Finding a job in Berlin
How to find work in Berlin, including information on Berlin’s current job market and vacancies, German work permits, and where to find a job in Berlin.
If you’re looking to work in Germany’s capital, you’ll find jobs in Berlin for highly skilled workers alongside jobs in startups, services and creative industries. Berlin has a young, highly educated and creative international workforce. Even though the city draws people from around the world to work in Berlin, if you speak German you will stand a much better chance of employment.
Here’s what you need to get started on your job search in Berlin: Berlin-specific job market information, vacancies for jobs in Berlin and where to look to find them. You can also read our guide to finding a job in Germany, where we list nation-wide job sites and job vacancies.
This guide shows you where to find jobs in Berlin:
- Employment in Berlin overview
- Information on Berlin's job market: vacancies, German work permits, language and qualifications
- Finding jobs in Berlin: online websites, recruitment agencies, organisations
- Tips for applying for a job
Berlin’s unemployment rate at around 10.5 percent (March 2016) is just over double the German national average but its economy is growing fast. While it can be harder to find jobs in Berlin than other German cities, with perseverance, finding a job in Berlin can be done.
After the reunification of Germany in 1989, many East German companies went bust and the city’s economy floundered. Today, with a new focus on R&D, research, biotech and IT, there’s been a resurgence in the growth of the city’s industry. In 2015, Ernst & Young ranked Berlin as Europe’s third most attractive city for investors after London and Paris.
There may not be many large industrial companies in Berlin (only about 8 percent of the workforce is employed in manufacturing) or many large multinationals but the city is a global competitor in modern service companies and innovative high tech businesses, and there’s a boom in tourism. Plus with a strong SME (small and medium sized businesses) sector, it’s the German startup capital. Things are looking up in Berlin.
The job market in Berlin
There is a great diversity of jobs available in Berlin and more than 350,000 companies, organisations, associations, universities and higher education, institutes and politics in the city. There is a large number of small and medium-sized businesses in Berlin – there are around 280,000 companies employing less than 250 people – and many of them are global market leaders in their field. The main sectors in Berlin are healthcare industries, ICT, media and creative industries, transport, mobility and logistics, energy technology, photonics, and services. The German manufacturing sector is growing but such companies are almost all small with 10 or less employees.
The main sources of employment in Berlin are real estate and professional, scientific and technical services, alongside wholesale and retail trade, mechanics, social work, hotel and catering and education. The 10 largest employers in Berlin are corporate giants Deutsche Bahn, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Vivantes Netzwerk für Gesundheit, Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG), Siemens, Kaiser’s Tengelmann, Deutsche Telekom, EDEKA Minden-Hannover Stiftung, Deutsche Post DHL, and the WISAG group of service companies. See the Berliner Morgenpost’s survey of Berlin’s top 200 employers in 2015, and Berlin’s Great Place to Work in Berlin-Brandenburg 2015.
Available jobs in Berlin
According to EURES (the European Job Market Portal), in January 2015 there were 10 unemployed applicants for each vacancy in Berlin (6.2 was the national average) but with the right qualifications, you would have a good chance of finding work in advertising and marketing, health and medical care, nursing, emergency medical services, midwifery, care of the elderly, energy engineering, plastics and rubber, mechatronics and automation, metals, plumbing and heating, utilities supply, waste management, train driving, public administration, and tax advice.
There are lots of jobs in tech startups. The European Digital City Index (October 2015) ranked Berlin 7th in Europe for startups and 9th for scaleups, while the 2015 Deustche Start up Monitor survey found that a third of Germany’s startups are in Berlin. You don’t necessarily have to be a techie either, there are opportunities in startups in commercial roles such as marketing. Startups are an area where speaking German is not so essential, especially if you are a highly skilled tech specialist; for the more commercial side, however, the ability to speak German is more important when companies’ markets are Germany-based.
There are also opportunities in education and research with 11 universities, 21 colleges and polytechnics and 250 research institutes in Berlin. Plus, there are jobs in the tourism and hospitality service industries, as well as teaching English.
Work visas and residence permits in Berlin
If you’re from the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA – EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Switzerland and have a valid passport or ID card, you don’t need a work permit to work in Berlin. Citizens from Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea and the US can come to Germany without a visa and apply for a residence and work permit from their local Alien’s Authority in Berlin. Foreign university graduates may be able to get a six-month permit to come and look for work. Everyone else will typically need to get a visa and residence permit in order to work in Berlin. Everyone also has to register at the nearest town hall (Bürgeramt) in Berlin.
