What are the rules for international students working in Germany?
There are plenty of employment opportunities for international students in Germany, but there are a few rules and restrictions in place.
Most importantly, students can only work for 20 hours a week. Working more than the defined hours will result in the obligation to contribute to Germany’s Social Security fund.
If you come from outside the EU or EEA, you can only work for either 120 full days or 240 half days every year. A full day is defined as 8 hours, while a half-day is 4 hours. Internships count, even if they are unpaid, although many student assistant or tutor jobs inside universities are not covered.
Such jobs are ideal for all students who need a little extra cash. However, make sure you register with the Foreigners’ Office if you take a student assistant job. That way, your work will not be deducted from your annual total.
There are also restrictions on income for all students in Germany. If you earn less than €520 per month, your income will not be taxed. If you earn more than this amount, income taxes will be in effect. However, students are exempt from paying unemployment insurance contributions, even when their income is above the threshold.
Nonetheless, they may need to pay extra health insurance contributions when they pass the threshold (although many students keep their special health insurance status). They will also need to pay a pension contribution, which is dependent on how high their monthly income is.
The extra costs can therefore make higher pay brackets more expensive than working shorter hours, encouraging students to focus on their studies. But this varies from job to job, so be clear about your income before taking a post.
These employment rules apply to holders of a German student visa or residence permit. If you are studying for a language qualification, your employment options are more limited.
Additionally, there are special rules regarding freelancing and self-employment. These roles are only available for EU/EEA students.
How do international students find work in Germany?
Now that we’ve got the legal side of things out of the way, let’s look at how to find your ideal student job. There are a few ways to hunt for jobs, so maximise your options to give yourself as many choices as possible.
Many students find casual work at restaurants, shops, or bars by getting to know their local neighbourhood. Job ads are regularly posted in windows and on noticeboards, while newspapers are also a good source of leads. If your German is fluent, feel free to introduce yourself to potential workplaces and hand over an up-to-date resume.
However, these days there are special websites for students, which make tramping around town much less necessary. For instance, Studentjob.de lists positions advertised specifically for students in college towns all over the country. You can even toggle the language search to English to make life easier (and possibly find jobs that can take advantage of your language skills).
If that does not work, there’s Jobbörse. This is a huge employment bulletin board run by the German state. Either site is a really useful source of ideas to make online applications simple.
On the other hand, you may choose to work within your academic institution. In that case, ask tutors for advice about whom to approach and what types of positions are available. Most university departments will have noticeboards featuring currently advertised positions.
And remember: those posts will probably not count towards your annual quota, leaving you free to find more work during holiday periods.
What type of student jobs can I expect to find in Germany?
Don’t expect to find high-powered jobs, which are the first step on a lucrative and fulfilling career ladder. That’s not the way the student employment system in Germany works, and very few applicants find high-paying jobs alongside their studies.
Instead, student work is intended to be a supplement to academic work, helping students get by during their degrees. Having said that, there’s no reason student work should be boring or exploitative. There are many good opportunities for applicants to explore.
The most common jobs available to foreign students in Germany are the types that Germans generally refer to as “side jobs.” This includes roles like babysitting or tutoring (English instruction for children is a common side job). But it could include waiting tables, working in hospitality roles at major events and parties, staffing trade fair booths, or basic retail work. Many of these jobs are relatively low-paying but can be excellent ways to meet Germans and learn the language.
The other major form of employment is within your academic institution. This often involves working as a research assistant for senior academics or project teams. However, it can also involve working in libraries, fundraising, or even performing teaching tasks.
These jobs can be a valuable part of your academic growth, helping to supplement your degree. And they also offer great networking opportunities for those who are keen to pursue a career in German academia.
Understanding the different types of student work in Germany
Also known as side jobs, mini-jobs are a specific category in Germany’s employment system. Designed to make the labour market more “flexible” so that employers can hire the workers they need, mini-jobs come with a maximum monthly salary of €520 (€6240 per year), and none of this income qualifies for income tax.
There is also a related category of “short-term jobs,” which last for under three months or 70 working days (assuming a 5-hour day). They aren’t usually applicable to students because of the need to focus during the semester. However, students may apply during the long summer holiday. Just like mini-jobs, they aren’t taxed as long as workers stay within the legal guidelines.
Many students in Germany take internships to prepare for the world of work and build ties with companies. If they last for longer than 3 months, internships must be paid, but shorter roles can be unpaid. In both cases, the hours you work will count against your annual work quota. Generally speaking, internships are arranged via your academic institution, which should have a liaison office to connect students and employers.
In some cases, student jobs will be the same as mini-jobs (if they are part-time and pay less than €520 a month). But this does not have to be the case. It’s not hard to find a part-time job in Germany that pays more than that amount, and academic posts aren’t generally classified as mini-jobs either.
Do not assume that your part-time student job is untaxed. Instead, seek advice when applying and make sure you pick a job that’s economical, fits in with your study programme, and offers an enjoyable experience at the same time.
Get your proof of financial resources for your studies in Germany
As soon as you have enough money to study in Germany, you can apply for a visa. For this, you need proof of financial resources. The most convenient way to provide this proof is by opening a digital blocked account – with Fintiba it is quick, secure and will be accepted by all German authorities with a 100% guarantee.
The Fintiba Companion: Guiding your way to Germany
Never miss an important step on your journey to Germany. From preparing your university application to mastering your visa application and navigating through daily life in Germany – the Fintiba Companion provides you with relevant information throughout all important stages of your German adventure within a comprehensive checklist – tailored to your individual situation.
Last update: October 9, 2023