Many foreign nurses are looking for a job in Germany every year and not without reason. The German healthcare sector has seven million employees, one of the largest employers in the country and also the one which offers the most job vacancies.
Currently, Germany has around 80,000 open vacancies for nurses and expects to have around 150,000 by 2025. All qualified nurses have good chances of receiving a nursing job in Germany, regardless of their nationality.
The shortage of medical personnel makes employment in Germany easier. However, getting a job as a nurse can be difficult for some nationalities and easy for others. In this post you will learn how you can find the employer in Germany and which steps you need to take.
Why working in Germany?
Germany is considered one of the best countries for health workers in the world and for other professions as well. Today is the 5th popular country for immigration.
Working as a nurse in Germany you can expect a well-deserved salary, good working conditions, and a chance to live in the middle of Europe.
Regulating authorities dealing with the doctors and nurses are very well established to make sure employees are overall satisfied so that they can provide the service at the highest level.
Opened vacancies in the health sector are continuing to grow. It is estimated that an additional 200,000 nursing personnel (incl. nurses, caregivers, and nursing assistants) will be needed by 2030.
In Germany, the nurses are usually employed by the hospital and not directly by the patient this means that you will have a fixed number of patients to take care of depending on the position and work.
Opportunities for Foreign Nurses in Germany
In general, opportunities are great and they are increasing with the years. In March 2020 Germany made some significant changes in the immigration law.
Now foreigners with vocational training (nursing is recognized as vocational training) can come to Germany on a Job Seeker Visa and look for a job. Before this visa was only available for university graduates with some working experience.
Visa is issued for 6 month and foreigners can even undertake employment in Germany up to 10 hours per week (before it wasn’t allowed).
This opportunity gives nurses a chance to be hired by the German employer faster and also to complete come internships or trial work, so they can be sure that it is the right place for them.
However, as a new rule foreign nurses will need to show a language certificate of at least a B1 level, otherwise visas won’t be granted. After finding the employer they can apply for the longterm working visa from their home country.
Read more about Job Seeker Visa.
As someone willing to work in the health industry needs to understand language is key. Level B1 and upwards is expected as well as recognized in Germany nursing certificate or a diploma.
If foreign applicants fulfill these 2 main requirements they will be welcomed by most employers in Germany.
Nurses have opportunities to stay in Germany for a long period of time and maybe for their entire life. There should be no problem in extending a residence permit and receiving a permanent residence permit.
Moreover, foreign employees are eligible to bring their spouse and kids in Germany for a long term living.
Read more about working in Germany as a nurse.
Where Can You Work as a Nurse in Germany?
Nurses are needed in different industries, not only in classical hospitals (although it is still a favorite employment place).
The most typical place where nurses work in Germany is hospitals and clinics. They have modern facilities, good infrastructure, a work council which protects employees, regulated working hours, and the best wages for nurses.
2. Elderly/retirement homes and nursing homes
Germany has 1.5 million people over 90 years old and millions of between 60 and 90. Many of them need help in their daily life or they just prefer to spend their retirement surrounded by people with the similar age. Many single people in Germany live in elderly homes if they don’t have someone to take care of them.
Nurses are responsible for the medical side of their life and also daily life, they accompany and support seniors. It includes the fulfillment of their physical, mental, social, and psychological needs.
3. Dormitories for people with disabilities
Nurses are also needed in homes for handicapped people. In general they have the same responsibilities as in the elderly home.
4. Practices of specialist doctors
Doctors who work as self-employed and not on hospitals and clinics also need nurses for assistance and other tasks. Usually specialists in a particular field open their own practice where they invite patients, for example, internal medicine or dentistry. Usually, jobs at private practices or clinics are paid lower than in the big hospitals.
5. Outpatient social services
There are many private companies that offer nursing assistance for patients in the comfort of their homes. In this case nurses will drive from one client to another to do some medical procedures with them, assist them, or any other help they need.
Some people in Germany can’t afford to live in an elderly home, so nurses serve them at home, but overall it’s quite the same work as in the elderly house. The private nurses and caregivers are very rare as they are usually very expensive and only employed by the rich.
6. Vocational schools
Teaching at vocational schools is another great opportunity for nurses who want to upgrade their status and become a lecturer. For this, they need to have a bachelor’s degree in Nursing and sometimes a master’s, which is pursued in Germany or in a European country.
7. Rehabilitation centers
Rehabilitation centers called Reha in Germany, it’s where people recover after some injure or have chronic illnesses. Nurses’s job is to assist and support them in their everyday life.
