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What you need to know about teaching English in Germany

Teaching English is one of the most sought-after jobs for internationals arriving in Germany. But do you have to speak German? Or be a native English speaker? Here's what you need to know.

What you need to know about teaching English in Germany
A teacher at a German school. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Weißbrod

Do I need any qualifications to teach English in Germany?

Ideally, yes. It’s best to have a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate under your belt such as the Cambridge ELT Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) or the Trinity College London Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOl).

These courses usually consist of a set amount of hours of training plus teaching practice combined with homework. They can usually be completed either on an intensive course, usually lasting four weeks, or part-time, which normally takes three months.

SEE ALSO: Everything you need to know about becoming a freelancer in Germany

For some language centres, instructors only need a Bachelor’s degree. But John Wills, manager at the Berlin School of English, which runs a CELTA teacher training facility, told The Local that it’s best for budding teachers to have a TEFL qualification — even if they already have a teaching degree from their home country.

“We really encourage the CELTA course or the Trinity TESOL, even if people have a background in teaching subjects, because it does tend to give you the tools,” he said.

Wills advised anyone looking for teacher training courses to make sure that they are externally accredited and involve teaching practice.

He said some TEFL courses don’t have teaching practice in them. “I’d say that renders them virtually useless,” he added.

SEE ALSO: 10 ways to optimize your application for the German job market

Justin Beard, who co-runs the not-for-profit company InterACT English, told The Local teaching qualifications are not always needed and that it depends on the type of teaching you are doing. His company provides language training in an arts setting in German schools. 

“I’d say about 50 percent of our staff have a formal teaching English as a foreign language qualification,” he said,” said Beard who is a trained actor. “There are alternative approaches to the more traditionally cognitive linguistic training.” 

Is there a lot of competition?

In larger cities there is a huge amount of competition, especially in Berlin which is home to a lot of internationals.

“Berlin is a very difficult market,” Wills said. But that also means that there’s high demand. “So if you’re prepared to be tenacious, keep putting your name out, keep putting your CV out you will find work and once you find work you accumulate more work quite quickly,” said Wills.

For this reason, a qualification will give you an edge. In smaller German cities or places with fewer internationals it is easier to establish yourself or pick up teaching work. 

An adult education class. Photo: Depositphotos/lisafx

What can I earn teaching English as a foreign language in Germany?

It varies and it depends on a number of things, including where you are, your experience and what training you’ve had. Look on sites where teachers advertise their services such as Ebay Kleinanzeigen to see what instructors’ prices are. Ask around and contact teachers you find via blogs if you’re not sure to figure out the going rate. 

In sprawling cities such as Berlin you could charge anywhere between between €30 and €50 for a 90-minute class when teaching privately. Payment from language schools varies. You can earn more by specializing in a topic, such as business English, or if you teach at companies. 

Do you have to be a native English speaker?

No — but sometimes students want a native speaker as their teacher.

Wills describes it as a “contentious issue” in the industry. “To an extent it’s what the market demands,” he said. “I think a lot of schools want native speakers because that’s what students demand but certainly we’ve had people who’ve been very good English speakers, who have grown up bilingually or studied English to a very high level.”

The advantage that non-native speakers often have is they’ve learned English themselves, rather than acquiring the language as children, so they analyze it in a different way.

“They can be very effective teachers,” said Wills. 

Do I have to speak German?

You don’t have to be fluent but it helps to know the basics. Being able to speak other languages will make you more attractive to schools and language centres.

“We’ve taken on people without German in the past but I think it would be really disingenuous to pretend that you’re not at an advantage,” said Wills.

As a teacher, you’ll be encouraging students to speak English at all times in the classroom but it’s good to know the language of the country you’re living in to hear what the students are saying to each other.  

But remember that a lot of students, especially in diverse places, will be from other countries and might not know German themselves. So try not to alienate non-German speakers by sticking to English as much as possible. 

Can I get a staff job as an English as a foreign language teacher in Germany?

It’s unusual to step into a staff job. Teachers are mainly offered freelance contracts at language schools in Germany. To prepare you have to register as a freelancer, get a tax number and get your Visa sorted out if you’re from outside the EU. 

