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REVEALED: How much do employees really earn across Germany’s states?

Ever wondered how much money other people earn in Germany? These new figures shed some light on the pay packets of employees in industries across the country.

REVEALED: How much do employees really earn across Germany's states?
Hamburg is where employees earn the most in Germany, according to recent figures. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Bockwoldt

If you’ve ever thought about moving to Germany for work – or you’re already here but want another job – here’s a look at recent figures on salaries published by the Federal Statistical Office, and a few other things to think about.

What was the average income in 2020?

In 2020, the average income in Germany was €47,700 gross (before tax). This means that during the first Covid pandemic year, income fell by an average of €300 compared to the year before.

The average income is the mean value of the gross salaries of all employees in Germany.

So keep in mind that it takes in what all employees earn across the country – even those earning six-figure amounts. 

The average salary of €47,700 corresponds to a monthly gross salary of €3,975 for a full-time job (35 to 40 hours a week is common for full-time in most companies). The Statista graph below shows what German employees have earned on average per month through the years from 1991 to 2020.

READ ALSO: Germany’s unemployment rate drops after Covid restrictions relaxed

Statistik: Durchschnittlicher Bruttomonatsverdienst von vollzeitbeschäftigten Arbeitnehmern¹ in Deutschland von 1991 bis 2020 | Statista

For a person with the tax class I living in Baden-Württemberg, this would result in an average take home pay of €2,526.26 net (after tax).

Special payments, for example in the form of vacation pay or bonuses are not included in the data analysed by experts. 

What do people earn in different industries in Germany?

Using the latest stats, German business daily Handelsblatt put together a special report looking at how the average income of employees in Germany varies depending on the industry, region and gender of employees. 

There are – unsurprisingly – large differences in what you take home every month depending on which sector you’ve decided to enter. 

According to the Federal Statistical Office, employees working in financial and insurance services as well as IT sectors earned the most in 2020. Employees there received a not too shabby €5,248 to €5,602 per month (gross) on average.

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Uwe Anspach

Employees from the hospitality industry earned the least, with average gross earnings of €1,893 per month.

READ ALSO: End of home office: Are employees in Germany ready to return the office?

Average (gross) income in Germany across industries per month in 2020

1. Financial and insurance services €5,602 

2. Information and communication €5,248 

3. Energy supply €5,218 

4. Professional, scientific and technical services €4,933 

5. Education €4,650 

6. Real estate €4,271

7. Manufacturing €4,271

8. Public administration, defense and social security €4,091 

9. Mining and quarrying €4,083 

10. Manufacturing industry €4,062 

11. The service industry (total) €4,033

12. Arts and recreation €3,871 

13. Miscellaneous services €3,871 

14. Trade €3,735 

15. Water supply €3,617 

16. Construction €3,540

17. Transport and storage €3,164

18. Hotels and restaurants (hospitality) €1,893 

Source: Federal Statistical Office

What do people earn in Germany’s states?

As well as the type of industry, what you take home every month depends on the federal state where you’re employed. According to the Federal Statistical Office, full-time employees in Hamburg earn the most in Germany, with an average gross monthly income of €4,966.

This is followed by Hesse and Bavaria in second and third place. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania brings up the rear. Full-time employees here earn the least compared to other states with €3,379 gross per month.

What is particularly striking is that even after more than 30 years of reunification, the difference in earnings between western and eastern Germany is clearly visible.

READ ALSO: What a boom in remote working could mean for Germany’s housing market

Average (gross) income in Germany across the 16 federal states per month in 2020

1. Hamburg €4,966

2. Hesse €4,835 

3. Bavaria €4,652 

4. Baden-Württemberg €4,646 

5. Berlin €4,502

6. North Rhine-Westphalia €4,429

7. Bremen €4,422

8. Rhineland-Palatinate €4,186

9. Lower Saxony €4,135

10. Schleswig-Holstein €3,963

11. Saarland €3,959

12. Brandenburg €3,575

13. Saxony €3,561

14. Saxony-Anhalt €3,539

15. Thuringia €3,401

16. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania €3,379

Source: Statista

How does gender influence average income?

Another factor influencing the amount you earn is your gender. Sadly, women received less money for the same work than men in 2020.

According to Statista, the average gross income for men working full-time in 2020 was €22.78 an hour. For women working full-time it was €18.62. 

