Working during your studies

Working part-time is sometimes not just the cherry-on-top for your CV,but can become a necessity to get by. According to the 20th survey by the German Student Service (“Deutsche Studentenwerk”), the average student in Germany is 24 years old and has 864 euros per month at his/her disposal. 25% has less than 675 Euros monthly to get by, while the top 25% has over 1000 Euros.


For others that are not eligible for BAföG1 (i.e. foreign students) or receive a negligible amount, the reality is that working as a student is the only way to make ends meet.

Studying in Germany is a double edged sword, seeing as that despite the fact that are no tuition fees, there are also very few scholarships offered on the Bachelor’s level.

According to the survey, two thirds of students work during their studies, which as highlighted above is a necessity if you are not receiving a scholarship, government grant/loan, bank loan or having your studies financed by your parents.

For international students, there is an extra hurdle of proof of finance when renewing your study permit, which stipulates that you prove access to about 8000 Euros yearly.

As a foreign student, however, you are not allowed to work more than 120 full or 240 half days. In hours this depends on the length of the work day, if a shift is 8 hours long then you can work for 960 hours per year, if it is 10 hours long 1200. To maximise the amount you earn, it is advisable to stay under the 8652 Euro tax line so that what you earn stays in your pocket or at worst very little gets deducted.

No money, no fun
No money, no fun

Most students opt for 450 Euro jobs, also referred to as “minijobs”, because they bring huge advantages for both the employee and the employer. The main advantages are regarding deductibles; the 9.5% pension rate is not deducted from your pay and the same goes for health insurance, which would be paid from a kitty that you and your employer would have to contribute to. On top of this, the unemployment insurance contribution is not applicable to minijobs. In a nutshell, this means every Euro you earn is tax free and “stays yours”.

So which options are there and how do people find jobs?

You can either get a job that has to do with what you are studying or a “normal” job. The former is obviously preferable because you are able to show some work experience in your field when job hunting and in most cases students are happy to use their theoretical, classroom knowledge and see its real-world applications. These are usually found on “Schwarze Bretter”/ notice boards around the Uni as well as online on institute and faculty websites. Jobs that have a link to your studies are mostly “HiWi”2/ Werkstudent”3 jobs and have the upside of not counting against your work limit.

The second variant are “normal” jobs. Most students work as waiters, stage hands, shop assistants or work that generally does not require a skilled worker.

Segway: It is outrageous that almost all international companies that have billions in profits only pay minimum wage! (currently 8.50, to be raised to 8.84 in 2017). Do not let yourself be exploited, take your time to find a job that pays €9.5+

These jobs can either be found advertised in house, so keep your eyes peeled in case something pops up!

There are also online job portals like jobmensa, studitemps or even the university affiliated site.

Language skills do go a long way; meaning the better your German is, the higher your chances of getting the job (unless language skills are not required).

If this topic interests you, check out this link and make sure to do additional research as well, so as to maximise all potential gains!

PS: In case you are unsure as to whether or not your visa/work permit allows you to undertake a certain kind of job, the IZ (international centre) can clear up any questions you have.


1: BAföG is a government education loan (financed by taxpayer money)

2: “Hilfswissenschaftler” = research assistant/ graduate assistant/student assistant

3: “Werkstudent” = working student


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