Benefits of Working as a Nurse in Germany


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Germany attracts nurses from all over the world. There are many reasons why people travel all the way to the central European country to take care of patients.

Qualified nurses can benefit from excellent German social security and employee benefits. German government cares about workers very well. Thanks to the working population, the country can afford to support people who aren’t employed whether the reason is a disability, illness or retirement.

Below you will find all the benefits of working as a nurse in Germany, some of them also relevant for general employment.

Related: “Employees benefits in Germany”.

Big Career and Job Opportunities

Most health professions are in high demand in Germany, especially nurses, hence you will be hired and promoted fast.

Most nurses start their careers in a specific unit/department. After a few years, many nurses are promoted into positions as team leaders, leading their shift at work and having some management responsibilities. Therefore, their responsibility and income are growing.

Once a nurse has made the leap to upper management, opportunities are endless. The very popular path for senior professionals is teaching future nurses in vocational schools.

So they change their career completely, from practical hospital work to academic. Most of the time this position required a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

High Employment Chances for Foreigners

As we already know nursing is in high demand in Germany, therefore the country actively involves foreigners from all over the world to cover all needs. Many workers get invited from the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, India, but of course, all European citizens are very welcome.

Foreign nurses can be almost sure that they will find work in Germany, so big demand is. One you need to be sure of is your knowledge of German, it must be enough to communicate with patients and complete basic bureaucratic work.

If you already have a qualification or degree in nursing, you will need to recognize (legalize) it in special authority in the German region where you are planning to work. You can check it here.

Almost 100% Success Rate in Receiving a Working Visa

After you received a job you need to apply for German work and residence permit. If you are already in Germany visit the immigration office of your city to do so, or if in the home country – the German embassy.

Luckily for foreigners, nurses and especially senior caregivers are in very high demand in Germany, for this reason, they are on the shortage list. This list regulates demanded professions for which the application and visa receiving process made especially easy.

Meaning there are no difficulties for foreigners to apply for a job and consequently for working and residence permits. Compare to other professions they even don’t need to earn a particular salary to be approved.

Job Demand and Growth

Consequences of the information above that the job has huge demand and growth:

Job demand

German society gets older each year, hence nowadays there are more elderly people than young and adults. Demand for nurses and senior carers will grow rapidly in the future. Germany will need to hire more and more people from abroad and offer them unfair advantages and work benefits so they agree.

Job growth

The growth of health professions is much faster than the average for all occupations. The job growth occurs for a number of reasons, including the elderly population, an increased emphasis on preventive care; growing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity; and demand for healthcare services from the baby-boom population, as they live longer and more active lives.

Excellent Qualification Opportunities

Germany is famous for its qualifications, and so nursing is. If you are already working in nursing and want to take on new tasks, change specialization or get more responsibility, you can choose from a very wide range of further training courses to achieve these goals.

There are more than 200 nursing specialties in which you can earn a qualification. This will certify that you are an expert in that particular field. It often helps earn a higher salary and increases the demand for your services. Wherever your interest in nursing, you can probably find a specialty that interests you.

For nurses with vocational training or degree qualifications/specialization in the following fields are possible:

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

For nurses with bachelor’s or master’s degrees:

  • 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

Most of the courses take place as part-time education. Sometimes employer even pays for your additional qualification.

Regulated but Flexible Working Hours

Nurses in Germany are working fixed hours in 3 different shifts:

  1. From 6 am to 2:30 pm
  2. From 1:30 pm to 10:00 pm
  3. From 8:30 pm to 6:00 am

In total is around 40 hours per week. Your shifts will always change, with a very small amount of night work. Nurses can also tell their preferences if they like to work more in the morning or at night their schedule can be optimized accordingly.

There are some people who prefer to work only nights, their schedule than 6-night shifts and 6 free days afterward. In some cases, nurses work 12 hours shifts, but it’s more common for in-home care.

Flexibility for Life, Family, and Work

The shift work schedule of nurses is very flexible and adaptable, therefore, they can do certain things during the week or in their free mornings when normal people are working.

What a beautiful life when you can go to the gym, do your groceries or paperwork on a Monday morning to avoid all these usual crowds full of business and stress. Or maybe organize 3 days trip to France with your loved ones?

Working as a nurse opens new perspectives of life and helps to escape the daily routine, that regular employees have.

