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REVEALED: These are the best and worst paid jobs in Germany

Thinking about changing your career or wondering which states in Germany have the best salaries? Here's the lowdown.

REVEALED: These are the best and worst paid jobs in Germany
Specialist doctors earn a high salary in Germany. Photo: DPA

Online careers portal Gehalt.de analyzed a huge amount of data on the salaries of workers in Germany over the course of last year to find out which jobs pay the most — and the least.

As part of the firm’s 2019 Gehaltsatlas (salary atlas), the firm also looked at how the different regions of the country play a role when it comes to an employee's income, and the pay gap between men and women.

SEE ALSO: The Local Jobs – English-language jobs in Germany

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

Here are the jobs that made it out on top in this year's study, listed in terms of median gross income per year.

Top 10 best paid jobs

1. Senior physician – €115,317

2. Mergers and acquisitions specialist – €99,635

3. Fund manager – €83,641

4. Medical specialist – €80,722

5. Account manager – €75,671

6. Regional sales manager – €74,528

7. Actuary – €71,042

8. Sales management – €67,699

9. Security trader – €64,784

10. Business developer – €62,551

As is the case in many other countries, some of the highest paid professions in Germany are in the medical and financial industries.

Traditionally, senior doctors have always been well paid in Germany and nowadays they earn about €115,300 a year, according to the research. That's compared to €116,900 last year.

To put this in perspective, kitchen workers in restaurants and hotels — which is the lowest paid job in Germany according to the study — earn over than €90,000 less than senior doctors.

Fund managers take the second spot with a median salary of €83,640, followed by medical specialists who earn a median salary of about €75,670.

The other professions on the list involve the financial, sales and business industries.

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

Here are the jobs in Germany with the smallest salaries, listed according to median annual gross income.

Top 10 lowest paid jobs

1. Kitchen worker – €21,907

2. Hairdresser – €23,202

3. Waiter/waitress – €23,619

4. Call centre worker – €25,200

5. Receptionist – €25,372

6. Cashier – €26,572

7. Cook – €27,195

8. Dental assistant – €27,993

9. Carer – €28,002

10. Commercial driver – €28,436

Again, similarly to other countries, most of the lowest paid jobs in Germany belong to the service industry.

Kitchen workers receive a low pay on average in Germany. Photo: DPA

SEE ALSO: 'Language is a huge barrier': What it's like for internationals working in Germany

Large differences in pay across Germany

How much workers earn doesn’t just come down to their profession — it also depends on the state they live in.

Employees in the south of Germany are paid significantly higher salaries than the rest of the country, according to the the Gehaltsatlas (Wage Atlas) which analyzed more than 490,000 pieces of data as part of its research.

This could be down to many factors, including the cost of living in particular regions. 

The highest salaries are paid in Hesse, according to researchers. On average, salaries in the central German state are at €51,435 — that's 14 percent higher than the national average salary of €45,000.

In fact, workers in Hesse can look forward to an average of more than 39 percent more income than an employee in the nor Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where the average salary is €34,155.

It's mainly thanks to the banking metropolis of Frankfurt and strong pharmaceutical industry that Hesse is in the top position.

Baden-Württemberg is in second place with an average salary level of €48,870, 8.6 percent above the average, followed by Hamburg (€47,655, 5.9 percent above), and then Bavaria (€47,295 and 5.1 percent over).

North Rhine-Westphalia, which has a strong aviation and telecoms industry, is also around the national average, with €45,360. 

The remaining nine federal states are below the national average salary. At the bottom end of the scale are the eastern German states. 

Graphic courtesy of Gehalt.de.

With 94.5 percent, the capital Berlin achieves a high salary level compared to the other eastern federal states. Employees here receive an average income of €42,525. However, the cost of living is also higher here, Philip Bierbach, managing director of gehalt.de, said.

“Berlin's attractiveness is leading to ever higher rents and an increasing number of commuters in the capital,” he added.

Hesse top state for young graduates

The study also compares the salaries of young professionals — and here, too, Hesse is the most attractive federal state, again followed by Baden-Württemberg, Hamburg and Bavaria. At the bottom of the table are the eastern states, with Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania lagging behind.

According to the study, university graduates in Hesse receive an average gross annual salary of €52,657 in the first three years of their career. Meanwhile, employees in the state who've completed an apprenticeship or trainee course earn an average of €35,117.

A graduate in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, on the other hand, receives an average salary of €35,057 in his or her first few years in the job, and employees who've completed an Ausbildung (training) earn on average  €23,380 per year.

Pay gap differences

The study took into account a range of factors, including the so-called unadjusted pay gap between men and women (this means that variables were not taken into account), which is currently around 22 percent in favour of men.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania scores particularly well in terms of gender equality. At 16.4 percent, the  pay gap is the lowest here – and 2.7 percent lower than in the previous year.

The highest gender pay gap is in Baden-Württemberg, where the salaries of women and men differ by 26.5 percent.

SEE ALSO: In eastern Germany, the gender pay gap favours women

The Bundesrepublik, which will celebrate 30 years of reunification in 2020, is well known for having salary differences between the east and west of the country.

The pay gap is however, shrinking. The gap between east and west is 23.9 percent — but has dropped by 1.3 percentage points compared to 2017.

The average salary in the east is €39,567 and in the west it's €47,320.

The median salaries for Germany. Graphic courtesy of Gehalts.de. 

The east-west divide is also evident within one occupational group: skilled workers. For example, an environmental engineer in the east earns around €39,400, the study shows, while his or her colleagues in the west receive around €54,000 a year.

Stuttgart is top-earning state capital

Compared to all the other state capitals across Germany, Stuttgart fares best when it comes to employee wage levels. The Baden-Württemberg capital's wage levels are around 124.8 percent, meaning salaries are 24.8 percent above the nationwide average.

Trailing closely behind is Munich in second place (124.4 percent). Düsseldorf in North Rhine-Westphalia comes further down in third place (117.7 percent), followed by Wiesbaden in Hesse (115.6 percent),  Mainz in Rhineland-Palatinate (105.1 percent) and Hanover with 103.7 percent.

SEE ALSO: Six golden rules for creating the ideal German cover letter and resume

The rest of the state capitals were all under the national average.

At the bottom of the list were capitals in eastern Germany. In Schwerin in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, wage levels are 78.3 percent of the nationwide average. Potsdam is in 15th place (84.2 percent) and Erfurt in Thuringia in 14th position, had a similar percentage.

The leading sectors in Germany when it comes to 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.

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

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, bars, hotels and restaurants, in the crafts and trades as well as in the social care sector.

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WORKING IN GERMANY

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 

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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

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