SEE ALSO: Why you should consider becoming an English language teacher in Germany

Can I work in the German school system teaching children?

Teaching children is a different ball game to teaching adults and you may need or want further specialist training to do this. Beard, whose company is now operating in 140 schools throughout Germany, said it’s “extremely difficult” to get into the system. 

Photo: Depositphotos/DragonImages

“We’ve been doing it for 10 years,” he said. “When you start to operate in the school system you very much encounter the German education system and that is a complex landscape.”

Beard said getting to grips with the different regulations and systems throughout the 16 states is tricky.

“As a freelancer trying to make your way through that it’s quite complex which is actually why our Organization is there,” he added. “We try to leverage organizational expertise and experience in the field to try and create opportunities for instructors.”

What else should I think about?

Away from the job itself, it’s important to note that freelance English teachers are required by law to pay into the German pension system. If you don’t you could be asked to pay backdated contributions if you’re found out down the line. Again, talk to other teachers and school staff to find out how they set up.

“You are required as a freelance teacher to pay into the German pension system,” Wills said.

“That does sound really scary because you have to pay 19 percent of your gross annual income into it. But what it actually does is lower your taxable income so it’s just a question of: do you give it to your tax authority or give it to your pension fund.”

So how do I go about getting work as a teacher?

Once you’re qualified and have your documents in order, you could start by approaching language schools and centres. Wills advises going to the schools in person to make yourself stand out.

“Most schools receive about 30 or 40 unsolicited applications a week,” Wills said. He said visiting the schools wearing smart clothing, and talking to the manager or director of studies can make a big difference.

“Have a quick chat and leave your CV with them, because it gives you the opportunity to leave an impression,” Wills said. “It means you might be in the right place at the right time and it means you won’t end up at the bottom of the pile.”

Any other tips?

Emphasize your personal experience. If you’ve worked as an office manager, in the tech industry or with people from different countries or backgrounds make sure you highlight this on your CV. 

“If you’ve got work experience – been in a job where you’ve been to meetings, written emails, had customer or client contact then I would say emphasize those skills in the CV as well,” said Wills.  “It can make your status as a business English teacher more credible.”

Beard added: “There are opportunities in the start-up industry and the new corporate side of things in Germany. There’s lot of international people moving to cities.”

“Figure out what your unique skill set is. Our strength happens to be in the arts so that’s where we focus our efforts.” 

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

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For members


EXPLAINED: The 25 most in-demand jobs in Germany

For those considering relocating to Germany - or looking for a new profession - here are the most in-demand jobs out there, according to a study by LinkedIn.

EXPLAINED: The 25 most in-demand jobs in Germany

Germany is desperate to fill jobs. In autumn last year, authorities said there was a shortage of 390,000 skilled workers. 

The new government plans to ease red tape and overhaul immigration policies to make it easer for non-EU nationals to come to the country. 

READ ALSO: What Germany’s coalition proposals mean for citizenship and immigration

But many people already within Germany might also be thinking about a change of career, or pivoting to a related sector, especially after the Covid pandemic changed the world of work. 

For those who are curious, international job search engine LinkedIn has published a list of jobs that are in-demand in Germany. Although lots of positions in Germany require that you speak German, many companies are international and encourage English speakers to apply.

What is the list?

The so-called LinkedIn Jobs in Trend 2022 list shows the 25 occupations that have grown the most over the past five years compared to other other positions. 

The list “allows insight into how the job market is evolving and the long-term opportunities it presents – whether you’re looking to change careers, re-enter the workforce or upskill for future challenges,” said LinkedIn. 

It’s based on LinkedIn data between January 2017 and July 2021. 

READ ALSO: How to boost your career chances in Germany

Here is the list of the top 25 positions, including the core skills required for each and the desired amount of experience for candidates according to LinkedIn.

In some of the descriptions below we haven’t translated the job name  to German – that’s because it is usually advertised in Germany with the English name.

