The obvious solution when you haven’t landed a job yet is to freelance. Not all types of job lend themselves to freelancing, but there’s more options out there than you might expect. As usual with jobs in Germany, if you can speak German, you will have a better chance at getting that freelance client, or you will be able to charge more as a freelancer. We caught up with Erin, an American expat, who lives and works as a freelancer in Germany.
Freelance writing in Germany
Hey look – I’m a freelance writer in Germany, so I can tell you quite a bit about this one! Even within ‘freelance writing’ there are lots of different ways to do it: journalism, content writing, marketing copywriting, speech writing, grant proposal writing, and more. I do a bit of journalism and content writing mainly, and the pay varies on the type of project I’m working on.
For content writing and marketing copywriting, a freelancer with some proven experience and samples can expect somewhere from €30-€50 per hour, or you might give a total quote for a project. Journalistic work usually pays by the word, and varies enormously from €0.10/word to up to €2/word but you generally need a solid portfolio with many well-known publications before you can get top rates.
If you have specific experience in another field – anything from farm equipment to hair dressing – check out the trade publications for those industries. They always pay more. Beware of sites like Upwork and Fiverr, the work offered there can be underpaid. There are occasionally decent assignments but it takes hours of sorting to find them.
Freelance English teaching
There are many levels of ‘teaching English’ in Germany. If you want something really casual, make a poster offering conversation lessons and put them up around your neighbourhood. You probably won’t make more than €10-€20 an hour, but it’s very low barrier to entry!
If you’re looking for any other kind of freelance English teaching gigs, you’ll need at least TEFL certification, and for actual in-person private schools, you need a degree in Education. Teaching in state schools in Germany is a very involved career path that requires special degrees, by the way. For an online English teacher, you’re looking at about €9-€15/hour, but probably a steadier income than your random poster conversation tutor option. If you have a teaching qualification, check out Lingoda’s website and you could become an online teacher in English, German, Spanish or French from anywhere in the world.
Being a consultant
If this sounds like a vague job title, it’s meant to be. Consultants are often people with extensive business experience in managing projects, setting up financial systems, shepherding companies through major changes, and more. This usually means you work with an agency that matches your skills with a company looking for temporary help through a big project or organisational change. Two of the biggest consulting agencies are PwC and Deloitte.
If you have a lot of experience in these fields, particularly in financial systems, risk management, and auditing, connect with an agency to find a placement. These tend to be longer projects, in the range of months or even a couple of years, and the work is specialised, so the pay can be in the range of €75,000 per year and up.
Freelance graphic designer
Much like freelance writing, working as a freelance graphic designer can mean so many different things. You could be working in game development, print media, online media, video, user interface design, civic infrastructure design, and more. Because the field is so varied, it’s very difficult to give a general hourly rate, but with an intermediate-level portfolio and some years experience, you could be making anywhere from €30/hour – €60/hour. Again, like writing, building up a portfolio of work with clients will allow you to charge more. The same advice holds for using Upwork and Fiverr, the fees offered there aren’t great so don’t use them as your primary source of work.
And remember, to give yourself the best chance of making a decent rate as a freelancer, work on your German level with Lingoda.
Build your German skills as you build your portfolio! Visit the Lingoda website and sign up for your free 7-day German trial today.