Salary in Germany: Are you getting paid enough?

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When I first came to Germany, I had no idea how much salary I should expect. Salary in Germany is normally not a common topic that you can openly discuss with your friends and compare. Besides, it is hard to compare as every industry is different. People who have different educational backgrounds and years of experience also get a different level of salary in Germany.

Moving to Germany or new in Germany? Check out our Resources Page for all the help you need!


During your job hunting in Germany, you may need to provide your expected salary in the job application. Here is the problem: If you put too high, you are afraid that you will scare away your potential employer and may not even get to the interview round. If you put too low, it may give the impression that you are not a valuable resource. Besides, nobody wants to be underpaid. That is why it is important to know the level of salary in Germany for your field.

Read also:

Salary negotiation in Germany

My friend came to Germany and needed a job desperately. Happy enough to be employed in Germany, she was not thinking too much about the salary. As a foreigner, she had no clues anyways what should the salary in Germany be. So, she just accepted the offer from the company. Sometime later, she had discovered that she was seriously underpaid. She was so pissed and talked to the boss. In a few years of time, her salary has increased almost to a double, mainly because she was so underpaid when she got her job in Germany.

I think that this happens more often with a small company. As for bigger companies in Germany, they often have set guidelines for salary. However, it is always better to know your worth. This allows you to get the best out of the salary negotiation in Germany.

Read more: 20 Ideas to Make Money from Home that Anyone Can Do

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Salary in Germany: Common types of compensation

Your salary in Germany can consist of different compensation types. Let’s take a look at some common compensation types. The below components are mostly applicable for a full-time office job.

Base salary in Germany

Base salary is normally the biggest component of your compensation in Germany. It is the fixed part of your salary. You are going to get this fixed amount per month, regardless of your performance. The higher the base salary, the more secure is your income. If a company in Germany offers a salary increase each year, the percentage increase will be based on the base salary, instead of your total compensation.

Salary in Germany: Profit sharing

Profit sharing is offered by some companies when a certain level of net profit is achieved. For example, if a company in Germany achieves x percent of annual net profit margin, everyone can get x percent profit sharing based on their base salary. It means that you will have your base salary in Germany, plus this x percent on top as profit sharing. The aim is to bring commitment to the company and everyone works towards the same goal (to make as much profit as possible for the company!).

Salary in Germany: Bonus

Bonus is linked to your own performance. If the management thinks that you have a good performance, they may offer you a bonus. This is on top of your profit sharing and base salary in Germany.

Salary in Germany: Stock or option to exercise stock

Some companies offer their stock or option to employees with good performance. Normally the stock will only be vested in a few years from now. It is a similar case for the option as well. You can only exercise it after a certain period of time. Like the profit sharing, the aim is to motivate the employees to grow the companies as much as possible. The higher the stock price, the more money the employee can get out from these stock and options.

Read also: My job interviews in Germany: 6 tips to boost your chances of getting hired

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Beware of tax and health insurance deducted from your salary in Germany

High tax rate in Germany

You probably already heard about the high tax rate in Germany. Your gross and net salary in Germany can be very different. In most cases, the tax and health insurance amount is already deducted when you get your payslip (it can be different if you have a private insurance!).

Read also: Private vs Public Health Insurance: What is Better for Expats in Germany?

An example 

To give you an example: If you earn 50k EUR per year in Germany, you can estimate that around 60% of your gross salary amount will come to your bank account.

Yes, only 60%. The other 40% is used to pay for tax and health insurance. Note that the exact percentage depends on your tax class and salary level in Germany. You can check the “Gross to Net calculator” if you want an exact number.

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It is not easy to understand the payslip

I still remember that I was so curious at the beginning in Germany and I asked my German friends how much they were paying for the health insurance monthly. And guess what, nobody knew the answer. That was really strange. How could someone not know how much they were paying! It was so important to know about it as they were paying this every month.

Now, when I get my payslip, I understand why. There are so many items in there and it is extremely complicated for me. It is complicated even for German people. Now imagine how a foreigner can understand every detail of it.

In the end, the most important number to understand is the net salary that I get in my bank account, and it is around 60% of my gross salary in Germany.

Read also: Loan in Germany – How to Get a Personal Loan (+ Best Offers)

Check if you are paying church tax

You should pay attention to your payslip to see if you are paying any church tax. If you are not religious, you can stop paying this by leaving the church. For more details, check this out: Church Tax in Germany – How to Stop Paying It?