Nursing is also a very flexible job in context with location: nursing skills allow you to travel or move all across Germany and work in any city or village because hospitals with open vacancies can be found almost everywhere.

Various Employment Places

Nurses are needed in different industries, not only in classical hospitals (although it is still a favorite employment place).

Apart from them, potential employers are private clinics, nursing homes, and also, depending on the type of training completed, ambulatory care, residential homes for the elderly, home care, children’s hospitals, and many more.

Your alternatives to employment in a hospital might be:

  • Practices of specialist doctors
  • Health centers
  • Old people’s homes and nursing homes
  • Dormitories for people with disabilities
  • Outpatient social services
  • Insurance companies
  • Vocational schools
  • Private companies
  • Rehabilitation centers

Related: “Best nursing adaptation courses in Germany”.

Job Security


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Overall you can be sure in your job if you are working in Germany, whether it’s nursing or cleaning service. But as a part of the hospital, which is usually a huge organization with thousands of employees you can rely on your job 100%.

They also usually have a work council, the main task of which is to take care of and protect employees of the company. So no worries, working in a German hospital means you are in good hands.

In addition, to this nurses will always be a necessary part of the healthcare system, and hospitals are unable to function without them. Nurses provide care to people in almost every aspect of the industry, not only in healthcare. That’s why there are so many jobs and career opportunities for them.

Even in times of economic uncertainty, nurses are always able to find positions in which to work.

Nursing is still one of the famous professions for women in Germany. Because nurses are so ingrained in society, there will always be a need for them no matter what happens.

Social Security

All the people who are working in Germany enjoy social security and its benefits. However, they also need to pay monthly contributions in order to use them later or upon request.

Social security contains different sectors such as health insurance, unemployment, pensions, and different nursing care. All payments together take a significant part of worker’s salary.

The total amount of social contributions per month is 40.45% of the employee’s gross income, but the employer covers half of the cost meaning that you will have to pay only 20%. Since employees contribute to the state system, they also have the right to receive compensation.

Germany has the second-highest social security contribution for a single person, above only Slovenia at 22,10%.

Here are the exact numbers for each of them:

Health insurance7.3%7.3%
Retirement insurance  9.35%9.35%
Unemployment insurance1.5%1.5%
Nursing care insurance1.175%1.175%
Accident insurance1.2%

Similar to elsewhere, Germany’s social security system is mainly funded through contributions paid by both working people and their employers. Below you can read about each of these insurances.

Health insurance

Health insurance is obligatory for all people in Germany no matter what. You need to have one before coming to Germany in order to obtain a visa. During the employment 14.6% of the gross salary goes for contribution to health insurance, 7.3% pays the employee, and 7.3% the employer.

It’s divided into two different systems: state health insurance and private health insurance. Higher earners must sign up for private coverage, which can offer shorter waiting times and better hospital conditions.

But nurses together with 85% of the population in Germany usually have regular state health insurance for example AOK. Members of the employee’s family might also be covered by insurance.

Whether is state health insurance or private health insurance they cover most basic services by the doctor and treatments, including outpatient and inpatient medical care. Some specialist care, such as eye care, special dental care, and alternative medicine not available or comes with limitations on what you can claim.

Retirement Insurance

All employees and also some groups of self-employed persons must pay contributions by law (9.35% employee and 9.35% employer). If you have worked and paid contributions in Germany for more than 60 months (5 years), you will receive a German pension after reaching the official German pensionable age.

Currently, about 85% of the workforce is enrolled in Public Retirement Insurance. Contributions to the plan will be increased by about 20% by 2025.

In that way, Germany wants to secure older people so they can receive their pension and have an adequate standard of living even in retirement. But also the pensionary age will be increased in the next years.

The maximum pension payout is currently around 67% of the average net income during the insured person’s working life. The retirement age is 65 for people born before 1947 and 67 for those born after 1964.

It is not uncommon for people to receive pension payments from two or more countries. When foreign employees return to their home country, German pension rights can be sent to them.

Unemployment insurance

All employees must have unemployment insurance in case they lose their job. You can use the benefits of this insurance after working and paying contributions for at least one year in the last 5 years.

Monthly payments for unemployment insurance are 1.5% of the gross salary paid by the employee and 1.5% by the employer.

Which unemployment compensation you can expect?

People with children will get 67%, and without children 60% of the net wage you received on average per day in the last 12 months before the unemployment. Monthly compensation might not exceed 6,700 EUR in West Germany and in 6,150 EUR in East Germany.

