Paths after university

If you want to work in Germany after your studies, as a rule that’s not a problem. In most cases, because you have earned a higher degree in Germany, you will be able to join the labour market directly. You can stay in touch with your former fellow students via alumni networks.


Your initial opportunities

There are lots of opportunities in Germany for you to get started in the labour market. Here is an overview of common paths to a first job and their specifics.


Founding a business

Do you have the next big innovative idea and want to be self-employed, for example, by starting your own business?

The website of the Office for the Migrant Economy (‘Fachstelle Migrantenökonomie’) of the IQ Netzwerk has valuable information on how to start a business when you finish your academic training.

The conditions vary according to what country you come from and what residence status you have in Germany.


Universities and Research

Would you like to continue doing research? There are a number of possibilities.

Most research positions at universities are fixed term and connected to a specific project. But there are also research jobs outside universities, for instance, at research institutions or in industry. Often big companies have their own in-house research departments.

The website ‘’ has lots of information about how to do a PhD or a postdoc in Germany as well as the requirements and career and advancement opportunities for PhDs and postdocs.

The Public Sector and NGOs

In Germany, the encompasses all people who work for publicly incorporated entities, institutions and foundations. Such people are employed by the German national government, the regional states or the local district governments. Examples are judges, civil servants and schoolteachers, who are also considered civil servants in Germany. 

Wages are usually governed by broad labour agreement: the TVöD on the national level, the TV-L on the regional state level and the TvöD-VKA on the local district level. Physicians and other types of civil servants have their own wage agreements.
Many NGOs, institutions and foundations aren’t official parts of the public sector but still abide by its rules and conditions, including wage agreements and all requirements that apply to the public sector.


How to find work in Germany


Before your job search: Self-analysis

Before you set off in search of a job, you should ask yourself four questions:

  • Who am I?
  • What can I do?
  • What do I want?
  • What’s possible?

Maria-Theresia Jansen calls this an ‘inner inventory’. Take your time answering the questions and be honest. A good self-analysis can help save a lot of time wasted looking around without a goal.


When asked why it makes sense to answer these questions, Jansen responds: ‘Many degree holders only look for positions that are an exact fit with what they did during their studies. They immediately look past everything else’. This is a big mistake, Jansen stresses, since such ‘tunnel vision’ makes life unnecessarily difficult. Jobseekers should expand their horizons. A position doesn’t to be exactly what they studied at university. ‘It’s important to look at related fields and be able to transfer your own knowledge’, advises Jansen.


Important! Learn German!

Don’t forget the language. ‘Without a knowledge of German, the selection of jobs is very limited’, Jansen warns. Thus, it’s a good idea to take a language course during your studies. Of course, you may be able to complete a degree at a German university completely in English, and your fellow students may be able to talk to you in English or French. But to enable deeper human contact with your future work colleagues, it’s quite advisable to learn German. You can find what you need to know .


Have a look at the checklist below for a successful job search. Additionally, you may also have a look at Make it in Germany’s helpful video below the checklist.


Alumni: A permanent network of common experience

The DAAD takes alumni relations very seriously. That’s why it funds events for DAAD alumni in Germany and abroad, supports DAAD alumni associations and alumni work at German universities, and keeps alumni from all over the world informed and connected. In certain cases, it finances repeat invitations or the purchase of materials and specialist literature.

The goal of all these initiatives is to maintain the connections between former grant recipients to Germany and other host countries, to build an active, constantly growing global network and to work together with alumni in fruitful partnerships.