Vocational Training In Focus

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Update 27.09.2022

From glasses and cars to bread rolls and air conditioners – our everyday lives depend on trained craftspeople. Since there are far too few of them in Germany, the country is currently in great need of skilled artisans. To work as a qualified craftsperson in Germany, you do not necessarily have to go to university – you can instead go through vocational training. After completing your vocational training (or obtaining your university degree), you will be considered a qualified professional and enjoy a higher income compared to what you can earn as an unskilled worker. The demand for trainees and professionals is pretty high in different crafts in Germany. That means learning to work as a craftsperson opens up excellent professional prospects for you.

That is why Handbook Germany, together with the initiative "Botschafterinnen und Botschafter des Handwerks" of the ZWH (Central Office for Further Education in Crafts e. V.), started the project "Ausbildung im Fokus" funded by the Mercator Foundation.

Here we answer your questions on vocational training in craftworks. If you are interested in attending a university, you can read our chapters "Higher Education", "University System", and "University Application".

Further below, you can learn about our digital, multilingual series of events on vocational training in different trades. You will also find many interesting videos and links on the topic.

What prospects can vocational training in craftwork offer me?

In which fields can I do vocational training?

In Germany, there are around 330 fields where you can go through vocational training in various areas of industry and trade. For instance, home economics, agriculture, maritime shipping, the so-called "Freien Berufen" (e.g., tax consultant or graphic designer) and public service/civil service.

There are two types of vocational training: dual vocational training and school-based vocational training. School-based vocational training only takes place at school. But dual vocational training combines school lessons with practical training in a firm or company.

What is a craft trade ("Handwerk")?

A craft is an activity learned during vocational training which enables you to create or repair something with your hands using different tools. For instance, electronics technicians, bricklayers, bakers and construction designers are considered craftspeople. There are many other manual trades in Germany – about 130 in total.

Craftwork businesses are primarily small and medium-sized – they constitute an essential part of the German economy. Germany has over 1 million craft businesses and 5.6 million craftspersons.

A profession must be listed in the so-called "Crafts Code" or "Handwerksordnung" to be considered a craft. The Crafts Code regulates the requirements for different craftworks. Anyone who wants to learn a craft must complete dual vocational training. Only then can one work as a craftsperson.

More than 363,000 people in Germany are currently going through vocational training in craftwork.

What is dual vocational training?

In dual vocational training, the trainees learn a craft alternately in a school and a firm or company. By doing so, trainees acquire theoretical as well as practical skills. You can find out more about dual vocational training, its requirements and viable financial support for trainees in our chapter "Dual vocational training".

What skilled crafts are there?

In Germany, there are over 130 skilled crafts in various sectors. You can find out exactly which professions there are to choose from at handwerk.de. On the website, you can also use the "Berufe-Checker" to enter your preferences and discover training occupations that suit you.

 

 

 

A

 

Alteration Tailor ("Änderungsschneider*in")

Plant mechanic for sanitary, heating and air conditioning technology ("Anlagenmechaniker*in für Sanitär-, Heizungs- und Klimatechnik")

Optician ("Augenoptiker*in")

Finishing skilled worker ("Ausbaufacharbeiter*in")

Car sales person ("Automobilkaufmann/-frau")

B

Construction equipment operator ("Baugeräteführer*in")

Construction waterproofer ("Bauwerksabdichter*in")

Construction draftsperson ("Bauzeichner*in")

Tank and apparatus builder ("Behälter- und Apparatebauer*in")

Funeral director ("Bestattungsfachkraft")

Concrete and reinforced concrete workers ("Beton- und Stahlbetonbauer*in")

Floor layer ("Bodenleger*in")

Bowmaker ("Bogenmacher*in")

Boat builder ("Bootsbauer*in")

Brewer and maltster ("Brauer*in und Mälzer*in")

Well builder ("Brunnenbauer*in")

Bookbinder ("Buchbinder*in")

Baker ("Bäcker*in")

Cooper ("Böttcher*in")

Gunsmith ("Büchsenmacher*in")

Brush maker ("Bürsten- und Pinselmacher*in")

C

Surgical mechanic ("Chirurgiemechaniker*in")

D

Roofer ("Dachdecker*in")

Turner (ivory carver) ("Drechsler*in /Elfenbeinschnitzer*in")

