Working as a Nurse in the UK vs Germany: Opportunity Overview

Mar 3, 2020Become a Nurse, Get Started, Work in Germany

The UK and Germany both very popular countries for foreign nurses to work in. Both of them have the world’s leading healthcare systems, and medical care is freely accessible to everyone. But where is it better to work as a nurse? Which benefits these countries have to offer to foreign employees?

The Main Differences in Nursing Work in the UK vs. Germany

Let’s start an overview by defining differences and similarities of nursing job and employee benefits. The color identified which country is better&worst&equal in this aspect.


The UK: £22,128 to £28,746 (25,373 EUR – 32,961 EUR)

Germany: 27,600 EUR

Nurses in the UK receive on average higher salaries than in Germany. The average ranges from £22,128 to £28,746 (25,373 EUR – 32,961 EUR), and £35,000 – £45,000 for senior nurses, when the very common annual salary for German nurses is 27,600 EUR with an increase to 42,000 EUR for senior professionals.

You can check salaries for all professions in Germany under It shows you real numbers, which range with location, experience, and company.

Language requirements

The UK: IELTS level 7; OET – B

Germany: Goethe-Zertifikat level B2; TestDaF – TDN 2; telc – B2

Nurses are not required to learn a new language to work in the UK. But they need to pass particular exams if not a native speaker.

German is the official language in Germany. Everyone who willing to work as a nurse in this country required to learn a new language and have a certificate in order to apply for a job and do the job of course.

Weekend and night work surcharge

The UK: Sundays/Holidays – 60% of the regular hour fare; Nights and Saturdays – 30%

Germany: Sundays – 50%, Holidays – 150%, Nights – 25-30%

If a nurse chooses to work on bank holidays and Sundays, they will be paid 60% more, while those who opt to work nights and Saturdays will be paid 30% more.

Meanwhile in Germany night surcharge is between 25% – 30% of the regular hour fare, 25% is tax-free. As you can see nurses who prefer to work at night earn on average much more than someone working regular hours.

In fact, Sundays are paid 50% (tax-free) more than normal fare, and working on holidays will bring you 150% more than on an average day, plus 40% (tax-free) night fare applicable if working at night hours.

We offer you a personal assistant and support starting with writing your application letter to the organization of visa and moving to Germany. Write us an email on if you want to know more and determined to work in Germany. You can also leave your request on the services page down below.


The UK: A minimum of 27 working days plus 8 bank days = 35 per year

Germany: A minimum of 24 free working days per year

Nurses in the UK have a minimum of 27 working days off per year and additionally 8 bank days, which brings it to 35 days of vacation. Moreover, after working for 5 years holidays are increases to 29 days. And, after 10 years of service, the original 27 days increase to 33 days.

German nurses enjoy at least 24 free working days per year, but more often it’s between 25 and 30 days per year since each employer can regulate this on its own. Unfortunately, health workers don’t enjoy public holidays as other professions do.

Working hours

The UK: 37,5 hours per week, the most common scheme is twelve-hour shifts

Germany: 40 hours per week, 3 shifts each 8 hours long

Nurses n the UK working on average 37,5 hours with scheduled shifts. They might be eight, twelve, or even sixteen hours long and may not follow the traditional pattern of the day, evening, and night shifts. Although the most common scheme is twelve-hour shifts usually start at 7 p.m. and end at 7 a.m., some start at 3 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. 

While in Germany nurses prefer to work in 3 shifts each 8 hours long, in total brings the working week to 40 hours per week. Each employer can set a schedule for shifts but often you can see this scheme:

  1. Morning shift: 6 am to 2:30 pm
  2. Evening/late shift: 1:30 pm to 10:00 pm
  3. Night shift: 8:30 pm to 6:00 am

Refunds for language courses

The UK: Foreign nurses get reimbursed costs of the IELTS – £170 and OET £349

Germany: No refunds, nurses pay 210 EUR for Goethe-Zertifikat and 195 EUR for TestDaF

Both in the UK and Germany future nurses will need to pass language exams and tests to pursue the career. However, in comparison to Germany, the UK health system will refund the costs of there exams such as IELTS and OET, which will be paid together with the nurse’s first month’s salary.

Unfortunately, Germany doesn’t refund the costs of language exams to future nurses, for example, examination fees for Goethe-Zertifikat B2 are 210 EUR and the most popular test TestDaF costs 195 EUR.

