It’s way out there as the most popular question asked in EVERY expat Facebook group in Germany that I’m a member of.
It’s tough out there in the German jobs market if you don’t speak German.
Your situation is HIGHLY dependent on:
- Your skills and work experience
- The industry or career you hope to work in
- Where in Germany you’re living (or where you hope to relocate to)
Chasing the Unicorn: Finding Work in Germany without Speaking German
We’ve already covered more general advice on how to find English speaking jobs in Germany, and how to optimise your chances by approaching your job search by putting yourself in the shoes of your potential employer.
Here we go through 13 job roles which could theoretically be done in English and where I’ve often seen these roles advertised as such.
It definitely doesn’t mean every job in these fields will be English-speaking.
However, there is definitely a convincing argument that finding work in Germany without speaking German is possible in all of these careers.
If you’re looking in Berlin or Munich, then also check out our articles for both of those cities for more tips and tricks to conquer the local jobs market.
1. Software Developer
By their very nature, tech jobs are not customer facing.
Due to skills shortages, there are many openings for foreigners to work in Germany witout speaking German in these positions. Both of these factors combined means that German is not a necessity and in most cases can be seen as a nice-to-have.
Sure, you’ll see jobs advertised in German which state that German language is a requirement. It’s Germany and the default expectation will be that candidates speak German. I would definitely recommend trying to reach out to the recruiting manager though and asking “why?”
Software engineering and software development are both professions that don’t require practical knowledge of German to be able to succeed in the job.
2. Systems Administrator
Similar to development and programming roles, sys admin is another job where the ability to speak German is unlikely to be a necessity in order to fulfil your day-to-day roles and responsibilities.
It doesn’t mean that job ads won’t insist on it, but it does give you the ability to challenge this requirement, especially if you’re able to navigate your way around the HR department and speak to the hiring manager.
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3. Customer Service (International)
If you’re able to speak another language other than English, this is often a very good niche opportunity for you to find work in Germany without speaking German, with a lot less competition than a more generic customer service or administrative role.
Performing a customer service or client support role is much preferred in the client’s native language, rather than hiring a German to do it who’s a non-native speaker of that language.
This may be an especially good opportunity for native speakers of less popular languages to us Europeans, especially those which are spoken in strategic export destinations for many German companies (think Hindi, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Farsi for example)
Europe Language Jobs is a great source to search for roles which require proficiency in languages as a speciality.
4. Digital Marketing
A good Aussie friend of mine is an experienced digital marketing professional for an international bank in Frankfurt. Prior to this, she worked for a smaller German company in a similar role. She speaks virtually no German.
She also reliably informs me that German companies, in general, seem light years behind the English speaking world when it comes to digital marketing.
If you’ve honed your digital marketing chops in an English speaking country, it’s highly likely that you’re significantly more experienced than the competition. This could well nullify any expectation from hiring managers of the necessity for you to speak German.
5. Management Consulting
Consulting is so international in many sectors that it’s not uncommon to see a team of consultants going into a company that comprise of a handful of different nationalities.
It really depends on the type of client the consultant is recruiting for. If it’s a boutique German consultancy that works primarily with clients in medium-sized, family run businesses, then there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll need you to speak German in order to effectively communicate with their clients.
On the other hand, if you’re working for an international firm and most of their clients are multinational, foreign-owned corporations, then it’s unlikely they will be unable or unwilling to communicate with you in English, especially if you’re dealing with managerial level contacts.
6. IT Consulting
Very similar rationale as per management consulting.
7. Engineer (Various)
Engineering is a very wide category and for sure, some positions will by necessity require German language proficiency.
On the other hand, engineering is a technical job which is founded on scientific and mathematical principles. In many cases it will not require a great deal of interaction with German-speaking clients.
The clincher here will be how much communication you’re expected to have with blue collar staff, or other internal stakeholders who are less likely to understand English.
If your role as an engineer is going to be more back-end and there are other positions in your organisation that will be the key interface with the client or the production plant, then you have a strong argument that your role doesn’t require German language as a necessity.
8. Scientist (Various)
I’m aware that this is an extremely vague, catch-all term and that scientist roles are highly specialised and diverse in their nature. The general logic applies to all of them though.
Similar to tech roles such as software development, many scientist-related positions are behind the scenes roles, which require little interaction with customers or external stakeholders. If the company is able to handle it when it comes to internal communication with colleagues, in many cases you’ll be able to perform your job in English without any foreseeable issues.
I’ve known a few scientific specialist professionals during my time in Germany and many of them have worked in English.
9. Financial Controller
This is another technical, highly specialised role which is unlikely to require German language proficiency as a must-have unless the hiring company absolutely insists on it.
Entry-level financial analysts in production plants, sure, you’ll be expected to communicate with local organisations and perhaps even some contact with shop floor staff.
Financial controlling at head office, or in service-based industries, however, require a much more specialised skill set. Furthermore, if your role will not require a lot of interaction with clients, or German legislative bodies, then German language isn’t really a necessity.
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