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The key to a job in Germany

If you want to work in your occupation in Germany, you need to have your professional qualification recognised. You can discover how this works below.

Sabine Giehle, 26.09.2022
There are also shortages of skilled workers in the electrical and electronic engineering sector
Shortage of skilled workers in the electrical and electronic engineering sector © Adobe Stock

Recognition of a foreign professional qualification is the main key to being able to work as a skilled worker in Germany. Here you can discover what that means, how the process works and who can answer any questions.

What does the recognition of a professional qualification mean?

When vocational education diplomas or university degrees are recognised, these qualifications are considered equivalent to corresponding professional credentials in Germany. An application for recognition must be made to the relevant body. Different authorities are responsible for this depending on the occupation or university qualification involved.

Is it always necessary to have qualifications recognised?

It is a compulsory requirement if you want to work in a regulated occupation in Germany – and applies irrespective of country of origin. Many occupations in the healthcare sector or the legal field fall into this category. Recognition is also required by teachers and engineers. A detailed overview is offered by the Recognition Finder on the Anerkennung in Deutschland website.

Although most occupations in Germany are not regulated, recognition of a foreign professional qualification or the comparability of a university degree is usually a precondition for the granting of visas to people who do not come from the European Economic Area or Switzerland.

It is true for everybody, however, that official recognition of the equivalence of professional qualifications or university degrees facilitates looking for a job and negotiating a good salary.

Which bodies recognise qualifications?

Germany is a federation in which the 16 states (Länder) have separate jurisdiction over many areas. As a result, different bodies in the individual states are responsible for the recognition of foreign qualifications – depending on the profession or occupation concerned. The Anerkennung in Deutschland website lists exactly which bodies these are.

You can carry out a preliminary check on whether a university qualification is considered the equivalent of a German degree using the anabin database of the Central Office for Foreign Education.

Which documents are needed for recognition?

A degree certificate or documentary evidence of work experience, for example, needs to be presented to enable checks on the equivalence of foreign qualifications. Depending on the desired occupation and the respective German state, however, it may also be necessary to provide documentation about course content – for example, evidence of the subjects taught and the number of teaching hours of theoretical and practical instruction – as well as internships completed during vocational training.

Which bodies provide assistance during this process?

People who are not yet living or working in Germany can receive guidance from the Service Center for Professional Recognition (ZSBA). It also supports interested parties during the recognition process. Details of advice centres for people who are already in Germany can also be found on the Anerkennung in Deutschland  website.


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