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Applying for Vocational Training in Germany

There are different types of school in Germany – Hauptschule, Realschule, and Gymnasium. Depending on which type of school young people attend and which examinations they take, they obtain different formal qualifications (for example, a Hauptschule certificate or a university entrance qualification) and as such have different options for their further education and training. Different requirements apply depending on whether you choose a dual or school-based vocational training program. In Germany education is the responsibility of the 16 federal states. For that reason, types of school and some stipulations may vary in part.


For a dual training program you don’t need a specific school-leaving qualification on paper. Companies decide themselves what abilities the trainees need to have. However, when screening applicants they naturally often also pay attention to qualifications, reports, and individual grades. Particularly in popular training professions, which are highly competitive, you should fulfil expectations as much as possible. This will give you especially good chances.

If you have decided on a vocational training program that takes place at a vocational college you will need a qualification from a so-called academic secondary school, for example a Realschule or Gymnasium. Sometimes internships or a minimum age are further requirements. It is best to find out about the exact provisions from the Federal Employment Agency. It operates the German-language “Berufenet” portal, where you can enter a profession or search term and get lots of information on your dream job.

A dual study program combines attending a university with a practical traineeship at a company. A precondition for this program is a training contract, which you must enter into with a company. In addition you will need a university entrance qualification.

Recognition of foreign qualifications

You can have a school-leaving qualification acquired abroad recognized in Germany, meaning that your qualifications can be better assessed. Under certain conditions you can also have your qualification equated with a German school-leaving qualification. This decision lies with the state certificate recognition offices.

Important documents such as curricula vitae vary in their formal structure in different countries. When you apply to a company you should present such documents as clearly as possible. The bilingual website “Europass” offers good advice. It will help you present and document your skills and qualifications according to European standards. For example, you can fill out a CV or call up a list of certificate supplements for dual training occupations.


Your application is like your calling card. As such you should take the time to make a real effort. Companies often start looking for trainees a whole year before a program starts. It is best to inquire about application deadlines in good time. As a rule firms in Germany expect a written application with a cover letter, CV, and certificates. You will find more detailed information in the job/traineeship descriptions. It will also be noted there whether you should send your application by post or email. You may also be able to apply via a company’s careers portal. If you are shortlisted, you will generally be invited for an interview, sometimes first by telephone. The company may ask you to work for a trial period or complete an internship. The most important information on application standards in Germany can be found on the bilingual Federal Employment Agency website.