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Professional Qualifications

Recognition of Professional Qualifications for Working
There are professions and jobs, which are only allowed to be exercised with special permission (so-called regulated professions) in Germany. A doctor for example may only work, if he or she has a license to practice medicine. In the field of handicraft trades, only a person with a respective master craftsmen qualification is allowed to be employed.
  • If you wish to pursue a profession for which a recognized qualification or permission is compulsory (regulated professions), you need to apply for the recognition at the competent institution.
  • If you want to pursue a profession that does not require recognition of your qualifications (non-regulated professions), you can directly apply for a job in Germany with the qualifications you have from your home country. But recognition of those qualifications may still be useful. A potential employer for example may only want to hire you, if he or she is able to determine – by means of a recognized degree – which qualifications you bring. In addition, the amount of your payment may partly depend on your qualification and if it is recognized in Germany.

On April 1st, 2012, the Recognition Act came into force. With this law, it is now basically possible for non-EU nationals to have their qualifications recognized by the competent authorities in Germany, if the training etc. is comparable to a German equivalent. Whether and to what extent recognition is possible, has always to be checked in every specific case. For many professions, the German provinces are responsible for making the relevant legal regulations. The Recognition Laws of the provinces are now all in force. They are often based on the Federal Recognition Act. Here you can find your respective Recognition Law.

Recognition of a professional qualification comes into question, if you acquired the qualification to pursue a certain profession through a course of studies or a vocational training. It is not easy to judge whether recognition is possible in a particular case. In any case, you should make use of the help of competent counseling centers. There is help provided by the staff of the project “To arrive prepared and successfully in Germany”, by the migration counseling centers in Germany and (depending on the profession) even by specialized expert advisory centers.
The following steps are useful for the preparation of recognition
  1. Before you apply for recognition, you must consider which profession you would like to pursue in Germany or which German profession might correspond to your professional qualification (so-called reference profession, “Referenzberuf”). This is not always easy to decide, since the professions can vary from their content and training. You can check with the "Recognition Finder" which German professions can meet your qualifications. The German professions can also be found here.
  2. Under www.anerkennung-in-deutschland.de you can also check whether you are allowed to pursue the profession only if you have a special permission and which form of permission you need. If you need a special permit, you can only pursue the profession with recognition of the required documents.
  3. A next thing you can find out on the website, is the competent authority for deciding on the recognition. For many professions the competent authority is one of the government offices in the 16 federal provinces, for handicraft trades it is the local Chamber of Crafts, for the industrial professions it is the “IHK-FOSA” (German Chamber of Commerce and Industry – Foreign Skills Approval). On the internet pages of the responsible authorities, you often find many more information on the procedure and the necessary documents. It is also possible to apply for recognition from your home country, if you can prove you want to pursue the relevant profession in Germany. The procedure is subject to a fee, which can be very high sometimes. But if the effort is not very high, lower fees might be charged, which means you can save considerable costs through a good preparation of the procedure.
  4. If you apply for recognition of your foreign qualification, the competent authority checks whether there is an equivalence of your qualification with the qualification required in Germany. Equivalence can be established if there are no significant differences between the training in the country of origin and the training for the corresponding occupation in Germany. There can be important differences in the duration of the training for example, but most importantly in the content. There are also professions where there are also other requirements for you to practice in Germany (e.g. German language skills at a certain level). A few professions are only permitted to be pursued by German nationals or EU citizens. If no equivalency can be determined, it is also possible to get a so-called partial recognition in certain cases, which requires a post-qualification ("Nachqualifizierung"). There exist special offers, courses etc. and possibilities of financial support for Nachqualifizierung.

Important Documents for the Recognition

If you are eligible for recognition of a professional qualification, you should be well informed of the regulations and also the possibilities. In any case certain documents are important and helpful:

  • A detailed curriculum vitae with precise information about your school education, your vocational training, study periods, professional activities, practical experience (also internships, etc.), further training and other competences and skills
  • Originals of all certificates and degrees
  • Proof of the specific contents of your vocational training / studies (e.g. training plans, examination regulations, etc.), so that the competent authorities can compare the extent to which the training is in line with the German requirements.
  • It is also important to prove professional experience because they may compensate missing training content, if necessary. For this purpose it is important to request very detailed certificates from the respective employers.
  • Translations of these documents into the German language (Note: in some cases the competent authorities require translations from a licensed translator in Germany)

This list is not final. It is important to be able to prove as much knowledge, experience and qualifications as possible. The recognized documents can also be very helpful in order to successfully apply to relevant positions in Germany.

Further Information
Information on the Recognition Process can be found here.