Is It Worth Moving to Germany as a Software Engineer?

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Germany has always been a top pick for international expats. And this is due to its large economy and the many international companies that have penetrated into the English-speaking markets (BMW, Mercedes, Siemens, SAP, etc.). The tech scene in Germany has also followed a similar blueprint over the last decade – making room for international talent in a way that places like France or Italy just haven't quite managed.

This is what makes Germany a great place for software engineers. There are numerous job opportunities at internationally recognised companies — jobs that don’t require German-speaking skills. That means great pay, a great career trajectory, and a sense of security knowing that you can switch jobs with relative ease. So let’s take a closer look at the work-life situation in Germany, to see why techies are moving there on mass. 


"Is Germany Good for Software Engineers?"

Yes, Germany is considered one of the top destinations for software engineers in Europe. According to Statista, Europe’s biggest community of expats and professional developers are in Germany. While the country might not be the top-rated destination for expats, it’s certainly where they all live and work. 

The greatest risk to companies in Germany is a growing skills shortage (most notably in STEM). So with companies struggling to fill IT positions locally, they have turned to the international market to address that problem. And the government has supported that change by introducing fast-tracked visas and easier pathways for internationals. This makes moving to Germany as a software engineer so much easier. 

In terms of career and job opportunities – Germany is unmatched. In Berlin, you’ve got around thirty tech unicorns (HelloFresh, Personio, Contentful, Trade Republic) that offer great pay and opportunities to work with some of the most skilled workers in the scene. If you want to work with a smaller team or take on a tougher challenge, there are 100s of startups to choose from. These smaller firms tend to offer entry-level positions and the opportunity to speed run your career as they scale up. And since the tech scene is directed towards the international market, jobs and offices are predominantly English-speaking.  


Moving to Germany from the USA

As a US citizen (or even someone who’s worked there for several years), you’re going to enjoy preferential treatment. When tech companies in Germany look to hire internationally, professionals from the United States are highly regarded. 

US citizens can stay in Germany for up to 90 days, so you don’t have to apply for a long-stay visa before you arrive (or even to travel there). It’s obviously best to secure a job before you head over, but, that’s not a requirement. Many US citizens travel to Germany and then apply for a visa within the first 90 days. If you want to scope it out or find a job in person, this is a way to do it. 

While there are a number of visa options available for those moving to Germany from the USA, these three are the most applicable for tech workers:




The EU Blue Card is the best option if you can get it because it offers a lot more work and living flexibility. For this visa, you’ve got to have a job offer with a gross salary of at least €41,042 (for IT professionals). With the Blue Card, you can bring your spouse, and gain permanent residency much faster. The second-best option is the Skilled worker residence permit. This is the most popular pathway. To get the visa, you have to have a recognised degree and a concrete job offer. Both of these visas you can apply for within Germany. 

Moving to Germany? Our first recommendation is to land a job before you show up in the country. Ideally, the company you secure a job with offers you relocation support so that you’re not spending much of your money to make a move and enjoy a smoother transition to Germany.


Find tech jobs in Germany with relocation support → 


Work-Life Balance

The main reason software engineers are living in Germany is for the work-life balance. According to OECD, Germany is ranked 16th out of 41, and for cities, Berlin ranks #12 after Stockholm. To put that in perspective, most full-time workers work under 40 hours per week. You’ll also enjoy 10+ paid holidays and at least four weeks of paid time off. And if you land a job with a thrifty tech company, you might even get upwards of five weeks' holiday – it’s increasingly common. The months of July, August and December are very chill as it’s a very popular time for workers to holiday.    

In terms of salaries, Germany ranks in the top ten for developer salaries. Entry-level salaries aren’t anything to get excited about, you’re usually looking at around €30,000-€40,000. If it’s a unicorn company or something like IBM or SAP, the salary can be €40k+. Senior engineers might be looking at a minimum of around €60,000. If you’re good, though, maybe you take equity in a company or a top position in a unicorn, you can make €100,000 - €200,000 in a year. This is considered an exceptional salary for Europe. 


Where do software engineers get paid the most? → 


The higher paying tech roles are typically in Berlin or Munich. Average salaries are higher in Munich, but Berlin has a bigger expat community, has more job opportunities, and offers a lower cost of living. If you are coming from the US, UK or even Australia, you’ll appreciate the lower cost of living. A supermarket beer is only €1. 


Work-life Balance Comparison US vs EU → 


Top Companies in Germany

Another reason that attracts expats to Germany is that it has one of the largest networks of tech startups and giant IT corporations that hire software engineers internationally. Berlin, for example, has the most unicorn companies out of any city in Europe. 

The hubs in Germany are quite distinct, and offer different experiences. Berlin is trendy and young, there’s a big focus on the startup culture and new emerging technologies. Munich, on the other hand, is more catered toward the corporate professional looking to climb the ranks at big multi-nationals like IBM, Microsoft, BMW, and so on.

If you are more interested in Germany's cultural side and would love to live somewhere near the water, Hamburg is for you. The biggest port in Germany, this city is full of picturesque sites, landmarks, scenery, and architecture and is ideal for those who prefer a laid-back lifestyle. The tech environment here is pretty impressive too. Since the construction of a digital campus called HammerBrooklyn, Hamburg has become an attractive spot for IT corporations and startups from different fields, with ABOUT YOU, Localyze, and receeve choosing to settle here.


International Companies Hiring →


The Most Popular Programming Languages in Germany

So you’re a software engineer in Germany, what programming languages are going to land you the most jobs? It’s difficult to tell if the popularity of programming languages is much different in Germany compared to the rest of the world. 

According to StackOverflow (2017), the top five languages are Java, JavaScript, Python, C#, and Android (Kotlin, C++, Dart, React Native, etc.). While we acknowledge this data is old, it’s likely not changed too much.  

Based on job ads, Java is the most in-demand skill. There are fewer backend developers, so more job opportunities and higher pay. Of course, JavaScript is still the preferred language for frontend devs, so there are plenty of jobs working with React or TypeScript. But still, with most frontend jobs, there’s more competition and lower pay.  

Python and SQL are the go for data roles (nothing's changed here). Python, ML and data science are hot skills at the moment, thanks to all the advancements in AI.  

And believe it or not, there are still jobs for even the less popular languages like Cobol. One developer commented that “nothing is blooming in Germany. Any language that you’re good at is fine.”  

Given the market desperation for tech skills, there’s going to be jobs for most tech stacks – and employers tend to be flexible with the right candidate. The best advice is to stick to the default tech stacks or specialise in a useful technology that’s not popular among devs. 


Social Security

Germany has a great social security system which covers a multitude of needs. Of course, you take a significant pay cut to enjoy these benefits, but some people find it worthwhile. As an expat on a work visa, you’ll have access to free medical care, unemployment benefits (after 12 months of paying tax), and dental care. You’ll also be paying for your pension, so if you plan to retire in Germany, that’ll be something you can access at the end of your career. Social security and tax will eat up about 40% of your paycheck. 


Facts and Figures About Germany

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