8. Private companies
Most of the big companies are required to have a doctor in the house, sometimes nurses assist them as well. They are there to take care of the company’s employees and control working conditions, so they don’t harm people.
The nurses who worked in the companies together with doctors (Betriebsarzt) called “Betriebskrankenschwestern”, but it’s a more unusual profession than a common one.
How to Find and Apply for a Nursing Job in Germany
First make sure your nursing degree is equal with the German one. However, you can also find an employer first and apply for recognition later.
Let’s assume you already speak good enough German so you are able to apply for a job. If it’s not the case you need to start learning German as soon as possible. German employers will require you to have at least level B1, but the higher the better.
Here are particular steps you need to take for getting a job as a nurse in Germany:
*To find a job you can apply for a Job Seeker Visa and come to Germany for 6 months to attend interviews and work up to 10 hours per week.
1. Translate or your credentials and certificates into German
Also, most of the organizations will need your certificates in German, otherwise, it won’t be accepted. Use Lingokid to translate all your documents affordable and completely online.
2. 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, or you can simply visit websites of the hospitals and check Jobs/Karriere. Send your application with all the required documents attached and wait for answers.
Documents such as updated CV, certificates about work experience, language certificate, nursing certificate, motivation letter are quite common.
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.
3. 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.
4. Sign up a working contract and fly back home
5. 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.
6. Apply for a working visa
After your qualifications were recognised by Germany you can apply for a working visa in your home country.
7. Finish line – Get your visa, move to Germany, and start your nursing career!
Request help from the professionals
Apart from going through this process on your own, you can refer to the many recruiting agencies who specialize in hiring foreign nurses for German employers. They will assist you in all questions, provide instructions and actions that needed to happens.
There is also a government employment project “Tripple Win” for foreign nurses from particular countries: Bosnia, Serbia, Tunisia, Philippines, and Vietnam*.
*Vietnamese nurses are eligible for support of other state project, which works almost the same way as Tripple Win.
The government supports them to get a nursing job in Germany, apply and receive their residence permit and integrate into the country. Nurses from Vietnam required to have at least 3 years of experience before applying for the program.
Many foreign job seekers use services of international recruitment agencies in their home country, so they can avoid doing mistakes and move to Germany faster. I would also recommend using a professional agent if you aren’t eligible for the Tripple Win program.
However, if you meet all qualification requirements for a nursing job in Germany and have or can get a language proficiency certificate, it should not be too difficult to manage it all by yourself.
If you show a potential employer your language skills are on the good level, most of the hospitals will be happy to invite you.
Chances in Geriatric/Elderly Care
Germany has a high demand for professionals in geriatric or elderly care.
The reason for this is rapidly aging of the German population, while life expectancies in Germany are 82 years for men and 85 years for women now, 1.5 million Germans are over 90 years old. There are simply not enough nurses to take care of all these old people.
Consequently, Geriatric care will be the there easiest and fastest way to receive a job in Germany for foreign nurses.
There are thousands of vacancies all over the country for such positions. Each 100 job openings for geriatric nursing personnel there are only about 35 interested applicants.
Hospitals and elderly houses are actively hiring foreigners, assist them with procedures, and provide language courses and sometimes even accommodate.
Since Germany has the longest life expectancies in Europe this problem with lack of personnel will be more severe and more foreign nurses will be recruited.
At the moment, nearly 2.6 million German seniors require long-term geriatric care and this number is estimated to grow to 3.5 million by 2030.
Regulation of the Nursing Profession in Germany
Recognition of your nursing qualifications in Germany is the most important factor. Moreover, we need also to understand how nursing professions are regulated in the country, because it’s 100% different than where you come from.
Most German nurses were educated in three-year vocational programs in nursing schools attached to the hospital. Only more recently, nurses also receive education in colleges and graduate with a B.Sc. However, its more common if they want to teach nursing and not necessarily work as a practicing nurse.
In both cases, they have to pass an official standardized exam (staatliche prüfung) at the end of the course to be registered with the health authority of the corresponding federal state as a “general” nurse. It includes written, oral, and practical parts.
If they fail in one of the parts, the second attempt is possible. After successful examination students receive authorisation of the state.
Regulation for Nursing Assistants
A nursing assistant is another profession in German hospitals. These people help and assist the actual nurses in the daily duties. There is special vocational training to become a nursing assistant in Germany.
Unlike a nurse, a nursing assistant (Gesundheits- und Krankenpflegehelfer) is not a regulated profession in Germany. Nursing assistants, in Germany also known as healthcare assistants, typically attend one-year vocational programs in the same schools as nurses.
