Everything to know about salaries & wages in Berlin

How do salary negotiations in Berlin work? How much of your gross salary is taken out in taxes? What else do you have to pay? There’s quite a lot to know about salaries and wages before you start your new job in Berlin. Here are the most important points:Photo courtesy of flickr.com

 

  • All German employers will ask you for your desired salary when you apply for a job, and they usually don’t bargain like in the USA or UK. So it’s important to know your worth and how much to expect as a starting salary when applying for a job in Berlin.
  • Another thing to keep in mind is that salaries are frequently quoted per month, not per year, and in gross (before tax) amount.
  • Wages (hourly pay) are usually only earned by students, freelancers and lawyers. Everyone else can expect a monthly salary.
  • Expect to lose 15 – 35 percent of your gross salary on taxes. (This amount varies according to marital status, number of children, etc.)
  • Salaries are generally lower in Berlin than in southern Germany or other EU countries, since the cost of living is lower and there’s generally high demand for jobs in Berlin.
  • There is no minimum wage in Germany.
One of the biggest perks of working in Germany is that you can expect 4 – 5 weeks paid holiday when you start working. Regardless of your profession, if you work full-time then you get at least four weeks paid holiday per year, from the first year of employment on. That’s more than enough time to visit your family, take a relaxing holiday and take some time off to visit the Oktoberfest in Bavaria.

Net Income: how much of my salary is left after taxes?

1. Social Security

The downside of the brilliant social security system in Germany is that it doesn’t come cheap. The good news, however, is that you don’t shoulder the cost by yourself but share it with your employer.
This works like this: Your participation is calculated as a percentage of your gross salary and paid on your behalf by your employer – together with the employer’s share which is roughly the same amount.
So what’s taken out of your gross salary?
  1. Health insurance: just under 9,5 % (Check out the health insurance page for more info.)
  2. State pension: 9,8 %
  3. Unemployment insurance: 1,5 %
The social security payments are capped at a certain income level so if you are lucky enough to earn above those levels, the effective percentage rate goes down.

2. Taxes

On top of social security, taxes are a significant factor – and the more you earn, the higher the percentage gets.
If you want to know how much is actually left after social security and taxes, the best way is to use one of the online calculators (Brutto-Netto-Rechner) around, eg. Spiegel’s Net Income Calculator.
According to these calculators, a childless person earning € 30,000 per year (that is, € 2,500/month) can expect to pay about € 520 in insurance and social contributions alone. Add to that the € 390 in church, solidarity and income tax, and that’s about 36% of gross income – a little over nine hundred Euro per month. So in this example, the person goes home with 64% of the salary they initially negotiated but are well-protected in the case of illness or unemployment – and they even earn the right to a bit of a  pension.