There has always been a high demand for foreign nurses in Germany, and this is not set to change anytime soon. The country has one of the fastest aging populations in the world and is in need of manpower.
Because of this, Germany has made working as a nurse within its borders a rather straightforward process. There are paid training opportunities here where you’ll receive a minimum wage while learning in a real-life setting. Germany is open to nurses of all nationalities, though being from an EU country makes the paperwork easier.
Germany has one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world. The country also has some of the most employee-friendly labor laws around. As a worker, you’ll be entitled to at least 20 vacation days a year. For nurses, this number can be as high as 30 to 40. Germany also has a high minimum wage and offers parental leave to both mothers and fathers.
This guide will set you on your way as we talk about the basic steps on how to become a nurse in Germany.
Steps to Becoming a Nurse in Germany
1. Learn German
The first step to becoming a nurse in Germany is to learn the language. To get an apprenticeship or work placement in Germany, you’ll need at least a B2 level of German. Proof of proficiency comes in the form of a standardized test. There are many acceptable exams, but the most popular ones are offered by the Goethe-Institut and the Telc Deutsch.
There are many ways of learning German. There are many free videos on YouTube and lessons on apps like Duolingo. You can also buy physical textbooks. The quickest and most effective way, though, is to hire a teacher. The Goethe-Institut offers courses from A1 to C2. You can also receive one-on-one tutorials online or through another language school.
If your German is only at the B1 level, you can still move to the country provided you make a commitment to improving your skills. Once there, you can take further German classes. As a foreigner, you are entitled to free language integration courses.
2. Undertake an Apprenticeship or Study Nursing
Germany is unique in that nurses don’t necessarily need a university degree. Because nursing involves both practice and theory, the country uses an apprenticeship system in which you’ll work under the supervision of more experienced nurses in a hospital and study nursing in a vocational school. You’ll learn by doing rather than just by listening to lectures.
Getting a nursing apprenticeship can be competitive depending on the specific program you’re applying for. Because apprenticeships are seen as alternatives to college education, you’ll only need a high school diploma. Your German language skills will need to be at a B2 level, or at a B1 level if you’re willing to commit to reaching B2 within the next few months. You’ll also need a driving license or to commit to getting one.
The best part about apprenticeships is that instead of paying a tuition fee, you actually get paid to do that. In your first year, you’ll receive an allowance of around 800 euros per month. This will go up in the succeeding years.
While a college degree isn’t a requirement, it can be helpful. Germany has a number of reputable schools for nursing, such as Hamburg University and the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences. These programs are subsidized by the government, so you usually won’t have to pay more than 300 euros per semester.
Studying nursing abroad is a substitute for undertaking an apprenticeship. Your university degree will need to be recognized in Germany to allow you to work. If you have work experience but don’t have a recognized degree, you’ll need to undergo an apprenticeship. You can also apply to be a helper in a German hospital, which is another pathway to a nursing career.
3. Get a Work Visa
Whether or not you need a visa depends on your nationality. EU citizens can work in Germany visa-free. For non-EU citizens who wish to become a nurse in Germany, the next step would be to apply for an Employment Visa. This visa doesn’t require you to already hold a job, so you can look for employment while living in Germany.
A visa is required both for apprenticeships and full-time work. Employment Visas take into account education, previous work experience, language skills, and many more factors.
Nationals of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tunisia, and the Philippines can also apply for a work visa under the Triple Win Project, which is a program specifically for nurses from these three countries.
4. Find a Full-Time Job
There are many options open to for people who wish to become a nurse in Germany. Healthcare in the country is roughly 80% government-funded, so most medical professionals work in public hospitals. Private hospitals like Hallwang Clinic GmbH and Franziskus-Krankenhaus do exist and may offer better pay.
Specializing in a particular area of nursing can help you find a job and get paid more. Cardiac nurses, anesthetists, critical care nurses, etc. all have specialized skill sets and are in high demand. Nurses can also specialize in working with children or the elderly.
As Germany has an aging population, geriatric nursing, in particular, is in high demand. This job requires you to work in care homes and in geriatric wards. Elderly people often have more health issues than younger ones. Besides caring for their health, you’ll also need to support them emotionally and mentally, as they have very specific needs in these regards.
While global recruitment sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Monster are all used in Germany, using a local alternative like Stepstone and Stellenanzeigen may expedite finding a job.
I hope that you found this article on how to become a nurse in Germany informative and helpful. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs in Germany!