1. Consultant for the public sector (Berater*in für den öffentlichen Sektor)

Responsibilities: Advising public and government institutions on the modernisation and digitalisation of administration and infrastructure

Most common skills: Public Policy, Management Consulting, Policy Field Analysis

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Hamburg and Munich areas

Average years of experience: 2.8 

2. Product analyst (Produktanalyst*in)

Responsibilities: Product analysts use metrics to evaluate a company’s products to determine whether they meet current and future market needs

Most common skills: Tableau, Google BigQuery, SQL

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Hamburg and Munich areas

Average years of experience: 3.7 

A man at his home office desk.

A man works at his ‘home office’ desk. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sina Schuldt

3. Business development specialist or consultant (Beschäftigte in der Geschäftsentwicklung)

Responsibilities: Business development employees develop companies, enter new markets and evaluate sales opportunities

Most common skills: salesforce, account management, inside sales

Top regions hiring in: Berlin Munich and Frankfurt areas

Average years of experience: 3.3

4. Sustainability manager (Nachhaltigkeitsmanager*in)

Responsibilities: Sustainability management employees are based in corporate social responsibility (CSR) departments and look after the social, environmental and economic aspects of a company

Most common skills: Sustainability reporting, corporate social responsibility, life cycle assessment management

Top regions hiring in: Munich, Berlin and Hamburg areas

Average years of experience: 3.8

5. Cyber Security Specialist (Cyber Security Spezialist*in)

Responsibilities: Unlike IT security, cyber security is not limited to the environment of your own company, but also keeps an eye on wider threats from the internet in order to ward off viruses, Trojans or ransomware

Most common skills: ISO 27001, Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), vulnerability assessment

Top regions hiring in: Munich, Frankfurt and Cologne-Bonn areas

Average years of experience: 7.1

6. Developer for machine learning (Entwickler*in für maschinelles Lernen)

Responsibilities: Machine learning developers create so-called artificial intelligence. They research and design models and algorithms that enable machines to recognise patterns in large volumes of data, among other things

Most common skills: TensorFlow, Python (programming language), Keras 

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Cologne-Bonn areas

Average years of experience: 3.3 

READ ALSO: Working in Germany – 7 factors that can affect how much you’re paid

7. User Experience (UX) Researcher

Responsibilities: User experience researchers find out what users need and want and prepare these findings for developers, marketers, designers and others

Most common skills: Usability testing, design thinking, human-computer interaction

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Cologne-Bonn areas

Average years of experience: 4.6

8. Real estate finance specialist (Spezialist*in für Immobilienfinanzierung)

Responsibilities: Real estate finance specialists accompany and advise clients from the initial property enquiries stage to closing the deal and agreeing on financial arrangements

Most common skills: Construction financing, finance, sales

Top regions hiring in: Munich, Frankfurt and Hamburg areas

Average years of experience: 5.3

9. Head of Public Affairs (Leiter*in Public Affairs)

Responsibilities: Public affairs is the strategic aim to integrate the interests of the employer into political decision-making processes. Also known as lobbying, the job description should not be confused with public relations (corporate communications)

Most common skills: Politics, international relations, strategic communication

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Cologne-Bonn areas

Average years of experience: 7.2

10. Information security officer (Beauftragte*r für Informationssicherheit)

Responsibilities: Information Security Officers protect data in analogue and digital form. To do this, they ensure that sensitive data is only accessible to authorised persons at all times.

Most common skills: ISO 27001, Information Security Management System (ISMS), data protection management

Top regions hiring in: Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin areas

Average years of experience: 10.2

11. Specialist in talent acquisition (Spezialist*in für Talentakquise)

Responsibilities: Talent acquisition specialists identify suitable job candidates and take care of the strategic development of the Talent Acquisition department

Most common skills: Employer branding, sourcing, talent management

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt areas

Average years of experience: 3.8

12. Expansion manager

Responsibilities: Expansion managers accompany the growth of companies and take care of things like the purchase or leasing of business space in optimal locations

Most common skills: Business development, marketing, strategic planning

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Düsseldorf and Munich areas

Average years of experience: 5.7

13. Test engineer (Prüfingenieur*in)

Responsibilities: Cars, wind turbines, lifts, amusement park rides and countless other technical constructions must be regularly checked for safety. This is where test engineers come into play

