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Finding a job and working in Germany – What you need to know


Germany is the powerhouse of Europe. With the fourth largest economy worldwide and with it providing 28% of the EU’s GDP, it is an excellent choice for contractors looking to secure engaging, rewarding and financially beneficial work. With a trade surplus of €310 billion, it is also the world’s largest capital exporter; it is no wonder that Germany is a superb location for landing contract roles, but how do you go about working in this land of plenty?

Finding and applying for a job

Speaking German is not a prerequisite for working in Germany as English is commonly spoken, with plenty of vacancies available for English speakers. However, having a basic grasp of German will certainly aid you in the process of securing a contract. With such a buoyant economy, the opportunity to secure a contract requiring specialist skills is high.

Having a degree or vocational qualification will push a contractor up the list when looking for work, especially for engineers and people working in the IT sector. There are 60 professions regulated by the German state and if your profession falls under one of these, you will need to have your qualifications officially recognised by the relevant authority to be able to carry out your trade. You can search for regulated professions here.

Finding a job in Germany, as a national of an EU member country, is quite simple. There are a variety of job boards catering for differing skills and language abilities. The most recognised of them are:

Work permits & Taxation

For residents of the EU the opportunity to work in Germany is simple, no special permits or applications are needed.

Germany, like many countries, provides a non-taxable allowance which currently stands at €9,000 for unmarried people and €18,000 for married people and those in civil partnerships. Earnings above this amount are subject to German income tax. Income tax varies between 14% and 42% with the highest rate only payable on earnings over €250,731.

The German tax system can become complicated for those working under contract and various rules come into play depending on the length and complexity of a person’s contract. The safest way to ensure compliance and that one isn’t landed with a unexpected tax bill is to become an employee on an umbrella company with the experience to guide, advise and manage any tax and employment matters.

Cultural Differences

Time management and punctuality are central to the culture of German business and both are essential to observe if one is to succeed. The average working week in Germany is 38 hours and businesses are run in a strict hierarchical fashion but with an emphasis on inclusion, allowing all stratas of an organisation to take part in decision-making processes.

Germans work the least hours in Europe but are the most productive – this should be a good indication of the general work ethic within German organisations. Efficiency and high productivity are two of the main pillars with German companies and anyone considering taking a contract there should be able to quickly blend into this type of environment. The third pillar to the German work environment is structure, whether in meetings or a project environment, rigidly sticking to a predefined structure is an essential element to a harmonious work environment.

Germany is a cosmopolitan, vibrant place to work with many opportunities for a skilled professional to develop their talents whilst enjoying the many cultural delights across this large and varied country. However, taxation can be a minefield and not one someone should cross without a guiding hand. Liberty Bishop have been successfully employing contractors in Germany for over a decade and our country experts are here to help.

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