You’re a software engineering wizard looking to expand your skillset and find new opportunities abroad. But where should you go? As a software developer, you can find a job pretty much anywhere in the world, but some places are better than others. Germany offers ample opportunities for developers to find fulfilling and well-paid jobs. Whether your area of expertise is in Java or C/C++, you won’t have any trouble finding companies in search of someone that fits your profile.
One out of ten jobs in Germany is for developers, and data from the Federal Employment agency shows that these vacancies take on average 167 days to fill. Some of the other advantages of working in Germany are a good work-life balance, above-average holidays, and good working conditions.
On average, a software developer in Germany makes around €50,000 per year, but this depends on education, years of experience, and area of expertise. Then you also have to consider some of the benefits offered by different companies such as bonuses and commissions.
The best industries to work in, judging by top salaries for IT professionals, are consumer goods (€71,400), banking (€71,000), automotive (€69,400), medical and pharmaceutical (€67,900), and the metal industry (€67,500).
Your salary will also depend on which region you’ll be working in. The best cities for software developers are:
If you’re a Java master, then you should start applying in Munich, where there are around 1,500 open Java positions right now. A third of companies hiring developers in Munich use Java in their tech stack. As we mentioned above, in Munich, you’ll find more jobs for large and medium-sized companies, while Berlin is more popular with startups.
If you want to work in Ruby, then Berlin is the right place for you since this is where you’ll find the most Ruby developer jobs. The startup scene prefers this programming language.
Maybe you hadn’t had the chance to learn that much German before you decided to move and work abroad, so now you’re wondering whether this might affect your job prospects. Well, English is the main language in most international companies and even most startups. Having said that, it doesn’t hurt to learn it.
Although German has a reputation for being a difficult language, it’s not as hard as you’d imagine as long as you don’t obsess over grammar. Even if you get a job at a German-speaking company, the staff in the IT department will have a high proficiency in English. It’s more important to be able to understand it, so set aside some time during the day to listen to German podcasts and watch German television. You can use a VPN to get access to ZDF from abroad. You can also try watching your favorite TV-shows with a German voice-over.
Your job might not require you to speak German, but it will come in handy when you have to look for an apartment, sort out paperwork, go out and make friends with the locals. If you decide you want to stay in Germany, there are many classes organized both by the state and private companies.
If you’re a citizen of an EU or EFTA (European Free Trade Association) state, the paperwork gets a lot easier since you don’t need a visa, residence permit, or work permit. You can just come to Germany, find a job, and start working.
If not, it gets a bit more complicated. If you’re from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, or the Republic of Korea, you don’t need a visa to enter the country, but you’ll need to apply for a residence permit once you arrive.
If you’re from another country, you’ll need a visa, so it’s better to secure a job from abroad by going through part of the interview process online. If the company is interested in you, you can negotiate with them to fly you in for the last stages of the interview process.
You can also apply for the EU Blue Card, which allows you to work and live in any EU member country (but not in Denmark and Ireland). The EU Blue Card is valid for four years and particularly useful if you plan to expand your career prospects to other countries in Europe.
To be considered eligible, you need to show that you have higher professional qualifications meaning tertiary education and/or relevant experience in your field. You can find more information on the EU Immigration Portal.
Finding an apartment in Germany is quite a challenge. We’re not going to lie. It’s hard, even for locals; if you’re from another country, prepare yourself. Some companies will offer you temporary accommodation and assistance with the paperwork involved in searching for a more permanent place to live. If you get a job, ask them about it and try to negotiate.
If that doesn’t work, your best bet is sharing an apartment with someone else or limited sublets. That’s because when you look for an apartment by yourself, you need documents such as your employment contract, your last three salary slips, and your Schufa record, which is your credit history.
Since it’s going to take you a while to get these documents and be able to compete with all the other people looking for apartments (renting is very popular in Germany, the homeownership rate is only 51%), it will be easier to find something to tie you over for at least a few months.