Additionally, an unemployed citizen will also receive allowances for housing and other things that are crucial for survival.

Unemployment benefits are paid by the employment agencies for a maximum of 12 months (for older people up to 24 months). In particular, it depends on how long you have paid contributions and how old you are.

There are other benefits that can be received, including help with applying for work, financial help when taking up a new job (eg. travel, equipment, and relocation expenses), training, and advice for becoming self-employed.

Accident insurance

Another part of Social Security is industrial accident insurance, which is paid in full by the employer (1.6%).

Statutory accident insurance offers protection and assistance in the event of a breakdown in the workplace or on the way to and from work. It also covers all occupational diseases, that can be critical for nurses if they got infected by patients.

The payments cover the costs of treatment, rehabilitation and recovery, invalidity pensions and funeral costs in the event of death.

Sick Leave

Employees in Germany are entitled to sick pay equal to a regular day salary. If you are ill on a working day, you must report it to your employer – to the lead of the department in your hospital.

If you have worked in your company for longer than four weeks, you are entitled to six weeks of sick pay (under certain circumstances, the employer has to continue payments for up to 12 weeks).

After the six weeks period, there is an option for additional weeks if needed – sickness benefit, which gives you financial support of 2,887 EUR for up to 78 weeks.

If you are sick during your holiday, some companies will let you count this as sick leave rather than holiday leave.

Paid Holidays

Nurses in Germany enjoy their hard-earned paid holidays for at least 20 working days per year. If you work six days per week then your annual minimum paid vacation is 24 working days.

Maternity/Parental Leave

Working mothers are allowed to take a maximum of three years’ parental leave per child. The beginning and end are freely selectable by the applicant within the first years. If the employer agrees, 12 of the 36 months can also be taken as parental leave between the child’s 3rd and 8th birthday.

Employees have a legal right to work part-time (up to 30 hours per week) during parental leave. With the nurse’s flexible schedule it’s very easy to switch part-time employment, many in health care do so. After parental leave, they are entitled to a return to their previous working hours.

During the employee’s pregnancy and in a period of 4 months after childbirth, no termination of the employment relationship by the employer is permissible.

Do I get paid?

Female employees are entitled to full paid maternity leave (starting no later than 6 weeks before the expected birth date and ending 8 weeks after childbirth) which is equivalent to the full monthly salary. Payments to the employee are made partly by the health insurance provider and partly by the employer.

After these two months, the employer is not entitled to pay, this will do state instead (Elterngeld). Parents can expect 67% of the net salary will be paid as a parental allowance, but only for 14 months. Although, this compensation can only be a minimum of 300 EUR and a maximum of 1,800 EUR per parent.

If needed parental allowance can be extended to a maximum of 28 months, but the contribution will be reduced by half.

Since you are a taxpaying resident of Germany, you can also get a children’s allowance or Kindergeld for children up to 18 years old (25 years if still in full-time education). You can claim:

  1. 164 EUR per month for each of the first two children
  2. 170 EUR per month for the third child
  3. 195 EUR per month for any more children

Are you wondering how much is the average salary for nurses in Germany? Check the – 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!

Education Assistance

Another huge benefit a working nurse can receive is educational assistance. It can include Professional Training (Weiterbildung) or a full Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree. While Professional Training is offered in many companies, only big businesses/hospitals can provide workers with a full degree.

Over the last 10 years, there had been significant improvement in educational assistance within companies. Many make a partnership with universities, where employees can start a degree course.

In this case, nurses will part-time study at university and work their regular job. Most of the time it will be a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing with a desirable specialization. After completing the program they can practice a new position within the organization or get promoted faster.

Life-long Learning

This benefit is a part of the above-mentioned educational assistance, but in smaller importance both for employee and employer. If before it was an entire degree or professional training here it’s all about learning while working.

Since there are so many specializations and areas in medicine nurses always need to learn in order to stay up to date. Often it happens during the continuing education which is normally organized by the employer in the form of workshops or such. Nurses learn something new but also get paid for this because usually, courses are considered working hours.

Moreover, by attending conferences, reading journals/books, attending graduate schools, and joining specialty organizations, they can keep their knowledge updated.


And of course, don’t forget about the high salary! Germany is one of the best places to work as a nurse because it’s paid very well! Read other articles about the salary of nurses and salaries in Germany so you will be aware of these numbers.

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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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