They don’t need to pass any official standardized exam, but still, they have to demonstrate their fitness for the job to the local health authority of the federal state in order to be allowed to practice their profession.
Since the absence of strict regulation, many foreign nurses in Germany start their career as a nursing assistant. In the meanwhile, they can get their nursing degree recognized and climb on the ladder in the hospitals.
Qualification Requirements for Nurses in Germany
The main requirement for non-EU/EEA nurses is the nursing university degree, nurses from EU/EEA might also complete vocational training in their countries and it will be enough. In general, the requirements are different for each country.
Foreign nurses and nursing assistants wishing to work in Germany must demonstrate that they possess professional qualifications and skills (usually minimum of two years working experience) equivalent to those of their German colleagues.
In addition, they need to pass a German language proficiency exam level B1, be in a good physical condition, and have a clean criminal record in the home country.
Language proficiency is often the biggest entry barrier for most foreign nurses as they are not only required to communicate with their patients in German but also to do a lot of writing in German to document their work.
Consequently, nursing adaptation programs are very helpful to prepare yourself for the professional life in Germany. During these courses, qualified tutors will teach you normal and professional language.
Besides this, lectures hold in the universities and not in these small stinky classrooms as normal language courses do.
Check this article to learn more about the best nursing adaptation programs in Germany and abroad.
Recognition of Foreign Nursing Qualifications in Germany
To start working as a nurse in Germany, your foreign nursing qualifications must be recognized in the first place. Before that you can only work as a nursing assistant.
The recognition is made in Germany and each state has the responsible authorities for this. Just email one of them in the region where you plan or already reside.
Here are the main documents foreigner nurses will be required to have for a recognition submission:
- Translate qualification certificates and work experience certificates into Germany and approved by German Nursing authorities
- Together with all semester transcripts and marks
- Police clearance certificate from your home country to show you do not have a police record or cases against you
- Medical certificate to show you are in good health
- B1/B2 German language proficiency certificate – GOETHE/TELC/OSD
- A detailed and updated CV
- High school certificates
To be recognized as a nurse in Germany you will need to wait till authorities verify your certificates and all criteria in it, as well as pass a special nursing exam.
Automatic Recognition of Nursing Diplomas from EU/EEA
Certified nurses from European countries, including Switzerland, Iceland, Lichtenstein, and Norway, will have their qualifications automatically recognized. They can start with the job application as soon as they have received a German language certificate.
What If Your Qualification Aren’t Accepted?
Those applicants who fail to meet the professional qualification requirements will be given an opportunity to either take a final nursing exam (same as German nurses pass) or will have to pursue additional training that may last up to three years.
Additional training might include attending a classical vocational training with German students for 1, 2, 3 years, or take only particular courses in professional school. They also could fill the gap in the home country by attending university or vocational school.
If the problem in German language foreign nurses will be asked to take up an intensive language course.
To increase the chances of hiring nurses can also complete further training in a particular specialization. This will increase their competences in the field and make more competitive to other nurses.
Only nurses who have recognized in Germany qualifications are eligible for further training. Nurses can choose between a wide range of further training in the following fields for which no high degree is required:
Germany offers hundreds when not thousands of different kinds of further training or professional training for nurses. Some of them are paid by the employer and some are by nurses.
Most popular and well-paid fields among others:
- Anesthesia and intensive care
- Operations and endoscopy service
- Clinical geriatrics
- Rehabilitation and long-term care
- Palliative and hospice care
- Psychiatric care
If you have a bachelor degree in Nursing, which is also recognised in Germany as an academic level, these qualifications are available for you:
- Head of the department
- Care expert
- Care consultant
- Palliative Care
- Specialist in culture-sensitive care
- Specialist in-home care
- Specialist for health and social services
- Assistance, support, and helpers in the care
Average Salaries for Nursing in Germany
Not a secret that salary and career opportunities are huge motivators for foreign nurses to work in Germany. Below you can see average salaries for nursing professionals of different fields and positions.
|Nurse in hospital||2,900|
|Emergency room nurse||2,900|
|Operating room nurse||3,200|
If you are wondering how much is the average salary for nurses in Germany, check the Gehalt.de – the best German resource which provides information on salaries in the country. You can add filters like location, experience, skills, size of the company, and others to see the most accurate numbers!
The starting salary of a nurse in Germany is around 2,400 EUR gross monthly, you shouldn’t agree on less, except your language skills are low or you apply for a nursing assistant.
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