Most common skills: LabVIEW, Matlab, electrical engineering

Top regions hiring in: Munich, Hamburg and Tübingen areas

Average years of experience: 4 

14. Marketing (Marketingmitarbeiter*in)

Responsibilities: Marketing employees (Associates) support the planning and implementation of marketing activities for companies and organisations

Most common skills: Social media marketing, online marketing, content marketing

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Hamburg and Munich

Average years of experience: 2.7

15. Data engineer (Dateningenieur*in)

Responsibilities: Data engineers deal with the collection, processing and checking of data

Most common skills: Apache Spark, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Apache Hadoop |

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Cologne-Bonn areas

Average years of experience: 4.8 

16. Personnel officer recruiting (Personalreferent*in Recruiting)

Responsibilities: Recruiters use job advertisements and various channels to search for suitable candidates for open positions in the company and personally recruit suitable candidates

Most common skills: Active sourcing, e-recruiting, employer branding

Top regions. hiring in: Munich, Berlin and Cologne-Bonn areas

Average years of experience: 3.3 

A woman sits at a desk.

Are you looking for a chance in career? Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Finn Winkler

17. Manager in strategic partnerships (Manager*in Strategische Partnerschaften)

Job Purpose: Strategic partnerships managers are responsible for building and maintaining relationships with business partners to further the development and distribution of their own products and services

Most common skills: Business development, account management, product management

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt areas

Average years of experience: 6

18. Head of Software Development (Leiter*in Softwareentwicklung)

Responsibilities: Software Development Managers are responsible for all stages of software application development. They control and structure planning, organisation and execution

Most common skills: Agile methods, cloud computing, product management

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt areas

Average years of experience: 12.2 


19. Data science specialist

Responsibilities: Data science experts or data scientists help companies to make data-based decisions. They build a structured database from raw data, analyse data and prepare it with business background knowledge

Most common skills: Python (programming language), R, SQL

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Hamburg areas

Average years of experience: 3

20. Robotics engineer (Robotik-Ingenieur*in)

Responsibilities: Robotics engineers develop and programme robots and other intelligent assistance systems, whether for medicine, gastronomy, or future cars.

Most common skills: Robotic Process Automation (RPA), UiPath, C++ 

Top regions hiring in: Munich, Frankfurt and the Hanover-Braunschweig-Göttingen-Wolfsburg areas 

Average years of experience: 3.8 

21. Investment associate (Investmentmitarbeiter*in)

Responsibilities: Which areas are worth investing in, which companies are suitable for takeover? This is checked by investment managers through market observations, financial modelling and due diligence procedures

Most common skills: Private equity, corporate finance, mergers & acquisitions (M&A)

Top regions hiring in: Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin areas

Average years of experience: 2.7 years

22. Chief Information Security Officer

Responsibilities: Many companies are not only urgently looking for information security officers (see position 10), senior positions in this professional field are also in high demand

Most common skills: Information Security Management System (ISMS), ISO 27001, IT Risk Management

Top regions hiring in: Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin areas

Average years of experience: 14.3

23. Manager in strategic sales (Manager*in im strategischen Vertrieb)

Responsibilities: Strategic Sales Managers usually look after selected target and existing customers over a longer period of time. Duties include preparing quotations and negotiating prices

Most common skills: Solution selling, business development, account management

Top regions hiring in: Munich, Stuttgart and Frankfurt areas

Average years of experience: 9.3

24. Communications manager (Kommunikationsmanager*in)

Responsibilities: Communications managers take care of PR work inside and outside a company – this includes planning communication strategies as well as implementing campaigns on social networks or organising press appointments and events

Most common skills: Strategic communication, public relations/PR, internal/external communication

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Nuremberg areas

Average years of experience: 5.4 

25. Specialist writer for medicine (Fachautor*in Medizin)

Responsibilities: Medical writers produce documents in a medical context, such as study reports for scientific journals, texts for regulatory authorities and information sheets for medicines – but also journalistic texts for websites or magazines

Most common skills: Clinical studies, scientific writing, life sciences

Top regions hiring in: Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich areas

Average years of experience: 5.2