E

Gem cutter ("Edelsteinschleifer*in")

Electronics technician ("Elektroniker*in")

Electronics technician for integrated systems in buildings ("Elektroniker*in für Gebäudesystemintegration")

Electronics technician for motors and drive technology ("Elektroniker*in für Maschinen und Antriebstechnik")

Screed installer ("Estrichleger*in")

F

Specialist for wood and structure perservation work ("Fachkraft für Holz- und Bautenschutzarbeiten")

Specialist for warehouse logistics ("Fachkraft für Lagerlogistik")

Specialist in leather production and tanning technology ("Fachkraft für Lederherstellung und Gerbereitechnik")

Specialist in metal technology ("Fachkraft für Metalltechnik")

Warehouse logistic operator ("Fachlagerist*in")

Salesperson for artisanal food production ("Fachverkäufer*in im Lebensmittelhandwerk")

Bicycle mechanic ("Fahrradmonteur*in")

Car painter ("Fahrzeuglackierer*in")

Precision optician ("Feinoptiker*in")

Precision mechanic ("Feinwerkmechaniker*in")

Furnace and chimney builder ("Feuerungs- und Schornsteinbauer*in")

Wickerwork designer ("Flechtwerkgestalter*in")

Butcher ("Fleischer*in")

Tile, slab and mosaic layers ("Fliesen-, Platten- und Mosaikleger*in")

Photographer ("Fotograf*in")

Photo media specialist ("Fotomedienfachmann/-frau")

Hairstylist ("Friseur*in")

G

Building cleaner ("Gebäudereiniger*in")

Violin maker ("Geigenbauer*in")

Scaffolder ("Gerüstbauer*in")

Glass and porcelain painter ("Glas- und Porzellanmaler*in")

Glass apparatus builder ("Glasapparatebauer*in")

Glassblower ("Glasbläser*in")

Glazier ("Glaser*in")

Glass finisher ("Glasveredler*in")

Goldsmith ("Goldschmied*in")

Engraver ("Graveur*in")

H

Pull knob instruments maker ("Handzuginstrumentenmacher*in")

Building construction worker ("Hochbaufacharbeiter*in")

Wood and construction protection worker ("Holz- und Bautenschützer*in")

Woodcarver ("Holzbildhauer*in")

Woodwind instrument maker ("Holzblasinstrumentenmacher*in")

Wooden toy maker ("Holzspielzeugmacher*in")

Hearing care professional ("Hörakustiker*in")

I

Information electronics technician ("Informationselektroniker*in")

K

Canal construction worker ("Kanalbauer*in")

Auto body and vehicle construction mechanics ("Karosserie- und Fahrzeugbaumechaniker*in")

Specialist clerk for office management ("Kaufmann/-frau für Büromanagement")

Clerk in retail (commercial profession) ["Kaufmann/-frau im Einzelhandel (Handelsberuf)"]

Ceramist ("Keramiker*in")

Candle maker and wax maker ("Kerzenhersteller*in und Wachsbildner*in")

Piano and harpsichord maker ("Klavier- und Cembalobauer*in")

Plumber ("Klempner*in")

Confectioner ("Konditor*in")

Construction mechanic ("Konstruktionsmechaniker*in")

Beautician ("Kosmetiker*in")

Motor vehicle mechatronics technician ("Kraftfahrzeugmechatroniker*in")

Furrier ("Kürschner*in")

L

Agricultural and construction machinery mechatronics technician ("Land- und Baumaschinenmechatroniker*in")

M

Painter and varnisher ("Maler*in und Lackierer*in")

Machine and plant operator ("Maschinen- und Anlagenführer*in")

Make-up artist ("Maskenbildner*in")

Bricklayer ("Maurer*in")

Tailor ("Maßschneider*in")

Bespoke shoemaker ("Maßschuhmacher*in")

Mechanic for tire and vulcanization technology ("Mechaniker*in für Reifen- und Vulkanisationstechnik")

Mechatronics technicians ("Mechatroniker*in")

Mechatronics technician for refrigeration technology ("Mechatroniker*in für Kältetechnik")

Media designer in digital and print ("Mediengestalter*in Digital und Print")

Media technologist in print ("Medientechnologe*in Druck")

Media technologist in screen printing ("Medientechnologe*in Siebdruck")

