and elderly care, but, irrespective of the field in which they work, they are required to undergo the recognition procedure for nursing.
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