Vocational Training in Germany for Foreigners: Guide

Jul 11, 2020Ausbildung

Vocational training or apprenticeship is a good way to start your career in Germany. It’s a dual program which will allow you to work hence earn some money and study at the same time. Germany has been welcoming foreigners to join vocational training programs for a long time.

Vocational training (apprenticeship) in Germany called Ausbildung is a training program for non-academic professions, where participants receive the necessary skills and knowledge for their professional activity. They work and study at the same time while receiving a monthly salary during the entire program.

If you aren’t looking for a degree and a sedentary job, this program will be the right choice for you. Moreover, you don’t need to finance education, you even will get paid! Read all about vocational training in Germany in this post.

What is a Vocational Training?

Vocational training knew as the apprenticeship program and is a very popular way to start working life right after school. This happens due to the dual system, students work and study at the same time. The program is particularly made for non-academic professions.

The dual system means that participants spend about 50–70% of their time in companies and the rest in special schools. This way they have on-the-job training and work experience.

Depending on the profession, trainees may work for three to four days a week in the company/factory/firm/shop and another part will be spent learning at Berufsschule (professional school).

This is usually the case for trade and craft occupations. Other professions, such as nurses have block systems: 1-2 months of school followed by the same amount of practice.

The program usually lasts between 2 and 3 years. With this receives qualification, skilled workers can continue to work as experts in the company, obtain further qualifications (e.g. master craftsman or even a study at university), become self-employed, or return to their home country to work here with the foreign qualification.

The most common jobs are handicrafts like nurses, bakers, merchants, electricians, ambulance workers, doctor assistants, plumber, mason, painter, hairdresser, etc. But often you will find an Ausbildung profession in almost all fields and industries.

I started Ausbildung as a children’s nurse straight after completing Social Year but it wasn’t something for me to be honest. Before application inform yourself as much as possible about the profession as well as all pros and cons.


!Especially Nursing has a high demand in developed countries and is considered to be one of the demanded jobs at the moment, Germany has opened its door to Non-European applicants a long time ago, so they can come to pursue Vocational Training and work afterward. 

New German Immigration Law 2020

After changes in the immigration law of Germany in March 2020 people from non-EU countries have better opportunities in Germany if they have vocational qualifications or want to complete vocational training.

Foreigners from all countries in the world can start vocational training in Germany. Graduates have very good career opportunities in Germany based on the current legislation: after vocational training, foreigners can stay in Germany in order to work in this profession.

Move to Germany as a qualified worker

Firstly if you already have qualifications which can be recognized in Germany as a vocational, you can move to Germany for work. Before this was only possible for people with a high degree diploma which is recognized in Germany.

The reason for this is the shortage of skilled workers in the country. There are plenty of highly educated people who can do academic work and very few qualified workers.

All occupations have chances in Germany

The second change is that you aren’t restricted by the shortage list anymore! Now you don’t need to receive approval from the employment agency (Agentur für Arbeit). Hence, you can apply for any occupation you are qualified for and receive a visa!

Come to Germany and look for a job

The third charge was made in job-seeking visa: now also holders of lower-tier qualifications (equal to vocational training) from non-EU countries can apply for this visa to seek employment in Germany. Before this opportunity was only available for university graduates.

Come to Germany and look for a place in school

And lastly, if you want to come to Germany in order to find a place for vocational training you can do it! No Skype interview anymore, get to know your future employer and school personally. Furthermore, you can also work up to 10 hours per week during this time.

Requirements for an apprenticeship seeking visa:

  • School leaving diploma
  • German language level B1
  • Maximum age 25
  • Financial proof 600-700 EUR for a month
  • Health insurance
  • Accommodation

After you successfully have found a spot in a professional school you can apply for a visa for vocational training from Germany.

Advantages of Vocational Traning

Vocational training has some advantages over the studies in Germany. You can study and earn money at the same time is the biggest one, probably.

Also, you don’t need to prove funds when applying for a visa, in comparison with university programs – 10,000 EUR must be on your banking account.

