Research Careers

Instruction on a microscope

International senior researchers have a wide range of career opportunities in Germany: international researchers can also teach and research in colleges and universities or – if they fulfil the relevant requirements – apply for their own chair. Some 29,000 foreigners work as academic staff in German higher education and roughly 30,000 international postgraduates, postdocs, researchers and academics receive support from German funding organisations to carry out research in Germany. In the laboratories and institutes of non-university research organisations outstanding researchers also have the opportunity to qualify for top management and leadership positions outside higher education. Depending on their qualifications, internationally experienced researchers will also find many career opportunities in German companies.

Research and teaching in higher education

German universities are actively looking for professors from abroad. They would like to strengthen its international orientation not only in research, but also in teaching. If you aim to pursue a career in higher education with the goal of assuming a university professorship, you will need to become “eligible for appointment”. As a rule, in order to qualify as a university professor you will have to complete the habilitation process, which can sometimes also be achieved culmulatively – in other words, through the publication of several appropriate papers in renowned specialist journals. Habilitation in its traditional form generally entails the completion of a postdoctoral thesis and an examination procedure that determines whether the candidate is qualified to teach an academic subject. There are other alternatives to habilitation (for example Junior Professorships).

Various funding bodies support research stays by foreign researchers. International researchers can find out more about career opportunities at German higher education institutions by reading the latest job advertisements on individual university websites. Job portals that specialise on research vacancies also help in the search for relevant posts.

Professorships at universities of applied sciences

Professorships at universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschule) also offer career opportunities for senior researchers. As a rule, the main emphasis of a professorship at a university of applied sciences is on practice-oriented teaching, but there is now also an increasing focus on research – particularly in the engineering sciences. The requirements for appointment to a professorship here are generally a doctorate and at least five years of professional experience, including three years outside higher education.

Career opportunities in research institutes

Alongside university research, a broad range of non-university research is conducted in both public and private institutions. These include academies, foundations, institutes for advanced study as well as federal and state institutions. A special role here is played by the four large research organisations the Helmholtz Association, the Max Planck Society, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the Leibniz Association, which have different profiles and main emphases. The spectrum of research opportunities at non-university institutes ranges from basic research to application-oriented industrial research. As a rule, applications are submitted directly to individual institutes. Job portals provide help in finding suitable vacancies.

Careers in industry

Industry is also seeking to attract international specialists. Roughly 330,000 researchers work in the R&D sector of German industry – above all, in the large automotive, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, but increasingly also in the service sector. International teams often work jointly on research projects here, sometimes in collaboration with universities and non-university research institutions. German companies are always on the look out for highly qualified personnel. The career opportunities for international researchers are as diverse as they are distinctive – depending on the industry, company and research profile as well as individual expertise. Job portals provide help in finding relevant vacancies. The Federal Employment Agency also informs highly qualified international employees about employment opportunities in Germany. The Federal Agency’s International Placement Services (ZAV) also assists in finding employment.

Your Job Search

Your Job Search

Looking for a new science job? Here you find a list of job portals that specialise in academic and research-related job offers in Germany. More Your Job Search

Recognition of Professional Qualifications

Recognition of Professional Qualifications

The website 'Recognition in Germany' provides up-to-date information about the legal requirements and procedures for professional recognition. More Recognition of Professional Qualifications

Search engine for higher education institutions

Search engine for higher education institutions

The German Rectors’ Conference has compiled a database containing the addresses and contact details for all German higher education institutions. Search engine for higher education institutions