What’s your profession called in German?

What’s your profession called in German?

by Lea Hauke

Updated October 27, 2023

Asking someone about their work is part of everyday small talk. It is especially helpful in Germany — known to be a very work-oriented country — to learn the name of your profession in the local language. 

That would be German in this case, and we’re here today to teach you the most common names of professions in German. Maybe you’re meeting new people, or maybe you’re on the lookout for a new job in Germany. (Given the country’s abundance of good job opportunities, we wouldn’t be surprised.) 

Whatever your plans are — and whether you’re a doctor, mechanic, student or artist — you’ll benefit from our guide to the most important vocabulary about professions in German. Let’s dive in! 

Learn languages at your pace

The different professions in German

In German, the names for most professions are typically gendered. Which is to say, most professions have a feminine and a masculine name in German. Only very seldomly does one encounter a non-gendered name for a profession in German. 

Even so, gender-neutral language is on the rise. Gender-neutral professions can be created in German by using one of the following three devices:

  • the gender star (*), e.g. Lehrer*in
  • the gender gap (_), e.g. Lehrer_in) 
  • the neural term, e.g. der/die Lehrende, instead of der Lehrer

German also regularly adds specializations to further describe a line of work. 

As an engineer, for example, you might specialize in a specific field. In English the specialization (“electrical,” “mechanical,” etc.) would simply be added in front of “engineer.” The German translation follows the same principle but doesn’t leave a space between the two words. The result is a compound noun: Maschinenbauingenieur (mechanical engineer). 

Keep an eye out for these long German words. You’ll surely spot some of them in the lists of professions in German that we’ve provided below. 

Note that we have provided both the masculine and feminine words for each profession, where applicable. It may help to note that the definite article associated with masculine words in German is der; the definite article associated with feminine words is die.

Medical professions 

Arzt (masculine)
Ärztin (feminine)
Krankenpfleger (masculine)
Krankenpflegerin (feminine)
Sanitäter (masculine)
Sanitäterin (feminine)
Zahnarzt (masculine)
Zahnärztin (feminine)
Gynäkologe (masculine)
Gynäkologin (feminine) 
Urologe (masculine)
Urologin (feminine)
Physiotherapeut (masculine)
Physiotherapeutin (feminine)
Hautarzt (masculine)
Hautärztin (feminine)
Psychologe (masculine)
Psychologin (feminine)

Teaching professions

Lehrer (masculine)
Lehrerin (feminine)
Mathelehrerin (feminine)
math teacher
Biologielehrer (masculine)
Biologieleherin (feminine)
biology teacher
Sportlehrer (masculine)
Sportlehrerin (feminine)
Deutschlehrer (masculine)
Deutschlehrerin (feminine)
German teacher
Erdkundelehrer (masculine)
Erdkundelehrerin (feminine)
geology teacher
Physiklehrer (masculine)
Physiklehrerin (feminine)
physics teacher
Nachhilfelehrer (masculine)
Nachhilfelehrerin (feminine)
Grundschullehrer (masculine)
Grundschullehrerin (feminine)
primary school teacher
Lehrer am Gymnasium (masculine)
Lehrerin am Gymnasium (feminine)
high-school teacher
Direktor (masculine)
Direktorin (feminine)

Learn languages at your pace

Engineering professions

Ingenieur (masculine)
Ingenieurin (feminine)
Elektroingenieur (masculine)
Elektroingenieurin (feminine)
electrical engineer
Bauingenieur (masculine)
Bauingenieurin (feminine)
civil engineer
Maschinenbauingenieur (masculine)
Maschinenbauingenieurin (feminine)
mechanical engineer
Softwareingenieur (masculine)
Softwareingenieurin (feminine)
software engineer
Entwicklungsingenieur (masculine)
Entwicklungsingenieurin (feminine)
development engineer

Business professions

Marketing Manager (masculine)
Marketing Managerin (feminine)
marketing manager
Berater (masculine)
Beraterin (feminine)
Bankangestellter (masculine)
Bankangestellte (feminine)
Immobilienmakler (masculine)
Immobilienmaklerin (feminine)
estate agent
Steuerberater (masculine)
Steuerberaterin (feminine)
tax consultant
Börsenmakler (masculine)
Börsenmaklerin (feminine)

Creative professions

Künstler (masculine)
Künstlerin (feminine)
Musiker (masculine)
Musikerin (feminine)
Designer (masculine)
Designerin (feminine)
Schriftsteller (masculine)
Schriftstellerin (feminine)
Architekt (masculine)
Architektin (feminine)
Fotograf (masculine)
Fotografin (feminine)

Other professions

Mechaniker (masculine)
Mechanikerin (feminine)
Handwerker (masculine)
Handwerkerin (feminine)
Programmierer (masculine)
Programmiererin (feminine)
Busfahrer (masculine)
Busfahrerin (feminine)
bus driver
Taxifahrer (masculine)
Taxifahrerin (feminine)
taxi driver
Kassierer (masculine)
Kassiererin (feminine)
Journalist (masculine)
Journalistin (feminine)
Sekretär (masculine)
Sekretärin (feminine)
Student (masculine)
Studentin (feminine)
Bedienung (not gendered)waiterwaitress
Bäcker (masculine)
Bäckerin (feminine)
Metzger (masculine)
Metzgerin (feminine)

How to use the German names for professions

If someone asks about your profession in English, you would probably respond, “I am a/an [insert your profession here].” 

The German version leaves out the indefinite article (the “a”). So, instead of saying, Ich bin ein Lehrer/Lehrerin, you’d simply say, Ich bin Lehrer/Lehrerin

However, this changes if you add an adjective to the sentence:

Er ist Lehrer. (He’s a teacher.)

Er ist ein guter Lehrer. (He’s a good teacher.) 

Sie ist Studentin. (She’s a student.)

Sie ist eine fleißige Studentin. (She’s a hard-working student.)

When you’re speaking about the general profession (like Lehrer/Lehrerin), you don’t have to specify — which is why the ein/eine is unnecessary. If you want to be more specific and describe what kind of teacher you’re speaking about, the ein/eine becomes necessary. 

German professions: Mostly gendered

While some German words for professions sound quite similar to the English version, there are significant differences to watch out for. 

Most German names for professions are gendered. Instead of having one gender-neutral version like “mechanic” for everyone, German uses the masculine Mechaniker or feminine Mechanikerin. There are exceptions to this rule, but only a few. For example, German only has a single word for the English words “waiter” and “waitress”: Bedienung

We hope you found your profession in the list! If you’re preparing for a job interview, a German language course can help you feel more secure. 

Learn languages at your pace

Lea Hauke

Lea is a writer and translator for English and German and lives in Austria. Her love for literature is only met by her enthusiasm for music. During her studies in Berlin, she started writing for different music magazines and was the singer and drummer of a punk band. When she completed her Masters in English Literature, she moved to Tyrol, where she started her own business. Since then she has made it her mission to help others to find the right words for their ideas and projects. You can find more information about her on her website and on LinkedIn.

Lea Hauke
Start your 7-day free trial

Related articles