Here’s how to work in Germany without speaking German

by Erin McGann
July 30, 2020

You want to live and work in Germany, but you don’t have much in the way of German language skills? It will be a bit of a challenge, but there are ways it can be done.

Jobs and work in Germany for English-speakers

If your German language skills are not great, you can still find a job in Germany, but it takes a bit of outside-the-box thinking. Being face to face with customers of any kind will not work, even in big cities like Berlin, people will expect you to speak German. However, there are a few options where being a native English speaker will help. 

1. Childcare

If you like children, you can offer your services as an English-speaking babysitter. Particularly if English is your first language. There is lots of demand for childcare workers to be able to speak English well to expose kids to the correct words and pronunciations early. You need training to be able to work in childcare centres, but if you want to do some babysitting on the side, that’s always an option. Try posting in the local expat parenting Facebook groups to get started. 

2. Freelance gig economy jobs

There are quite a few of these flexible jobs floating around that you can do without speaking much German. Charging those ubiquitous e-scooters, delivering food by bike, or doing Amazon deliveries. Some of these jobs require you to have a car, or even just a bicycle. Do sit down and calculate how much work you would have to do for a decent wage, some of these jobs require a lot of hours for the money. 

3. English teacher

The obvious choice for many English speakers in Germany is to teach English. However, knowing a language and being able to teach it to others is not the same thing! Germany as a nation is very attached to certification, so if you’d like to get a job at a language school you will need a university degree and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) accreditation at the very least. You could go freelance and offer ‘conversation’ one-on-one if you want to get started before accreditation, though the money won’t be as good. To be a teacher in elementary and secondary schools in Germany, you need a specialized university degree, though some international schools will accept teaching degrees from other countries. 

4. Software development and STEM jobs

If you’re qualified with a university degree in a STEM field, you’re more likely to find a job where you don’t need German-language skills in Germany. However, these jobs still require meeting attendance and interactions with colleagues over email, so look for larger companies with an international presence, they will be more likely to hire non-German speakers. Do keep in mind there are many high-level graduates within Germany in these fields who speak English and German, so you will be at a disadvantage. 

5. Working remotely

There are many jobs you can do remotely, so you can still work in English, but work from home in Germany. Everything from transcription work to organising someone else’s life from afar is available as a remote job. It is worth taking the time to research a particular field carefully and find the best place to pick up jobs. The big sites like Upwork and Fiverr have a large volume of job postings, but the offered pay is terrible, on average. 

The best way to get a job in Germany? Learn German

Germany is full of well-educated multilingual people, so your best bet is to learn German to a decent standard to get the kind of work in Germany that you’re looking for. Employers are often keen on having native English speakers on staff, but if you can’t speak German as well, it puts extra work on everyone else and there are many local people who speak English quite well. Buckle down and get your German to a B2 level, and you’ll find the job options open up exponentially. 

Start learning German

Not only will learning German help you to secure a job, but it’ll help you with paperwork and integrating into your community! Visit the Lingoda website and claim your free 7-day trial with our native speaking German teachers today. 

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