Professional qualifications

Recognition of foreign professional qualifications

In the professional recognition process, you can check your qualifications acquired abroad and have their equivalence determined with the qualifications in the target country. In some professions, such recognition is mandatory for the practice of the profession.

1. Why professional recognition?

Skilled workers with a foreign professional or academic qualification have the legal right to have their qualifications compared and assessed with a German qualification. Degrees and qualifications are very important on the German job market.

For some jobs, in the so-called regulated professions, a certain qualification is mandatory. For other jobs (non-regulated professions), the recognition of qualifications is not legally mandatory, but in many cases it brings advantages when applying for a job, when changing jobs or even in salary negotiations. If you do not have your qualification recognised, you may end up working in a job that is far below your professional competences and lower paid, despite having good qualifications. 

Tip: Before you start the recognition process, you should seek advice from a body specialising in recognition. Often there are special features in the procedure or specific requirements which the Advice centres can point out to you. They accompany the procedures and can give valuable tips on financial support. Here you can find a qualified advice centre near you.  

2. Recognition absolutely necessary - regulated professions

Recognition is mandatory for the regulated professions (regardless of the country of training). Examples of regulated professions are: Medical professions (except helper activities), lawyer, teacher, educator or engineer. You will find a list of all professions that are regulated in Germany here

The recognition process checks whether your professional qualifications are comparable to the German reference occupation. This is used to check equivalence. To do so, the responsible office will use your documents (e.g. on qualifications, exams, training content, etc.). Your professional experience also plays a role here. 

The recognition procedures are carried out by various bodies in Germany that are responsible for the recognition of professional qualifications. Which profession it concerns is decisive. You can find out which office is responsible for you in the Recognition finder which can be accessed in various languages.

Example: If you would like to know whether and where you can have your training as an educator recognised, enter your occupation in the Recognition finder . Here you will find the most important information about whether your profession is regulated or not, what requirements are placed on the profession in Germany and what training you must have completed. The recognition finder will also guide you to the office where you can apply for equivalence for your profession. 

For an application for recognition (determination of equivalence) you do not need German citizenship and you do not need a place of residence in Germany. It is sufficient that you have a completed professional qualification from abroad and want to work in Germany. 

Tip: Since 2016, EU citizens have had the opportunity to have the professions of pharmacist, nurse, general care nurse, physiotherapist, mountain guide and real estate agents digitally recognised. In the FAQs you can find out more about the European Professional Card.

3. Recognition for non-regulated professions

The non-regulated professions in Germany include all professions that are trained in the dual system (vocational school and on-the-job training). These are currently around 330 professions. For the non-regulated professions, formal recognition is not a mandatory requirement for entry into the job. You can apply directly to an employer as a plumber, car mechanic or industrial clerk. 

But even if you can go straight into work with a non-regulated profession, it is worthwhile to have your training recognised. After all, a qualification that is recognised as equivalent makes it easier for you to find employment that matches your qualifications. You also have faster access to professional further training and a better salary. 

4. What applies to school certificates and university degrees? 

The recognition offices of the Federal states decide on the equivalence with a German school-leaving certificate for vocational purposes, which you can access via the anabin database . The universities are usually responsible for the recognition of school qualifications for the purpose of university admission. 

If you have already obtained a higher education degree abroad, you can have your certificate evaluated by the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) and receive an assessment of which German higher education degree your qualification is comparable to.  The university to which you want to apply is usually responsible for the recognition of study and examination achievements. An exception to this are courses of study that are completed with a State examination and are recognised by the respective examination offices in the Federal States. They will evaluate for you the level at which you can continue your studies in Germany. 

A first point of contact for you are the student secretariats of the universities as well as the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) , which also provides advice on master and doctoral studies. You can find detailed information on the respective recognition procedures in the academic and school sector here

5. Advice and information portals

The Internet portal “Recognition in Germany”, the anabin database and the BQ portal are among the three central Internet portals that provide information on the subject of recognition of foreign professional qualifications/degrees.

Recognition in Germany

The portal “Recognition in Germany” provides a compact overview of the various procedures for professional recognition and the responsible authorities. Recognition in Germany has an online tool, the “Recognition finder” which guides you step by step through the recognition process. In addition, you will find comprehensive information on the various educational pathways - school, job, training and university - as well as on job search and the various advisory services. 

Tip: The hotline “Working and Living in Germany” carries out an initial telephone consultation on the subject of recognition. The hotline offers comprehensive advice in German and English on the subjects of “job search and work”, “recognition of foreign professional qualifications”, “entry and residence” and “learning German”. The hotline can be reached Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 15:00 under the number: +49 30 1815 - 1111.

Nationwide, the advisors of the Integration through Qualification (IQ) support program also offer the necessary recognition and qualification advice and also offer qualifications for both regulated and non-regulated professions. 

Tip: You can also take advantage of advice on recognition abroad. The ProRecognition project currently advises specialists on recognition in 10 countries. In the European Union, advice centres have been set up in Poland and Italy. Advice is based at the German chambers of commerce abroad. 

anabin

The anabin database provides information on evaluating foreign educational qualifications and supports authorities, employers and you as an employee in classifying your qualifications obtained abroad within the German education system.

BQ-Portal

The information portal for foreign professional qualifications (BQ-Portal ) of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy gathers all relevant information on foreign professional qualifications and vocational training systems on one platform. It offers chambers and companies a comprehensive knowledge platform. The portal also offers comprehensive information on the process and the conditions of the recognition procedure in Germany.
 

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