Other advantages of vocational training in Germany:

  1. Learn and practice at the same time – program cover practical and theoretical parts, which helps trainees to have a wider understanding of the role and helps in their professional growth
  2. Financial independence – individuals don’t have to depend on their parents for their living expenses or education. They earn enough to support themselves
  3. Career opportunities – a straightforward way to the job right after completing the training

Moreover, Germany has a high demand for skilled people, so the chances of finding a position as an apprentice are quite good. After completing the apprenticeship you will be eligible to work in your field and apply for a residence permit together with work permission.

Here you can see the main advantages at its glance:


When you start a vocational training program in Germany you will be earning money from day one. Companies will pay you a salary for the work you do as part of your course.

The average salary of trainees ranges between 600 EUR and 1,200 EUR per month depending on the profession.

You will be very unlikely unemployed

A lot of German companies across all industries are currently looking for trainees, the shortage and demand are very big.

In the year 2016 alone, 43,478 positions in vocational training could not be filled. This means that Germany simply doesn’t have a required number of applicants. And the situation is getting worse year after year.

Therefore, your chances of securing a place in vocational training and after graduation are excellent.

Theory and practice

Vocational training in Germany offers a lot of variety. It combines theory and practice right from the start in a very effective way, so trainees can learn faster and apply their knowledge.

Good career chances

Vocational training may be your ticket to a career in the German labor market. Around two-thirds of all trainees get a permanent job with their companies after completing vocational training.

After the completion of the program, you will be fully qualified in your profession and earn good money – and you will benefit from the fact that you already know your company, its operations, and your colleagues.

Furthermore, professionals with vocational qualifications are in high demand in the German labor market. This allows you truly to pursue the career.


But there are some disadvantages too

The main disadvantage of this program is the pay which is pretty low and may not be enough to cover your rent and living expenses, especially if you live in a major city or in the south of the country.

These points can range depending on your profession but generally applies for nurses and other hard-working occupations:

  1. High intensity – vocational training is loaded with exams and tasks
  2. Hard work – especially during the internships hard work often deligated to the young trainees

As you can see the advantages pretty much outweighs all possible disadvantages and you can indeed take advantage of vocational training in Germany!

Choose Right Profession

When selecting vocational training is very important to pick the right profession for you, so you can finish the program and work in this field in the future.

Germany has vocational training for everyone. The German training system offers you more than 340 dual training occupations. You can do your vocational training in a wide variety of industries: in social, commercial, medical, commercial-technical, craft, or other fields.

Each of them has different lengths, salaries, and structures but the basics remain the same: half of the time you study half of the time you work.

Skilled workers are lacking in many sectors, besides, almost 58,000 training places remained unfilled in 2018. This is why trainees from other countries are more than welcome.

This applies to all professions in health care, construction, information technology, gastronomy, hospitality, sanitary, heating, and air conditioning technology, retail as well as bakery and butcher trade.

Professions range from banker to the plumber, generally speaking, you will find an apprenticeship program in any field. In many of them, graduates can educate and qualify themselves further up to the master level. Hence, their responsibility and salary are growing as well.

Application and Requirements

In order to receive a spot in a vocational school, you need to apply and fulfill certain requirements (not many).

Your application must be compelling, made in German, and addressed to the particular school. Companies often start looking for trainees a year before a program starts. So apply as soon as possible.

Your application contains a CV, motivation letter, and certificates. The motivation letter is very important and must emphasize why you want to learn this profession and at this particular school and employer.

After you will be invited to the interview, in person or via Skype/phone. The company may ask you to work for a trial period or complete an internship. In this case, you can apply for a job seeker visa (see new immigration law).

In terms of requirements for vocational training, luckily apprenticeship has very few admission requirements unlike programs for higher education.

First and most important you will need a good level of German to apply and complete an apprenticeship in Germany. The lessons are given in German and work happens in German too. So far there is no English apprenticeship available in Germany.

There is no age limit, however, the minimum age is 17. For educational background, you need to have successful completion of 10 school levels.

After receiving the contract with the school/employer you can apply for a visa at the German embassy in your country.

