German industry is strong in research and development. There is a correspondingly high demand for research personnel. Naturally, it is the large, internationally active companies that invest most in research and development. However, numerous small and medium-sized enterprises also engage in research. They offer interesting jobs and long-term development prospects for international researchers.
© DAAD/Volker Lannert
However, jobs for postdocs are far rarer in companies than they are in universities and non-university research institutes. Nevertheless, engineers and natural scientists in particular often find a new home here after completing their doctorates.
If you are seeking a future in applied research, would like to see your results swiftly transformed into practical applications and regard the constraints of feasibility and economic viability as a challenge, then a research job in industry could be highly attractive. Here discoveries flow directly into new products or solutions. Teaching duties and the pressure to publish do not exist here.
However, that is also one reason why the path back into a university is not necessarily easy. You should therefore carefully consider a move to industry.
If you aspire to a career as a professor at a university of applied sciences, however, subject-related experience outside higher education is generally a mandatory. A postdoc position in a company then enables you to gain the practical experience and expertise required for a professorship at a university of applied sciences.
As a postdoctoral scientist or a young professional with a doctorate working in research and development inside a company you are likely to be a member of an (international) team of researchers in application- or project-oriented research. You will conduct research into innovative solutions that meet concrete needs, develop standards and find alternatives to existing processes. Your team’s research results are important for all areas of the company from the management board, procurement and production to marketing and sales. Research-oriented companies offer varied research and development duties.
Once you have decided which path to take you should carefully prepare your application. Here is some useful information to help you successfully complete this process:
The requirements generally include a good to very good doctorate in the appropriate subject area, research experience and methodical expertise. You can score additional points with experience of personnel and budget management, proof of international stays and completed industrial internships – especially if you have had contact with foreign subsidiaries of the relevant company.
It is important here, too, to read the job advertisement very carefully and to ensure you meet its requirements. You should not forget to refer to soft skills and additional qualifications.
Procedures can differ considerably, for example, when it comes to whether your application should be submitted electronically or delivered by mail and whether or not contacting your potential superior is desired and meaningful before you submit an application. That is why it is important to read the text of the advertisement very carefully and obtain as much information as possible in advance. Do not forget to meet the application deadline.
Depending on the advertised position, you will be expected to fulfil various requirements. How much you earn will depend on these requirements, your qualifications and your previous experience. If there is a collective agreement for the respective industry, you will usually be remunerated according to the relevant scale.
Depending on your employer, you may receive additional elements of remuneration and other corporate benefits. You should find out in advance what salary and benefits are normal for your particular industry.
Your salary expectations will also play an important role in the job interview.