This is known as the gender pay gap. In 2020, women received around 18 percent less money than their male colleagues.

And at 20 percent, the difference was significantly higher in western Germany and Berlin, than in the eastern states where it was six percent.

This percentage difference has remained around the same level since 2002. The German government aims to reduce the salary gap to 10 percent by 2030.

Why do women get paid less than men?

The reasons for the large difference in average incomes between women and men are down to several reasons. One important factor is the salary levels of the industries. In male-dominated sectors such as financial services, IT and manufacturing, salaries are higher on average. In industries such as nursing and social work – where many women tend to work – salaries are lower.

However, even when industry differences are taken into account and only gross salaries are compared between, for example, male and female engineers with the same work experience, there is still a pay gap of at least six percent.

“This figure reflects discrimination against women,” Malte Lübker, an expert on wage structures at the Hans Böckler Foundation’s Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI), told Handelsblatt.

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For members


How easy is it to get an English-speaking job in Germany?

Lots of foreigners in Germany hope to get a job or climb the career ladder. But are there still opportunities for English speakers who don't have fluent German? We spoke to a careers expert to find out.

How easy is it to get an English-speaking job in Germany?

The pandemic turned our lives upside down. As well as having to isolate and be apart from family members, many people found themselves in need of a new job or decided they want a change in career. 

If you’re in Germany or thinking of moving here, job searching is of course easier with German language skills. But many people haven’t had the chance to learn German – or their German isn’t fluent enough to work in a German-only environment.

So how easy is it to find a job in Germany as an English speaker?

We asked Düsseldorf-based career coach Chris Pyak, managing director of Immigrant Spirit GmbH, who said he’s seen an increase in job offers. 

“The surprising thing about this pandemic is that demand for skilled labour actually got even stronger,” Pyak told The Local.

“Instead of companies being careful, they’ve hired even more than they did before. And the one thing that happened during the pandemic that didn’t happen in the last 10 years I’ve observed the job market was that the number of English offers quadrupled.”

READ ALSO: How to boost your career chances in Germany

Pyak said usually about one percent of German companies hire new starts in English. “Now it’s about four percent,” said Pyak. 

“This happened in the second half of 2021. This is a really positive development that companies are more willing than they used to be. That said it’s still only four percent.”

Pyak said he’s seen a spike in demand for data scientists and analysts as well as project managers. 

So there are some jobs available, but can foreigners do anything else?

Pyak advises non-Germans to sell themselves in a different way than they may be used to. 

A woman works on her CV in Germany.

A woman works on her CV in Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Christin Klose

“In your home country you have a network, you have a company you used to work for that people know,” said Pyak. “This might be partly the case in Germany if you worked for an international company. But for most employers you are a blank sheet of paper, they know nothing about you. So unfortunately if they don’t know you or your country, they will assume you are worse (at the job) than Germans. It’s completely unjustified but it’s just how people are. 

“Get the employer to see you as the individual person you are, the professional you are. This requires that you have a conversation with somebody inside the company, ideally the decision maker, meaning the hiring manager or someone in this team.”

Pyak said it’s important to go into details. 

“Don’t think of me as a foreigner, think of me as ‘Mark who has been working in IT for 15 years’,” said Pyak. “Don’t read the job advert (to the manager), ask them what his or her biggest worry is and why is that important? And then dig deeper and offer solutions based on your work experience. Share actual examples where you proved that you can solve this problem.”

READ ALSO: 7 factors that can affect how much you’re getting paid

Pyak says foreigners in Germany can convince managers that they are right for the job – even if their German isn’t great. 

“What I advise clients at the beginning of the interview is to ask very politely if you can ask them (managers) a question. And this question should be: how will you know that I’m successful in this job, what is the most important problem I need to solve for you in order to make myself valuable? And then ask why this problem is so important. And the answer to that achieves a million things for you – first of all you’ve established a measurement by which you should be measured. 

“Then when you get into detailed discussion you can always tie your answer back to the question you can solve, which usually makes up 70 or 80 percent of the job. If you can solve this problem then what does it matter if you do the job in German or English?”

So in answer to our original question – it seems that getting an English-speaking job in Germany can’t be described as easy but it is very possible especially if you have the skills in your chosen field. Plus there are ways to increase your chances. Good luck!