A glance at requirements for vocational training:

  • Sufficient knowledge of German language at least level B1
  • A school-leaving qualification which is equivalent to the German (10 school levels

Are there any age restrictions you need to be aware of? Read in this article.

In order to find out whether you meet the requirements for a specific vocational training course, you should have your school-leaving certificate recognized in Germany.

The recognition process isn’t complicated, you just send your translated documents to the responsible authorities in Germany.

On this platform, you can see how your diploma is acknowledged in Germany and who is responsible for recognizing your school certificates.

Learn German first with the best online classes on the web.

Requirements for Visa

Requirements for your apprenticeship visa have the same importance as requirements for admission. In the end, you will need a visa to come to Germany.

You will apply for a visa at the German embassy in your country or in the immigration office if already in Germany. To be granted a visa, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Have found a vocational training place in a German company
  • Have the financial proof which covers the cost of living in Germany
  • Receive approval by the German Federal Employment Agency*

Financial proof can be provided in different ways, usually, your salary during the vocational training must be enough, therefore you can just show your working contract.

If the amount is too low, you need to have some funds on the banking account, so you have at least 600-700 EUR per month.

*German Federal Employment Agency (Agentur für Arbeit) will check if there are no German candidates or candidates from a privileged country (such as an EU country) for the respective position.

Candidates holding a school-leaving certificate from a German school are exempt from this criteria.

To cover all living expenses trainees are allowed to take on additional employment outside of vocational training for up to 10 hours per week in total.

Salary During Vocational Training

As I mentioned before you will receive a salary throughout the entire program. The salary strongly ranges between the professions.

On average, a trainee earns around 908 EUR gross, which is surely not bad. However, some programs pay only 500-600 EUR per month.

So if you are depending on this salary check carefully, 500 EUR won’t be enough to live in Germany. For example, a hairdresser earns only between 340 and 600 EUR per month. Check all salaries on Gehalt.de – the best resource in Germany when it comes to earnings.

But engineering trainees and nurses earn 1,088 EUR gross on average. The salary you receive as a trainee increases with each year of training you complete. Part of your wages will be deducted for social security contributions and partly for income tax.

Salary After Vocational Training

After completion of your program, you will be fully qualified and so eligible to work in your profession and earn GOOD money.

The highest-paid apprenticeship you can see under Best Non-Degree Jobs in Germany in this post. Get a well-paid and perspective job without a degree isn’t an easy task. German salaries are one of the highest in the world, although the employer will try to save some money on poorly qualified workers. To increase your chances get some qualifications and gain experience, so you can require a higher wage. 

In addition to the great salary, graduates will receive a permanent settlement permit after 2 years of work, thanks to the new immigration law.

Below you can see average salaries for BEST PAID vocational occupations when working full time:

  • Dental Hygienists – 3,300 EUR
  • Real Estate Agents – 3,000 EUR
  • Nurse – 2,900 EUR
  • Truck Driver – 2,500 EUR
  • Air traffic controller – between 6,000 and 8,000 EUR
  • Aircraft mechanic – 3,100 EUR
  • Bank clerk – between 2,500 and 2,900 EUR
  • Policeman – 3,300 EUR
  • Ship mechanic – 2,700 EUR
  • Biologielaborant – 2,700 EUR
  • Senior caregiver – 2,640 EUR
  • Mason – 2,400 EUR
  • IT specialist – 2,400 EUR
  • Investment fund manager – between 2,300 and 2,500 EUR
  • A merchant insurance and Finance – 2,400 EUR
  • Media technologist – 2,800 EUR
  • Technical system planner and product designer – between 1,600 and 2,900 EUR
  • Social Security Specialist –  2,000 and 2,500 EUR
  • Physics laboratory technician –  2,200 EUR
  • Mechatronic – between 2,000 and 2,900 EUR
  • Administrative specialist – 2,000 EUR
  • Undertaker – between 1,900 and 2,200 EUR
  • Electronics Technician – between 1,600 and 2,000 EUR
  • Civil Servant (Bundesbank) – between 1,800 and 2,200 EUR

Recommended products and services in Germany:

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