Guide to “Vocational training”

You are interested in vocational training in Germany? Then our guide to “Vocational training in Germany” can help you. It gives you advice on how to choose a profession that is right for you, how to look for a place as a trainee, how to apply and much more. It also tells you where you can improve your German skills and which rights and obligations you have when training for an occupation.

Admission requirements

Admission requirements

Visa, school-leaving certificates or language skills – there are certain requirements you need to meet before being admitted to a vocational training course in Germany. More detailed information on these requirements can be found under: “Do I qualify for vocational training in Germany?”.

Which profession is best for me?

Which profession is best for me?

It’s up to you: you can choose from currently around 350 occupations that require vocational training in Germany. To make sure you pick the one that is right for you, you should first of all think about what you enjoy doing and what you are good at: What subjects did you like at school? Do you like working with people? Do you like working on a computer or would you rather operate larger machinery or work with tools. As soon as you are aware of your own preferences, you can look for a suitable vocational training course. The Planet-Beruf portal and Beroobi are designed to help you with your decision. However, these two sites are only available in German. You can find further information about five occupations in portal under “Five occupations that are in high demand”. Additionally, you might also be able to get some information and career advice in your country of origin.

Looking for a place as a trainee

Looking for a place as a trainee

You have worked out which occupation is best for you? Then the next step is looking for a place as a trainee and applying for it. Depending on which occupation you have chosen, you can find a place for your traineeship using one of the various online job markets for traineeships. Traineeships for a large range of occupations can be found in the Federal Employment Agency’s job listings. In the dropdown menu “Sie suchen” select “Ausbildung” and start your search. A list of places for traineeships for different occupations in companies around Germany will be displayed. If you are looking for vocational training in crafts, we recommend that you use the interactive map of the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (German). Simply click on a flag on the map and then select “Lehrstellenagebote”. This will take you to the regional job listings where you can search for traineeships, e.g. in mechatronics or electronic engineering. If you are looking for vocational training in the trade or commercial sector, we recommend the job site of the Chambers of Industry and Commerce (German). An overview of different job sites according to industry and region can be found at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) (German).

Another possibility for finding the right vocational training course can be by visiting specific jobs and vocational training fairs. Here you can get in touch with educational experts, so as to find out which training course is be suitable for you. The website planet-beruf.de provides you with an overview on current and upcoming fairs.

Please note: Make sure that you apply for a traineeship as early as possible. Many companies advertise vacancies for traineeships as early as one year in advance. Training usually starts in August or September.

Getting your application right

Getting your application right

When you have found an occupation you are interested in don’t hesitate to apply. At Planet-Beruf.de you will find a step-by-step guide to writing applications for traineeships (in German). The site also tells you how to prepare for a job interview and what should be included in your employment contract. Further information on application procedures in Germany is available in our portal under “Applying for a job”.

Language courses

Language courses

Obviously, you are not going to get far without an adequate command of the German language. After all, both at the company where you are going to train and at your vocational school communication will be in German. Some companies offer German language courses for young trainees from abroad or support their efforts to improve their German skills in some way or another. Thus, when you apply for a traineeship, we recommend that you ask in what way the company will support you in improving your German. Or you can already learn German in your home country, for example at a Goethe-Institut. Addresses of Goethe-Instituts can be found on our interactive “local contacts” world map.

Further information on where else you can learn German can be found in our guide to “Living in Germany”.

Your rights and obligations

Your rights and obligations

Vocational training in Germany is regulated by law. This has many advantages for you, as the law serves to protect your rights. For example, the company you work for as part of your dual training course has to pay you a monthly salary and provide all the equipment that you need for training, such as tools or safety equipment. The law also stipulates that the tasks you are given at your company have to serve the goal of training you, in other words, your company is obliged to teach you the skills and expertise you need in your occupation.

Of course, the law also defines your obligations as a trainee towards your company. Your most important obligation is to learn. What does that mean? When you pursue a vocational training course, you are expected to really make an effort to learn your trade. For example, you have to attend classes at your vocational school on a regular basis or make sure that you call in sick at your company and provide a doctor’s note when you are ill.

Further information on your rights and obligations during vocational training is available from the Federal Employment Agency (German) and in a document entitled „Ausbildung und Beruf“ (PDF 1,56 MB, German) published by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Moving and settling in

Moving and settling in

In order to really feel at home in Germany, there are a number of basics to sort out first. First of all, you need to find a place to live. Some companies provide trainees from abroad with accommodation. Others may help you find a suitable flat. The best thing to do is to ask your employer if they can help you. If you would rather look for a flat yourself, you can find some useful tips in our guide to “Living in Germany”.

Going out with friends, doing sports or going shopping – Germany offers plenty of opportunities for leisure activities that you can enjoy with your friends. Further information on this subject can be found in our guide to “Living in Germany”.

Vocational training – what next?

Vocational training – what next?

You may think it’s still early days, but have you thought about what you are going to do after you have completed your vocational training? Here are some opportunities you may want to consider:

  • Working for a company: Many German companies are currently looking for qualified professionals. This means your chances of being offered a job with your company after you have completed your training are good. If your company doesn’t offer you a job or you prefer to gain some new experience elsewhere, your guide to “Working in Germany” will provide you with useful tips for job hunting. You can search for vacancies in the job listings of the Make it in Germany portal.
  • Continuing education and training: If you feel that you still have potential to develop and would like to take on more responsibility, you should consider continuing with further training in order to obtain additional qualifications. This will give you the chance to specialise, to further your career or to start your own business. Which type of continuing education and training is available and most suitable for you depends on the industry and occupation you work in. 
    • Crafts: If you have trained as a craftsman, you have the possibility of training to become a master craftsman. This will lead to the German title of Meister which is an officially recognised qualification. Many people who have completed a continuing training course as a master craftsman work in leading positions or set up their own business. Furthermore, as a Meister you will be allowed to take on trainees yourself.
    • Engineering: If you work in construction or mechanical engineering, you can pursue continuing training to become a certified engineer (staatlich geprüfter Techniker). Full-time training takes at least two years and involves classes at a higher vocational school (called Fachschule). At the end your training you will sit a state examination.

Furthermore, you have the opportunity to specialise in specific fields of your occupation. More detailed information on specialisations in your area of occupation is available at BERUFENET (German).

When you pursue continuing training to become a master craftsman or certified engineer, for example, you may be entitled to financial support in the form of a Meister-BAföG. You can find out if you are eligible at www.meister-bafoeg.info (German).

  • Studying: After completing your vocational training you may also start a degree course at a higher education institution. For this purpose, you are usually required to hold a higher education entrance qualification – a school-leaving certificate that allows you to study at a higher education institution in your country of origin. There are exceptions, however: The German Meister qualification also entitles you to study any subject you like at German universities. If you do not hold the title of Meister, but have worked in your occupation for several years, you may be allowed to study certain subjects that are closely related to the vocation you trained for. The best thing to do is to ask the university you want to apply to what their specific admission requirements are.

    Do you want to study and work at the same time? You can do that in Germany, too. You can work and pursue a degree course in your spare time, study part-time or pursue a distance learning. Further information on this subject is available here.

    Further information on studying in Germany can be found in our section on “Studying in Germany”.

Complete dossier "Vocational training in Germany"

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Information on this portal

Short introduction to dual vocational training in Germany

Excellent job prospects, even without a university degree

Find out how you can learn German.

Information on the World Wide Web

Federal Ministry of Education and Research

BAföG explained (English, German)

Higher education scholarships aimed at talented individuals with vocational qualifications (English, German)

International and Specialized Services

Tips for writing job applications (English, German)

Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training

Profiles of several occupations requiring vocational training (English, German)

Youth migration services

The advice portal for your life in Germany (German, Turkish)

German Academic Exchange Service

Funding opportunities for degree studies (English, German)