School-based vocational training programmes

There are vocational training programmes which take place only in the classroom. This is particularly true of health and care jobs as well as jobs dealing with design, sales or technical areas. In a school-based vocational training programme, you study at a vocational college or trade school and acquire hands-on training and put the knowledge you have acquired into practice in the form of long internships in companies or social work. The school-based vocational training programmes usually take between one to two years to accomplish. You are free to choose between state-funded and private schools, but keep in mind that you often have to pay tuition fees in the latter.

Do I qualify for vocational training in Germany?

You must be able to speak German, as the language of school programmes and everyday communication in the companies is German. Furthermore, the exams you are expected to pass to complete the programmes are given in German. The level of German proficiency required depends on the type of vocational training you've chosen.

The school-leaving certificate you need to start vocational training depends on your career aspirations and the vocational training programme you've chosen. If you have obtained your school-leaving certificate from your home country, first you should have it recognised in Germany. You can read more in our chapter "Certified Copies".

To apply for school-based vocational education, you need to apply at a vocational school; and to do so, you require a school-leaving diploma from a German school or an equivalent recognised certificate from your home country.  The higher your school-leaving certificate, the better your chances of being accepted at the vocational school will be better. For some professions, you also need to submit proof of work experience in the field (for example, a certificate of internship).

In some fields, you must have reached a certain age to apply for vocational training. Apart from this, there isn’t an age restriction. So, it does not matter how old you are when you start vocational training, but you need to have finished basic compulsory education (nine years in Germany).

What type of residence status do I need for school-based vocational training?

To start a school-based vocational education ("Schulische Ausbildung"), you don't need to have a work permit. That means, as an asylum seeker or holder of a “Duldung”, you can start school-based vocational education with no need for permission from the Foreigners' Registration Office or Employment Agency.

Vocational training as an opportunity for obtaining an "Ausbildungsduldung"

Since July 2016, you can obtain a tolerated stay permit if you start (or are going through) vocational training in Germany. You can learn more about "Ausbldungsduldung" in our chapter "Tolerated Stay for the Purpose of Vocational Training".

How can I find a trainee position?

The German state provides support for people looking for a job or training opportunity. The Federal Employment Agency is responsible for this service. The Jobcentres managed by the Federal Employment Agency offer consultation on education and employment free of charge. Their staff, however, almost exclusively speak German.

The counselling centres of the Youth Migration Service (JMD) and Counselling Office for Adult Migrant ("Migrationsberatung für Erwachsene") also provide assistance in your search for a training position. On BAMF's website, you can find a JMD office in your area or search for a Counselling Office for Adult Migrant nearby. The staff in these offices speak several languages.

On www.ausbildung.de , http://www.azubi.de/, and the IHK's Job search engine you can search for a vocational training position. The planet-beruf.de enables you to search for a vocational training opportunity near your place of residence.

How and when can I apply?

For school-based vocational education, you must apply to the school of your choice. Keep in mind that schools often have application deadlines. Visit the school or its website for more details.

On http://www.azubi.de/ you will find instructions on how to write a successful application (in German). There are also some guidelines which prepare you for the job interview. You can also find much useful information about the correct format for an application portfolio and the appropriate attitude during a job interview on planet-beruf.de. The counselling centres of the Youth Migration Service (JMD) and Counselling Office for Adult Migrant("Migrationsberatung für Erwachsene") also provide assistance in your search for a job. On BAMF's website, you can find a JMD office in your area or search for a Counselling Office for Adult Migrant nearby. The staff in these offices speak several languages. You can find out more about the job seeking and application process by reading our chapter "Job hunting and application".

How can I make a living during my school-based vocational training?

In school-based vocational education ("Schulische Ausbildung") you do not earn money. For some of the private schools, you even have to pay tuition fees. Exception: If you opt for vocational education in the health/care sector, as training hours are long in hospitals and nursing homes, you will receive a salary. In health care and the nursing profession, for instance, your gross earnings start from € 1,091 during the first year of training and reache € 1.152 in the second year and € 1.253 (as of 2019) in the final year.

