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What and where are the best and worst paid jobs in Germany?

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What and where are the best and worst paid jobs in Germany?
A worker assembling the interior of an aircraft in Hamburg. In some states, aviation is a top-earning sector. Photo: DPA

Ever wondered what the top and flop professions are in Deutschland in terms of income, or which states and cities offer the highest salaries?


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After analyzing more than 750,000 pieces of data on the salaries of workers in Germany, the online portal has revealed which jobs are the best and worst paid in its 2018 Gehaltsatlas.

Here are the jobs that made it out on top in the study, listed in terms of median gross income per year and rounded up.

Top ten best paid jobs

1. Senior doctor (€116,900)
2. Specialist doctor (€78,000)
3. Fund manager (€75,800)
4. Corporate finance manager (€75,400)
5. Key account manager (€72,600)
6. Patent engineer (€72,000)
7. Insurance engineer (€71,000)
8. Regional sales manager (€70,800)
9. Lawyer / Legal advisor (€69,000)
10. Sales engineer (€68,000)

Much like other countries, first place in terms of the highest-paid profession in Germany is a senior doctor. Such physicians have traditionally been well-paid in the country, nowadays earning about €116,900 a year, according to the Gehaltsatlas. To put this in perspective, room service employees earn almost €100,000 less with the lowest paid job the country.

In second place from the top are specialist doctors with a median salary of €78,000 - a considerable gap from senior physicians.

A doctor specializing in midwifery and gynaecology. Photo: DPA

The other eight professions in the list are not in the medical industry, but for the most part are in the financial, economic and judicial sectors.

According to the study, most top jobs require some sort of a degree; jobs filled by unskilled workers tend to be on the lower end of the pay scale.

On the other end of the spectrum, here are the jobs in Deutschland with the smallest salaries, listed according to median annual gross income.

Top ten lowest paid jobs

1. Room service worker (€19,400)
2. Restaurant / kitchen worker (20,000)
3. Hairdresser (€21,400)
4. Waiter (€22,300)
5. Call centre worker (€24,800)
6. Cashier (€24,900)
7. Receptionist (€25,000)
8. Cook (€25,600)
9. Dental assistant (€26,900)
10. Commercial driver (€27,000)

One of the main intentions of the study was to shed light on whether or not working in certain regions of the country plays a role when it comes to an employee’s income.

Parameters which were taken account include educational background, a worker’s industry and the pay gap between men and women (currently around 21 percent in favour of men). 

The analysis of salaries paid in Germany throughout the course of 2017 for the latest Gehaltsatlas came from three portals:, and

Of the over 750,000 pieces of data evaluated, 40 percent of the salaries analyzed came from female workers and 60 percent from male workers.

Hesse takes lead as top-earning German state 

One of the most significant findings of the study is that an employee in Hesse can look forward to an average of over 39 percent more income than an employee in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Taking a look at the wages of all 16 federal states, Hesse stands out as its wage levels are almost 30 percent above the average across the Bundesrepublik.

Photo: DPA / obs / BASF SE

There are many possible reasons for this, the study states, including varying living costs and costs for rent, as well as the size and the number of companies in a certain region.

In the newer federal states in eastern Germany, for instance, the mainly small and medium-sized companies that exist there don’t pay as much as large, financially strong companies mainly based in the west.

Moreover, according to the study, the average annual income of a worker at a large company with over 1,001 employees can sometimes be twice (€62,700) as high as that of a worker at a small German company with up to 20 employees (€35,400).

Hesse, which is known for its forests and for being home to financial hub Frankfurt, is also attractive for young professionals because it offers the highest income for rookies starting out in their career. Gehaltsatlas figures show that in the central German state academics start on average with a salary of €51,500 and those who have completed an apprenticeship start with €33,500.

Comparatively, academics in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania earn a starting income of €33,600 and rookies who’ve finished apprenticeships initially earn €21,800.

Following Hesse in the top five states for professional newcomers regarding highest income is Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hamburg and North Rhine-Westphalia, respectively.

The states which come in 12th to 16th place, respectively, are Brandenburg, Thuringia, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Though Schleswig-Holstein came in 11th place, it also saw the largest year-on-year drop in wage levels of almost -3 percent.

Stuttgart takes lead as top-earning state capital

Compared to all the other state capitals across the Bundesrepublik, Stuttgart fares best when it comes to employee wage levels. The Baden-Württemberg capital’s wage levels are around 128 percent above the nationwide average. Trailing closely behind is Munich in second place (126 percent). Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia comes further down in third place (119 percent), followed by Wiesbaden, Hesse (117 percent) and Mainz, Rhineland Palatinate (106 percent).

Workers in Stuttgart. Photo: DPA

The nation’s capital landed further down the list at about 97 percent, though Berlin is still a magnet particularly for young people, the study states, because of its innovative culture and image as a startup hub.

The state capitals at the bottom of the list are Potsdam, Brandenburg (81 percent) in 14th place, Erfurt, Thuringia (80 percent) in 15th place and lastly, Schwerin, Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania (76 percent).

The leading sectors in Germany in terms of income

If you’re curious to know which industries in Germany lend themselves to the highest salaries in the country, among the most attractive nationwide are professions in the pharmaceutical, automotive and banking industries.

In Hesse, the top sectors when it comes to salary levels are jobs in banking, pharmaceuticals, financial services and aviation.

In Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, professions involving computers and office machines as well as the electronics, investments, aviation and automotive industries fare best when it comes to high income.

Sectors such as pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, process engineering and banking lend themselves well to high-paying jobs in the country's most densely populated state, North Rhine-Westphalia.

Meanwhile in Berlin, the biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, aviation, banking, and environmental sector, including energy and water, offer jobs that are typically well paid.

Across most federal states, on the other hand, the industries that tend to be the worst paid include jobs in retail, tourism, call centres, hotels and restaurants, in the crafts and trades and well as in social institutions.

SEE ALSO: Where are the vacant jobs in Germany & which industries are most in demand?

FIND A JOB: Browse thousands of English-language vacancies in Germany


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