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How much salary should you get in Germany?

Now, let’s come to the interesting part. How are you going to know how much salary you should get in Germany? Thanks to the internet, now you can get insider information also on this taboo topic. Below are some of the websites that I use:

Use to estimate salary in Germany

This website provides a quick way to know how much salary you can get per job title and region in Germany. Just type in the job title and the city name that you are searching for. You will then see an estimated salary range for this job title in Germany. The nice thing is that when you are searching for a job, they also list the estimated salary range of that job. So, you will already have an idea if the salary is meeting your expectation before you consider applying.

Besides, when you search for a specific job title, they will also show you a table with an estimated salary per each state in Germany. So, you will have some ideas in which state you are better paid than the others.

Use Linkedin Salary to find out salary in Germany

Linkedin also provides some insight into salary by job title and area in Germany. It is pretty similar to You enter the job title and city, and it will show you the salary range. Linkedin also shows the salary range per job title for the top paying locations in Germany. However, it will only show salary from the top 4 areas in Germany, but not each of the German states like what shows.

You don’t need to be a premium member to see this information. Linkedin has some premium features which are only provided to paid members. For example, a premium member can see who has viewed their profile; they can send messages to the recruiters directly; they can rank themselves against other applicants; their application will appear at the top of recruiters’ lists…

I am not a premium member myself, so I cannot judge if it’s worth it. In the website, it says that you will get more messages from the recruiters and thus you have a higher chance to get hired. You can always start a free trial month to test it out.

Other ways to estimate salary in Germany

I believe there are many other websites which also provide insight into salary in Germany. Some others I know include Glassdoor and Xing (premium member).

Read also: Decoding your Reference Letter in Germany (Arbeitszeugnis)

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Salary for a part-time job in Germany which is paid per hour

It is common especially for students to look for a part-time job. The minimum wage in Germany is 12.14 EUR per hour in 2024 (and 12.82 EUR in 2025). So you should not be paid less than that. In websites like or ebay-kleinanzeigen, you can search for part time jobs, which are offered by private people.

Some common jobs include babysitting, cleaning, taking care of pets, or even cooking. For babysitting and cleaning, the lowest pay I have seen is around 13 EUR. 13 EUR per hour is considered very cheap and normally you should not get paid less than that. On average, it is around 15 EUR per hour. It can get even to 20 EUR if you are a very qualified and experienced person.

So, do negotiate your salary in Germany, and don’t let people exploit you just because you are a foreigner and do not know the market situation.

Read also: 9 ways to earn money in Germany as a student

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How much salary do you need to live in Germany?

This is hard to answer. The level of salary you need in Germany depends on a lot of factors: Which city do you live? What kind of food do you eat? Do you eat out or cook at home? What kind of living standard do you want?…

I can give you some ideas below about what kind of expenses you will probably have, assuming that you are on your own and do not have kids…


The biggest part of your expense is probably your rent. Depending on your city, the rent level can be very different. It also depends if you live in a shared flat or a whole apartment. Check out the rent level in immowelt, WG-gesucht or immobilienscout24. You can also read my other post about how to find a place to live in Germany.


If you eat out in a restaurant, it may cost you around 10 EUR for lunch and 20 EUR for dinner. For sure it is different depending on the kind of food. If you just take a Kebab, it will be much cheaper.

If you cook by yourself, it may be around a few EUR per meal. Again, it depends on what you eat.


Do you drive? If you own a car, you will probably need to plan for a few hundred EUR per month as a running expense. For more details about the cost of buying and owning a car, check this out: How to Buy a Car in Germany and Register It – 7 Easy Steps

If you plan to lease a car, check this out: Leasing a Car in Germany – How to Find the Best Deal?

Using public transportation is usually cheaper than driving. If you live in a small village, you may even be able to just bike anywhere. This can save a whole lot in your transportation cost. You can find different tips regarding transportation in my other post.

Read also: Bike Insurance in Germany – Compare the Best 4 Offers

Other miscellaneous

Do you like to go out with friends? Are you going to cinema from time to time? Do you like traveling? You probably want to reserve some money for your leisure activities too.

Besides, you probably need to have an internet contract. You may need to buy some clothes. Or some beers…

Think about how much you want to spend in each area. Take into account that you will only get 60% of your gross salary in Germany. Then you will have some ideas about how much salary you should ask for. It is always better to have some buffer as well for any unexpected expenses.