Under certain conditions, you can get student allowance ("Schüler-BAföG") during your school-based vocational education. BAföG ("Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz") is a state-sponsored financial aid programme for school children and university students. The amount of support is calculated on a case-to-case basis with a maximum of 590 to 709 euro per month (as of 2019).
. Unlike BAföG for students, you usually do not have to pay back what you have received as BaföG.

In order to receive BAföG, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be under the age of 30 at the beginning of your school-based vocational education. Exception: There is no age restriction for recognized refugees and asylum seekers. That means they can also apply for BAföG with over 30 years of age.
  • The training programme must take at least 2 years to accomplish.
  • You may not have already completed a school-based vocational education programme which is recognised in Germany.

However, non-German citizens are only supported, if:

  • they are EU citizens with the right to permanent residence according to the European "Freedom of Movement" Act.
  • they have a settlement (or permanent residence) permit.
  • they are recognised as refugees or asylum seekers or individuals entitled to subsidiary protection.
  • they are tolerated, hold a so-called "Duldung" and have been legally residing in Germany for at least 15 months. During the first 15 months, you will receive asylum seekers’ benefit (“Asylbewerberleistungen”).
  • they have been in Germany for at least 5 years and were gainfully employed during this time.
  • at least one of their parents has been in Germany for a total of at least three years during the last six years while being engaged in a gainful employment.

To find out which authority is responsible for your BAföG application, you can call the BAföG hotline at 0800-223 63 41. You can also visit this web page of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research to find out more about the responsible authority and necessary documents for the application.

Attention: Asylum seekers are not entitled to receive BAföG. But according to the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act, you can receive asylum seekers’ benefits durning your school-based vocational training.

In principle, you cannot receive unemployment benefit II (ALG II) during school-based vocational education (Exception: If you are participating in a school-based vocational education programme which will end with a general school-leaving qualification such as a Fachabitur or Abitur, you can apply for ALG II at Jobcentre).

You can apply for a housing allowance or "Wohngeld", which is a financial aid to help you pay for your rent. The prerequisite for receiving housing allowance is being of legal age and living independently from your parents. To find the relevant authorities, search the Internet using the word "Wohngeld" and the name of your city as keywords.

During the training programme, you can work in another job for up to ten hours a week. But you have to communicate and coordinate the matter with your boss beforehand.

Which type of vocational training suits me?

In order to find the appropriate training programme, you can seek advice from the Employment Agency or call the hotline 0800/4 5555 00 (free of charge within Germany, from abroad you need to call 0049 911 12031010, for which there is a service fee). The experts there help you find a training programme which suits your qualifications and interests. Their staff, however, only speak German. There are also websites such as  www.ausbildung.de, Berufenethttp://www.azubi.de/, https://berufenet.arbeitsagentur.de/, https://berufenet.arbeitsagentur.de/ and the IHK job search engine where you can read job descriptions and what each profession entails. The youth migration service ("Jugendmigrationsdienst" or JMD) and adult migrant counselling centre ("Migrationsberatung für Erwachsene") help you to choose the right vocational training programme. The staff there speak many languages.

Most people opt for dual vocational training. The advantage of dual vocational training is that you end up with not only theoretical but also a great deal of practical knowledge- comprehensive expertise that is highly valued by many companies. There are about 350 officially recognised occupations in Germany which call for vocational training as a prerequisite.

You can also visit job fairs organised in many German cities to find out about school-based vocational training programmes. Relevant dates for such fairs can be found on Planet-Beruf.net.

You might like to also take a look at the so-called positive list ("Positivliste"). On this list, you can find the vocational training programmes for occupations referred to as shortage occupations or "Mangelberufe" in Germany. This means that there are many vacancies and a work permit is easier to obtain if you decide to start vocational training in these fields. The "positive list" adapts to changes  in the job market.

What comes after accomplishing the vocational training?

At the end of your training, you will receive a certificate from the vocational school, the vocational academy (“Berufsakademie”) or the chamber (HWK or IHK), which has organised the training programme.

But what comes next? Maybe you have already thought about your professional goals before starting your training programme. There are many possibilities: you can start a job, go for further training or enter university.