I'm recently trying to figure out a reasonable price tag for my work. Comparison websites like Glassdoor can give me estimates for salaries in similar roles, but those can vary widely between companies. So, in preparation for my application at a company X*, I specifically look up salaries of similar roles at that company. However, with X being an internationally distributed company, Glassdoor has a few US salaries listed, but none in Germany, from where I intend to work.

So, I am trying to figure out from these numbers a reasonable expectation on a salary in Germany. Is there some kind of conversion formula for salaries between the US and Germany?

One characteristic I noticed is that US salaries seem extraordinarily high from a German perspective (easily >100K$/year, which would be an exceptional salary in Germany). This might be due to the higher social insurances in Germany. Can I equate the US salary with the German salary before tax PLUS the contributions of the employer to my social insurance? Or is there more to it?

*A placeholder, NOT E. Musk's "X" ;D

  • There are too many unknown factors. One of them would be the high vs low cost of living in particular parts of a country, which will give you some different levels of salary. Jan 21 at 13:27
  • Yes. I just thought a little more about it and also stuff like education. In the US, university graduates usually join the working market with a high dept that the employer eventually has to pay them. Whereas in Germany, higher education is state funded, so this burden is taken away from the workers and companies. Jan 21 at 14:05
  • 2
    If you are looking for a job in Germany I would rather use similar jobs at other companies in Germany instead of similar jobs in the US at the same company. These are much more relevant to what you need for a good standard of living or what you can expect them to be able to pay. Caveats in Hilmars answer of course still apply.
    – quarague
    Jan 22 at 12:54
  • Thanks. I ended up using Glassdoor, kununu and similar websites to research salaries for similar positions in Germany. Feb 7 at 0:22

1 Answer 1


Or is there more to it?

Unfortunately there is a lot more to it. One of the key factors of evaluating compensation is "cost of living" in the specific location. Even within a single country salaries vary A LOT with location. $100k is probably less than half then the same $100k in rural South Carolina. Munich is way more expensive than in central Saxony.

So it's not just "US vs Germany", it's "Place X in the US vs place Y in Germany". This data is not easy to come by and it also depends a lot on what is important to you personally.

Another thing to consider is taxes and social benefits. The US has lower federal tax rates but there is A LOT of "nickel and diming" going on. It's not unusual to have 12+ deductions on your pay stub and that doesn't even include real estate tax, which is MUCH higher in the US than in Germany.

Then you need to assess what you get for taxes paid. Germany has solid free schools and almost free university. In the US free schools are all over the place and university is atrociously expensive. Healthcare is so-so in Germany, in the US it's terrifying mess. Similar considerations can be made for child-care, retirement savings (in the US 401k is great!), infrastructure development, etc. Some of those maybe important to you, others may not.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to "market value". Companies dial in offers depending on what other companies pay for the same role. This number will reflect most of the considerations above. Over time, the market will more or less auto adjust for all of this as people accept or decline offers.

  • Yes, so my approach of deducing an appropriate salary range from a US salary is probably bound to fail. But maybe I could compare that company with comparable companies in the US industry, then transfer that difference to the the average salary range for this role in Germany. Jan 21 at 14:11
  • You may be overthinking this. Just apply and see what they offer. If the ask, give a range that you are comfortable with.
    – Hilmar
    Jan 21 at 17:01
  • Comparable companies in the US do not necessarily pay the same salary. A single US company often pays different salaries in different places, since cost of living (websearch that phrase) varies greatly. If you really want to directly compare you need to understand what all your costs will be in one location vs. another, subtract those from the offer, and see how much you will have available to save each year. Then device how that difference interacts with the other advantages and disadvantages of each location. But that's all assuming you actually have offers in both locations to compare.
    – keshlam
    Jan 21 at 21:54

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