German language skills
Internationals who want to work in Germany do not necessarily need German language skills. You can get a visa to work in most professions without knowing German. However, many employers expect medium to good German language skills. For some professional groups, a certain level of knowledge of German is required to do the job and to get a visa.
Professions that can not be practiced without sufficient German language skills
In some professions, German language skills are legally required, e.g. for doctors or nurses. You must prove that you have sufficient knowledge of German to do the job. Otherwise, you will not receive a license to practice medicine or your degree will not be recognized. The requirements can differ depending on the federal state.
As a rule, nurses must have knowledge of level B2 or B1.
Doctors need to speak German at level B2 and, in addition, pass the medical language test at level C1. You can find more information about required German language skills for doctors here.
Educators who want to work in kindergartens must speak German at level C1. Teachers at level C2.
Necessary German language skills for additional courses and training in Germany
When recognizing foreign qualifications, it is often found that theoretical and / or practical skills are still missing in order to receive full recognition. Applicants have the opportunity to catch up on these skills in Germany. To do this, you have to complete additional courses and training that requires a certain level of German language skills. Most qualification measures require level A2. However, depending on the profession, a higher level may also be necessary.
Necessary German language skills for vocational training in Germany
Grundsätzlich erlaubt Deutschland die Einwanderung in den Arbeitsmarkt nur qualifizierten Fachkräften. Arbeitsuchende aus Serbien, Bosnien und Herzegovina, Albanien, Montenegro, Nordmazedonien und Kosovo ohne formale Ausbildung oder Abschluss können aber auch ein Arbeitsvisum erhalten, das auf der Westbalkanregelung basiert. Dies ermöglicht es ihnen, eine Beschäftigung in Deutschland aufzunehmen, für die keine Berufsausbildung erforderlich ist, z. B. als Bauarbeiter oder Hilfsarbeiter. Die Verordnung wurde bis Ende 2023 verlängert.
Necessary German language skills for a job search visa
In order to receive a six-month job search visa to look for a job or apprenticeship position in Germany, candidates must speak German at level B1 or B2. This is also the case if no knowledge of German is required later for the actual work and recognition of the professional qualification.
Necessary German language skills for family reunification
In order to obtain a visa for family reunification, the immigrating spouse must have a basic knowledge of German at level A1. Exceptions exist for spouses of holders of the EU Blue Card who do not have to prove any knowledge of German.
Children under the age of 16 who move to one or both parents in Germany do not need to demonstrate any knowledge of German. On the other hand, children from 16 years of age but under 18 years of age have to provide evidence of C1 language skills.
Recognized language certificates
In most cases, the employers themselves decide whether they need to have knowledge of German and what evidence they would like to have. For simpler tasks, language skills are assessed, if necessary, in a personal interview and do not have to be proven by certificates. For more demanding jobs, language skills are tested during the selection process and recognized certificates are required.
German embassies generally recognize language certificates from the following exam providers:
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Levels of German language skills
The Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFR) organises language proficiency in six levels
A1 - Basic user
Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
A2 - Basic user
|Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.|
B1 - Independet user
|Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.|
B2 - Independent user
|Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.|
C1 - Proficient user
|Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.|
C2 - Proficient user
|Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations.|