Types of Professional Training Courses (Berufliche Fort/Weiterbildung)

Business mom with baby.

With professional training there are different types, but a major distinction has to be made between training to help you fit into your current position and those that help to go up the career ladder, what the Germans refer to: Aufstiegs- und Anpassungsfortbildungen.

There are scholarships offered to employees interested in taking part in professional training courses, find some of them here: Scholarships for the working class.


In-House-Seminars/Training near the job:

These are usually offered in the company during working hours and paid for by the employer. The employer has the advantage of being able to determine what is taught thus picking topics best suited to the company. The employee in turn gets the advantage of not having to pay for the cost and considering it takes place during working hours, they don’t have to use their off days in order to take part. These include computer courses, leadership courses for new team leader or lectures on new workflow structures. More than 50% of professional trainings in Germany fall under this category.


Training on the job:

This is usually for new employees or recent graduates where they are paired with a more experience colleague. This allows direct transfer of “know-how” from one colleague to the other without taking days off or signing up for any courses.


Lehrgänge bei Bildungsträgern (Courses in educational institutions)/Training off the job:

These are the traditional courses offered outside the company and are usually offers by external learning institutions. The employee signs up for courses that either improve their knowledge for their position or courses in a completely different field.

These courses are offered by the IHK, Universities, Fachschulen (FH), Volkshochschulen (VHS), private Institutions and Bildungswerken. They range from one day courses to courses that can take up to 2-3years. The courses don’t necessarily have to be directly connected to your position at work.



These are a great option for those who aren’t interested in signing up to a traditional classroom set up. They are more flexible and can be done at your own pace. Depending on the institution and course one signs up, it can be either formal or informal. These range from language classes to degrees from E-Universities.

There are pure E-learning courses though some institutions offer “Blended learning” which involves both online and offline sessions.

Some options are: Learning German for free and Some Online Learning offers.


Studium für Berufstätige (Degree Courses for Employees):

Most Universities have tapped into the “professional” market to make extra cash. Most Universities offer courses for professionals including: Programming courses, Photoshop, or introduction to SAP or Microsoft Access (or other tools) etc.

TIP: Students at the University can take part in these courses for free. As a student you should look into taking part.

Aside from the short term courses, Universities also offer the MBAs. Most Universities also allow for professionals to enrol for degrees without necessarily having the Abi, in these case the professionals have their educational qualification in addition to the years of experience as their starting point.


State-approved training courses with a vocational qualification:

The IHK offers courses that allow employees qualify for higher qualifications and in sometimes to allow them to engage in a specific profession. For protected professions, one requires a certificate from the IHK e.g. to become an Insurance broker.

The IHK also offers two years training for those who have completed their Ausbildung in order to qualify as a Handwerks-, Industrie- or Fachmeister.


Courses Abroad or Exchange Programs:

These are perfect for language courses where do go abroad and “immerse” yourself in the language and culture for a period of time. These kind of courses are also great for those who have never been in a different culture to learn about intercultural interactions.

Harvard offers a summer course that runs for a week for professionals.

The PAD (Pädagogische Austauschdienst), which runs programs for foreign teachers who teach German to come to Germany for several months and teach German in German schools as well.


Self-organized learning:

This is where the individual takes the initiative to learn something new, this can be reading through articles found online or even going through powerpoint presentations in the company intranet or buying a book on a specific topic to learn more. E-learning and the E-University courses fall under this category as well.


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