Metal and bell foundry ("Metall- und Glockengießer*in")

Metal worker ("Metallbauer*in")

Metal sculptor ("Metallbildner*in")

Metal wind instrument maker ("Metallblasinstrumentenmacher*in")

Milliner ("Modist*in")

N

Natural stone mechanic ("Naturwerksteinmechaniker*in")

O

Surface coater ("Oberflächenbeschichter*in")

Furnace and air heating builder ("Ofen- und Luftheizungsbauer*in")

Organ builder ("Orgelbauer*in")

Orthopaedic shoemaker ("Orthopädieschuhmacher*in")

Orthopaedic technology mechanic ("Orthopädietechnik-Mechaniker*in")

P

Parquet layer ("Parkettleger*in")

Upholstery and decoration seamstress ("Polster- und Dekorationsnäher*in")

Precision tool mechanic ("Präzisionswerkzeugmechaniker*in")

R

Interior decorator ("Raumausstatter*in")

Pipeline builder ("Rohrleitungsbauer*in")

Roller shutter and sun protection mechatronics technician ("Rollladen- und Sonnenschutzmechatroniker*in")

S

Saddler ("Sattler*in")

Sign and illuminated advertising manufacturer ("Schilder- und Lichtreklamehersteller*in")

Chimney sweep ("Schornsteinfeger*in")

Sailmaker ("Segelmacher*in")

Ropemaker ("Seiler*in")

Silversmith ("Silberschmied*in")

Stonemason and stone sculptor ("Steinmetz*in und Steinbildhauer*in")

Road builder ("Straßenbauer*in")

Plasterer ("Stuckateur*in")

T

Technical model builder ("Technische/-r Modellbauer*in")

Technical product designer ("Technische/-r Produktdesigner*in")

Technical system planner ("Technische/-r Systemplaner*in")

Textile designer in the craft ("Textilgestalter*in im Handwerk")

Textile cleaner ("Textilreiniger*in")

Thermometer maker ("Thermometermacher*in")

Civil engineering worker ("Tiefbaufacharbeiter*in")

Carpenter ("Tischler*in")

Drywall fitter ("Trockenbaumonteur*in")

U

Watchmaker ("Uhrmacher*in")

V

Process mechanic for plastic and rubber technology ("Verfahrensmechaniker*in für Kunststoff- und Kautschuktechnik")

Process technologist in mills and grain management ("Verfahrensmechaniker*in für Kunststoff- und Kautschuktechnik")

Gilder ("Vergolder*in")

W

Wine technologist ("Weintechnologe*in")

Stone manufacturer ("Werksteinhersteller*in")

Heat, cold and sound insulation technician ("Wärme-, Kälte- und Schallschutzisolierer*in")

Z

Dental technician ("Zahntechniker*in")

Cutting machine operator ("Zerspanungsmechaniker*in")

Carpenter ("Zimmerer*in")

Stringed-instrument maker ("Zupfinstrumentenmacher*in")

Two-wheeler mechatronics technician ("Zweiradmechatroniker*in")

What are the advantages of training in craftwork?

Vocational training in crafts offers considerable advantages:

Long-term residency prospects: Rejected asylum seekers or people with a tolerated stay permit ("Duldung") can obtain a so-called "Ausbildungsduldung" if they go through qualified vocational training. An "Ausbildungsduldung" allows you to remain in Germany for the entire duration of your training. After completing your training, if you find work in the profession you have trained for, you can obtain a residence permit for two more years. This is known as the "3+2" rule; you can find out more about it in our chapter "Ausbildungsduldung".

Lots of hands-on experience: Dual vocational training is very practical. Everything you learn at the vocational school can directly be tried out in the company. During your training, you will learn everything you later need to know in your job. The theory is also essential but not as decisive as what you could expect, for instance, for a university degree.

Fewer requirements: Unlike university education, you do not need a high school diploma or a C1 language certificate to start vocational training. You can learn more about the requirements for vocational training in our "Dual vocational training" chapter (in English) or at handwerk.de, under each training/job title (in German).

Short training period: Dual vocational training lasts a maximum of 3.5 years. Often shorter. So you would usually be considered a qualified professional after just 2 or 3 years.

