The average salary in Germany varies greatly – depending on the industry, region, and gender. How much do Germans earn on average, and how is this figure calculated?
And how significant are the salary differences?
German employees earn an average of 47,700 Euros gross per year.
However, occupational groups such as nurses or child and youth care workers are far from such an average salary, even though they are among the system-relevant professions.
How does this sum come about, and what is the average income anyway?
The average salary in Germany is only a statistical value
Let’s first take a closer look at the statistics provided by the Federal Statistics Office.
The question is whether there is something wrong with the numbers.
The Federal Statistical Office calculates the arithmetic mean gross income of all employees. The arithmetic mean shows what everyone earns divided by the number of employees.
According to a German friend of mine, it would be more meaningful if that gross income were calculated by the median.
The median is the central value that lies precisely in the middle of all individual datasets. If they had used the median, there would be no effects on the average.
Thus, salaries of high earners would not fall into the calculation.
For example, let’s say that one employee earns 500,000 Euros per year. Seven earn 50,000 Euros, and one 25,000 Euros.
The statistics would show that they make, on average, almost 64.000 Euro per year.
So, my advice is to be careful when looking at statistics.
Main topics in this article
Does the average salary cover the cost of living in Germany?
Your salary might not be enough depending on the region you live in, your situation, or your life-quality expectations. This can be due to the increasing costs for housing, food, and health insurance premiums.
Often, difficulties start when one parent can no longer work because it’s impossible to get childcare. Imagine if that family lives in one of the most expensive cities in Germany.
Rents and other expenses are higher there, so the situation would be more challenging for them.
The latest study from the private research institute empirica uses data from the first quarter of 2021.
It shows that Munich is the most expensive city in Germany, followed by Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Berlin, and others.
High rents are usually the most significant burden for singles and families.
But there are also costs for public transport or the commute to work, food, and other living costs. It’s recommended that your rent eats up no more than 30% of your salary.
Let’s take a closer look at the average cost of living in Germany.
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How high is the average cost of living in Germany
Only on 07th June 2021, the Federal Statistical Office (DESTATIS) published current figures in a compilation on the cost of living in Germany. According to this, private households in Germany as a whole spend approximately EUR 2.574 as the cost of living.
The value is somewhat higher in the old federal territory (approx. 2,668 Euro) in the new federal states. The value lies with approx. 2,214 Euro.
The cost of living in Germany is made up:
- tobacco products
- clothing and footwear
- home repairs
- interior furnishings
- household appliances and household goods,
- health care expenses
- postal services and telecommunications
- recreation and culture
- restaurant services
- other goods or services.
Rent occupies the highest amount here, averaging 33% of the cost of living.
How much of the average salary will go on the income tax in Germany
Germany has about 41 million people who are liable to pay income tax, either employees or freelancers.
Since the amount of income tax depends on the amount of income and the federal state, the religious affiliation, and the solidarity surcharge, the calculation is often not quite simple.
This progressive tax rate is calculated on average as follows:
|Average tax rate||Unmarried||Married couples|
|Basic tax-free amount||Up to 9,744 €||Up to 19,488 €|
|12%||Up to 14,754 €||Up to 29,508 €|
|21%||Up to 57,918 €||Up to 115,836 €|
|42%||Up to 274,612 €||Up to 549,224 €|
|45%||From 274,613 €||From 549,225 €|
The average tax rate is only used for more straightforward calculations. This means that everyone has an individual tax rate in Germany, and the tax rate defined in the table is only used for more accessible analysis.
The Federal Ministry of Finance has published an Official Income Tax Handbook for this purpose.
The difference between gross salary and net income in Germany
The gross salary is your monthly payments without any deductions. It also includes the sum agreed in your employment contract!
The net salary remains after taxes, and other payments are taken out of the total amount paid into an account. Income tax ranges from 30-50%.
In general, you could say that it’s around 35%, depending on how much one earns and where one lives (since every country has different income tax rates).
Calculate your net salary with the help of the salary calculator Germany
Suppose you are thinking of moving to Germany or changing your job or residence within Germany and starting a new career.
In that case, it is helpful to know your net income to better enter into salary negotiations.
With the salary calculator Germany, you can easily calculate your net income in Germany.
Once you have calculated your net income, you can compare your income with the average income in Germany.
Average salary Germany – How much does a German make in one year?
Germany’s gross average income is around 4,146 € per month for men and 3,578 € per month for women. Here it is assumed that the respective persons work full time.
The value was averaged across the individual federal states.
I have compiled another list with more exact details to allow you to evaluate your salary even better, depending on the place of residence.
What is the average salary in Germany by region?
To get a better overview of the distribution of salaries in Germany in relation to the federal states, below is a list of all 16 federal states in Germany divided between men, women and an overall average value of monthly salaries:
|Hamburg||5,330 €||4,253 €||4,966 €|
|Hesse||5,076 €||5,386 €||4,835 €|
|Bavaria||4,916 €||4,001 €||4,652 €|
|Baden-Wuerttemberg||4,961 €||3,883 €||4,646 €|
|Berlin||4,735 €||4,136 €||4,502 €|
|North Rhine-Westphalia||4,641 €||3,917 €||4,429 €|
|Bremen||4,665 €||3,863 €||4,422 €|
|Rhineland-Palatinate||4,360 €||3,761 €||4,186 €|
|Lower Saxony||4,311 €||3,681 €||4,135 €|
|Schleswig-Holstein||4,117 €||3,581 €||3,963 €|
|Saarland||4,127 €||3,555 €||3,959 €|
|Brandenburg||3,583 €||3,561 €||3,575 €|
|Saxony||3,634 €||3,399 €||3,561 €|
|Saxony-Anhalt||3,567 €||3,482 €||3,539 €|
|Thuringia||3,451 €||3,302 €||3,401 €|
|Mecklenburg Western Pomerania||3,409 €||3,322 €||3,379 €|
The original list can be found at statista.de. The statistics show the average gross monthly earnings (with special payments) of full-time employees in Germany’s manufacturing and service sectors by state and gender in 2020.