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Nursing Education

The UK: University degree is required

Germany: No university degree needed yet vocation training

In most countries in the world and the UK isn’t an exception to become a nurse you will need a university degree, however, Germany is very advanced with apprenticeships or so-called vocation training.

The most common way to get a nursing qualification in Germany is to complete a 3-year nursing apprenticeship which even provides a monthly salary of 1,000 EUR during the all 3 years.


Income Tax

The UK: Income tax of 20% plus foreign fee 460 EUR per year; 2,099 EUR monthly after tax

Germany: Varies between 30% and 42%; 1,610 monthly after tax

On average the UK nurse earns £2,250 (2,587 EUR) gross monthly and £1,825 (2,099 EUR) after tax. As you can see UK income taxes just around 20% for the salaries range between £12,501 – £50,000, which is normally the case for nurses.

In addition to the income taxes, migrant workers (incl. nurses) coming to the UK from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and their relatives have to pay an annual fee of £200 (230 EUR) each.

And the bad news is that later this year, the annual charge will be doubled from £200 to £400 (460 EUR), with the discounted rate for students set to increase from £150 to £300.

That is apparently a heavy financial and mental load for foreigners who also have responsibilities for their families. They can end up paying 1,380 EUR annually 115 EUR monthly for one kind and the spouse.

In Germany, foreign nurses don’t have to pay any additional fees or taxes in that meaning. Nurses in Germany pay between 30% and 42% of their gross monthly salary in taxes.

So with an average salary of 2,300 EUR income taxes will be around 690 EUR, hence a nurse will receive 1,610 EUR in hands.

Furthermore, all employees in Germany have to pay solidarity surcharge, which is 5,5% of the gross salary. That’s it, employees still can live a comfortable life with the rest of the money and various bonuses.

Employees Benefits

The UK and Germany have different social systems and therefore benefits for employees.

Income Protection its something Germany doesn’t have, it is an insurance policy purchased by an employer that will protect the finances of their employees if an illness or injury prevents them from working.

If a nurse is diagnosed with such a health problem and needs to take time off work to recover, an income protection policy will pay out monthly benefits to her/him which is 65% of their pre-tax earnings.

Depending on the policy options they choose, nurses can claim these benefits for up to 2 years or until they reach retirement age if their condition is serious enough to continually prevent them from returning to work. 

Life Insurance is another insurance Germany doesn’t have. Its a company organized group insurance scheme that promises to support an employee’s family if they pass away or develop a terminal illness while employed by the company.

The support usually made at one time and contains 2-4 times the employee’s annual salary, but it’s up to each company to decide how much they prefer to pay. This payment can be used to cover a funeral, pay off loans, or help a family cover their everyday expenses while they adjust.

Read more about employee benefits in Germany in my detailed article.

The Similarities of Nursing Work in the UK vs. Germany

Despite all the differences, there are also many similarities between Germany and the UK and the professional pathway of foreign nurses.


The UK: Nurses can take their spouse with them, once the job and visa confirmed

Germany: Foreign nurses can also invite their family after they received a German residence permit

Continual training

The UK: Nurses can do continual training in 4 areas: mental health, adult, child, and learning disability

Germany: Has an endless range of qualifications and continual training for practicing nurses

Same as in Germany, nurses in the UK undergo continual training, therefore they have many opportunities for career progression.

Although UK nurses can specialize in one of 4 areas of care: mental health, adult, child, and learning disability. With additional training, they could also become a midwife, nursing manager or research nurse.

In Germany, nurses can expand their expertise, career and salary opportunities by specializing in one of the many fields:

  • Anesthesia and intensive care
  • Operations and endoscopy service
  • Oncology
  • Clinical geriatrics
  • Rehabilitation and long-term care
  • Palliative and hospice care
  • Hygiene
  • Nephrology
  • Psychiatric care
  • Orthopedics
  • General Internal Medicine
  • Geriatric
  • Obstetrics (women doctor)
  • Neurology
  • Pediatrics
  • Psychiatric
  • Maternity and newborn care

Sick pay

The UK: Nurses can get £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for up to 28 weeks

Germany: First 6 weeks nurses get sick pay which is equal to regular day salary, after – financial support for up to 78 weeks

Both the UK and Germany pay employed nurses sick days. However, in the UK most employees are entitled to £94.25 a week after their first 4 days off sick. It’s called Statutory Sick Pay and covers them up to 28 weeks of not working.

Nurse can also have additional Sick Pay Insurance which provides short-term financial support for sickness absence. It can start from as little as one week’s absence and generally pays out for up to one year’s.