Read also: Invest In Germany To Make Money – Expat Guide

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Did you negotiate your salary in Germany when you got the job offer? Leave a comment below and let me know your experiences!

About the author

Originally from Hong Kong, Sindy spent 13 years in Germany before moving to the US. Her blog is your ultimate resource for navigating Germany, offering pro tips on bureaucracy, job hunting, education, culture, family life, and more.

With a "been there, done that" attitude, Sindy, a certified public accountant, draws on her extensive finance and accounting background to provide professional insights with a friendly touch.

Having navigated German life with her German husband and raising two kids there, Sindy brings a personal touch to her advice. Let this blog help fellow expats like you navigate the ins and outs of life in Germany!

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Moving to Germany or new in Germany? Check out our Resources Page for all the help you need!

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12 Replies to “Salary in Germany: Are you getting paid enough?”

  1. Good article but another factor that you need to take into account is tax class. The reasons are complicated but if you single you are tax class 1. Married with 1 income tax class 3.

    1. Robin, thanks for your comment. Yes I have mentioned tax class in the post. That’s why I also suggest to check with the “Gross to net” calculator to get the more accurate number.

      1. Thanks but it’s important to understand that singles pay a lot more tax than a married couple. And tax classes only confuse the issue. A good rule of thumb is a that a single person earning a good wage can assume they’ll lose half of it, while a married couple would be, as you mentioned, take home 60%.

        Years back when we were new to Germany my wife applied for her tax card, of course the lady at the Rathaus assumed I was the main wage earner and set her tax class to 5. About 6 months later she got a email saying she wouldn’t be pay cheque this month as she owed a ton aback taxes. She had to go back in get her tax card amended to get the right tax class set.

        A blog post explaining the tax class system would be a huge help for people new to Germany.

      2. Oh of of curiosity I checked and it was 55% and 65% (about 400€) so 60% is a good rule of thumb.

          1. I really enjoyed reading your articles, I wish we had resources like this when we moved here 20 years ago. We were sooooo lost

  2. I am the one who was trapped into low salary. Between me who has a Masters and the one not trained/ no uni degree, there is only €300 salary difference.
    When I asked for a raise, she told (interestingly) my friend, not me, that she won’t give me raise because I’d have sent the money back to my home country. It’s a WTF reason, so yeah, I’m looking for another job and I think tjat place didn’t deserve my loyalty.

    1. Hi Noniq, I am sorry to hear your experience. I actually think that it is good if people compare their salary to each other. That way you know if you are underpaid (like in your case). For sure no management wants that as it will create more trouble for them. So, the management will try to make this as a taboo topic. That’s why it is good that this kind of websites exist for people to get more insight about the salary level.

  3. Hello, thanks for this great article and all of the others too. It was a lot of information to digest, but very useful. I have an IT Systemingenieur degree. My wife is Colombian and I am Venezuelan with Italian citizenship, thanks to this I can say it was easy for us to move here, but the years we took to save enough money, for this dream to come true were not easy. My first job here in Hamburg was as a Verkäufer, I was being paid €10/h, but 45 days later, I landed on my current job, as IT Support, earning €21/h. It’s been 6 months working in this company out of 9, since we moved in. With no references to understand if I was being underpaid or not, it took us some time to realise, that I am actually being well paid, but sites like, etc point out that I am earning the minimum, and much more can be achieved. Even though, my income is not bad, some of the benefits, you mention I do not receive, like profit from the company’s reached goals, Weihnachtsgeld, training, or even HVV. Although, my German is not the best, I am grateful I can do my job in English when my German fails to make myself understood. Now to answer your question, I don’t know if I even tried to negotiate my salary, but from where I come from, you take what can get, so I took what I was being offered, because we started to need the money already.

    1. Thanks a lot for sharing. It is hard to understand what salary to expect when someone first moves to a new country. Another way to know it is to look for a new job to see what kind of salary you can get. Or get with a headhunter to understand the salary expectation. Regarding the benefits mentioned in my article, not every company has all of these benefits. For example, some companies pay a lower based salary but they pay Weihnachtsgeld on top which you can only get in November. Some companies do not pay Weihnachtsgeld but they include the amount in the based salary. So, it is more accurate to look at your total salary to determine if it is a good package or not.

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