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Can I do an apprenticeship in Germany as a foreigner?

Click here for German version.

Applicants from the EU, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland

Applicants from these countries are allowed to complete an apprenticeship in Germany without a visa or legal requirements. All you have to do is to inform the responsible citizens' or residents' registration office of your new place of residence.

Applicants from other countries

All applicants from third countries need a visa, which they have to apply for at the responsible foreign representative office in their country. In order to obtain the visa successfully, you have to meet some requirements:

  • You already have a training contract with a company in Germany
  • You need the approval of the German Federal Employment Agency
  • You need a proof of sufficient financial means for your stay

The Specialist Immigration Act, which has been in force since the beginning of 2020, also states that you can only apply for a visa for 6-9 months for the purpose of seeking training. During this time you are allowed to do up to 10 hours of internships per week to find a suitable training. During this time you will not receive any social benefits and you must be able to finance your own living expenses.

What requirements do I have to meet for an apprenticeship in Germany?

  • You must have your school-leaving certificate and your professional qualifications recognized in Germany (More about the recognition procedure can be found here: Anabin)
  • You need a good knowledge of German at least at B1 level (for nurse training even B2 level)
  • You have to provide your own livelihood (at least 600-700 Euro per month)
  • You need health insurance
  • You need a proven accommodation

How do I find an apprenticeship in Germany and how do I apply?

  1. Find out about the German education system
  2. Find out which profession suits you and take our career choice test
  3. Find vacancies in our job market
  4. Write your application with our application tips 
  5. Apply directly online at German training companies

Please find more information about training in Germany here:

Recognition of school leaving certificate

If you did not graduate from school in Germany, but would like to start an apprenticeship or a dual study program in Germany, then you must have your school leaving certificate recognized and put on a par with a German degree.

Vocational training in Germany

I am looking for vocational training in Germany

Vocational training in Germany can be completed as a dual education or as school-based training. In a dual training system, the practical part takes place in the company and the theoretical part in the vocational school. You are entitled to a training allowance. In school-based training, both parts are taught at school and supplemented by a practical training period in the company. It is possible that you will have to pay school fees or charges for the school-based training.

By the way, the dual education is a special feature of the German-speaking countries, which attracts worldwide attention. The dual education system exists in a similar form in Switzerland, Austria and South Tyrol.

I have a foreign school-leaving certificate

In Germany there are the following school-leaving certificates:

  • Hauptschulabschluss / secondary school-leaving certificate
  • Mittlerer Bildungsabschluss (Secondary school-leaving certificate)
  • Hochschulreife/Abitur (University entrance qualification)

There are also some intermediate forms such as the Fachhochschulreife, the subject-specific higher education entrance qualification and the subject-specific Fachhochschulreife. Since your school-leaving certificate is usually equated with one of the first 3 mentioned certificates, we will not go into the other forms of certificates in detail.

You can have your school-leaving certificate equated with a German school-leaving certificate if your learning outcomes are comparable and there are no significant differences.

Hauptschulabschluss / Secondary School Certificate

To be equal to a secondary school-leaving certificate, at least 9 school years are required.

You must prove by a certificate that you have passed the following subjects:

  • (Your) mother tongue
  • A foreign language (e.g. German)
  • Mathematics
  • Scientific subject (e.g. biology, chemistry, physics)
  • Sociological subject (e.g. history, politics)
  • Music, Art and Physical Education

If you have not passed these subjects or have attended school for less than 9 years, then you can only have your school-leaving certificate recognized if you also have professional training.

Mittlerer Bildungsabschluss/ Secondary School Certificate

In order to get a secondary school-leaving certificate (Mittlere Reife, Realschulabschluss) recognized, you must prove 10 years of schooling in ascending order.

  • (Your) mother tongue
  • A foreign language (e.g. German)
  • Mathematics
  • Scientific subject (e.g. biology, chemistry, physics)
  • Sociological subject (e.g. history, politics)
  • Music, Art and Physical Education

Hochschulreife/ University entrance qualification

If you want to have your university entrance qualification recognized, the recognition office of the federal state in which you live or in which you want to start your education decides on the recognition.

Here you can get your school-leaving certificate recognized

To have your school-leaving certificate recognized, you must contact the office responsible for your state (Bundesland). These offices are called recognition offices.

The responsible offices can also be accessed via the database. The central office for evaluating foreign qualifications is the ZAB (Zentralstelle für ausländisches Bildungswesen).

Studies in Germany

I am looking for (dual) Studies in Germany

In Germany, a course of study can be completed as a pure full-time course of study or as a dual course of study. Full-time studies take place at a university, a university of applied sciences or a university of art, film and music. In a dual study program, theory is taught at a university or academy, while practical training takes place in a company. Depending on the type of dual study program, you can acquire a vocational qualification in addition to your degree, e.g. as a bank clerk. In a dual study program, the student is paid by the employer. Often the employer also pays the tuition fees.

Here you can find more information about the duration, organization and remuneration of a dual study program.

I have a high school diploma / Abitur

Basically, if you would be entitled to begin a course of study in your home country, you can usually study in Germany with your foreign school-leaving certificate.

In order to be able to begin a course of study or a dual study program in Germany, you must have your school-leaving certificate recognized. Your university or university of cooperative education decides whether you will be admitted to the (dual) study program.

It is important to know: The education system in Germany is not centrally regulated. Each of the 16 federal states has its own guidelines and higher education laws. In addition, the universities in Germany are mostly independent. Therefore: Always ask exactly which regulations apply at the university or academy of your choice. However, if you are taking a dual study program, your employer will usually be familiar with the regulations and requirements for your studies.

If you have already completed your studies in your country of origin and would now like to continue studying in Germany, you must have your degree recognized. The International Office at your university is responsible for this. Here you can find the addresses: https://www.daad.de/deutschland/in-deutschland/hochschule/de/9147-der-erste-ansprechpartner/

Jetzt passende Ausbildung oder Duales Studium finden

I am looking for work in Germany and I have foreign education

How can I start working in Germany?

You have studied abroad (e.g. law, medicine) or learned a profession (e.g. confectioner, banker or cook) and would like to work in Germany? Then you first have to check if your profession is a regulated profession. If this is the case, then you must have your professional qualification officially recognized in order to practice your profession in Germany.

Regulated professions in Germany include medical professions, legal professions, apprenticeship professions, master craftsman professions and professions in the public sector.

I have completed university studies / Training

Regulated profession

If you want to work in a regulated profession in Germany, you must have your professional qualification recognized. Depending on the federal state, there are different competent authorities. For crafts and trades, it is usually the chamber of crafts in your region, for architects it is the respective chamber of architects, and for dental assistants it is for example the (state) chamber of dentists. Here you can find the right contact person for the recognition of your regulated profession: http://www.anabin.de/ [Responsible offices in Germany -> Select profession -> Jobs by federal states are displayed].

Non-regulated profession

Most professions (about 350) are not regulated in Germany, i.e. you do not need to have them recognized and can apply directly or become self-employed. The employer must then decide whether you are qualified. So far, there is a lack of uniform assessment procedures and standards. This has changed with the new Professional Qualification Act (Recognition Act) in spring 2012. Since then, you are entitled to an assessment procedure for your vocational qualification regardless of your nationality. This makes it easier for you to find a job in a profession that matches your qualifications.

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