Software engineers are needed all over the world, including technologically advanced Germany. The German economy is growing rapidly, more and more tech companies are launching every year while old and established businesses get digitalized. The country needs qualified software engineers so they can keep up with the progress. Before deciding to pursue your career in Germany you need to know how much will you actually make over there?
The average salary of an experienced software engineer in Germany is 56,000 EUR per year or 27 EUR per hour. Beginners earn from 40,000 EUR per year while very experienced workers get paid up to 100,000 EUR per year.
Software engineers are needed in almost all areas of the German economy, car manufacturer, insurance company, banks, universities – every company needs an IT expert who can code. Sounds promising, but the salary is an important factor while deciding where to move, so how much exactly should you expect in Germany as a software engineer?
How Much Will You Earn as a Software Engineer in Germany?
Well, shortly not a little. The salary of a software engineer in Germany depends on many factors and therefore ranges. The average pay is between 42,996 EUR and 72,118 EUR at 40 hours work week.
The starting salary of a software developer is initially between 32,000 EUR and 46,500 EUR. The income difference is related to the professional experience, the industry in which one works, and the level of responsibility in the company, also the location is quite important.
- the starting salary of a software engineer is 32,000 EUR to 46,500 EUR
- with professional experience is between 47,000 EUR and 65,000 EUR
- a senior software engineer can expect between 65,000 EUR and 100,000 EUR.
Not all numbers are equal, Germany is a big country with strong regional differences, let’s look closer to what can affect your monthly pay-check.
Important factors for your salary in Germany as a software engineer
Your Degree: Bachelor, Master, Certificates?
Not only your degree is important for determine a salary in Germany but also further training. Especially for IT specialists, it’s important to educate and progress all the time, technology and trends are changing all the time.
Technology never stands still and it’s constantly changing, further training is an important part of the IT specialist’s career. You should always be open and willing to learn new things in your area of expertise.
A bachelor’s degree is a requirement for software engineers in Germany, but the master will increase your salary and responsibilities.
Applicants with master degree earn on average 5,000 EUR annually more that one with a bachelor.
Germany has even vocational training to become a software developer, which lasts 3 years and the average salary is 28,000 EUR per year.
Size of the company
Two other important factors that influence the salary development of a software developer are the size of the company and the location of the company. As a rule, you can say: the bigger a company is, the better the salary opportunities.
Salary expectations: when working in companies up to 500 employees – 44,028 EUR; between 501 and 1,000 employees – 49,740 EUR; from 1k employees – 58,080 EUR.
The location also plays a big role in your salary in Germany, so the best-paid regions are Baden-Württemberg (52,140 EUR), Bavaria (50,328 EUR), followed by Berlin (46,332 EUR).
When talking about the best city to work in Frankfurt software engineers can expect the highest salary of 64,572 EUR on average, followed by Stuttgart – 64,296 EUR and Munich with 63,600 EUR annually.
17% of all available jobs in city Dresden are dedicated for developers or similar jobs. So you might also look for a city to work not in relation to salary but to the availability of open positions for your skillet. Overall, Berlin and Munich have the most jobs for software engineers.
Another factor that is important for the salary of software engineers is professional experience. Depending on the company’s field, employers can require between 2 and 5 years of professional experience.
The experience should be closely relevant to the field that you’re applying for. Employers might also ask applicants for some of the code samples so they can see if the candidate fulfills their criteria.
Depending on the size of the company, it may well happen that software developers are allowed to take over tasks from similar IT areas, this often happens with smaller companies.
Software engineers with a business background can even make it to the managing director. In general, every professional experience that you have gives you better chances for a better position and salary.
On average, brand new software developers start their career with a salary of 39,250 EUR annually, with some years of experience the income grows to 56,000 EUR on average. The absolute top pay can be up to 100,000 EUR annually. Having a master’s degree will positively influence the salary of a software engineer in Germany on average by 5,000 EUR.
Check salaries in Germany on Gehalt.de – the best tool for computation between occupations, seniority, experience, location.
Best-Paid Industries to Work as a Software Engineer
Besides a successful degree and working experience, the industry plays an important role in the salary of a software engineer in Germany. Even in this economically strong country, you can ruin your paycheck by choosing the wrong direction.
In Germany best-paid industries to work as software engineers are:
- banks and insurances
- medical technology
- automotive industry
- pharmaceutical industry
- educational institutions
- metal and chemical industries
- petroleum processing industry
In these industries, software engineers earn an average of around 60,000 EUR.
However, these companies and industries traditionally provide jobs for software engineers in Germany:
- information and telecommunication technology companies
- software companies
- IT (EDV in Germany) service providers
- engineering offices
Due to the digitalization, IT experts can work in many different areas, today different businesses have IT departments or IT research and development facilities.
Which Skills Must a Software Engineer Possess?
