Alternative Research Career Options in Germany

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Academic and Postdoctoral Careers in Germany

A traditional academic career in a German university remains a popular choice for many postdocs. However, positions are generally temporary and the path to professorship in Germany can be elusive. Many PhD graduates heading to Germany are now looking to further their career in a non-university setting. Germany’s commitment to investment in its research infrastructure outside of a traditional university environment is second to none, and recent PhD graduates will find a wealth of opportunities, well-equipped research facilities and a huge range of funding choices. Non-academic postdoc roles include:

Jobs in non-university research institutes

Germany has a huge range of well-equipped research institutes offering excellent opportunities for PhD and postdoc scholars from all disciplines and backgrounds (Find more information about the different types of research institutes in Germany.) A position at a German non-university institute could involve collaborating with others as part of a research group or on an individual project generated by third-party funding. Research positions in non-university institutions are generally temporary (2-3 years, depending on projected funding) but can provide a fantastic springboard into future careers within public and private organisations outside higher education.

Jobs for postdocs include junior researcher or research group leader and starting salaries at a German research foundation start at around €3,500 gross per month. Research positions are advertised through each organisation’s website, relevant journals, through or through the Research in Germany website.

For some hands-on insight, take a look at our interviews with postdocs already working in in Germany.

Jobs in the private sector and industry

Germany is a world leader in the automotive, aeronautical, manufacturing, chemical and pharmaceutical sectors. The majority of larger companies operate their own research and development programmes, attracting highly qualified and talented researchers from around the world. A research position in a major German corporation will encompass a wide range of activities, including using your expertise to apply innovative solutions and possibly managing a team of other researchers.

Car manufacturers Volkswagen and BMW and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer have their own scholarship programmes and internships for postdocs looking to further their careers within German industry. The Euraxess website contains current job vacancies for researchers in the private sector.

Other career paths for postdocs 

Talented postdocs are in demand in Germany in virtually all sectors. There is a particular demand for postdocs in the medical, IT, engineering and science fields. For job postings in all sectors consult the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs website.

Other sectors attracting a large number of international postdocs are:

  • Teaching and education
  • Government/public sector (such as policy advisors/intelligence analysts)
  • Legal professions (particularly patent law)
  • Finance and banking
  • Charities and NGOs

Finding a job in Germany – Help and resources

Both academic and non-university jobs are well advertised in Germany, with many posted in English. To find jobs in your field you can use the following resources:

Newspapers and Journals:

Many German non-university institutes advertise through publications relevant to their field so it’s a good idea to consult specific journals on a regular basis. Jobs are also advertised through national and local newspapers, such as Germany’s English-speaking online newspaper The Local.


  • Individual company/research institute/university websites.
  • European union websites such as Euraxess and Eures outline research positions in Germany and beyond.
  • Through, which advertises academic and non-academic jobs from around the world.
  • You can find more research-based job portals at the Research in Germany website