Earning an income from the very start: You will receive wages from your training company right from the beginning. The amount depends on the trade you choose. You can earn a good income in some professions right from the start. And, if the pay is not enough to make a living, you can also receive financial aid from the state under certain conditions. The state aid for trainees is known as "Berufsausbildungsbeihilfe ("vocational training allowance"). You can learn more about it in our chapter "Dual vocational training".

High earnings: Skilled craftspersons can usually earn a good income. The exact level of income you can expect depends on your chosen job, experience, and skills.

Secure employment: Many businesses are desperately looking for qualified craftspersons. With vocational training in craftwork, you will be in great demand on the German job market and able to find a well-paid, secure job easily.

Promising career opportunities: Trained craftspersons are in great demand in Germany. The majority of companies take on their trainees directly. You can also switch to another company after your training. Training as a craftsperson in Germany also means you will have many international career opportunities. Furthermore, you can continue learning after your initial training and go through further training courses ("Weiterbildung ") to become a specialist or master craftsperson. Additional training will also increase your earnings.

Self-employment: As a skilled craftsperson, under certain conditions, you can set up your own business or take over an existing business relatively risk-free. Germany does not have enough craft businesses, and the demand for craftwork services is very high. With appropriate further training, you can also take on trainees and educate people in your profession. In our chapters "Starting up a Registered Business" and "Starting up as Self-Employed, " you can learn more about self-employment in Germany.

Job satisfaction: A considerable number of craftspeople in Germany are happy with their job – according to a study, about 91% of them.

How can I make a living during my “duale Ausbildung”?

During dual training, you will receive a wage. The amount you earn depends on the profession and the federal state in which you live. In the second and third year of training, you often earn a little more than the previous year. A part of your salary will automatically be deducted to cover your social insurance fees. If you earn more than 9,984 euros a year (as of 2022) from your dual training, you also have to pay taxes. Learn more in our chapter Tax Declaration.

Under certain conditions, you can receive vocational training allowance ("Berufsausbildungsbeihilfe" or BAB) during dual training. The BAB is financial aid for trainees, provided by the Federal Employment Agency. The youth who cannot live with their parents or those who are already 18 or older and need financial support can benefit from BAB. The amount of allowance is calculated individually. The maximum monthly payment is 635 euros. Non-German citizens can benefit from BAB, only 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 an individual 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.

During your asylum procedure, you can only obtain BAB if you can be expected to stay in Germany legally and permanently in the future. This is the case, for example, if you have a good chance of recognition or chance of another form of residence permit (e.g. through training). It is worthwhile to apply for the BAB. If your application is rejected, you can seek advice from a counselling centre. If you do not obtain BAB at the end, you can continue to receive asylum seeker benefits.

To apply for BAB, you need to directly contact the employment agency responsible for you. There, you will be asked to submit the contract you have signed for the vocational training. In principle, you cannot receive unemployment Benefit II (ALG II) during an in-company training. Exception: Participants who are still living with their parents and whose salary is not sufficient to cover living expenses can apply for ALG II at the Jobcenter. To do so, you need to contact the jobcentre branch responsible for you.

During training, you can work in another job for up to ten hours a week. But you have to inform your boss.

Das Bild zeigt eine junge Frau in einer Schreinerei. Sie trägt Kopfhörer gegen den Lärm und schleift eine Holzlatte.

Dual Vocational Training

Black women in a classroom

School-based Vocational Training

Das Bild zeigt zwei Junge Männer in einer Schreinerei beim Arbeiten.

Vocational Training: Orientation for Refugees

Die Graphik zeigt einen jungen Mann. Er hält ein Ausweisdokument in der Hand.

How can an "Ausbildungsduldung" help me stay in Germany?

Das Bild zeigt die Schrift BIZ - Berufsinformationszentrum

Vocational Information Centre (BIZ)

Where can I learn more? Information about the digital event series

What is this series of events?

With our digital and cost-free series of events, you can connect with craftspersons and experts directly and online and ask them questions in your own language. In these events, professional craftspeople will inform you about their trades (e.g., precision mechanic, bespoke shoemaker, optician and confectioner), everyday work and professional prospects. Furthermore, experts will be available in separate online rooms to answer your questions about "learning German" and how to get "financial support during training ("Berufsausbildungsbeihilfe")".

Training as a qualified craftsperson in Germany opens up various opportunities: it can secure a path to a long-term residence permit and provide you with a highly sought-after profession and a wide range of career opportunities like future self-employment.