Germany especially pays attention to the hard skills of the person over the soft skills. Traditionally skills that show your expertise are always had been more important, for instance, your communication ability.
Typical hard skills a software engineer or software developer should have to work in Germany are:
- software development
- system design and architecture
- algorithms and data structures
- understanding product development
- consulting of software solutions
- English skills and ideally German
Not all of them are a must but one should master at least one programming language.
Soft skills which are nice to have when looking for a job in Germany:
- customer orientation
- communication skills
In-depth knowledge of programming languages is essential to be able to work as a software engineer in Germany.
Situation in Germany
In 2019, Germany was missing 124,000 IT specialists including software engineers, the demand has increased by 50% from the last year. To find a suitable person takes 6 months on average, some companies don’t receive an application for their job positions altogether!
This is a big complication for German employers, many projects have to be postponed or won’t be started at all.
Another problem of employers is that some German developers expect a high salary despite the lack of skills or incapability to get a job done. Some practically don’t possess some important for IT specialist skills and knowledge.
Every third company with at least one job offer is looking for an IT expert. This shows the serious changes that are taking place in the German economy due to digitalization.
Software is becoming more and more part of the core business. This means that the software development process is now in companies across all industries and it is becoming massively more and more important. Software engineers, data scientists, and IT project managers are frequently searched for.
Furthermore, German schools aren’t managing to train enough computer science students, the numbers are only slightly increasing with the years, disproportionally with the demand. In 2018 it was around 27,000 universities and vocational school graduates with the IT majors.
Foreign Software Engineers in Germany
German government relies on immigration as a part of the solution for this labor shortage. They understand that it is not foreign experts depend on Germany but Germany depends on them.
Since 2012 employment of foreigners had been increased in IT and in STEM fields overall. This had begun thanks to the introduction of a new immigration program – EU Blue Card. Thousands of people from EU and non-EU countries coming to Germany via an attractive immigration program every year.
Im March 2020 German government made some changes in immigration law, which make it even easier for non-EU nationals to come to work in Germany.
The regulations were made particularly easy for IT specialists: now they are allowed to enter the country and search for a job without a degree, but with several years of working experience in the IT industry.
The majority of software engineers and developers come from non-EU countries (59%) such as India, Russia, Turkey, Balkans respectively, and EU countries (41%). The future of Germany pretty much depends on foreign IT exerts, unless companies find the way to outsource these processes in other countries.
Foreign professionals are well qualified, experienced, and have been an important part of the workforce in Germany: particularly Indian IT specialists can be a solution for the massive human resources shortage and for the shortage of skilled IT workers in Germany.
Demographics strong third countries for international recruiting all the more important. India in particular offers an enormous potential of professionals, especially digital talents.
With that said you, as an overseas software engineer, have excellent chances to get a good job in Germany and so in the future.
Below you can see a video with a software engineer from India, who gives excellent advice on how to find a job in Germany.
Opportunities for Software Engineers in Germany
Software engineers and IT specialists, in general, have enormous job opportunities in Germany and so all over the world! People with programming skills are in demand in many countries, including Germany. In fact, 1 out of 10 jobs in Germany are for software engineers.
Additionally, there are some major difficulties with the labor market for IT professionals. German recruiters need on average 6 months to find the right candidate for the position in IT, this is longer than for any other academic professions.
Consequently, this fact provides EU and non-EU software engineers and other IT experts great chances to receive a well-paid job in Germany and migrate for a long term living without many difficulties.
Great chances for immigration to Germany
Applicants who receive a job will be granted a 4 years residence permit – EU Blue Card, which can be exchanged on a permanent residence permit afterward. The permanent residence permit doesn’t have a length and will be granted for an unlimited time.
To receive an EU Blue Card candidate must prove a minimum required salary, which is luckily, much lower for IT experts – 43,056 EUR instead of normal 55,200 EUR.
Read more about EU Blue Card and minimum salary.
The same programming languages are used worldwide, therefore IT experts don’t necessarily need to learn German in order to work here. This can be seen as a big advantage for foreign workers since German employers often want overseas employees to speak the language at least on some level.
In fact, as a software engineer, you often will find yourself working with other nationalities, and not only with Germans, that will enhance your experience with different cultures even more. For this reason, knowing German isn’t something you need even when it comes to communication with colleagues.
Due to your occupation, your contact with clients is minimal, therefore, having good English skills is enough to find a good job in Germany.
With such great demand for skilled workers, you as an expert can basically choose the employer you want to work for. After gaining some years of experience in Germany, software engineers can be promoted to the better position. Apart from promotion German employers increase to pay for employees with the time in a company correspondingly.
The income of an IT expert can grow as much as 100k EUR annually with time, or you can choose a bigger company which consequently pays better.
Furthermore, 86,000 IT specialists are self-employed in Germany, accordingly to German law you can freelance and work full time. This can further expand your income and expertise by taking some projects outside of your day job.
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