In 2020, the average salaries and salaries for male employees in Thuringia were around 3,451 Euros.
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How high are the average salaries in Germany by profession
In Germany, there are currently about 324 different recognized professional groups.
The actual number of occupational groups is significantly higher, as some occupations do not require recognized training and are nevertheless in demand and occupied by companies.
I have summarized the most important occupational groups here and listed their average salaries per month.
|Occupational Group||Average Salary (monthly)|
|Information and communication||4,919 €|
|Energy Supply||4,906 €|
|Financial and insurance services||4,895 €|
|Freelance, scientific and technical services||4,327 €|
|Manufacturing industry||3,998 €|
|Mining and quarrying||3,993 €|
|Real estate and housing||3,861 €|
|Manufacturing (total)||3,860 €|
|Public administration, defense, social security||3,789 €|
|Education and training||3,694 €|
|Manufacturing and services (total)||3,501 €|
|Water supply||3,487 €|
|Services (total)||3,352 €|
|Arts, entertainment, and recreation||3,320 €|
|Health and social work||3,112 €|
|Other services||3,005 €|
|Transport and storage||2,847 €|
|Other economic services||2,251 €|
The positive development in recent years shows that salaries and salaries in Germany have risen steadily in recent years. This applies particularly to the salaries of specialists and skilled workers, whose jobs are challenging to fill (shortage of skilled workers).
What is the average salary of an engineer in Germany
Engineers in Germany currently earn a gross base salary of around 60,000 Euros per year.
This figure is from 2021 and is calculated based on 439 salaries that were published anonymously on glassdoor.
However, this can vary significantly in individual cases. It depends on the industry, company, experience or federal state in which the person is employed.
The average salary in IT in Germany
An average salary of an IT consultant/expert is 54,522 € per year, whereby the salary range can be between 41,000 € and 82,000 €.
Often, the high differences occur due to work experience, company, and state of residence.
What is the average salary of a hairdresser in Germany?
To determine the average salary of a hairdresser in Germany, you need to take a closer look at the profession and employment trends.
Salaries range from €570 per month for hairdressers in training to €1,990 per month as a salon manager.
The more experience a hairdresser has, the more salary he can expect.
This can end up at an average of over €2,300 per month in a permanent position. However, or precisely for this reason, many hairdressers have chosen the path of self-employment.
They often rent a chair in a store and earn significantly more, with an established clientele.
Also, the choice of the federal state can still play a decisive role here, as can be read in the article from Jobs Regional.
How much does a waiter make in Germany?
Many employees, especially waiters and service staff, often have a meager base salary in the restaurant / hospitality industry.
At present, one assumes a gross annual income of approx. 25,526 Euro in the catering trade, which would hardly be sufficient in such a way regarded as salary in Germany.
With which waiters can improve however frequently in the catering trade clearly, is the tip, which is usual in Germany.
This tip is often not listed in the tax as a salary but is usually paid out in cash and therefore does not appear in any statistics.
Average salaries Germany by gender
Currently, the gender pay gap is frequently reported in the press.
This refers to the salary gap between men and women in the same professions, same positions with the same areas of responsibility.
A recent study by the German Federal Statistical Office (DESTATIS) states that in 2020, women in Germany will earn 18% less on average.
While this is a 1% lower average than in 2019, it cannot consider shortfalls due to COVID-19 and deviations due to short-time work.
Hourly earnings for men were €22.78 in 2020 and €18.62 for women.
This difference should not be justified by downtimes such as maternity leave, childcare, and parental leave.
It is also interesting to note that the gender pay gap is more significant in the old states than in the new states.
There it is only 6%, which may also be because salaries are generally lower there.
|Year||Germany||West Germany(including Berlin)||East Germany(without Berlin)|
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What are the average salaries in Germany by education
A general distinction is made between vocational training (so-called master artisans, specialists, or apprenticeships) and academic professions in Germany.
According to a study conducted by Statista in February 2021, on average salaries in Germany by educational level, 18.5% of the population with academic degrees earn more than those with vocational training. 250,000 data records were used for this study.
|Vocational training||The average salary in Germany (per year)|
|Completed apprenticeship / training||43,471 €|
|Master craftsman / Fachwirt||55,222 €|
|Master’s degree||61,906 €|
|Bachelor’s degree||54,210 €|
|University diploma||78,687 €|
|University of Applied Sciences diploma||77,696 €|
|2nd state examination||81,580 €|
As you can see, the average salary in Germany can vary a lot. It depends on the region you are living in, your profession, your experience, your education, and your gender.
I hope that I can make things a bit easier for you when you either consider moving to Germany, finding some work there, or moving from one state to another.
You can always use my salary calculator Germany to fully understand your income tax as well as your salary tax.