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Can You Move to Germany Without a Degree?

So, you want to Germany, do you? I can’t say I blame you, I live here and it’s pretty fantastic. That being said, moving to Germany if you don’t have a degree can be tricky.

It’s tricky, but it is definitely possible, and I’m going to let you know how you can make that dream move a reality. 

The main issue here is that there’s a rule about similarly skilled candidates from abroad. To get a job in Germany, you need to prove that you are more qualified or would do a better job than the German candidate or even another European candidate who can work in the country.

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That’s a big mountain to climb. So, even if you don’t have a degree, you’ll need experience and other qualifications to make it work.

If you’re wanting to move on a temporary basis and don’t plan to work, you can always move to Germany for up to 90 days (roughly three months) on a Schengen visa. You’ll just need to make sure you’ve saved enough money to support yourself while you’re here as you cannot work on that visa. 

So, in this guide, I’m assuming that you want to move to Germany for more than three months and you’ll need to work to a) pay your bills and b) secure that all-important visa in the first place.

Ready to learn more? Okay, let’s dive in! 

Visa Options for Moving to Germany Without a Degree

First things first, if you can’t get a visa, you can wave goodbye to that dream of moving to Germany right now. For people outside of the EU (European Union), you’ll need a visa in order to work or stay longer than 90 days.

There are a few options to choose from so I’ll give you the rundown, but make sure to check with your embassy for visas that will work for your specific situation.

Job Seeker’s Visa

If you don’t have a job lined up in Germany, you can go to your embassy and apply for a Job Seeker’s visa. This costs you around 130 Euros to apply for and it gives you six months to live and search for a job in the country. 

Importantly, you need to find a job that’s going to sponsor a work visa for you after these six months are up. If your company isn’t willing to take over your visa paperwork, then you can’t stay in Germany, it’s as simple as that.

Sponsored Visa

A sponsored work visa is probably the most common and straightforward of all German visas, mostly because pretty much every country has this system.

Essentially you’ll have a job lined up before you arrive in Germany and your company has agreed to sponsor your work visa. This is basically them vouching for you and the fact you’re not going to become a burden to German society. 

a passport with visa

It’s worth noting that if you leave your job, you need to make sure your next company will take over your visa, otherwise, you can be deported. 

When you don’t have a degree, it can be difficult to get a sponsored visa role, but as long as you have relevant qualifications or experience, you might be able to secure this kind of entry into Germany.

Spousal Visa

This is a German visa that I know all too well! If you’re married to a German citizen you can get a spousal visa that allows you to join them for three months.

During that time, they can get you a resident’s permit to help things become a little more permanent. 

There are certain boxes you need to tick including paperwork and a basic German language requirement where you need to take a formal test and pass to stay!

Student Visa

Like a lot of countries, you actually can work on a student visa in Germany. So, if you’re looking to get your degree, or take classes to improve your German, you might be able to secure a student visa.

This allows you to work up to 20 hours per week alongside your studies. You will need an acceptance letter from your institution and proof of how you’re going to support yourself (normally through savings), but it’s pretty straightforward.  

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Freelancer/Self-Employed Visa

Finally, if you work for yourself and can prove that you can support yourself and/or bring something of value to the area you’re moving to (like setting up shop and creating jobs), you might be eligible for a freelancer or self-employed visa.

There are a lot of accounting-related boxes to check for this, so contact your embassy to see if you’re eligible.

If you want to start earning money online immediately, you can freelance on sites like Fiverr or Upwork. These are great for writers, editors, photographers, graphic designers, devs, and more.

If you have a marketable skill that people want to pay for, you can make a lot of money remotely.

You can also start a travel blog (or any type of blog) as a way to show future employers what you’re capable of, like a portfolio of your experience.

I recommend starting your blog with Bluehost, it’s super easy and cheap and you can have a WordPress site set up quickly with your own domain.

I used them when I was first starting and have only recently switched since my traffic has increased.

