Career doctor: finding a job
The healthcare industry is the one of largest employment sectors in Germany. Medical professions in Germany include general practitioners and specialists as well as professions in biotechnology, public health, medical computer science, and nutrition. Doctors from abroad are looking for careers in Germany.
Where to Find Jobs as a Doctor in Germany
Recently, there has been an influx of foreign doctors to Germany. Most of these immigrants are from European Union countries like Poland or the Czech Republic, but many doctors from around the world have applied for jobs in Germany.
Competition for medical jobs is high. Many facilities prefer to hire EU doctors as there are fewer restrictions. Non-EU doctors must prove that their education and training is equivalent to Germany’s (or undergo additional training and testing) and secure Arbeits-und Berufserlaubnis/Aufenthaltserlaubnis (work/residence permits). The employer needs to prove they have advertised the post for at least three months and that no suitable EU candidate has been found. Exceptions are made for doctors from Switzerland, Israel, Japan, USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, but these work permits are usually only for a limited time. There are also exceptions given to foreign doctors married to a German citizen.
Foreign doctors are more likely to find a career in rural regions, little towns, and smaller practices as these areas commonly have a shortage, particularly in specialties such as internal medicine. On the other hand, some areas are especially difficult to practice medicine like in Bavaria where competition is particularly fierce.
How to Become Certified as a Doctor in Germany
Foreign doctors must submit their qualifications to Oberste Landesgesundheitsbehörde (state health authorities) to assure that their training is up to the standards of Germany’s medical training and receive Approbation (license). The specifics of how that is done and what to do to bring qualifications up to German standards can be found in our article covering How to Become a Medical Doctor in Germany.
Once a full license has been given, doctors in Germany must apply for membership in the relevant medical associations. Each Bundesland (German state) has one Landesärztekammer (State Chamber of Physicians), and doctors must contact the authority in the region they want to work. Contact details for each of the 23 registration authorities can be found here, with the Bezirksregierung (local health authorities) providing central organization in Germany.
Applicants will also need to prove they have a good working knowledge of the German language. They must test at a minimum of a B2 level, though it may be difficult to find a job working with patients with less than a C2 certificate.
How to Look for Work as a Doctor in Germany
The Federal Employment Agency's International Placement Services (ZAV) offers information on whether you need a work permit, about the work climate in Germany for foreigners, and provides help to German companies recruiting foreign workers.
Websites for Jobs in Germany:
You should also familiarize yourself with available positions and apply on-line.
- The Marburger Bund is a trade union which represents physicians employed in Germany. Their website includes job listings for hospitals.
- The Deutsches Ärzteblatt (German Medical Journal) offers comprehensive, frequently updated listings. You can search by Fachgebiet (specialty) or PLZ (postal code).
- arbeitsagentur.de – Provides information on vacancies for physicians at hospitals, institutes or other health facilities in Germany from the Federal Employment Agency.
- make-it-in-germany.com - The Federal Government portal for international skilled workers has targeted advertisements for occupations with a skills shortage in Germany.
- jobboerse.arbeitsagentur.de - The job exchange of the Federal Employment Agency provides current job openings in Germany.
- The European Mobility Portal of the European Commission shows positions throughout Europe, including in Germany.
Don’t forget the importance of networking. Put out word in your social group that you are looking for work. Tell friends, family, neighbors and especially colleagues and mentors.
Connect with your university advisors –even if you are not a recent graduate – as many universities take job preparation very seriously and are dedicated to helping their graduates find a position. Look for informational events on the job market, CV critique, lectures, support programs for looking for work, etc.
Contact specialized medical associations or Branchenverzeichnisse (industry directories) in your field in the area you wish to work. Germans love groups so if you can join a relevant association, you are sure to make a valuable contact. For example:
- Deutscher Industrieverband für optische, medizinische und mechatronische Technologien e.V. (Optical, Medical and Mechatronic Technologies)
- BVMed Bundesverband Medizintechnologie e.V. (Medical Technology Association)
- Forschungsvereinigung Feinmechanik, Optik und Medizintechnik e. V. (Precision mechanics and optics)
- Imaging Netzwerk Berlin (INB)
- Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nuklearmedizin e.V. (DGN - German Society of Nuclear Medicine)
- Bundesverband Gesundheits-IT - bvitg e. V. (Federal Association of Healthcare IT)
- Deutsche Vereinigung für Rehabilitation e.V. (Rehabilitation)
Professional networks like Linkedin can also help you find opportunities and connect with organizations.
How to Write a CV/Application for Medical Positions in Germany
German medical facilities like to see a detailed CV from candidates. A CV in Germany should include all of your relevant work history including size of the hospital or clinic, specialty training, a full description of clinical work, any and all certificates and titles, example of the numbers of patients you see each day, types of treatment/surgery/procedures you are familiar with and information about your language proficiency.
It is common for applicants to undergo a preliminary telephone/skype interview before being required to visit the medical facility for a formal interview.
References should also be supplied, although these may not be requested until after the interview. Some hospitals send offer letters “subject to references” and the job offer is not valid until the hospital has confirmed at least 2 adequate clinical references. Prepare references from a current clinical supervisor and a second clinician who work directly with you and inform them of the upcoming reference call.
Follow-up on applications with a phone call or email and be prepared to answer questions in German.
Job Contracts for Medical Professionals in Germany
Job contracts in Germany are usually a long term commitment explicitly spelled out in writing. A typical contract can be anywhere from two to five years.
Physicians’ Salary in Germany
The average starting salary for medical graduates in Germany is €49,000 a year. This is higher than any other field of study. Specialists do even better averaging between €70,000 and €100,000 a year.