In Germany, nurses are entitled to sick pay equal to regular day salary for the first 6 weeks and under certain circumstances, the employer has to continue payments for up to 12 weeks.

After the six weeks, there is an option for additional weeks if needed – sickness benefit, it gives you financial support for up to 78 weeks (1,6 years). The exact allowance varies but it’s surely more than £94.25 per week in the UK, that will be even not enough to pay for your rent.


The UK: A nurse and employer share pension contributions which is between 8% and 9.3% of the monthly salary

Germany: Fixed pension contribution 18,7% of the gross salary, 9,35% paid by the employer and 9,35% paid by the nurse

Both UK and Germany guarantee solid pension for its nurses, with small differences in pension schemes.

The UK offers one of the best pension plans in the country for nurses. New employees will be automatically enrolled from the first working day with pension contributions lie between 7.1% and 9.3% depending on starting salary. Where an employee and their employer each regularly put a set amount of money into the pension account.

Germany on another hand has the same fixed pension contribution for all professions which is 18,7% of the gross salary, 9,35% paid by the employer and 9,35% paid by the employees.

Read a full article about the benefits of working as a nurse in Germany.

Conclusion: The main similarities I have noticed while reading many reviews, experiences, and articles is that Germany and the UK have the same issues with the health workers:

Nurses are underpaid, underappreciated and can’t work independently, for almost every step they need approval from the doctor or senior nurse/department manager.

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The Best Counties to Work as a Nurse

Germany and the UK had been so far two favorite places for foreign nurses, in fact, statistics say that of every 1,000 nurses in England 869 are British, 55 are from other EU countries, 44 are Asian, 21 are African and 11 from somewhere else.

The UK nursing industry dominated by Indians and Filipino. Meanwhile, in Germany, 134,000 nurses from abroad were working in German hospitals (2019).

Germany and the UK are probably the easiest to get a job/visa places and true they are very foreigners friendly. Yet there are better places for nurses on this planet. Read below the list of the top 5 countries to work as a nurse.

1. United States

2. Canada 

3. Luxembourg

4. Australia

5. Ireland

The United States

With an average annual salary of approximately $67,490 for a registered nurse and earned respect and responsibility the US is one of the best countries to be a nurse. After pursuing a master’s degree nurses can have salaries almost on the doctor level.

Qualification of many foreign nurses hard to recognize. Thus will need to pass exams and get the certification.

The top five states that have the current highest employment rates for nurses are:

  1. California ($274,650)
  2. Texas ($207,810)
  3. New York ($180,730)
  4. Florida ($174,710)
  5. Pennsylvania ($139,480)


Canada has a well-funded universal health care system where nurses with skills and experience in several specializations are in demand. Internationally educated nurses (IENs) who want to work in the country should get licensed the same way as Canadian registered nurses. They can expect an annual income between $48,000 and $55,000.


Luxembourg is a good place for nurses willing to earn a high salary, live in a very stable and quiet country. Luxembourg surprisingly tops the list when it comes to monthly payments for nurses.

The country is small in size and a population, have generous pay and tax haven laws.

Salary is way above the normal, even junior nurses start on around $60,000, while the average annual income of experienced nurses is $105,749. The earning can grow up to $125,000 per year.

If your goal is earning money and have a secure workplace – Luxembourg is one of the places on the planet.

The downside is the almost impossible way of getting a work visa. Openings for nursing jobs take years to happen. 

But if nurse an EU/EEA citizen, she/he won’t have a problem getting employment in Luxembourg, visa isn’t required in this case.


An average annual salary of a registered nurse is around $46,720. However, as their experience increases, their salary increases along with it. Salaries can be as high as $60,000 per year.

If a foreign degree doesn’t get recognition in Australia, nurses have received a certificate from the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC) in order to become a certified nurse.


Big advantage of Ireland – its English speaking coutry and part of the European Union. So if you want to stay in Europe you have another choice apart from the UK.

The drawback is that you can only work and practice as a nurse in Ireland if you are registered with the NMBI or their Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland.

So basically nurses who don’t possess this kind of credentials will need to repeat the qualification procedure in Ireland. A certification from the board must be obtained first before applying for a nurse position in the country.

The average salary ($48,000) is also higher than in the UK and the working conditions are good. But this salary will receive nurses with some experience, junior sisters will enjoy a bit lower amount.

Recommended products and services in Germany:

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