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Applying for Vocational Training

What to note when applying for a place on a vocational training programme.

Clara Krug, 22.07.2015
© dpa/Universität Jena - Firmenkontaktbörse

If you are looking to complete your vocational training in Germany you need to know which qualifications you need, whether your certificates will be recognized and how to go about it and how to make a successful application in Germany. Read on for the most important websites and tips.

School-leaving qualifications in Germany

There are different types of school in Germany – Hauptschule, Realschule, and Gymnasium. Depending on which type of school young people attend and which examinations they take, they obtain different formal qualifications (for example, a Hauptschule certificate or a university entrance qualification) and as such have different options for their further education and training. Different requirements apply depending on whether you choose a dual or school-based vocational training programme. NB: In Germany education is the responsibility of the 16 federal states. For that reason, types of school and some stipulations may vary in part. You will find an overview and further information on school-leaving qualifications in Germany on the seven-language portal “wir-sind-bund”, an initiative of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge, BAMF).

Qualifications for the dual vocational training programme

For a dual training programme you don’t need a specific school-leaving qualification on paper. Companies decide themselves what abilities the trainees need to have. However, when screening applicants they naturally often also pay attention to qualifications, reports and individual grades. Particularly in popular training professions, which are highly competitive, you should fulfil expectations as well as possible. This will give you especially good chances. You can find out what employers in your sector value on the German-language portal “Berufenet”, an initiative of the German Federal Employment Agency. Here you can enter a profession or search term and will get information on your dream job. Incidentally, if you wish to take part in the “MobiPro-EU” support programme you need a recognized school-leaving qualification and a good report. We have provided information on “MobiPro-EU” under “Options”.

Qualifications for the school-based training programme

If you have decided on a vocational training programme that takes place at a vocational college you will need a qualification from a so-called academic secondary school, for example a Realschule or Gymnasium. Sometimes internships or a minimum age are further requirements. It is best to find out about the exact provisions from the Federal Employment Agency. It operates the German-language “Berufenet” portal, where you can enter a profession or search term and get lots of information on your dream job.

Qualifications for the dual study programme

A dual study programme combines attending a university with a practical traineeship at a company. A precondition for this programme is a training contract, which you must enter into with a company. In addition you will need a university entrance qualification. If you are wondering how your foreign school-leaving qualification will be rated in Germany and whether it will enable you to start a dual study programme take a look at the German-language database “Anabin”. Enter your home country in the section “Schulabschlüsse mit Hochschulzugang” and you will get information on how international school-leaving qualifications are rated.

Recognition of school-leaving qualifications

You can have a school-leaving qualification acquired abroad recognized in Germany, meaning that your qualifications can be better assessed. Under certain conditions you can also have your qualification equated with a German school-leaving qualification. This decision lies with the state certificate recognition offices. You can find complete information relating to the recognition of (school) qualifications on the website, available in eight languages, “Anerkennung in Deutschland” by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF). The portal also refers to the “Anabin” database, which lists the certificate recognition offices in Germany.

Documents from your home country

Important documents such as curricula vitae vary in their formal structure in different countries. When you apply to a company you should present such documents as clearly as possible. The bilingual website “Europass” offers good advice. It will help you present and document your skills and qualifications according to European standards. For example, you can fill out a CV here or call up a list of certificate supplements for dual training occupations.


Your application is like your calling card. As such you should take the time to make a real effort. Companies often start looking for trainees a whole year before a programme starts. It is best to inquire about application deadlines in good time. As a rule firms in Germany expect a written application with a cover letter, CV and certificates. You will find more detailed information in the job/traineeship descriptions. It will also be noted there whether you should send your application by post or email. You may also be able to apply via a company’s careers portal. If you are shortlisted, you will generally be invited for an interview, sometimes first by telephone. The company may ask you to work for a trial period or complete an internship. The most important information on application standards in Germany can be found on the bilingual Federal Employment Agency website. If you wish, you can also create a CV on the “Europass” portal that satisfies the standards across Europe. It also provides plenty of other information on making an application.