How many hours am I allowed to work during my studies?
You may have to earn money on the side while you study because the BAföG or other financial support you receive is not enough for a living. Or maybe you do not even receive any financial aid- then the only option left is to work and study at the same time. However, having a part-time job ("Nebenjob") can also help you start gaining work experience and establishing professional contacts, even if your student job is not in your future field of work. When it comes to student jobs, there are often many questions: Do I have to pay taxes? What type of insurance should I have? Does my part-time job affect my entitlement to BAföG? Here we answer the most crucial of these questions.
What do I need to know?
For detailed information about the work regulations associated with your residence permit, please read our chapter "Work Permit". In principle, If you came to Germany on a student visa, you can work 120 full (or 240 half-) days per year. If you exceed the 120-day limit, you must inform the immigration office. The regulation mentioned above also applies to internships, even if they are not paid. The time you spend doing an internship is, therefore, subtracted from the permitted 120 days- this will not be the case, however, if you are doing a so-called compulsory internship ("Pflichtpraktikum").
Generally speaking, you can start any job, but typical student jobs are often found in the catering service (e.g., as waiter/waitress), the retail market (e.g., as a salesperson or an assistant who helps with stocking shelves in stores) or the field of education (e.g. tuition). Alternatively, you can catch a taste of your future career if you become a "student trainee" ("Werkstudent"). Another option is to work as a student assistant at the university in which you study. As a student assistant (or "Hiwi") you can work, for instance, in the university library, tutor or research literature for a professor. On nebenjob.de, you can find a list of the top 30 student jobs which may give you some ideas about what is best for you.
There are numerous websites where you can search for a student job for free. You can visit, for instance, jobmensa.de, studentjob.de, jobber.de, nebenjob.de or jooble.org and search for a part-time job in your city. On most of these websites, you can also create a profile of your own and directly receive new suitable job offers via email notifications instead of searching for them regularly. On campusjaeger.de and aubi-plus.com, you will also find job advertisements for "student trainees" ("Werkstudent"). In larger universities, the Student Union ("Studentenwerk") also often provides part-time jobs for students. You can find the student jobs available in your university on your faculty's bulletin board or inquire from the secretariat of your faculty about "studentische Hilfskraft" or "Hiwi". Another option is to apply as a temporary worker ("Leiarbeiter") at a temporary employment agency. To read more about this last option, read our chapter "Subcontracted Work".
If you need help with your application, visit our chapter "Job hunting and application".
To make sure your student status is secure, you must not work more than 20 hours a week during the lecture period. If you do so, you are considered to be a regular worker, not a student having a side-job; and this affects both the type of health insurance you have and your entitlement to BAföG. The number of hours you can work during the semester breaks, however, varies, as you can read more in the section "May I work during the semester breaks?" below."
As a general rule, students also have to make social security contributions (health, long-term care and pension insurances) and pay taxes if their income is above a certain level- so depending on your income, it may be that you have to pay both (social insurances and taxes), only one of the two or neither of them. Here the scope of work and your income are the main determinants. If you earn less than 450 euros per month -including additional revenues such as Christmas bonus ("Weinachtsgeld") or holiday pay ("Urlaubsgeld")-, it means you have a so-called "Mini-job" and do not have to make any social security contributions or pay taxes. If you earn less than € 450 per month, you may also be covered by your parent's or spouse's insurance scheme, provided the remaining requirements are met. You can find out more about family insurance on studis-online.de.
If you earn between 450.01 euros and 850 euros per month (or have a so-called "midi job"), in principle, you can no longer be covered by family insurance and have to join a health insurance scheme independently. In principle, students can join a statutory health insurance scheme using affordable student tariffs. You can read more in this regard on studis-online.de.
You also have to make pension insurance contributions, but you only need to pay for unemployment- and long-term care insurance if you work more than 20 hours a week. That means if you work less than 20 hours per week, you are exempt from contributing to unemployment- and long-term care insurance. When you have a midi job, however, you have to pay taxes: Your employer will automatically deduct your taxes from your salary and pass them on to the Tax Office. To do so, your employer needs your tax ID ("Steuer-ID"). The deducted amount, however, will be paid back to you after your tax return next year, if you earn less than the tax-exempt income level during the year. You can find out more about the current tax deductions on mehrwertsteuerrechner.de. In any case, doing your tax return is worth it, as you can deduct professional expenses or training costs and win some money back. You can learn more in our chapter Tax Declaration.
If you earn more than 851 euros per month, you will lose all student privileges and have to make social security contributions and pay taxes like a regular employee. For more information, check out chapter “Mini-job”.
If you start a temporary holiday job ("Ferienjob") during a semester break, you usually do not need to make social insurance contributions. However, you may not work for more than three months (or 70 working days) per year during each semester break; otherwise, you will have to make pension insurance contributions. In case you work more than 26 weeks per year (during the semester break), you must make contributions to the health, long-term care and unemployment insurance.
If you earn less than 450 Euro a month from your holiday job, you do not have to pay taxes. If you make more, however, you are obliged to pay taxes, but you will be reimbursed after your tax return next year if the amount of money you have earned during the year is smaller than the tax-exempt income level. You can learn more about the current tax deduction regulations on mehrwertsteuerrechner.de.
Yes, but only if you do not earn more than 5400 euros per year (during the grant period), i.e. 450 Euro per month ("Mini Job"). Otherwise, the amount of your BAföG will be decreased accordingly.
Students are also entitled to receive -at least- the legal minimum wage. Read more in our chapter Employment Contract.
Please note: During compulsory internships or dual university degrees ("duale Studium"), the minimum wage regulations do not apply.
Yes. All employee (including students) are entitled to vacations, whether they are student or not. Employees who work five days a week during the year, are entitled to have at least 20 days off per year. If you work fewer days per week, the number of holidays you are entitled to increases accordingly. Read more in our chapter Employment Conract.
Look out for fair conditions when searching for a job. Unfortunately, there are always some employers who take advantage of students and, for instance, pay them less than the minimum wage or make them work for a trial period without paying them (in a fair manner). If you face such employers, seek advice from the Student Union ("Studentenwerk") in your university.