Salary in Germany 🥇 What you should know as international in 2022 (2023)

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What is the salary for internationals in Germany? How do you achieve the best salary? What do you have to pay attention to as an international in the application process? We explain what you need to know to start your career in Germany as an international.

Salary in Germany: amount and negotiation

How much can you earn in Germany? Many internationals starting a career in Germany for the first time ask themselves this question. There are a number of factors that determine the amount of salary.

One of the most important factors is the current demand for the profession in the market. Where there are few applicants for a vacant position, the pay is also better. There is particularly high demand and therefore comparatively high salaries for doctors, nurses, craftsmen and IT specialists.

Unlike in some other countries, however, employers often do not state the possible salaries in job advertisements. This makes it particularly difficult for applicants from abroad to decide on the question of salary. Sometimes, however, it helps to check on the Internet in comparison portals how much is usually paid for a job.

Average salary in Germany

Currently prices and salaries in Germany undergo profund changes. There are many factors leading to changes in the average salary in Germany:

  • the economic situation in result to the pandemic
  • war against Ukraine with higher costs in energy
  • demands for higher wages
  • lack of sufficient workforce for many industries in Germany
  • implications of the increasing minimum wage.

At the moment the average salary in Germany is as follows:

  • Average gross monthly earnings for full-time employees in Germany are 3,380 euros.
  • This sums up to an average gross income in Germany of about 40,000 Euro per year.
  • The average net disposable income in Germany is about 21,500 Euro per year.

However your concrete salary very much depends from a long list of factors and the avaerage salary in Germany is only one starting point for your considerations.

How do I find out my salary when I apply for a job?

For unskilled jobs in Germany, the salary is usually stated in gross per hour in job advertisements. Almost all positions that are above the minimum wage will not have a salary listed in the job postings. Applicants must then negotiate the salary with the employer. This means that you, as the applicant, must make your own salary proposal.

What salary do I want when I apply for a job?

If you want to work in a job for the first time – for example, as a career starter or as an incoming international, then you should find out about the current gross annual salaries at entry level. In case you already have work experience in a different field or more advanced degrees than required for the position, you can add a premium. If you are already employed in Germany in a similar position and it is not an unskilled job, you can usually ask for 10 to 30 percent more salary when you change employers. Comparison portals (such as are a good source of information on current salaries.

How do I state my salary expectations in an application?

You should state your salary expectations in euros in line with the usual market level and taking your qualifications into account. Always indicate annual gross salaries and name this information as such. You should specify euros as the currency for applications in Germany. You can round your salary expectations to the nearest thousand. We recommend that you state a sum 10-15 percent higher than the one you want to achieve. Employers negotiate around this range in our experience.

How will the employer negotiate the salary with me when I apply for a job?

Many job ads say “Please state your salary requirements.” In our experience, you should comply with this. Therefore, in the cover letter, include a sentence such as: “My salary expectations are 59,000 euros (gross annual salary). An alternative could be: “I currently receive a gross annual salary of around 50,000 euros and am seeking a 10 percent increase. There may be a negotiation on these salary expectations over the phone prior to an interview.

If you are asked about this over the phone, your salary expectations are probably considered too high – you should consider lowering them a bit already in the phone call. If you are not asked about it, the salary requirements are probably acceptable. In the interview itself, the employer will usually still negotiate the salary with you again. Here, too, you should still have some flexibility left. Above all, you should have the exact figure in mind that you have given as your salary expectation – and you should definitely have a minimum idea.

Salary in Germany 🥇 What you should know as international in 2022 (1)

Salary for career starters

There are still special features for those who are starting their careers. Applicants who are working in a field for the first time should also clearly state their desired salary. However, you should not make the mistake here of demanding a salary that would be appropriate for experienced professionals.

Always keep in mind that in Germany it is customary that the longer you work for the company, the higher your salary. So the entrepreneur is thinking from the end here and will not let you reach for the stars right away. As a career starter, you should therefore generally demand salaries that are more in the lower range of the usual. After a few months or at the latest after a year, you can then demand a higher salary.

Different salaries for internationals depending on the region in Germany

Also be aware that there are regional differences in salaries in Germany. On the one hand, more is generally paid where there is a greater demand for skilled workers. On the other hand, where there are many applicants per job, less is usually paid. From this you can build a strategy. For example, you can look for a job in regions in Germany where unemployment is particularly low.

Varying costs

Secondly, you should note that cities and metropolitan areas usually pay more than rural regions. You can count as rural regions all areas that are further than a 45-minute drive from a place with at least 100,000 inhabitants. Here, however, you should also note that the cost of living in cities and metropolitan regions is sometimes significantly higher than in rural regions…

In particular, rental costs often differ greatly between urban and rural areas. In the larger cities, it can be quite difficult to rent an apartment – especially if you are just moving to Germany. There are some tips on how to find an apartment as an international.

Salary in Germany 🥇 What you should know as international in 2022 (2)

Compare costs

It is always a good idea to see what expenses you can expect in a specific city or in a larger region, and you should compare these expenses with your expected income.

Such comparisons can mean that even a lower salary may be more attractive if it is also offset by lower expenses. Tax issues may also play a role in making lower salaries more attractive (you should check details with a tax advisor on this). Therefore, it is always a good idea to also look at what expenses you can expect in a specific city or in a larger region.

These regionally varying expenses usually do not include costs for food, energy, fuel and products of all kinds, but do include costs for services, child care or car insurance.

Salary for internationals sometimes lower than for Germans

There are various statistical studies that indicate that foreigners receive lower salaries than Germans for the same job. These differences may exist in some areas, but not in others. So, on the one hand, of course, there is rarely a distinction between Germans and internationals in the unskilled sector.

There are also positions, for example in the IT sector or in health care, where the same salaries are paid. If there are differences, they are often due to language skills or a lack of work experience or different education. We recommend that all foreigners who are interested in working in Germany should aim for the standard German salary.

Women often receive lower salaries than men for internationals

Unfortunately, it can still happen in Germany that women occasionally receive lower salaries for the same job as men. There is currently a broad social discussion in Germany about whether this is appropriate and correct. We always recommend that female international applicants aim for the same salaries as men in the market.

Salary for foreigners in training

In dual vocational training and a dual study program, salaries (training allowance) are usually very clearly defined. Companies are often only willing to negotiate within narrow limits. However, especially in occupations for which there are too few applicants, there are opportunities for salary negotiations.

Internationals who want to do vocational training in Germany could argue in salary negotiations that they have less support from their family in Germany and hear costs due to an influx. Employers may then be willing to provide more support here.

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