The most successful types of freelance jobs in Germany

by Adriana Stein
March 06, 2021
freelance workers at a networking event to get jobs

Working as a freelancer is the perfect setup if you enjoy working on varied projects, taking control of your time, and choosing the people you work with. And I can say from personal experience that freelancing in Germany was one of the best decisions I ever made.

So, if you’re thinking of taking a similar path and want to enjoy all the perks of the lifestyle, here are some of the most successful types of freelance jobs in Germany and some related tips for how to set your freelance rates.

The most successful freelance jobs in Germany

If you’re looking for high-paying and professionally fulfilling opportunities, Germany is actually a fantastic place to freelance. But if you want to take things up a notch, learning German gives you a huge competitive advantage. In fact, a big part of my success here is that I can speak the language and work with German clients.

So let’s now take a look at some of the most successful freelance jobs in Germany.

Data in this article has been gathered from the Freelancer Kompass 2020 report.

Types of freelance jobs by area of expertise and highest hourly rate

Types of freelance jobs by area of expertise and highest hourly rate

1. SAP

SAP stands for Systems, Applications, and Products in Data Processing, and is the name for software that helps businesses manage their operations and customer relationships. As the top contender in earnings, SAP freelancers earn around EUR 111 per hour.

Though your experience level does determine your salary, being fluent in German helps you land better and higher-paying opportunities within this industry. 

2. Business Consulting and Management

If you enjoy tackling problems, creating systems, and optimising how teams work together, business consulting and management may be your calling. Yet again, this is an industry where speaking German clearly opens up more freelance opportunities. If you can consult for German companies, for example, you can charge around EUR 110 per hour.

3. IT 

The German IT industry reached an all-time high revenue of 93,4 billion EUR in 2019. If you have the skills to work in this industry, you have an excellent opportunity to expand and build business connections in Germany. And as an IT consultant, you can easily charge over EUR 100 per hour for your services. 

On an important note, this type of freelance job often requires you to mingle with German businesses and start-ups – something you can do much better if you speak the language. 

4. Engineering

Freelance engineers in Germany charge an average hourly rate of EUR 83. If you work full-time, even after taxes this is more than enough for you to live a decent life in Germany. And you can even earn more if you offer your expertise to local German businesses. 

5. Development

If you’re a freelancer in Germany’s software, app, and web development industry, expect to have an average hourly rate of around EUR 83. However, you need to put effort into building a good client base. And how do you do that when you’re a foreigner who just arrived in Germany? By connecting with locals and communicating with them in their language.  

6. Graphic Design, Content, and Media

Graphic designers, content creators, and other media freelancers charge an average of EUR 69 per hour. If you plan to freelance as a designer or content creator, speaking German enables you to pitch to a wider range of clients. Speaking from my personal experience, being bilingual is also a huge advantage and you’ll certainly stand out among other freelancers.

Statistics on hourly rates in Germany

It’s clear to see that the best type of freelance jobs in Germany are in the IT and technology sector. According to the image below, the average hourly rate for these types of freelancers in 2020 was a whopping EUR 94,28.

The hourly rate for IT freelancers in Germany per year

The hourly rate for IT freelancers in Germany per year
Freelancer Kompass 2020 report

Furthermore we can see from the next image that people between 50-59 years old earn the highest hourly rate. It’s possible that they work in higher positions or because of their lengthy work experience, they have built core skills that make them valuable assets to their clients.

The hourly rate for IT freelancers according to age

The hourly rate for IT freelancers according to age

Something to consider when planning your freelance career or moving to Germany is that there can be variations in earnings per state. The below image provides an overview of the hourly rates for IT freelancers based on the location.

Average hourly rate for IT freelancers by location

Average hourly rate for IT freelancers by location

Statistics on income in Germany

Technology is truly the place to be when it comes to freelancing in Germany. More than half (57%) of IT freelancers earned a gross income (before taxes) of over EUR 100.000. 

Average gross income per year for IT freelancers in Germany

Average gross income per year for IT freelancers in Germany

After taxes, 57% of freelancers earned a net income of over EUR 50.000. Making this much means you can still take home more than EUR 4.000 per month – definitely enough to have a good quality life in Germany in pretty much any city.

Average net income of IT freelancers in Germany

Average net income of IT freelancers in Germany

Furthermore, almost of a third (31%) of freelancers earn between EUR 5.000 – 7.400 per month net salary. 

Average net monthly income for IT freelancers in Germany

Average net monthly income for IT freelancers in Germany
Freelancer Kompass 2020 report

Statistics on what improves freelance success

So what exactly do you need to increase your chances of succeeding as a freelancer in Germany? The most crucial thing to have is subject-specific knowledge, followed by job experience, and then your network. I’ve also seen first-hand how these three factors help you land better and higher-paying jobs, so make sure to be an expert in your field, gain as much experience as possible, and put time and effort into building your network. And of course, speaking German gives all of these elements a huge boost, too!

The factors that contribute to freelance success by percentage

The factors that contribute to freelance success by percentage

On the other hand, it’s also important not to overlook the value of soft skills! You’re more likely to find better opportunities as a freelancer in Germany if you have good communication skills, as well as are disciplined and self-motivated. 

The soft skills that contribute to freelance success by percentage

The soft skills that contribute to freelance success by percentage

The most effective way to find new projects is within your business network. Personally, I’ve seen that networking on LinkedIn effectively brings in lots of freelancing opportunities. It’s still hugely untapped by most freelancers in Germany, so if you want to get an edge, make sure to spend a half-hour each day connecting with decision-makers and proving your value to your LinkedIn network.

“Self-marketing” methods that are used most often by IT freelancers in Germany

“Self-marketing” methods that are used most often by IT freelancers in Germany

Last but not least, it’s also important to consider who you target to become potential clients. It probably comes as no surprise that bigger companies are your best bet in that 35% of freelance projects are with companies who have 5000 employees or more. However, 61% of projects are with companies with around 500 employees, so this shows how important it is to find developed companies, because they are more likely to have decent budgets.

The average amount of employees companies have when working with IT freelancers

The average amount of employees companies have when working with IT freelancers

As an experienced freelancer in Germany, I will say that you can absolutely be successful as a freelancer, even outside of these industries and skillsets. The most important factor of all is your determination to keep going!

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