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Requirements to Work as a Nurse in Germany: Salary, Licensing, and Approbation

Expatrio 2024-06-17


As the demand for healthcare professionals continues to rise, Germany stands out as a prime destination for nurses seeking new opportunities. The country’s well-structured healthcare system, excellent working conditions, and attractive salaries make it a favorable choice for many. Whether you are an experienced nurse or just starting your career, understanding the requirements and benefits of working as a nurse in Germany is essential.

Germany’s Health System at a glance

All residents are required to have health insurance, either through the public or private system. It’s primarily funded by income-based contributions from both employees and employers, supplemented by government subsidies. It’s a dual system which allows individuals to choose between statutory (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) and private insurance (Private Krankenversicherung). 90% of the population are covered through statutory health insurance. Higher earners, the self-employed and civil servants can opt for private insurance, which often provides more extensive coverage and faster access to specialists and private hospital rooms.

The role of nurses in the German Healthcare System

As a nurse in Germany, you'll be a crucial part of the healthcare team. Nurses here work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes, and home care services. Your daily tasks will involve:

  • direct patient care
  • administering medications
  • assisting with medical procedures
  • providing emotional support to patients and their families

There's a high demand for nurses in Germany due to the country's aging population and the growing need for healthcare services. This demand creates plenty of job opportunities for both local and international nurses. Plus, nursing in Germany is a respected profession with many chances for career advancement. You can specialize in areas like intensive care, oncology, or geriatrics, and pursue further education and training to enhance your skills.

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Requirements to become a nurse in Germany

When you first arrive in Germany you are not able to work as a nurse right away. As the minimum educational requirement you must have a recognized nursing qualification. This typically means having a nursing degree or diploma equivalent to German standards. If you are trained as a nurse outside Germany, your qualifications will need to be evaluated and recognized by the relevant German authorities. This process ensures that your education and training meet the standards and you can legally practice your profession.

The "Anerkennung" is a crucial recognition process for internationals to work as a nurse. You need to verify your qualifications. This involves submitting detailed documentation of your nursing education, including transcripts and certificates, such as:

  • General Nursing and Midwifery (GNM) or
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSc Nursing)

Authorities will compare your qualifications with the German standards to determine if they are equivalent. If there are any gaps, you may need to take additional courses or exams to meet the requirements. But this can also vary depending on the federal state where you plan to work.

Importance of German language skills for working as a nurse

Effective communication with patients, colleagues, and other healthcare professionals is essential for providing high-quality care as a nurse. Additionally, understanding medical terminology and documentation in German is a necessary part of the job. Clearly, sufficient language skills facilitate better integration into the workplace, fostering a supportive work environment and professional relationships.

For professional licensing and employment as a nurse in Germany. You typically need to have language skills at the B2 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). This level of proficiency in German ensures that you can communicate effectively in a clinical setting. You will need to provide proof of your language skills through recognized language certificates, such as those from the Goethe-Institut or TELC.

Necessary work experience for international applicants

Having professional experience will significantly enhance your chances of securing a nursing position in Germany. While specific requirements may vary, having at least one to two years of work experience is often preferred. This experience helps to demonstrate your practical skills and ability to work in a healthcare environment. It may ease the recognition process of your foreign qualifications, as practical experience is highly valued in the German healthcare system.



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Becoming a registered nurse in Germany: step by step

The approbation process is the official procedure required to obtain a license to work as a registered nurse in Germany. This ensures that your education and skills meet the national standards set for healthcare professionals.

Steps involved in obtaining approbation

  • Application Submission: Apply to the relevant state health authority (Gesundheitsamt) where you intend to work.
  • Document verification: Submit necessary documents for review to verify your educational background and professional qualifications.
  • Qualification assessment: If there are differences between your qualifications and German standards, you might need to undergo additional training or examinations.
  • Language proficiency proof: Provide certification of German language proficiency, typically at the B2 level.
  • Final approval: Once all requirements are satisfied, the health authority will grant approbation, allowing you to practice as a nurse.

Documents Required for the Approbation Application

  • Valid passport or ID
  • Recognized nursing diploma or degree certificates
  • Detailed transcripts and course descriptions
  • Proof of professional experience
  • German language proficiency certificate (B2 level)
  • Curriculum vitae (CV) and cover letter
  • Health certificate proving physical and mental fitness
  • Proof of good conduct (police clearance certificate)

Temporary licensing for nurses in Germany

A temporary license allows you to start working in Germany while your full approbation is being processed. This option is particularly beneficial if you want to gain practical experience and integrate into the German healthcare system as soon as possible.

Temporary licenses are typically valid for up to two years. This period provides sufficient time to complete all requirements for full licensure. During this time you will work under the supervision of a fully licensed nurse or healthcare professional, ensuring that you receive the necessary guidance and support.

How to apply for nursing jobs in Germany

Although many potential employers look for qualified nurses, you should start your application process by gathering all necessary documents such as your CV, cover letter, and certified translations of your qualifications. Ensure that your CV is updated and tailored to the German job market. Then identify hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities where you would like to work. Look for job openings that match your skills and experience. Make sure to follow the specific application instructions provided in each job listing. If your application is successful, you will be invited for an interview and are one step closer to a job contract.

Where to find nurse vacancies in Germany

  • Indeed: A popular job portal where you can find a variety of nursing job listings in Germany.
  • Stepstone: A leading job board in Germany that offers numerous healthcare job opportunities.
  • Monster: Another major job portal that lists nursing vacancies across Germany.
  • Bundesagentur für Arbeit: The official job board of the Federal Employment Agency, providing extensive listings of healthcare jobs.
  • Glassdoor: Offers job listings and company reviews, which can be helpful in finding nursing positions and learning about potential employers.

Salary of nurses in Germany

The average salary for a registered nurse in Germany is approximately €35,666 according to Payscale. This varies depending on several factors, including experience, education level, and location. While nurses in the city of Munich can earn up to €53,421 per year, those in Stuttgart earn around €38,000 annually​. Salaries also tend to be higher for nurses with more experience or higher levels of education. For example, nurses with 4-8 years of experience have an annual salary of approximately €41,107.

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