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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Working as a Foreign Student in Germany

Foreign students enrolled at a German university are allowed to work 120 full days or 240 half days per year. This equates to working 20 hours per week (i.e. four hours per day, five days per week).

Working as a foreign student in Germany
I was lucky enough to find a job right when I started studying in Germany. I worked this job for the entire first year of my Master's degree. My contract varied between 10 hours per week and 15 hours per week, both of which I found manageable during the semester. 

In Germany, student jobs at a university are usually referred to as "studentische Hilfskraft (SHK)" or "wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft (WHK)." The term WHK is usually used for those that already have an academic degree. All student jobs at a university have a fixed hourly wage based on your education level and the state in which your university is located.

Bundesland Without Degree With Bachelor   With Master    
Baden-W├╝rttemberg 9.16€ 10.68€ 14.49€
Bayern 8.50€ 9.30€ 12.00€
Rheinland-Pfalz 9.29€ 10.81€ 14.68€
Berlin 10.98€
Hamburg 9.02€
Hessen 8.90€ 10.50€ 14.10€
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 9.05€ 10.54€ 13.92€
Niedersachsen 9.10€ 10.85€ 14.38€
Nordrhein-Westfalen 9.00€
Sachsen 9.05€ 10.54€ 14.33€
Note: States that are not included may not have a standard wage for SHK/WHK. All figures change from semester to semester and from university to university (Source).

Since I have a Bachelor's degree and live in Niedersachsen, I made 10.85 EUR per hour at my SHK job from Winter semester 2014/2015 to Summer semester 2015.

The best part about working part-time jobs in Germany is that as long as you make less than 450 EUR per month, which is known as a "mini-job", you do not have to pay taxes. This means that you will receive every dollar you make, and you will pay for your health insurance separately at the standard student rate.

If you make between 450 and 850 EUR per month, then this is considered a "midi-job," and you will have to pay 9.35% of your salary towards retirement. When working 15 hours/week, I earned 651 EUR per month. After 50.75 EUR went to retirement, I was left with 600.25 EUR per month.

The standard student health insurance rate applies for all students working a maximum of 20 hours per week. This means that even when I was earning 651 EUR per month, I still paid the standard student rate for health insurance (81.31 EUR).

Remember that this is just my personal experience. These figures are always changing and can vary according to university and Bundesland.

And just to be clear, foreign students are not restricted to working at their university. Students can get a job at any business in Germany during their studies. Foreign students just have to be careful not to go over 120 full days or 240 half days per calendar year.

Good luck!

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