Managing your finances while living in a foreign country as a student can be a difficult task. However, it becomes much easier when your host country allows you to work while you study. So working part-time during your studies is vital to support your expenses.
And therefore, if you are in Germany, you are in luck! German law allows you to work in the country while you are staying there on a student visa. Despite the hour restrictions, the work experience that you can gain while studying in university is valuable for your employment opportunities after you graduate.
But there are several regulations and different work opportunities for students in Germany. And we, Team Coracle, are here to take you through it all.
When Can You Start Working As A Student In Germany?
As a student of a German university, you can technically start working in the country from the day of your arrival. But the bigger question is – should you? Your blocked account has your expenses covered for a whole year so getting a job might not be an immediate requirement for everyone.
However, being employed early on during your stay in Germany might help you save up enough for your second year of studies in the country. So, let’s look at the pros and cons of working as soon as you reach Germany.
- You start earning money sooner giving you a greater opportunity to save up for your second year.
- You have more time to gain experience in the German job market.
- It presents you with greater opportunities to ask for a hike in the future from your employer.
- You don’t have the time to settle down in your new life leading you to be stressed out with work and studies.
- You lose out on opportunities to mingle and create a social circle in your initial days in a completely new environment and country.
- With one semester of studies completed in Germany, you might be able to attract more opportunities that are focused on your field of study.
Based on our experiences and conversations with international students living in the country, we feel that taking a semester to settle down before starting work is a good idea. But based on your circumstances, you might need to make an informed choice for yourself.
What Are The Regulations For Working In Germany As A Student?
The rules vary slightly for students coming to Germany from EU member states and Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland and those who are not from EU and EEA countries.
The former is allowed to work for 20 hours a week when they are enrolled in a full-time study programme. To maintain their student status, they need to ensure that they are not exceeding this quota of 20 hours of work per week.
For non-EU students, the regulation is 120 full days or 240 half days a year. This math is essentially the same as that for EU students but it is best to check your visa for the advised number of hours as mandated by the Foreign Office.
Some students enrolled in private universities might have an Ausbildung visa that only allows them to work reduced hours a week. This will impact your overall entitlement for work hours and you must ensure you are sticking to this mandate.
You must avoid overshooting your work hours by all means so that you do not have any issues during your visa renewal. Always speak to your employers and inform them of your visa-mandated work hour requirements so that you do not get into trouble at the Ausländerbehörde or the foreigner’s office.
Can You Be An Exception To The Rule?
The rule of working only 120 full-days or 240 half-days per year in Germany as a student is quite iron-clad. But as with everything, there are some special cases. Academic placements, for instance, are outside of this regulation.
When you take up the job of research or student assistant within your university, you do not have to conform to the rules that apply to jobs for international students in general. Working at the university gives you the liberty to work for more than 20 hours a week as long as the subject of your job is in some way related to your studies.
Additionally, if you are doing an internship as a part of your course, it stays outside of your 20-hour limitation. Since this apprenticeship is considered to be a part of your studies, it is exempted from your work hour restrictions.
The reason you need to maintain your 20-hour workweeks in other jobs is to ensure that you do not lose your status as a student. If you work longer than these hours, your education is no longer your primary occupation in Germany and therefore, you might need to get a work visa from the immigration offices.
What Are The Different Kinds of Jobs A Student Can Get?
In Germany, you can choose to work in one of the several types of employment available for students. Each one of them has its advantages, pay ranges and tax-related rules.
- Working Student: The first and most common type of student employment is working in an organization as a part-time working student. You will most likely be working 4 hours a day or 20-hours a week in a job such as this.
Working student jobs mostly belong in the sector that you are pursuing your course in. However, that is not always the case and you can get working student opportunities in sectors completely unrelated to your studies.
A working student job comes with several advantages, the foremost of which is gaining work experience in a German professional landscape. When you work in a new country, certain elements might take a while to get used to. But having this opportunity to observe and participate in a new work culture while you are a student might pose a huge advantage when you look for jobs after you graduate from uni.
Secondly, working part-time while studying in school, allows you to apply the principles and knowledge you gain in a real-life scenario, therefore, making your learning experience more holistic.
And finally, working in a job that is in your area of education gives you a platform to prove yourself as a worthy employee and convert this part-time employment to a permanent job once you finish your studies.
- Mini job: Mini jobs are part-time job contracts with a fixed pay of 450 euros for a month. It requires you to work a maximum of 47 hours a month and does not require you to contribute to social security or insurance if you are a full-time student.
As a mini-jobber, you can earn a part of your monthly expenses by working in jobs in the service sector when you have time from your schedule of studies and assignments. The no-taxation part also makes these types of contracts attractive for employers.
- Midi job: A midi job is a type of employment contract where you have certain privileges of a full-time job such as health insurance, nursing care, unemployment benefits and pension but pay a sliding scale in terms of social contributions.
A midi job can earn you anywhere between 450 to 1,300 euros. You have to pay the full amount towards social insurance once your monthly earning exceeds 850 euros. As an international student, you are eligible to take up a midi job as long as you do not violate the work hours mandated by your visa or residence permit.
- Self-employment or Freelancer: This is where it gets a little tricky for international students. By law, you are not allowed to work as a freelancer in Germany if you are still studying. But if it is unavoidable, you might need to seek permission from the Agentur für Arbeit (Federal Employment Agency) and your local Ausländerbehörde (Foreigner’s Office) before you start your stint.
