This article was originally posted on GermanTechJobs.de - How to find a job as Software Developer in Germany?
If you happen to have a different view on some of the points, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!
- How difficult is it to find a job as a Software Developer in Germany?
- Step-by-step process to finding a job as an EU citizen
- Checklist of things to do after moving to Germany
This is a very common question!
Germany is one of the best countries in Europe to work in as a Software Engineer.
The salaries might not be as high as in the neighboring Switzerland, but still higher than in most other EU countries, and you get a high standard of living with quality public services: education, healthcare and transportation.
The country has a vibrant tech job market with over 30.000 tech job openings and startup hubs like: Berlin, Hamburg or Munich.
At the same time, there are over 800.000 Software Engineers in Germany, so the competition is stiff. The following factors might work in your favor or against you:
1. Work experience and technologies - while getting a job in Germany is not easy, it is even harder as a Junior Software Engineer, especially if you are a foreigner. Most of the companies are looking for Developers with 2+ years of experience.
Having said that, it is possible to find a job even as a Junior, but you should be rather looking at internship or trainee offers (Praktikum in German).
Do you need a degree?
I wouldn't say you need it, but yes - without any work experience it will be your main bargaining chip. If you are experienced though (2+ years), then most companies will turn a blind eye to the lack of a degree.
2. Being German or EU / EEA citizen - if you are a citizen of one of the EU / EEA (European Economic Area) countries it will be pretty easy for you to migrate to Germany - it is a matter of filling the papers after you get the job.
When you find the job and move to Germany, after arrival you just have to visit the Residence Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt) or Immigration Office (Ausländerbehörde) and get registered.
That's why most of the time German companies prefer EU / EEA citizens when searching for new employees.
3. For people from other countries - there are 2 administrative categories:
a) If you are a citizen of the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, South Korea or Israel, you can move to Germany to find a job, and after that apply for a residence permit from the Ausländerbehörde.
b) If you come from any other country, for example: India, Brazil, Ukraine, etc. - then you have to either get a Job-Seeker Visa or find an employee that helps you with a work visa. For more details please refer to the official government website.
4. Language skills - the only official language in Germany is, well… German 🙂
Speaking German fluently is definitely an advantage and many companies simply require it. However, you can still pretty easily find a job with English only, especially in startups or in big corporations.
Nevertheless, if you have the time and possibility - start learning German. Even if you speak it on a basic level (A2 / B1), it will vastly increase your chances on the job market.
Step 1. Apply to companies while staying in your country:
It has 2 big advantages: first, you don’t have to bear the high costs of living in Germany and second, you can focus on the important things - interviews.
In this step, you need to find the job offers. For that, you can use GermanTechJobs.de or any other job board. Alternatively, you might want to get in touch with a headhunter to help you.
We recommend that you apply to as many job openings as possible (even 100+), because it is not easy to actually get an interview, especially with less than 5 years of experience.
If you want to get informed about new job postings in real time and apply as one of the first candidates, check our Job Alert.
It is good to mention in your CV and motivation letter that you are committed to moving to Germany (if you have a family there, bring it up too!). This makes the companies see you as a safe bet and not someone that might run away after a few months.
From our experiences, it is really worth to work with headhunters if you are on Junior level (0-2 years of experience) because German companies tend to be quite reluctant to hire graduate developers from abroad.
A headhunter might easily help you to get some interviews. You have to be cautious though - headhunters often work only with specific companies, and sometimes will not present you the whole picture (you will not have access to the entire job market). If you are working with a proven professional, you should be fine.
Step 2. Job interviews:
Normally the job interview process consists of 2 - 4 steps.
It starts with an introduction call or/and a coding task where you will be asked some basic technical questions.
As the 2nd step, if you are not located in Germany, there might be a video call with live coding.
The last round will be an onsite interview where you visit the company's office in Germany.
The practice of reimbursing travel and accommodation costs is not widely spread, though some companies may offer it, especially the big ones. Therefore, it’s best to try to schedule a couple of onsite interviews on subsequent days, so you won't have to fly back and forth.
After the last interview, you should get a "yes" or "no" answer in the following days, max. 2 weeks.
If you have multiple offers, you might want to negotiate with the companies. Be careful though! Do not give the impression that you only care about the money, because it's still a taboo topic in Germany.
Step 3. Moving to Germany:
Congratulations - you have found your dream job in Germany! After the hard part, there are only formalities left. :)
After signing the contract, you need to prepare to move. If the company doesn’t offer any relocation package / assistance, you have to save about 2.000-4.000 EUR for this purpose.
