Highest-Paying Jobs in Germany: Who’s Making Bank in the Land of Poets and Thinkers

“How much will you pay me to drink this glass of river water right now?” — Image Credit: Kiefer. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/xingxiyang/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

As you have no doubt realized, my wife is German. She is a Gymnasium teacher here in Hannover, Germany, and I am a freelance graphic designer. Financially, we do alright, but like the rest of the world, we could always use a little more scratch. This often prompts discussions between us concerning what we would have done professionally, had we not chosen the career paths we’re on now. (And possessed the requisite talent and basic cognitive capacity to do anything else.)

Being a high school teacher is actually a really good job in Germany — especially at the Gymnasium level. (There are 3 levels: Gymnasium for the college-bound nerds; Realschule for the lazy screw-offs; and Hauptschule for the little felons in training.) My wife’s job also comes with a few perks in addition to her paycheck, like job security equivalent to tenure, frequent paid holidays and breaks, and a big dose of respect from the general public. It’s not like in the States, where being a teacher is regarded as an act of tragic altruism: “Oh my god, you’re a public school teacher? Where you work with all those pubescent animals for free? That is so good of you. I could never do that.”

Of course there are lots of other well-paid, well-respected jobs in Germany. Engineers spring to mind — especially those in the automotive, electrical and mechanical industries — and you’ve got the usual high-earning positions, like doctors, bankers, managers and computer scientists. Software engineers and IT experts are always in demand. Bilingual folk can always find jobs teaching or tutoring. And waaaaay down at the bottom, just above the poverty line, is where you’ll find me; an American trophy husband with an art degree.

I’m just kidding. It’s a fine arts degree. But if you’re a fellow expat and you’re worried about finding a job, consider these rather awesome ideas from The Local.de: Ten best expat jobs in Germany. (Personally, I like the one about being a beer tour guide. Holy Christ that would rule.)

Anyway, my wife and I were musing one night about the high-income jobs we could have had, when we started listing off the positions we thought might earn good money. I mentioned how I’d once entertained the notion of becoming a psychologist (I’m pretty sure everyone has), but my wife suggested one could earn some real money in Germany becoming an engineer for Volkswagon, saying:

“You can get a golden tooth with that one.”*

*From the German expression, “Man kann sich einen goldenen Zahn damit verdienen,” which, apparently, refers to a job that pays a lot of money. Like a pirate, I guess.

16 thoughts

      1. Yes, that is more like it! That is the saying I know. Not saying it is not funny. The strange thing about Germans is we are at our most funny when we are dead serious.


  1. The “freelance anything” suggestion intrigues me. In my gig, there seem to be an awful lot of freelance professionals, and I believe the government has a programme to help individuals go out on their own. It’s said to encourage startups. I imagine that as part of the freelance economy yourself, you might fill us in.


  2. The expression I am familiar with is “eine goldene Nase verdienen”, which seems to be connected to “den richtigen Riecher haben” (= to recognize a good opportunity). So if you have a “richtigen Riecher” for the right situation, than you can make money. This is how I understand it :D


  3. At least you are referred to as an ‘expat trophy husband’…my husband, just refers to me as ‘an expensive habit’. Maybe expat spouses should band together and give the pirate thing a whirl, after all, you can’t possibly need a work permit or specific language skills for that?


  4. Hello OGMWIG,

    I am really sure it is “sich eine goldene NASE verdienen”!

    It seems to stem from corporal punishments in the middle ages. Several misdeed where punished by mutilation, like cutting off ears or noses. Soone enough replacements were available to cover for the lost organ.

    Trust the gangsters to make a status symbol out of it. Who had earned enough money ordered himself a “golden nose”, thereby showing of his wealth.

    As for teeth, I just know:
    “Jemandem den Zahn ziehen” (=To pull someones tooth), that means, that you deflect a person from taking a certain notion or action.

    Kind regards,


  5. as a half German (half Irish) bilingual journalist/graphic designer with (hopefully soon) an MfA in Creative Writing i think I can just say – hello my friend no money


  6. Hilarious mate! I’m a teacher in Germany myself albeit a corporate one, with tenure aka corporate funding lol! I like the sound of being a beer tour gude although being a champagne tour guide would be more up my street. How much fun would that be lol!
    p.s. I like the new blog format. Very clean! :)


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