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Working During and After Your Master's Degree in Germany

Are you a Master's student looking for a part-time job or a recent graduate looking to start full-time work? Here's everything you need to know about working in Germany.

Jul 12, 2023
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Working during your studies can be a great way to support yourself and gain valuable experience. However, all the regulations and visas can make the whole process very confusing.

Whether you are a Master's student looking for a part-time job or a recent graduate looking to start full-time work, here's everything you need to know about working in Germany.

How many hours can a student work in Germany during a Master's

If you want to work part-time to earn some spending money while studying in Germany, you must adhere to specific rules depending on where you're from.

Students from the European Union or the European Economic Area (EU/EEA)

Master's students from the EU/EEA or Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Lichtenstein have the same entitlement as German students and free access to the German job market. You can work up to 20 hours per week while studying. However, if you exceed this, you'll need to pay in the German social security system, and you'll need to be mindful of the time you are leaving for your studies.

Master's students in Germany from outside the EU/EEA

International Master's students outside the EU/EEA can work in Germany alongside their studies for 120 full days or 240 half days per year.

If you work at your university as a student assistant or research assistant, this is usually not counted in your allowance. Remember to notify the Alien Registration Office if you do this work.

Internships during your semester break are considered regular work, even if unpaid, and the days worked will be deducted from your 120 allowance. However, mandatory internships for your Master's degree do not count toward your limit.

Non-EU students are not allowed to work on a self-employed or freelance basis.

Tax on earnings in Germany as a Master's student

Students in Germany can earn up to €450 / US$491 per month tax-free. If you earn above this amount, you will receive an income tax number and have tax deducted from your salary automatically. Some employers may tax you even if your earnings are under the threshold; you can claim this back by submitting your income tax statement.

Working in Germany after your Master's degrees

If you want to stay and work in Germany after completing your Master's degree, a good grasp of German will give you access to more jobs. Also, consider completing an internship to gain professional experience in your chosen field locally.

EU/EEA Master's students wanting to work in Germany

EU/EEA citizens can work in Germany without a work permit. EU citizens are treated the same way as German residents regarding access to the employment market, social and tax advantages, and working conditions.

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Non EU/EEA Master's students looking to work in Germany post-graduation

Master's students from non-EU countries who want to work in Germany after graduation can extend their residence permit for up to 18 months to find work relating to their studies.

What is an extended residence permit in Germany?

The 18 months of an extended residence permit start when you receive your final exam results, so it is wise to start looking for work in your last semester. During these 18 months of your extended residence permit, you can work as much as you like and take up any job to support yourself.

What do I need to apply for an extended residence permit?

You will need the following documents when applying for an extended residence permit.

  • Proof you have health insurance
  • Passport
  • Proof you can support yourself financially
  • Master's degree certificate as proof to show you have graduated

Once you find a position you like, you should apply for a German residence permit or EU Blue Card (similar to the US Green Card). You can stay and work in Germany while your application is processed.

The EU Blue Card might appeal more if you want to live and work in another EU state. Check with your foreign residents' registration office for guidance on which permit to apply for and what documents you'll need for each option.

If you apply for a Blue Card, you must have a job offer that pays a minimum of €53,000 (US$57,844) a year.

Mathematicians, physicians, natural scientists, or engineers must have a job offer for at least €41,808 (~US$45,629) a year.

If you want to remain in Germany and become a permanent resident, you can apply for a 'settlement permit' two years after receiving your permanent residence permit or EU Blue Card.

Looking for work in Germany after returning to your home country after graduation

If you return to your home country after your Master's degree but want to return to Germany to find work, you can apply for a Jobseeker Visa, a six-month visa allowing you to look for a job related to your degree.

You must provide proof that you can support yourself while looking for employment - you are not allowed to work on a Jobseeker's Visa. You can apply for the appropriate residence permit once you find a suitable position.

You should apply for this visa from the nearest German embassy in your home country. Check with the Federal Foreign Office for more advice on the requirements for non-EU students to work in Germany.

Scholarships for Master's studies in Germany

Working while studying is beneficial for supplementing your savings. However, it's often not enough to cover the entirety of your studying and living costs, especially for non-EU citizens.

Scholarships are a great way to cover your tuition fees and other expenses, while being able to fully focus on your studies. Check out our detailed Scholarship Directory for Master's Studies in Germany for a list of all the scholarships you can apply for, and what you'll need to become eligible.

Keystone Team

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The Keystone Team is comprised of experienced educators and advisors dedicated to providing valuable resources and advice to students all over the world.

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