There are jobs in Berlin that don’t require you to speak German – for example, Berlin start-ups looking for English speakers to conduct international business for them – but you’ll give yourself the best chance of getting a job in Berlin if you do. Even jobs that are advertised for English speakers have some aspect to them that needs a basic grasp of German. It’s unlikely that you would get a professional level job without good language skills.
Qualifications and references
Certain professions are regulated in Germany, including teachers, doctors and opticians. Check out your occupation on Recognition in Germany and find out how to get it recognised. Contact the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) to get a foreign university degree verified. Countries signed up to the Bologna Process will have their qualifications recognised in Germany.
Use Expatica's job search to find job posts in English aimed at foreign internationals.
The Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit, BA), the largest provider of labour market services in Germany, has a network of more than 700 agencies and offices around the country and an online job search. You can find the contact details for the Berlin offices here. Talent-Berlin is the city’s job portal.
Jobs in Berlin websites
Look at the major online job websites such as Monster, StepStone and Indeed – just type in the type of work you’re looking for and the place name ‘Berlin’ and hundreds of jobs from a range of different companies will pop up.
- BerlinJob.Net – English-speaking startups, internet, design and marketing jobs
- Berlin Startup Jobs
- Berlin Startup Map (find a job near you)
- Deutsche Startups (in German)
- Gruenderszene (in German)
- Startup Sucht (in German)
- Venture Village
- Berlin ExpatJobs
- BerlinerJobMarkt (in German)
- Creative City – creative jobs and internships
- EuroScienceJobs – researchers and post doc
- Work in Berlin – eCommerce
- Woloho – sign up and get alerts for jobs in Berlin
- Click here for a list of non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
- Jobs in Berlin – for English-speaking professionals
- The Local’s job board – English-language jobs in Berlin
Recruitment agencies in Berlin
Look in the German Yellow Pages (Gelbe Seiten) under Arbeitsvermittlung for agencies. They’ll be reputable if they are members of the Federal Employer’s Association of Personnel Service Providers (Bundesarbeitgeberverband der Personaldienstleister, BAP).
Teaching English in Berlin
There are opportunities to teach English in Berlin in language schools, and teaching English to employees in large businesses and to private clients, but competition is fierce as there are a lot of expats in the city. You’ll stand a better chance of employment with a recognised TEFL qualification and, if you want to work as an in-house English trainer with a company, previous experience of working in a business environment. See English Language Teachers' Association Berlin-Brandenburg e.V
Click here to read a profile of the top Berlin companies within each sector and view available jobs.
Embassies and consulates
Look out for vacancies at your home country’s embassy or consulate in Berlin.
Networking is really important in Berlin – the Germans have even got an expression for it: they say a dose of Vitamin B (for Beziehung or ‘relationship’) can help get your foot inside the door. Sign up to Xing, one of the most popular business networks in Germany, or check out LinkedIn jobs in Berlin.
Link up with like-minded expats through Meetups in Berlin groups or form your own. Other networking opportunities include Spätschicht, Art Connect and the Facebook groups Berlin Freelancers, Berlin start up jobs and Berlin Startups.
Techies can check out BerlinWebWeek, an annual festival with around 30 events – conventions, trade shows, forums and meet-ups – to do with the internet and digital technologies.
Creative workers can visit design, art and architecture networks, initiatives and associations in Berlin.
For tips on putting together a German application portfolio, a German-style CV, cover letter and attending an interview, see Expatica’s guide to applying for a job in Germany.
A few tips for applying for job in Berlin include:
- If the job was advertised in English, you may apply in English (unless specified not) – otherwise apply in German.
- You’ll need to put together an application portfolio (die Mappe) – include a covering letter, CV, copies of educational certificates, testimonials/references, and passport-sized photos – in a folder, or if the employer is happy to receive online applications, scanned documents in a PDF file.
- You may need to get educational certificates authenticated or translated into German.
- Provide information on the level of any language skills.
- Cover letters should be clear and concise and no more than one side of A4. There’s no need to include a lot of information about personal motivation in the cover letter.
- Prepare your CV in the German style, which is a two-columned table – see Expatica's guide to applying for jobs in Germany for more details.
- At the interview, unless you’re going for an interview at a techie startup, dress formally. Check the company websites to see how employees dress if in doubt.
- Finding a job in Germany
- How to write a German-style CV and interview tips
- Start your own business or set up as a freelancer in Germany
- Understanding German business culture
Find a job in Germany using Expatica's job search.
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