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Working as a student in Germany

Expatrio 2024-02-15


Germany's economy is well-suited to find part-time jobs, especially for students who need some extra income. When you start your job search, you'll encounter plenty of possible positions, so it's important to find the right post to match your skills and needs.

Read on for a primer in student work, with handy tips to help you find work without losing student insurance benefits.

Student Jobs

The introduction to working as a student in Germany.

There are many reasons why you might want or need to find a job as a student in Germany. Perhaps you’re looking to gain some work experience in your field of study, earn some extra pocket money, or cover the costs of your studies and living expenses. Whatever your motivation, there are plenty of opportunities for students to find work in Germany.

The good news is that the German economy is very student-friendly, with a large number of companies offering part-time positions specifically for students. There are so many possibilities that it can be difficult to know where to start your job search. Before you start applying for jobs, it’s important to know your rights as a student worker in Germany.

For starters, don't worry about working while studying. It's totally routine in Germany with German students, also among international students, and there should be plenty of opportunities to consider.

Some of the most common student jobs in Germany

Here are just a few part-time student jobs that are often available to foreign residents:

  • Catering - Whether it involves serving food at corporate functions, or just joining the waiting staff at a local restaurant, the food and drink sector is a major student employer.
  • Academic posts - Possibly the best form of work for aspiring academics, research assistant roles and postgraduate teaching positions can build your skills and income at the same time.
  • Retail - Germany's bricks and mortar retail sector is often crying out for staff, with flexible hours and discounts available as attractive perks.
  • Tourism and hospitality - Seasonal work is always in demand in the hotel and catering industry, especially in Germany's major tourist destinations.
  • Warehousing - With Germany being a major manufacturing hub, it's no surprise that there are plenty of opportunities for students to get involved in the country's logistics industry.
  • Delivery jobs: If you have a bike, you can earn money by delivering food and other items for companies like Lieferando, Wolt, Gorillas, and so on.

Is it easy to get a part-time job in Germany?

It's generally very easy to find employment, but you might have to seek out exactly the right location, wages, and position. It's also important to choose a type of job to fit around your studies.

Full-time vs. part-time working

Many students prefer to work full-time between semesters, leaving term-time free for studying. In the summer, tourism-related vacation jobs multiply, allowing you to mix seeing the sights and earning some supplemental income. Others like to find a part-time job to maintain throughout their course. That way, you can have a regular income, and it's easier to calculate your total hours to avoid passing official thresholds.


Working as a student in Germany

How to combine studies and work in Germany? In our video, we answer all the burning questions you have about being a working student in the country. 

We tell you how to find a student job, the rules that may apply to your job situation, and why you should be careful with the number of hours you work not to lose your health insurance benefits as a student. Check our video out! 🎥


Rules for working students

As usual in Germany, there are set rules about how students can work. They are important to know, as making a mistake can increase your insurance and tax bills considerably.

Can I work while studying in Germany?

Studying and working is perfectly OK in Germany. However, there will be limits to how many hours you can work before being required to pay full insurance contributions.

Are international students allowed to work in Germany?

International students have their own employment regulations, which govern how long they can work before their taxes rise.

For EU nationals, the limit is 20 hours per week during term times. During your semester break, you can work up to 40 hours a week. Those coming from outside the EU are also limited to either 120 full days, or 240 half days every year, whether that's in term or during vacations.


It's important to log your hours worked, ensuring that you don't breach the maximum annual quota.


The difference between full & half days

In this context, it's important to know the difference between full and half days, so here are a couple of key pieces of information to file away

How many hours constitute a full-time job?

In Germany, a "full day" is defined as 8 hours, with full working weeks comprising 40 hours. This means that students can work 2.5 full days per week during term-time. Outside term-time, full-time work is perfectly fine, just remember the annual total.

How many hours constitute a part-time job?

Under German law, anything under the definition of a "full week" is defined as part-time. So, if you work under 20 hours per week, that's classified as part-time.

How many days can a student work in Germany?

Student trainee positions (or as Germans call it the Praktikum) are a vital part of entering the German employment market.

If you take this route, you'll need a working visa from a local German embassy. It's also essential to obtain permission to start a trainee position from the Federal Employment Agency, so don't forget to do the necessary paperwork.

Internships are assessed like regular jobs when it comes to tax and hours. This applies to paid and unpaid trainee positions so it may be wise to save a bit of money before starting your internship.

Work longer hours

It might also be possible to apply for permission to work longer hours by putting in a request to the "Ausländerbehörde" (Foreigners Office) and the Bundesagentur für Arbeit. This tends to be provided only for specialist occupations, so won't be available for all new arrivals, and the Employment Agency should be able to advise whether it applies to you.


Payment, Taxes and Health insurance

When students take work in Germany, they need to be aware of how it could affect their health insurance and tax position.

How much money can a student earn in Germany?

If students work more than 20 hours a week, they risk breaching annual limits (120 full days and 240 half days).

There is also a monthly income limit of €450. Above that point, you will need to pay standard German taxes, while income below €450 is tax-free.

Working too many hours can lead to students losing their health insurance subsidies. For instance, if you are insured with TK, you will be able to earn €435 per month. Above that point, contributions for long-term nursing care and social security kick in, adding a significant amount to annual bills.

Can a student work more than 20 hours a week in Germany?

There are some exceptions. Most importantly, academic jobs are categorized differently. If you take a student assistant role within your university or college, this won't count towards your 120-day quota - a big help for many young researchers to add to your work experience.

If you take an internship while being registered with an insurer, don't worry about losing your subsidized coverage. It will last until your student registration lapses, by which point you should be a fully-fledged employee.

So, as you can see, there are a few things to be aware of when looking for work in Germany as a student. The most important thing is to make sure that you don't breach the annual limit on hours worked, as this could lead to problems with your health insurance or tax status.

It's also worth bearing in mind that many jobs in the hospitality industry will pay around the minimum wage, so if you're looking for something that pays a bit better, you might want to look into office work or online jobs. With all that in mind, we wish you the best of luck in your job search!

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