Salary, payslips & minimum wage in Germany

Salary, payslips & minimum wage in Germany

If you are looking for a job or already working in Germany, you will undoubtedly have questions about what a fair wage in Germany is, how your salary and taxes are calculated, and how to understand your payslip.

Gross salary and net income in Germany

The difference between gross and net salary in Germany can come as a surprise to many expats, as the tax system in Germany may be different to that in your home country.

Gross salary

Your gross salary (Bruttogehalt) is your monthly or annual salary before deductions. The amount will usually be detailed in your employment contract.

Net salary

Your net salary (Nettogehalt) is the amount you will receive each month into your bank account, once all taxes, social security contributions and other costs have been deducted.

If you are discussing salary with your employer, this will always be in terms of gross salary. Make sure you take into account the fairly big difference between gross and net income during any salary negotiations.

Calculating your net German salary

Altogether, income taxes and social security contributions will take up around 35% of your gross salary. For example, if your gross monthly salary is 3.000 euros, then after deductions you can expect to take home around 1.950 euros per month. To get a better idea of your net income, you can use a salary calculator.

Bonuses and remuneration packages

Some employers in Germany also offer additional remuneration in the form of “13th-month”, summer or Christmas salaries, commission and performance-based bonuses. Benefits can also include company cars, computers or mobile phones. Note that these “benefits in kind” (geldwerter Vorteil) are also subject to income tax.

If you are recruited from abroad (e.g. by an international company), you may be offered an even more generous remuneration package: some expats are offered money to cover the cost of relocation, private health insurance, short-term accommodation or school fees for their children.

Your net salary, bonuses and benefits in kind all add up to equal your total net income.

Understanding your German payslip

Employees in Germany will usually receive a monthly payslip (Gehaltsabrechnung, Lohnabrechnung or Verdienstabrechnung) from their employer, detailing their salary, social security contributions and taxation. To anyone who is not familiar with them, these breakdowns can be difficult to understand.

Payslip top section: Personal information

The personal information section defines various parameters that are used for tax and social security contribution calculations:

  • Geburtsdatum - Date of birth
  • Arbeitnehmer Nr. - Employee number
  • St. Tg. (Steuertage) - Tax days (i.e., the relevant time period. For a full month it is usually 30)
  • StKl. (Steuerklasse) - Tax class (see our Annual income tax return page for more information on tax classes)
  • Ki.Frbtr. (Kinderfreibeträge) or ZKF (Zahl der Kinderfreibeträge) - Number of tax exemptions for children (1 per child)
  • Rel. (Religion) or Konfession - Religion (RK = Roman Catholic; EV = Protestant; -- = No religion)
  • Steuerfr. Bezug (Steuerfreibezug) or Freibetrag - Tax-free allowance
  • Eintrittsdatum - Date of hire
  • Sv. Tg. (Sozialverischerungstage) - Social security days (i.e., the relevant time period. For a full month it is usually 30)
  • SV Schlüssel (KV/RV/AV/PV) - Social security codes, indicating your level of contribution (1 = full contribution)
  • Lohnsteueridentifikationsnummer (IdNr.) or Steuer-ID - Tax ID
  • Versicherungsnummer or SV-Nummer (Sozialversicherungsnummer) - Social security ID
  • KK (Krankenkasse) - Sickness fund (i.e. the company responsible for your health insurance)

Payslip middle section: Salary breakdown & Deductions (Abrechnung)

You will also be given a detailed breakdown of your base salary, benefits, bonuses, taxes and insurance contributions. Detailed information on these various deductions can be found on our Income tax and Social security contributions pages:

  • Bezeichnung - Description
  • Gehalt - Monthly base salary
  • Geldwerter Vorteil or Sachbezug - Benefits in kind
  • E. (Einmalbezug) - Lump-sum payment (e.g. Christmas or holiday bonus)
  • Urlaubsgeld - Holiday pay
  • GB. (Gesamtbrutto) or St.Btto (Steuer-Brutto) - Total gross salary (taxable amount)
  • LSt. (Lohnsteuer) - Income tax
  • KiSt. (Kirchensteuer) - Church tax
  • Solidarität Zuschlag - Solidarity surcharge
  • SV (Sozialversicherung) - Social security
  • KV (Krankenversicherung) Beitrag - Contribution to statutory health insurance
  • PV (Pflegeversicherung) Beitrag - Contribution to long-term care insurance
  • RV (Rentenversicherung) Beitrag - Contribution to pension insurance
  • AV (Arbeitlosenverischerung) Beitrag - Contribution to unemployment insurance
  • Zusatzbeitrag - Additional contribution
  • Nettoverdienst or Auszahlung - Net salary paid

Payslip bottom section: Additional information

The bottom section of your payslip will usually provide a summary of your monthly and yearly totals, insurance contribution rates, and your employer’s contributions. You might see some of these terms:

  • Verdienstbescheinigung - Statement of earnings
  • Monatswerte or Monatssumme - Monthly values
  • Jahreswerte or Jahressumme - Annual values
  • KV/PV/RV/AV Beitrag-AG or AG-Anteil - Employer contribution to health / long-term care / pension / unemployment insurance

Average income in Germany

According to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany (Destatis), in April 2022 the average gross annual salary was 49.260 euros, or 4.105 euros per month. Individual salaries can vary greatly from this figure, as they are affected by factors such as age, seniority, industry, experience, working hours and geographical location. The tables below give an idea of how these factors can influence your pay.

Average salary in Germany by education

Data from Destatis (from April 2022) shows how people with higher educational qualifications generally receive higher salaries in Germany: 

Qualification Average monthly salary
Doctorate 8.687 euros
Master's degree 6.188 euros
Master craftsperson / technician / technical school qualification 4.826 euros
Bachelor's degree 4.551 euros
Vocational training qualification 3.521 euros
No vocational training 2.817 euros

Average salary in Germany by profession

Destatis' data from 2022 also lists average salaries across a range of different occupations in Germany: 

Occupation Average monthly income (gross)
Pilot 8.739 euros
Doctor 7.706 euros
Software developer 5.541 euros
Firefighter 3.845 euros
Office worker 3.649 euros
Geriatric carer 3.559 euros
Mechatronics engineer 3.204 euros
Baker 2.738 euros
Chef 2.590 euros
Hairdresser 1.778 euros

Source: Destatis

Average salary in Germany by federal state (Bundesland)

The salary you can expect to receive is also affected by where in Germany you live. Typically, the larger cities will offer higher salaries to compensate for a higher cost of living. Jobs in eastern Germany also usually command a lower salary. The following table demonstrates how average annual salaries stack up in the different federal states:

Federal state Average annual salary
Hamburg 48.132 euros
Baden-Württemberg 47.962 euros
Hesse 47.762 euros
Bavaria 46.757 euros
North Rhine-Westphalia 44.230 euros
Bremen 43.434 euros
Berlin 43.179 euros
Rhineland-Palatinate 41.972 euros
Lower Saxony 41.924 euros
Saarland 41.462 euros
Schleswig-Holstein 40.820 euros
Saxony 37.037 euros
Brandenburg 36.607 euros
Thuringia 36.588 euros
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 36.191 euros
Saxony-Anhalt 36.122 euros


Minimum wage in Germany

Minimum wage was only introduced in Germany in January 2015. It applies to all workers aged over 18 and is typically reviewed every two years. As of January 1, 2024, the minimum wage is 12,41 euros per hour. From January 1, 2025, it will rise to 12,82 euros per hour. 

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