Germany lies at the heart of Europe and has, by global standards, a very well-developed infrastructure – ideal conditions for transporting goods and people.
Why is this sector important to Germany? Logistics is one of the country’s largest economic sectors. Several thousand transport requests are met daily in Germany.
The majority of goods are currently transported by heavy goods vehicle (HGV). Next comes rail transport, followed by maritime shipping and inland navigation. The German economy is highly dependent on qualified drivers for all transport routes – but not only for transporting freight.
Passenger transport is also of great importance for the German economy and society. Figures show that in Germany, the number of people using local public transport has never been as high as it is today. Germany’s transport transition – the shift towards a decarbonised transport system – is alone expected to result in a one-third increase in the use of buses and trains in local public transport by 2030. We need qualified staff to operate these vehicles.
The German transport industry in figures
Around 480,000 people
in Germany were working as professional drivers in 2021.
were employed as train drivers in 2021.
14 million car journeys
are replaced by buses and trains every day.
Which careers are open to me?
Are you an expert HGV or bus driver, do you enjoy taking on responsibility, and are you always keen to learn new things? Then Germany is the right place for you to work! You can expect a modern workplace in your role as a professional driver. Automation technology is constantly evolving: vehicles are becoming ever safer, and work is underway to develop alternative vehicle powertrains.
You are needed! The industry has a high demand for professional drivers. Even now, in 2023, there is a shortage of more than 70,000 professional drivers in Germany, with many new positions becoming vacant each year. This is the career opportunity you have been waiting for.
This is what you can expect:
A job with a future: road transport is by far the most important mode of freight transport. There are many job openings with long-term prospects.
Safety: all professional drivers undergo further training every five years, contributing to increased safety in road freight transport.
A diverse working environment: even now, 25% of employees in this profession are non-German nationals.
How can I work as a professional driver in Germany?
Special conditions apply for those seeking to immigrate to Germany for the purpose of working as a professional driver.
To start working as a professional driver,
you must hold a category C1, C1E, C, CE, D1, D1E, D or DE driving licence issued by the EU or the EEA, and
you must be able to provide evidence of your EU or EEA initial qualification to drive vehicles in the relevant driving licence category.
What if I do not possess an EU or EEA driving licence or the EU or EEA initial qualification yet? Under certain conditions, you can still immigrate to Germany and obtain your driving licence and initial qualification here. For more information on this special legal regulation, please refer to “Special regulations for professional drivers” in the “Visa” section.
Do you have a driving licence from another country? Either your driving licence will be recognised in Germany or exchanged for a domestic licence, or you will need to take your driving licence test again. This depends on the country where your driving licence was issued. This matter is regulated by the Ordinance on the Admission of Persons to Road Traffic (FeV). For some countries, there is a simplified process for exchanging a driving licence from a non-EU/EEA country for a German driving licence. Regarding this, please refer to the Fact Sheet issued by the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport.
Training as professional driver
Would you like to become a professional driver, but have no experience in this field as yet? Apprentices are also in demand! Find out more in the “Training in Germany” section.
The railways play a key role in sustainable freight transport and as a means of public transport for passengers. The importance of rail transport will continue to grow in the future – and with it, the need for skilled workers.
Train drivers (other designations in German: Schienenfahrzeugführer, Triebfahrzeugführer im Eisenbahnverkehr, Eisenbahner im Betriebsdienst) ensure that goods and passengers reach their destination safely. Even as a qualified skilled worker, there is still a lot you can learn. After all, digitalisation and automation mean that the tasks performed by train drivers are also changing.
Training as train driver
Do you aspire to be a qualified skilled worker, and are interested in a paid apprenticeship to become a train driver in Germany? You can also find information on training to become a train operator on our portal.
Skilled workers in shipping
Inland navigation vessels play an important role in sustainable freight transport, alongside railways, because they are an environmentally friendly mode of transport. In response to the transport transition and the need to decarbonise freight transport, inland navigation is expected to increase significantly as a percentage of the goods transported in Germany over the next few years. Another advantage is that a single ship is capable of replacing a large number of HGVs, making it a highly effective mode of transport.
To operate not only inland waterway but also global maritime transport services, Germany needs qualified skilled workers to be able to secure its position as a business location in the long term. After all, Germany is a leading export nation – and seagoing vessels transport around 90% of the global movement of goods. The following professions are examples of occupations in the German shipping industry:
Inland Bargewoman / Inland Bargeman
Inland Shipping Captain
Port Logistics Specialist
Port Boatwoman / Port Boatman
Nautical Officer Assistant
Technical Officer Assistant
Training in the shipping industry
Are you interested in shipping and would like to learn a profession in Germany? Visit our portal to find out more about training in Germany; for information on maritime shipping, please go to deutsche-flagge.de.
Do I need a visa?
As a citizen of the European Union, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland, you do not need a visa or residence permit to work in Germany. Citizens of other countries do require a residence permit for this purpose. Please refer to the “Visa” section to find out more about the work visa for qualified professionals.
Tip: under certain conditions, you may also enter Germany for 6 months after completing your professional training to look for a job. You can find more information in the “Visa for jobseekers” section.
Do I need recognition?
If you are from a non-EU country and need a visa or residence permit for Germany, your qualifications will usually need to be recognised. In fact, it is easier for employers to assess jobseekers’ qualifications if they have been recognised.
If you have a vocational qualification, you will need to undergo the recognition procedure. More information on this topic is available on the Anerkennung in Deutschland portal for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications.
Our “Recognition” section provides you with more information on the recognition procedure and the comparability of foreign higher education qualifications.
If you are from a non-EU country and enter Germany via the "Special regulations for professional drivers", you may, under certain conditions, enter the country without recognition and without a formal vocational qualification.
Professional recognition in shipping
Do you need more details about your individual recognition procedure? Use the information on recognition in various shipping careers on the “Anerkennung in Deutschland” portal in their "Working in inland shipping or maritime shipping" section. Select your profession from the list and go through the Recognition Finder step by step – you will be guided through the portal. There you will find out, for example, whether your profession is regulated, whether you meet the requirements for recognition, where you can get advice, which recognition body is responsible, and which documents you need.
The legal basis for the recognition of qualifications in inland navigation is Directive (EU) 2017/2397; for maritime shipping it is theSTCW Convention (International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers).
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Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB)
German: Zentralstelle für ausländisches Bildungswesen (ZAB)
The Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) is the central office for assessing foreign qualifications in Germany. These include school, vocational and higher education qualifications.
The Immigration Act provides for two titles which govern entry and residence in Germany: the settlement permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis) and the residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis). The residence permit is temporary and is granted for a specific reason, such as gainful employment, training or family reunification, or else for humanitarian, legal or political reasons.