What Jobs Can I Get in Germany Without a Degree?

So, like anywhere, certain jobs are going to be out of reach if you don’t have a degree in Germany. 

You’re not going to be a doctor or lawyer for example, but there are still plenty of job roles and sectors that you can explore, especially if you have vocational training, non-degree level qualifications, or experience.

Tourism

Depending on where you are in Germany, tourism is huge, and being from abroad can actually work in your favor here.

Many hospitality places like hostels, restaurants, cafes, bars, and more struggle to employ enough people, so they’re almost always looking for people with experience. 

a woman holding a glass

If you come from a tourism or hospitality background, you may even be able to go straight into management levels when you’re working in Germany. That’s how underserved the sector is right now!

Teaching English

Use the skills that you have and make them a commodity. Teaching English is a valuable skill on the continent and native-level English teachers are always in demand.

You might have to complete a TEFL or TESOL course or display a level of experience, but a degree isn’t actually necessary in a lot of German institutions. 

Engineering

Germany is one of the engineering capitals of the world – it’s actually famous for it. Especially when it comes to automotive engineering, jobs are always opening up for people with experience with cars. 

Whether you’ve done a couple of classes, worked in a garage, or have formal training, it’s one of the more popular and well-paid job roles in Germany if you don’t have a degree. 

Tradesperson

Everywhere always needs tradespeople. Whether you’re a builder, plumber, electrician, gas engineer, and more, there is always demand for you in Germany.

Traditionally, these job roles are done through a series of courses, apprenticeships, and hands-on training, so degrees aren’t really a thing in this sector. 

a man fixing something on the wall

If you can show that you have experience or that you’ve completed more traditional vocational courses in your trade that can be carried over to German standards, you can likely find a decent job in Germany.

Healthcare

Okay, so traditionally you do need a degree for a lot of jobs in the healthcare sector, but not all of them. Many roles like healthcare assistants, social care, or working in residential care only need experience or more vocational qualifications.

If you have either of these, then there are plenty of jobs across Germany that need filling!

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Best Places to Find a Job in Germany

So now you have an idea of what you want to do for work and where in Germany you’d ideally like to live, it’s time to start searching! Here are my favorite places to look for jobs in Germany.

LinkedIn

If you’re not on LinkedIn and you’re looking for work, then why not?

It’s the perfect place to network with people in your new home before you arrive, look for jobs all around the world, and let your professional personality shine.

Job Sites

Like anywhere else, it’s worth signing up for traditional job sites like Indeed. You can get really specific with your search criteria and wait for the right jobs to pop up and arrive in your inbox.

Expat Groups or Forums

Finally, we have expat groups or forums. If you’re moving to a new country, these expat groups are invaluable for finding tips and tricks to get around red tape, find the perfect area to live, and yes, even find new jobs.

The expats in the group might even know of businesses that are hiring or of organizations that normally sponsor visas.

Final Tips

To round off this quick guide for moving to Germany without a degree, here are some final tips to help you on your way.

You Need to Know At Least Basic Levels of German

Sometimes people move abroad and think they’ll just live in expat areas where they can speak English or learn when they get there.

You can’t really do that in Germany because there are basic language requirements attached to pretty much every kind of visa. You’ll need to hit a basic A1 and A2 level (which is beginner-friendly) for the majority of long-term visas.

Pick Your Location Carefully

Not all areas are good for getting a job without a degree. Cities like Berlin and Munich are full of recent graduates from all over Europe, so unless you’re going for specific roles that they’re not interested in, you might struggle.

Similarly, you need to make sure you’re in an area where there are job vacancies in your area of expertise. You might want to live out in the middle of the Black Forest but if you’re a self-employed electrician, you might not get the customer base you need.

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Yes, You Can Move to Germany Without a Degree!

So, if you’re thinking of moving to Germany without a degree it is definitely possible but you might need to do a little bit more research.

Making sure you can check the boxes for a German visa is key, so get all your documentation up to date and make a plan of action!

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