From the sandy shores in the north to the mountains in the south, Germany is a geographically diverse nation with a globally-focused population. While the first thing you might think of is fairytale castles (you wouldn’t be wrong!), Germany is also a fantastic destination for those considering teaching overseas.
Germany is home to one of the most-comprehensive school systems in the world. Children develop specialized skills at an early age which requires excellent teaching throughout the course of their development. In Germany, learning doesn’t stop once you are an adult -- with specialized adult centers allowing continued learning for all ages.
Finding a teaching job in Germany, however, might be a difficult task. A high quality of life and strong global reputation means that teaching roles are generally competitive across private and public settings. That said, those with specialized skills and determination can land a teaching role in a culturally-rich country made for exploring.
Germany is home to a number of top-level private international schools which would be good for a native English speaker. Teaching roles at these institutions include teaching languages to foreign and German students looking to broaden their language skills. While teaching roles in these schools can be competitive, a specialized skill set can be a great asset to help you land a teaching role.
Similar to most traditional childhood school settings, the State-run schools cover the age groups from elementary school (ages 6-10) and secondary school beginning at age 11.
A key difference to other education systems is that students spend different lengths of time in secondary school depending on which of three different learning routes they take. These routes include Hauptschule (vocational/skill training), Realschule (mixed-level school), and Gymnasium (university preparation). Teachers at each of these levels are required to have a variety of skills and teachable subjects.
Similar to “night class”, Volkshochschulen is the concept of “Adult Education Centers” available in most cities and towns in Germany. These community-level centers provide adult learners the opportunity to sign up for a variety of courses which last multiple weeks.
Typical subjects offered include languages, computer skills, and fitness teaching. Foreign teachers are usually an asset when it comes to teaching languages but other roles do exist depending on the community.
It is not uncommon that teaching roles in Germany are centered around private tutoring. Teachers can often work one-on-one with students to help them acquire language skills outside their traditional classroom setting. While these roles can be more difficult to find and require logistics around the ability to legally work in Germany, landing a tutoring job in Germany is a great way to earn money and broaden your portfolio of teaching work.
Finding a teaching job in Germany can be a difficult task depending on your skill set as a teacher and desired teaching role or the city you wish to live and work in. There are a few things to consider before setting out on a job hunt for a teaching job in Germany.
When to Apply for Jobs in Germany
As with most available teaching roles, it is advised to apply early for any positions that you're interested in. Because of the way Germany’s education system is set up, it’s likely that foreign teachers will compete with German teachers for the same roles. The school year generally begins in August or September for public schools and in October for universities.
How to Apply for Jobs in Germany
If you are applying for a role in the public school system (elementary school or secondary school), you will need to apply to the State you wish to work in. The State is in charge of hiring teachers for vacant roles across the levels of schooling. If the teaching position you're interested in is through a private organization -- like a language or international school -- you will need to apply to the institution directly.
Average Salary of Teaching in Germany
The average salary for teaching in Germany varies depending on the teaching setting, the city you are teaching in, and the budgets of the organization (if privately run). While most teaching wages allow teachers to “live comfortably”, this is also dependent on the number of hours you are teaching. For a rough estimate, the minimum wage in Germany is approximately $10/hr.
The qualifications needed to teach in Germany are in accordance with the universal standards for language teaching. Teachers will need to have completed, at a minimum, a TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Certification.
In addition, teachers focusing on an academic subject will likely have had to complete a formal teaching degree (or equivalent program) which is recognized by the State. In addition, teaching candidates are often required to have relevant work/subject experience in order to fill a specialized role. State-schools also sometimes require teachers to have two teachable subjects.
Before heading off on an adventure to teach in Germany, there are a few things that you should know about living and working there. More importantly, there are mandatory details (like work visas) that you should have in order before you get on the plane.
Popular Destinations to Teach in Germany
As one might expect, the larger city centers are where many of the teaching jobs exist. Popular destinations to teach in Germany include Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and the capital city, Berlin.
It is not uncommon to find teaching positions in smaller cities that have large international populations due to universities or tech/innovative sectors. These include beautiful cities like Münster, Mannheim, and Leipzig.
Visas & Sponsorship
In order to teach in Germany, you will need to fulfill the proper requirements. In this case, all Non-EU citizens will need some form of working visa to legally take on paid teaching work.
There are a few different visa types which allow an individual to work, such as a working holiday visa (applicable for some citizenships), a formal work visa, or a student visa which allows you to work while studying. In most cases, your new employer will help you to navigate the process of applying for the appropriate visa.
Teacher Work Culture in Germany
While work culture will change across the different learning settings, teachers in Germany can find themselves in a supportive yet formal teacher work culture. Generally, things are done “by the book” when it comes to interactions, teaching methods, lesson, and planning.
However, different settings might have a different take on experiential learning styles and methods. It is certainly not uncommon that, during off-hours, teachers take the time to socially connect with one another outside of the work setting.
Classroom Etiquette in Germany
In Germany, classroom etiquette across the different learning settings is generally polite, orderly, and productive. There is truth to the claim that Germany has an efficient culture. That said, learning styles will still vary among students and educators should cater their lesson planning to consider both the learning culture and each student's personal learning preference.
Health & Safety
Germany is a well-respected and developed nation in Europe. As such, the standard of living is quite high and no different than in other Western countries. Healthcare is considered top-notch and accessible in all areas of the country.
Germany is also a relatively safe country to live and work in. However, it is always a good idea to take normal precautions in cities or towns that you are unfamiliar with. Petty crime -- such as theft or pick-pocketing -- can occur in tourist areas of larger cities or at busy train stations. As you would in most places, always be aware of your surroundings and your belongings when traveling/commuting.