5

Apart from already having experience as a software developer, of course.

I am a German citizen but I've never lived in Germany nor speak German but I'm pretty confident in written and verbal communication in english as my second language. I'm a native Brazilian Portuguese speaker.

6
  • 4
    This will be entirely company and situation specific. There is no way to know if a prospective employer would consider that a reason to hire someone. Voting to close.
    – Jane S
    Jun 24 '15 at 3:46
  • 3
    If you're a German citizen, that means you're free to live and work in the UK also, right? Maybe that would be an easier shot? Jun 24 '15 at 6:59
  • 2
    @JaneS: Yes, for a specific company the question would be too narrow. But as a general question - "is trying to find a job without German knowledge realistic" - it looks on-topic to me.
    – sleske
    Jun 24 '15 at 9:14
  • 1
    Many job listings are written in English and ask for English-language skills, with no mention of German language requirement. Perhaps you could shortlist those job listings and apply to them first. If you get an interview tell them you are learning German but are still a beginner.
    – Brandin
    Jun 24 '15 at 9:15
  • @Carson63000 yes, and Ireland, also an English-speaking country.
    – Saoirse
    Jun 24 '15 at 13:56
10

Generally speaking, No.

Most companies see fluency in English as a plus, but fluency in German is implied and required. All meetings, emails and most documentation will be in German. While most developers do speak english, nobody will force their development team to communicate in a foreign language for just one single hire. The cost to be paid in bugs and misunderstandings would be too high.

However, there are a few multi-national companies, for the most part those that exist in many european countries and don't originate from one, where the office language is English. They normally require English and at least one other language and you would probably fit right in. But those jobs are rare. If you can find one, that might be a good fit. But be prepared that there will be many candidates for one job and most will probably know even more languages.

So that's a lot of "maybe"s and chances. You will only know if you try. try to find companies that hire people without German and try to find out what they are looking for. That will be different from company to company.

In the meantime, if you really want to get to Germany, try to find a German course. The language is not easy, but we know that. You don't need to be perfect. Learn the basics and get here to practice it. We have a lot of good developers from non-German speaking countries. In some meetings, if I weren't the odd one out that does not speak the language in question, we'd be communicating in Russian or Spanish.

6
  • Well I'm already taking an online German course but I think it will be more than a year until I'm able to get basic reading and writing skills. I wouldn't want to wait that long to apply for the job.
    – GxFlint
    Jun 24 '15 at 16:03
  • 2
    @GustavoFSx: That sounds good! Note that once you are in Germany, learning German should go a lot faster - necessity is the mother of invention, as they say. Also, consider booking an intensive language course (like 4 weeks fulltime, i.e. 6-8h/day). That should cost about 500€/month, and a month or two should get you to basic fluency.most likely enough to get by in most workplaces. Good luck!
    – sleske
    Jun 25 '15 at 8:46
  • To add some real world option: this is an ad I got presented today on StackOverflow. "Fully fluent in English is a must, both written and verbal. Additional language skills (German and/or Spanish) would be beneficial." So such rarities do exist.
    – nvoigt
    Jul 9 '15 at 11:58
  • 1
    "but fluency in German is implied and required" This is not true especially in startups with a high focus on CS/IT. Out of my ~20 colleagues, there are 5 nationalities and around half of them could not explain their current work in german.
    – FooTheBar
    Aug 27 '16 at 18:43
  • 1
    I also have to strongly disagree. Although I am not German, I have freelanced 10+ years in Germany, plus Austria & Switzerland as a software developer. In fact, I have worked 15+ counties and have never met a requirement to speak the native language - maybe because I was working for multi-nationals? English was the only language required (which I thought unfair to native speakers). When I last worked for Siemens, there was a rule that all meetings must be in English, even of there were only Germans present. Aug 21 '17 at 13:53
0

To add to nvoigt's answer:

Even if everyone in the company speaks English, and all internal documents are in English, consider that in many companies you will have to communicate with people outside the company - technology partners, contractors, suppliers, even (gasp) actual customers or users.

There is an even higher likelyhood that some of these people do not (want to) speak English - and even if they do, you will probably have to work with documents they have written or provided (documentation, brochures, bug reports, meeting notes, official regulations), which will probably be in German.

So - in general the answer is no.

The exception would be if a company has an official (and effective) policy of everything having to be in English (documents, meetings, communication with customers). This may be the case in a large, multinational company, but will be quite uncommon in smaller companies. There probably are such jobs out there, but it is not the rule.

2
  • 1
    Very few will have contact with people outside of the company, so English is fine for 90+%. For multi-nationals, internal documentation has always been in English on my (ahem) "several" decades of experience. Note that I am a software developer, like the OP. Aug 21 '17 at 13:56
  • @Mawg: That very much depends on the company and job - I am a software developer, too, and I have worked multiple jobs where I had to communicate with business users (from both inside and outside the company), and where I had to work with documents provided by customers, all in German. However, these were mid-sized businesses, it may be different in a multinational. I edited my answer.
    – sleske
    Aug 21 '17 at 14:05

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .