The duration and amount of time required for further training vary widely. They can vary from a two-hour course in your own company to a course lasting several years outside the company. Internal training courses are often adapted to fit in with routine work and are held close to your place of work. External training courses will usually require greater organisation on your part, as you often have to travel and stay overnight. As far as the scheduling is concerned, what you should look out for most is whether the training takes place in a block (concentrated in a short period) or over a longer period. Both ways have advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, you have to decide for yourself which kind suits you and your employer best. It is therefore also important to find out in advance how flexible the training course is: will you be able to miss a couple of hours here and there without any problem, and are there alternative dates for exams or other important dates for which attendance is compulsory. Moreover, many courses are designed as E-learning courses and you can do at least a part of it on your own at home.
Involve your employer
Throughout the planning phase, you should always include your employer. Because you might have to agree on travelling, the time taken for the course itself, the exam dates and possible accommodation costs during the further training period you should be in close collaboration with your manager, while at the same time keeping one eye on your own workload. Moreover, it will help you to think about what kind of a learner you are. Do you get greater benefit from E-learning courses, or are courses with physical attendance more suitable for you?
Tip:draw up a detailed timetable for long-term further training courses which also take into account your family and professional obligations. That will enable you to make a better assessment of whether you have enough time to devote to the course over a long period.
Costs and funding
You have decided on a course. There is now nothing to stop you from signing up for it. The only thing left to clarify is the costs and whether they might be covered fully or in part. Here again, there are differences between in-company and external further training. In-company training courses are frequently part-funded by the employer and in some cases in full. If this is not the case, employees have the possibility of obtaining a Bildungsprämie (training bonus) or applying for Bildungsurlaub (educational leave) to get at least a part of the costs refunded. On the following pages you will find all the information about the different concepts:
- Bildungsprämie (“training bonus”): In place since December 2008, the Bundesprogramm Bildungsprämie, or national training bonus programme, offers people in gainful employment with low income financial aid for individual, work-related further training. You can choose between the Prämiengutschein, a voucher entitling you to a one-off payment and the Spargutschein, a voucher related to savings in an employee savings plan. The two vouchers can also be combined with one another. You can find out more on the website of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
- Bildungsurlaub (“educational leave”): You may also be entitled to apply for Bildungsurlaub, or educational leave. This concept, under which you are legally entitled to be given up to five days off per year, is now applied in the majority of the federal states. You will find further information about educational leave on the website of the Conference of Culture Ministers. You will find a list of free, regional counselling centres here.
- Aufstiegs-BAföG: The Aufstiegs-BAföG is aid which can be granted for a wide variety of advanced vocational diplomas. Examples include advanced diplomas in a business context (e.g. Geprüfter Fachkaufmann), healthcare (e.g. Geprüfter Fachkrankenpfleger), computer programming or business information systems. There is no age limit for this grant. The aid can be used to cover the cost of courses, examinations, materials and also childcare costs. You can find further information and an online eligibility calculator here.
- Aufstiegsstipendium (grant for university studies): With an Aufstiegsstipendium you can add a university qualification to your professional experience. Working people of all ages are eligible if they have at least two years’ professional experience. You can find out more here.
And also some funding programmes at the Länder level. You will find further information on the Federal Employment Agency website and in the funding database of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).
Tip: enquire in plenty of time to find out whether your further training is eligible for funding or if your company can cover the costs.
You're nearly there, you can now sign up for the training course of your choice. Here again, there are some important points to look out for. What are the formalities for signing up? Should you send the documents by post or email, or is there an online contact form? Do you have to submit any proof of proficiency, such as language skills or educational qualifications when you sign up? If so, is a simple photocopy required, or an officially certified version? For all important certificates and documents, one rule applies: never send the originals of your documents. They could get lost during the registration process.
If you are not sure which documents you need to submit, just ask the respective provider. In all cases, find out in advance about any possible submission deadlines too. Just as when signing up for the training course, you may also have to respect a deadline for applying for the financial aid.
Tip:with many providers, you can now sign up by email or by completing a digital contact form. That saves time and costs.
Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB)
“Quality of continuing education and training” checklist (German, English)
Information on further training (German, English)
Alphabetical search for further training opportunities (German, English)
Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
Information on further training (German)
Guide on professional further training topics (PDF) (German)
Recognition in Germany
Find out about procedures for having your professional qualifications recognised (i.a. English, German, Spanish, French)