Eine Frau und ein Mann unterhalten sich an einem Messestand (Image: Costa Belibasakis/FH Köln)

Taking on a part-time job while studying has lots of benefits: Students can make some extra money, gain valuable professional experience and might take a first step up on the career ladder. Gaining a first insight into the German corporate world is especially beneficial for international students. Our webpage provides essential information on all aspects related to working in Germany.

Prior to University

As a student of a preparatory course (Studienkolleg) or participant in a preparatory German course, you are normally not permitted to work in Germany. Exempt from this regulation are the semester breaks. Whether and how long you are allowed to work during semester breaks is determined by your immigration office. The provisions applying to you will be stated in your residence permit. To find out about these provisions, we recommend you make an inquiry at the immigration office during your first visit.

During your studies

While enrolled at TH Köln, all international students are generally permitted to work part-time. However, different rules apply to citizens of the European Union (EU) than to non-EU citizens:

Citizens of member states of the European Union, the European Economic Area (EEA) – that is Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein – as well as Switzerland have equal legal status on the labor market as German citizens. This means that they have the same access to the labor market as German students and are permitted to work as much as they would like to without having to obtain prior approval of German authorities. However, please note the effects this might have on your health insurance.

International students with a residence permit according to §16b Residence Act are allowed to work as employees or do voluntary internships for 120 whole days, 240 half days or any combination of both per year without explicit permission from the Immigration Office. This amount of work will be noted by the Immigration Office in your residence permit.

Up to four hours are counted as a half day and more than four hours as a whole day. Only the working days or half working days on which work was actually down are taken into account. The reason for not working is irrelevant. Therefore, paid or unpaid vacation and sick days are not counted.

You can work for any length of time as a student assistant, including for STWs and student bodies or committees, provided this is not detrimental to your studies. Even if you complete a compulsory internship required for your studies, you may exceed the 120-day limit.

Work as a freelancer or self-employed person is generally subject to approval. In order to have a chance of obtaining approval, the 120 whole days and 240 half days should be observed here as well, so as not to jeopardize your studies.

Finding a part-time job

Many students finance part of their studies with a part-time job.
Make sure to visit the Career Service’s Jobportal for job vacancies for students and graduates alike and to create your personal application profile. The website of University of Cologne’s Stellenwerk also offers job openings for students.

After you graduate

As an international graduate of a German university, you are presented with ample opportunities of finding employment in Germany. EU-citizens enjoy the same rights as German citizens and therefore have unrestricted access to the German labor market. Graduates from all other countries are permitted to stay in Germany for up to 18 months after graduation to find a degree-adequate position. In order to fund the time until finding permanent employment, international graduates may work without any restrictions during these 18 months.

TH Köln can assist you in finding a job that suits your profile and interests. Our Career Service [only in German] offers comprehensive counseling and specific information events on all aspects related to jobs.

The Academic Service of the Employment Agency [German] supports graduates and students in their last semester in finding a job. International students can also arrange for German language courses and application training courses to be sponsored by the Employment Agency.

Academic Professions at the Employment Agency

Your contact persons for academic professions at the Agentur für Arbeit Köln will accompany you competently and enthusiastically in your job search. They offer advice and information on issues such as the labour market, career entry, job placement, vocational reorientation and continuing vocational training.