At our events, you can acquire essential information about various craftworks and exchange knowledge directly with craftspersons, experts and other participants. For instance, you will learn more about the requirements you have to meet, what an "Ausbildungsduldung" is and the financial support you can obtain during your training.

There will be a total of six events in eight languages. The editors of Handbook Germany will be present and moderate the events. Our colleagues from Together in Germany will answer further questions on our Community Plattform during and after the event.

“Handbook Germany – Ausbildung im Fokus“ is a project by the Neue deutsche Medienmacher*innen e.V., with the cooperation of the initiative "Botschafterinnen und Botschafter des Handwerks" of the ZWH (Central Office for Further Education in Crafts e. V.). The project is funded by the Mercator Foundation.

In which languages are the events held?

The events will take place in the following languages: Arabic, English, Farsi/Dari, French, Pashto, Russian, Turkish, and Ukrainian.

When do the events take place?

There will be a total of six virtual events, each taking place in one or two of the following languages:

  • Farsi /Dari and Pashto: 09/29/2022
  • Ukrainian and Russian: 10/27/2022
  • Turkish: 12/15/2022
  • French: 2023 – Exact date to be announced later.
  • English: 2023 – Exact date to be announced later.
  • Arabic: 2023 – Exact date to be announced later.

All events take place between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Where are the events taking place?

All events take place on the free online platform Topia. You do not have to register; you can participate directly via an event link. We will post the event links about a week before each event.

How does Topia work?

Topia is an online platform with its own virtual world. On Topia, you can move through various rooms and workshops with an avatar, watch videos and connect with other participants, the craftsperson, experts and the Handbook Germany team via voice and - if desired - video chat.

Participation is free. Previous experience is not necessary, but you can test the platform beforehand if you like. See the "Can I test Topia beforehand?" section for more information.

You need a laptop or computer with internet access to best benefit from the events. Participation via smartphone is, unfortunately, only possible to a limited extent. If you do not have a computer or laptop with internet access, please read the section "Where can I find a laptop or computer with internet access for the event?".

Please note: We record the events. If you prefer to participate anonymously, you are welcome to deactivate your camera.

Do I have to register in advance?

No. You can join our online event simply by clicking on the event link. No registration is necessary. We will post the event links about a week before each event.

Please note: The number of participants for each event is limited to 125 individuals. That means the first 125 people to click the link on the day of the event can enter. Everyone else will find all the information in the video and podcast format here on our website later.

Do I have to pay to partake?
Can I test Topia beforehand?

Yes. You can test Topia in peace and familiarize yourself with the platform one week before each event. Working with Topia is pretty straightforward. A few days before the event, the editors of Handbook Germany and our colleagues from Together in Germany will be present on the platform to answer your questions about Topia and exchange ideas.

Where can I find a laptop or computer with Internet access for the event?

You can best attend our event with a laptop or computer. Participation via smartphone is, unfortunately, only possible to a limited extent. You can gain access to a computer or laptop at the following locations:

1. Libraries: You can access a computer with internet access in almost all libraries free of charge. You will find a library nearby using the library search engine ("Bibliothekssuchmaschine") on bibliotheksstatistik.de. This is how you can use the search engine:

  • First, select the word "Ort" in the list and click on "Filter einstellen".
  • Then, on the next page, enter your postal code or the name of your city and click on "Filter einstellen" again.
  • Then select the word "Bibliothekstyp" from the list and click on "Filter einstellen" once again. Next, select the word "Öffentliche Bibliothek" and click "Filter einstellen".
  • On the next page, click "Trefferliste anzeigen" to see a list of the public libraries in your area.
  • If you click on the small blue and white arrow on the left, you will find each library's address and opening hours.

Alternatively, you can use various lists available on bibliotheksportal.de to find libraries nearby. Here you must first select your federal state.

2. Neighbourhood Centres ("Nachbarschafstreffs"): You can also ask your local neighbourhood centre or family club whether they have a computer with internet access that you can use for the event. To find a neighbourhood or family centre nearby, use the search engine on our "Local Search" page, or get help from our colleagues at "Together in Germany".

3. Internet Cafés: You can book a few hours at an internet café nearby to use a computer and access the internet. But you have to pay for such a service – Internet cafés usually charge around €1-€3 per hour.

Further information

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