There is a certain grey area as to what is considered to be freelancing. You might need to research if things such as working as a content creator on Instagram and earning money through brand collaborations would count as freelancing or not.
- Internships: Internships are hands down the most profitable and recommended forms of employment for students. Several institutions mandate their pupils to take up internships as a part of their academic experience in their field of education.
In most cases, these opportunities are paid so that you can learn while earning money. The best part about an internship is the possibility of converting it into a full-time employment opportunity.
How Do I Find A Job?
Finding a student job in Germany might be easier than you think. If you can speak German, make an effort to visit your neighbourhood cafés and stores and share your updated resumes with them so that they can reach out to you when a position opens up.
Another way you can come across jobs is by keeping an eye out on your Uni’s notice board. – both physical and online. A lot of times, potential employers looking to hire part-time employees might be using this space to advertise their job openings. If you find something that catches your eye, give them a call and you might get a job!
This is also a good way for you to find a job within your university in an academic capacity. Besides the board, you can also ask your professors for relevant positions that are available in your department. The jobs you can get in these roles are that of teaching assistants, research assistants but also in libraries, fundraisers and other university-related jobs.
The best part about working in an academic setting is that it doesn’t count towards your yearly quota of hours as a student. You can work other jobs and earn extra money during your vacations within your quota outside of your job with the university.
Moreover, shops often post their job openings on their storefronts and are open to walk-in applications. Plus for jobs in the service industry, you can also follow your favourite cafés and retail spaces on social media to know about new jobs that may open up.
And since you are looking in the digital space, keep your eyes peeled on marketplaces like eBay Kleinanzeigen. Employers often post their vacancies on these platforms looking to hire interested students for mini-jobs or part-time gigs.
How Much Can I Get Paid?
Whichever job you do – in the service industry, in your area of education or your university – one of the most important aspects is the money you earn out of it. Your salary in the student jobs can be an important aspect of your residence permit renewal and funding your stay for the upcoming years of your studies.
As of July 2021, the minimum pay for a job is 9.50 Euros per hour. How much you get paid in your jobs depends on both your level of skills for the particular role as well as the area of your employment. Bigger cities such as Hamburg and Munich often have higher wages with a corresponding higher cost of living.
Similarly, the wages for research assistants, people with prior experiences in their fields of study such as engineers might be significantly higher than jobs in the service industry. The smart move is to use your previous work experience to find jobs that you are good at, increasing your chances of getting better pay.
Do I Need To Pay Taxes and Insurance?
Students can work in Germany without paying taxes as long as their monthly income is less than 450 euros. But if it goes beyond that, you will need a German tax number and will pay a monthly contribution out of your salary. The good part is that you can file for returns at the end of the year and get your tax contributions back since you are only a student.
As for insurance, full-time employees in Germany need to pay social security contributions, including health insurance, nursing care, pension, and unemployment. If you work for less than 70 days in a year or 3 months in one go, you do not need to pay for these contributions.
Depending on your period of employment, you might even have a pension contribution. Students will pay very low amounts to this fund and only if their monthly earnings are exceeding over 450 euros.
Therefore, what you need to bear in mind is that when you work over 20 hours a week or earn more than 450 euros a month you will be considered as an employee in the German tax system and will have similar responsibilities to that of a person with a full-time job. The key is to regulate your income and maintain your mandated hours as per the annual quota.
Why Should I Work As A Student In Germany?
Working while studying might not be something that you are used to in your home countries. But given the higher cost of living, the need to show proof of finance to the Auslanderbehörde and the opportunity to gain work experience, it might not be such a bad deal during your few years of studying abroad.
Unless you have sufficient funds and want to completely focus on your studies, you might be happy to know about the several advantages of working as a student.
- Gain German work experience: This comes in handy especially during your job hunting days after graduation. Having relevant work experience from a German company in your CV adds a lot to your candidacy when you are applying for jobs in the country. It also makes salary negotiations easy with your potential employers, often placing you higher on the pay scale than those who come with no experience.
- Learn the language: There’s nothing better than learning the language on the job. When you work, for example, in the service sector where you interact with people on a regular basis, you end up practising the language and picking up nuances of it every day.
Even in non-service jobs, learning the language as you work with your German colleagues gives you an understanding of how to use it in a professional context.
- Get used to working in a German work environment: Whether it is work-life balance, managing tasks or sharing ideas, every work environment is drastically different. When you work in a German office as a student, you are getting a crash course on their way of working which would inevitably make you a better fit for an employee when you graduate and look for jobs.
- Meet potential employers: If you are working in a part-time or mini-job which is in your area of studies, you have the unique opportunity of creating a good impression on your employers with the potential of being hired after you graduate.
But even outside that, when you are working at trade fairs or coffee shops, you have a huge database of people that you can interact with and find interesting opportunities for your future. What working as a student does is opens up an avenue for you to expand your immediate circle and build a network that comprises a wider selection of people besides other students and professors.
- Gain experience in a new & interesting sector: How many of us would have thought of working in a cafe or in our home countries? Or picking up dog-walking or babysitting as a side gig? Being a student in a foreign country gives you the liberty to try out jobs that you would never think of where you can learn some interesting life lessons that you will cherish for the rest of your life!
Working as a student has its unique share of advantages and opportunities. Your goal should be finding the perfect job that is suited to your schedule and your area of interest. Look up the information on taxation, the effort needed for your role and how it impacts your studies before you jump on board for a particular role.
While student jobs help manage your finances better, that’s not their only utility. Use them to gain experience, broaden your horizons and don’t forget to have fun!