Germany has a rapidly aging population and a shortage of nurses estimated at over 200,000 by 2025. This high demand, coupled with recent changes allowing non-EU nurses easier access to work visas, makes Germany an attractive destination for foreign nurses seeking job opportunities abroad. This guide covers everything you need to know about getting nursing jobs in Germany in 2024 and beyond.
Nursing Education Requirements in Germany
To work as a nurse in Germany, you must complete one of the following accredited nursing programs:
- A 3-year nursing apprenticeship resulting in a nursing assistant certificate
- A 3-year nursing school program resulting in a licensed nurse certificate
- A Bachelor’s degree in Nursing Science qualifying you as a registered nurse
Most foreign nurses have a Bachelor’s degree or higher. This is required to obtain full recognition under the new immigration skilled labor laws.Nursing school programs and degrees completed outside the EU must go through a recognition and credential evaluation process. This verifies that your education meets German standards.
New Immigration Laws Benefiting Non-EU Nurses
Historically, nurses from outside the EU had restricted access to the German job market. But new immigration skilled labor laws passed in 2020 now facilitate entry for qualified nurses:
- Nurses are included on Germany’s “White List” of priority professions with worker shortages
- Work visa processing times have sped up from previous long delays
- Visas for nursing jobs can now be issued for up to 4 years
- Family members also receive visas with access to work or education in Germany
- No priority review of EU candidates needed before hiring non-EU nurses
Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Nursing Jobs in Germany
If you meet the nursing education requirements, here are the steps to follow for getting nursing jobs in Germany under the new immigration laws:
1. Have your nursing credentials evaluated
- Submit transcripts, diplomas, proof of training to approved evaluators
- Two organizations that provide credential evaluations for nurses are:Anabin Database by the German government
- The IQ Network by the International Qualifications Assessment Service
- Fees range between $100-$400 USD
- The process takes 1-3 months on average
2. Learn intermediate German language skills
- Take classes to reach level B1/B2 on the CEFR scale
- Focus on medical terminology, healthcare vocabulary
- Many nursing programs and employers accept B1 level
- Higher language skills give you a competitive advantage
3. Research the nursing job market
- Identify regions with major shortages like elderly care
- Check national job boards like Stepstone.de and Stellenonline.de
- Search hospital and health facility websites directly
- Reach out to recruitment agencies specializing in healthcare roles
4. Prepare your nursing license application
- Contact the health authority in your target state
- Request an application form for nursing license recognition
- Start compiling all the documents you’ll need to submit:Credential evaluation results
- Proof of ID, training certificates, transcripts, etc.
5. Apply for jobs that align with your experience
- Entry-level nurses can find assistant nursing roles
- Seek positions equivalent to your specialization back home
- Tailor resumes/cover letters to highlight relevant expertise
- Be prepared for multiple interview stages and German proficiency checks
- Once hired, request a visa confirmation letter from your employer
- Submit letter, employment contract, and other documents to the German Embassy
- Go through biometrics appointment, health checks, and administrative processing
- Wait 4-8 weeks for work visa approval tied specifically to your nursing job
7. Relocate to Germany and receive nursing license
- Book travel and arrange housing in your new location
- Submit license application to health authority with all documentation
- If approved, you’ll receive a license to practice as a fully recognized nurse!
Average Nursing Salaries and Benefits in Germany
Nursing pays well in Germany compared to other European countries. Here are typical wage ranges:
- Nursing assistants – $2,200-$2,800 USD per month
- Qualified nurses – $3,300-$4,500 USD per month
- Specialized nurses – Up to $5,500 USD per month
Note that registered nurses with bachelor’s degrees tend to earn salaries at the higher end of these ranges.Nurses also enjoy excellent benefits:
- 37.5 hour work weeks
- 30 paid vacation days per year
- Generous paid sick leave and overtime rates
- Social security and universal healthcare
- High job stability and contractual protections
Many hospitals also offer relocation assistance, signing bonuses, German classes, and other incentives due to competitive hiring markets.
Long-Term Residence and Settlement Options
Skilled nursing professionals who immigrate to Germany have excellent prospects for long-term residence and settlement:
- After 2 years with a work visa, you can apply for an EU Blue Card for high-skilled workers
- After 33+ months of paying into pension insurance, you can apply for permanent residence
- After 5 years of working legally, you become eligible for indefinite settlement permits
- After 6-8 years residing in Germany, you can naturalize as a full citizen
Since nurses qualify as skilled laborers with high demand statuses, they enjoy preferable access to these settlement options compared to other immigrants.
Finding Housing and Bringing Family to Germany
Two major considerations that factor into relocating as a nurse to Germany are housing and family:Housing
- Rent monthly costs average $800+ USD for single bedroom apartments
- Most rental listings are found on sites like ImmobilienScout24 and ImmoWelt
- Be prepared to provide documents like credit reports, income statements, etc.
- Short-term transitional housing like corporate apartments are an option
- Consider house shares (WG Zimmer) to save costs and meet locals
- Once you get your work visa, family can apply for dependent visas
- Spouses receive work permits and access to language classes
- Children can enroll at German schools or international schools
- Family members also qualify eventually for permanent residence
Consult with your embassy and recruitment agencies on the best areas to live in your target region. Ideally, choose locations with established expat communities that will ease the transition process.
Finding a Nursing Job in Germany – FAQs
What are my chances of getting hired as a non-European nurse?
Your chances are excellent due to major nursing shortages, especially if you have 2+ years of experience and B1+ German skills.
Under the new laws, you face almost no barriers or competition from EU nurses.
Do I need to get licensed in my home country first?
No, Germany accepts applicants directly out of accredited nursing schools. But having an existing license shows a higher level of qualifications.
What languages do I need to work as a nurse in Germany?
Can I do my nursing license exam in English?
No, the exam is only offered in German. But preparatory courses and study materials are available in multiple languages.
What support is available for foreign nurses relocating to Germany?
Many hospitals offer free language classes, cultural training, transitional housing, administrative assistance with work permits and licensing, and relocation stipends. Recruitment agencies also provide end-to-end guidance.
Start Your Application to Join Germany’s Healthcare System
Germany offers nurses incredible opportunities: high salaries, better work-life balance, lucrative benefits, and pathways to long-term residence. Now under the new immigration laws, these nursing jobs are more accessible than ever for non-EU applicants.
This guide outlines everything you need to know to transfer your nursing career to Germany. But the most important step is taking action today. Reach out to credential evaluators, recruitment specialists, and language schools to kickstart the process.
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