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 education for all ages.
Finding a teaching job in Germany, however, might be a difficult task. With a high quality of life and a strong global reputation, 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.
Types of Teaching Jobs in Germany
Germany is home to several 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 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 the 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 that 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 Job Teaching English in Germany
Finding a teaching job in Germany can be difficult depending on your skillset as a teacher, your 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, teachers from outside Germany will likely be competing 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 apply 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 is through a private organization -- like a language or international school -- you will need to apply to the institution directly. When applying to any job in Germany, make sure to confirm it's open to non-EU citizens.
Average Salary for English Teachers 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 per hr.
The qualifications needed to teach in Germany are in accordance with the universal standards for language teaching. Teachers will need to have completed a bachelor's degree and, at a minimum, a TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Certification.
If you don't have a university degree, it's still possible to find opportunities to teach English at a summer camp or as a volunteer teacher in Germany. These positions are less likely to get paid but may have other benefits, such as accommodation, meals, and cultural activities.
For teachers focused on an academic subject, they will likely have had to complete a formal teaching degree (or equivalent program), which is recognized by the state you're applying to. Teaching candidates are often required to have relevant work or subject experience in order to fill a specialized role. State-schools also sometimes require teachers to have the ability to teach two subjects.
What You Need to Know About Teaching English Abroad in Germany
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
It is not uncommon to find teaching positions in smaller cities with large international populations due to universities or tech/innovative sectors. These include beautiful cities like Münster, Mannheim, and Leipzig.
Visas & Sponsorship
To teach in Germany, you will need to fulfill the proper requirements to live and work in the country legally. In this case, all non-EU citizens will need some form of working visa to take on paid teaching work legally.
There are a few different visa types that allow an individual to work, such as a working holiday visa (applicable for some citizenships), a formal work visa, or a student visa that allows you to work while studying.
It's best first to secure a teaching contract. Generally, after receiving your contract, you'll be able to set up residency in Germany by confirming your address, opening a bank account, and getting health insurance. Afterward, you'll be able to submit your application for a work visa. In most cases, your new employer will help you to navigate the process of applying for the appropriate visa. It may take between one to three months to get approved.
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, lessons, 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 outside of the work setting.
Classroom Etiquette in Germany
In Germany, classroom etiquette across the different learning settings is generally polite, orderly, and productive. 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 good 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.
What is it like living in Germany?
Living in Germany, depending on the region, can offer huge variations in your day-to-day experiences and routine. There are numerous articles written on modern-day German life and culture, and they're mostly very accurate.
Regarding the language barrier, there are always solutions to "bridging the gap". Although most Germans speak at least some English and often another additional language, you will face moments where German language skills are required. The best advice is to never give up learning and bettering your German at every given opportunity. Just remain patient, learn to accept that sometimes you won't be able to properly communicate, and most importantly, learn to be okay with making mistakes.
How much do teachers make in Germany?
The average salary for English teachers in Germany ranges from $2,500-$4,800 per month.
What qualifications do I need to teach English in Germany?
Most teaching jobs in Germany will require a bachelor's degree in any subject and a TEFL or CELTA certification. You may also need previous teaching experience, depending on the position.
Can you work in Germany without speaking German?
Generally, you will have more job prospects if you know the language of the country where you are living. That being said, English is widely spoken throughout Germany, especially in urban spaces. Some jobs might require German fluency, or at least basic knowledge of the language, but it still might be possible to find jobs where English is the only language needed. Check out job boards and blogs that are geared towards expat living or that let you filter by language requirements, or reach out to English-language organizations that you would be keen to work with.
Is living in Germany expensive?
Compared to other European nations, the cost of living in Germany is actually quite reasonable. Rent tends to be on the lower end of the spectrum, and Berlin is recognized as being one of the most affordable capital cities on the continent. Generally, you can expect to need around $1,000 a month to cover all living expenses, including rent.