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Work as a medical doctor in Germany

Become part of a highly effective healthcare system

In comparison to other countries, Germany has a highly effective healthcare system. Using the latest treatment methods and modern medical instruments allows for a high level of care. A dense network of hospitals and local doctors ensure that patients swiftly receive the medical services necessary for them. The ongoing digitalisation in the healthcare sector continues to reveal new opportunities for medical care. Thus, data in electronic patient files is rapidly available and access to digital healthcare applications and telemedicine can be established. This testifies to the great innovative power of the German healthcare sector and its dynamic economic sector. With over 5.8 million employees, the public health service is also a crucial resource for employment; the number of employees has been steadily increasing for years. As of right now, over 536,000 doctors make sure that patients are well cared for.

Your career as a doctor in Germany

A new generation of medical personnel is urgently required in Germany. The demand will continue to grow in the years to come – especially since many physicians in hospitals will be retiring. When it comes to local doctors, general practitioners as well as family doctors are in demand. Many doctors can no longer find a successor to take over their practice, namely in eastern Germany and in rural areas.

At the same time, the number of international doctors working in Germany has more than doubled within the last decade. In 2020 alone, 8,826 foreign doctors applied to have their foreign qualification recognised as an equivalent to a German qualification. This puts doctors in second place among the occupations with the highest number of applications, next to other health care workers and nursing staff.

As a doctor in Germany, there are a wide range of career opportunities available to you. For instance, you may work in hospitals, clinics, healthcare centres, geriatric care services or home care services where you will most likely work as an employee. You could also work independently as a local doctor in your own medical facility. In addition, there are other professional fields such as in medical research and teaching, in public health departments, health insurance companies or in the private sector, e.g. as a scientist in medical technology or the pharmaceutical industry. Out of all academic fields in Germany, doctors earn the highest salaries.

Foreign doctors in Germany

56,107

foreign doctors are working in Germany (as of 2020).

More than 32,000

foreign doctors working in Germany come from non-EU countries.

Entry requirements for doctors

If you completed your education and training as a doctor abroad, you will require an official licence (Approbation) in order to work in your profession in Germany. Without this licence, you may not be able to treat patients as an on-duty doctor in Germany. The Approbation is an official licence to practise medicine with an unrestricted professional permit. To obtain this licence, your education and training must be recognised as an equivalent to the German education and training programme for doctors.

The competent authorities for access to the profession are the medical licensing authorities in your respective federal state. Click here to find a list of the competent authorities issuing licences to practise medicine. When applying for a licence and a professional permit to practise medicine, proof of your physical fitness, personal suitability and your knowledge of the German language are usually required. The language requirements for each federal state can be found here.

Did you acquire an additional medical qualification or specialisation abroad? Then you can also apply for the recognition of your specialist title. Please note that this application can only be made if you have already been granted a licence to practise medicine.

More information on the recognition process for doctors can be found on the Recognition in Germany portal (available in multiple languages) or on the website of the German Medical Association.

Do I need a visa?

As a citizen of the European Union, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland, you do not require a visa or a residence permit to work in Germany. Citizens of other countries do require a residence permit. You can find more information on the work visa for qualified professionals and the EU Blue Card in the "Visa" section. 

Tip: Did you apply for recognition of your professional qualification and the certification authority in Germany determined that you require further qualifications for full recognition? Then you can find out whether the visa for the recognition of foreign qualifications is an option for you.

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Are you a doctor wishing to work in research and require a visa to work in Germany? If so, there are two options for you: You can apply for either a visa for research or the EU Blue Card for this purpose. Check the requirements for each residence permit to see whether you fulfil them.

Next steps

✔ Your career prospects: With our Quick-Check, you can find out about the opportunities available to you for working and living in Germany.

✔ Begin the recognition process: In our "Recognition" section, you can find more information on the recognition of international qualifications.

✔ Apply now: Find a suitable position in our “Make it in Germany” Job listings and use our tips for a successful job application in Germany.

Good to know:

Doctors from Mexico and Jordan who already have German language skills at a B2 level can participate in the "Specialised! – recruitment, qualification and integration of foreign medical doctors" programme. More details on the programme can be found on the website of the Federal Employment Agency.

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