When you arrive to Germany and want to find a place to live, there are 2 options:
1) Rent a flat or house - this is probably your choice if you are relocating together with your family.
2) Rent only a single room - it might be a good option if you plan to arrive alone (in Germany it’s called a Wohngemeinschaft - living together with other random people or friends).
Finding an apartment in some parts of Germany (especially in Berlin) is quite challenging! You will often end up competing with 20-30 other people that also hunt for the same flat!
The landlords are quite picky, and you will need to make a good impression, show them your job contract and documents proving that you don’t have unpaid debts (from an organisation called SCHUFA).
A good option might be to find a short term rental (for example with Airbnb or Couchsurfing) and patiently search for a long term place when you are already there.
Be aware that, more often than not, you will have to deposit the amount that equals to about 3 monthly rents.
At 1.500 EUR / month it means a single payment of 4.500 EUR! Therefore, if you are on a tight budget it might be a bit tough till you receive your first salary. You will get the deposit back when you're done renting an apartment.
Important formalities after arriving:
Register your stay - If you are a citizen of the EU (or Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland), you don’t need any work permit. You will only need to register your stay at a local Residence Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt) or Immigration Office (Ausländerbehörde).
Open a bank account - There are a few types of banks in Germany:
- Branch Banks (Filialbanks) are traditional banks with a country-wide network, but often higher fees, examples: Postbank, Commerzbank
- Local banks in specific regions, called Sparkasse, Volksbank or Landesbank
- Pure online / mobile / FinTech banks with almost free accounts, like: Fidor, N26 or Kontist.
Choose health insurance (Krankenkasse) - In Germany you can choose between public and private health insurance, but only if you earn more than 64,350 EUR per year (as of 2021). If you earn less you are forced to use the public one, but you can still pick a provider. Health insurance in Germany amounts to around 14,6% of your salary and is deducted automatically (Source).
Other important things - if you plan to use the public transport then it might make sense to buy a long term ticket. Otherwise, bikes or electric scooters are also good choices.
Integrate and have fun - find local groups related to your hobbies and interests. In bigger cities, you may be able to connect with your own ethnic group, as there are some big diasporas living in Germany, like: Turkish, Romanian, Polish or Italian.
How much does life in Germany cost and how high are the taxes?
Germany is quite expensive compared to other EU countries, but not CRAZY expensive like Switzerland. It is worth to mention that there are big differences in rent prices between the various cities, for example: Munich is quite costly, whereas in Berlin you should be able to find a place with lower rents.
Your first month or two might be a bit tough, but after receiving the salary you will quickly realize that the things are actually quite affordable.
Below you can find a breakdown of income and costs for someone earning 60.000 EUR and living in Berlin:
60.000 EUR annually (according to this calculator) gets you 3.049,25 EUR net per month. This is assuming that you are single and not a church member, because there is an extra tax (around 9% of your income tax) if you belong to one. It assumes that you are single and don't have children (Germany offers a generous tax reduction if you have kids).
Income tax in Germany is a complex topic. The taxation is progressive, which means you pay a bigger percentage the more you earn. There are also six tax classes in Germany - the rates are based on your civil status (being single or married, having children, etc.). We recommend checking the gov resources for more information.
To simplify, let’s assume 3.000 EUR to spend per month.
Now let’s move to the costs:
- Apartment: 800-1.500 EUR (with 1.5k you can get a pretty, but not the biggest flat in the center) or a single room in a flat: 500-900 EUR
- Food: 150-700 EUR (150 if you always cook for yourself, 700 if you are a foodie and eat out every 2nd day)
- Entertainment: 200–500 EUR (a beer in a pub costs ~5 EUR, monthly gym subscription 40 EUR. Again, all depends on you, but you can have a lot of fun without spending much)
- Other: 150-300 EUR (phone, clothes, public transport, a car, etc.)
To sum up: if you are single and opt for "live cool and don't care about expenses" style, then an average developer salary will be enough (it might be harder if you have a family to feed).
On the other hand, if you choose to go the student-like route (living in Wohngemeinschaft and not eating out too much), you can easily manage with just 1.200-1.500 EUR per month, and save the majority of your salary.
As you can see, both options are doable!
If this article got you interested in finding a job in Germany, you've come to the right place! GermanTechJobs is a job board dedicated for Software Developers - you can check out the job offers here.