Are There English Speaking Jobs In Berlin? – When I first moved to Berlin in 2011, I asked myself this very question. I wondered how easy it would be for me as a Canadian to find work in Berlin without knowing any German at all. It took a few months, but it eventually worked out when I scored a few freelancing gigs providing a modest monthly income.
I never realized how lucky I was at that time, as back then it was even harder to find work in Berlin than it is now. Years later when I ventured back into the world of full time work, I lost my job a few times due to company downsizing. And each time, I was able to successfully find a new job where only English was required. Impressively, I even found and started a new job during the pandemic.
So yes, there are English speaking jobs in Berlin and I can personally attest to this. You might be thinking, “Well if you found an English speaking job in Berlin so many times, then I can find one too.” In reality, it’s not that straightforward and very dependent on many different factors.
Are There English Speaking Jobs In Berlin?
While there are English speaking jobs in Berlin, there are a lot of things that aspiring Berliners need to consider before moving here. How important is to speak German? How many English jobs are actually out there? Do certain types of companies or professions deem German language skills as less important? Is speaking German required more in certain cities than others? Do higher ranking positions allow for non-German speakers?
It’s a lot to think about, isn’t it? Let’s go deep and examine what it’s really like.
Do You Need To Speak German To Find A Job In Berlin?
The obvious answer is yes. The official language of Germany is German, so of course, knowing German is a must if you want to have a decent chance of finding a job here. Most, but not all jobs, require a high level of fluency. For this reason alone, knowing German is not only important, but essential.
Even if you’re at a C level of German or above (which is amazing btw!), you may still struggle to understand the nuances of regional dialects, slang, idioms, and other cultural references. Of course, you’ll naturally learn these things with time and effort. Not only that; your potential employers and future colleagues will really appreciate and respect your efforts to learn their language as well.
The best part is that if you possess a C level of German or above, you’re in a very enviable position. This level of German will set you apart from most other candidates in the job market who haven’t mastered the language just yet. This means you’ll have access to a wider pool of employment opportunities. How awesome is that?
Do you have a chance to find work in Berlin if you don’t speak German?
The not so obvious answer is also … yes. I still highly recommend learning German, as it’s only in your your best interest. Not only will it increase your chance of finding a job, it will enrich your overall living experience when you can communicate with locals in their own language.
That said, globalization has changed things for the better in Germany. More companies are speaking English (and other languages) in the workplace. They need highly qualified immigrants more than ever before and in recent years, rules about language requirements and related qualifications are being increasingly relaxed. Organizations are eager to hire native English speakers and people who are fluent in several languages.
Fortunately, there are a lot of English speaking jobs in Berlin, as we’re a more international city than any other city in Germany. In other cities, your job pool would be even more limited. English is especially prevalent in the Berlin job market. You see this within Berlin’s startup scene, which attracts candidates from around the world. Language schools are always looking for teachers. Many families are looking for au pairs who speak English. Even cleaning agencies catering to the English speaking community in Berlin, need cleaners who fit this bill.
1) For some professions and in some companies, German is absolutely 100% required. While they are more open within startups and in international, some older and more traditional German companies will not hire non-Germans and some professions, like in the science or academic worlds, may demand German. While this is somewhat unfortunate, change won’t happen everywhere, or in the very least, it will take more time for the demand to come into effect.
2) Depending on the company and profession, you may reach a certain level where you can’t advance up the career ladder any further because of language limitations. Keep this in mind when you take on a job as it may mean you’ll need to fight harder to get a higher position in the future or you may have to take your career elsewhere at some point.
3) Even if you studied at a German university, taking an English program, does not necessarily mean you’ll find a related job in English. While this doesn’t make sense at all, it’s in your best interest to find out if there is a demand for non-German speakers in your profession once you finish your post-secondary education.
What are some tips and tricks when looking for English speaking jobs in Berlin?
Consider these tips and tricks when it specifically comes specifically to language requirements and applying for a job in Berlin:
1) List the languages you know on your CV and be sure to display it prominently. Then be honest with your self assessment. I’ve talked with candidates who said they were fluent in English and once we had a conversation, it became apparent they were more mid-level. Best is if you can objectively qualify your fluency and say your German is at A1 example.
2) When you see job postings, read through the requirements, as many companies will explicitly say if English is accepted or if German fluency is required.
3) If language requirements are not explicitly written in the job description, you can usually infer that if the job is advertised in English that the working language will be the same. If it’s advertised in German, the job will likely require German fluency.
4) If the language requirements aren’t explicitly written, go ahead and apply anyway. What do you have to lose? If the company likes your profile, they’ll get in touch, and you can always clarify language expectations afterwards.
5) This is controversial, but some people advise having your CVs and cover letters translated to German, even if you don’t speak German at all. They say that not having your CV in German is a disadvantage, as you may then never get noticed by the algorithms that do initial scans on company’s internal recruiting platforms or on websites liked LinkedIn.
This is a fair point – as if your CV gets in front of a pair of human eyes, the recruiter or hiring manager can then make an informed decision about whether or not to get in touch with you.
However, this tactic may also backfire. You may get asked for an interview and then when the recruiter or hiring manager discovers you can’t speak German, they may feel you were dishonest and that you wasted their time. This could limit future opportunities with that employer.
It’s up to you about how to approach this, but if you do decide to translate your CV, at least indicate your level of German in a way that it can’t be missed.
6) Learn German as soon as possible and make it a priority. Do this even before you get to Germany. Take a class, use the apps, do whatever it takes. If you get a job here eventually, you may find your company even offers free language classes.
Recommended reading: This post, What are the best Berlin job search websites? Featured are recruiting agencies, English speaking job sites, resources for students, and more.
8) Focus on industries that are more open and want to attract English speakers. Almost any tech related position, be it a software developer, engineering manager, quality assurance engineer, agile coach, and more are highly needed. People who work in marketing and sales are in demand. Take a look at the tourism industry (once corona passes us by), customer care, gastronomy, teaching English, and/or working as a nanny.
Your key takeaway here? Your chance to find a job in Berlin is much higher if you have some level of German fluency. There are also opportunities for those who speak English, but your pool of options will be more limited. Just learn German and things will be way better.