How easy it is to change a profession in Germany?

A stressed programmer | change a profession in Germany


Would be very happy to hear from some of you who wanted to change a profession in Germany, if you could share your experiences with me.

I’m experiencing burnout in my current job, can’t deal with it anymore and most probably I need not only to change my workplace but even the domain in general. My doctor said she can even give me a note that I can’t do my job anymore and apparently with that note I don’t have to wait 3 months for unemployment money even if I resign myself. Has anybody been in such a situation recently? Is that true?

I would also like to try exploring the possibility of doing a course to change my profession. I know there are training programmes for this, also financed by Agentur fur Arbeit. I have no idea how it works though and how to best go about it. I’m just worried if they would agree to this, and what are the chances that they would refuse to give me a “Bildungsgutschein”.


  • Hey there, my boyfriend was almost in the same situation. I don’t know how you can quit your job with a doctor note but if you have burnout, you will be paid by your health insurance, not Agentur für Arbeit, even without a job. They will start paying only when you’re back in shape and are theoretically able to look for a new job. Also, for the courses, they have a list of schools/formations that they cover. They will give you the list once you ask for it, they cover these kinds of things easily so don’t worry about it.
    • I don’t agree that they cover it easily. These courses cost quite a bit and you need to have good arguments for them. I was working as a job coach for 2 years in a coaching project funded by AfA. I suggest that you first get a job coaching and then you use this to find out what happened in your last job and what you need in future to not be stressed anymore. And if you then still find out that you have to change career, then you need to have very good arguments why you need additional training.
  • I was trying to get one to cover the DCI front end dev course – it was a nightmare. The course provider really tried to help but the bureaucracy of the system was unbearable. I was in touch with both AfA and Jobcentre (the sooner you will understand the difference between those institutions, the better) and after 3 months of calls and emails, I was refused the Bildungsgutschein because my German level wasn’t on B1. The course I found was not only fully in English but also included few hours of german classes every week.
    • Same thing here. Even though the training made sense for my career and the industry is mainly English. They said they couldn’t be approved without a B2 level of German.
  • I had the same situation, got so burned out that I went into depression. Took a 1-month sick leave and when I went back to work discussed it with my employer and he was kind enough to release me from the job. You can try to do that instead of resigning. Regarding the Bildungsgutschein, I decided to go for a coding Bootcamp beginning of last week. Called AFA and asked if I am eligible, they said they will contact me within a week. I received an email the day after asking me about the training goal and what I would like to achieve through the training. I replied with a well-written email in German, telling them that the training will give me the competencies to find a job in the tech market which is in high demand for skilled developers. Got my Bildungsgutschein in the mail on Friday. Just today I registered for the Bootcamp and got accepted. Here is what I think helped me:
    1) I mentioned that I did web design in my last job, and now I would like to add web development to my skills.
    2) I spoke German on my first call (though not the most perfect) and I replied to the email in German.
  • I am not sure they will approve Bildungsgutschein without a B2 level of German. You can inform yourself directly at Agentur für Arbeit which courses they support and under which conditions, they might be changing requirements individually as well.
  • I did it last year. Similar. But it’s really case-by-case. There was a form. I listed why I couldn’t do that job anymore: physical stress, shift work, bad organization of the company that our shift plan changed always, I couldn’t take care of my children etc. For the Bildungsgutschein, I already found the training institute and they give me admission. So I got the Gutschein after the employee of AfA checking my background (education and job experience are quite related to my current training) for 20 min. I got the unemployment payments and Gutschein without major obstacles.
  • Provide a diagnosis by a psychiatrist (not only your normal doc) on burn out. Otherwise, it used to be difficult but maybe it changed by now.
  • I’d suggest speaking to a social worker through Caritas or another such agency. They can support you when speaking with government agencies, and also have other support services they can provide. I went through the AfA system towards the end of last year and it was a serious headache. It took them three months to pay me, they only speak German on the phone and despite some of the people being very caring, the system is as rigid as you would expect with as little explanation as possible. Having a native German social worker helping with the process made it all a lot easier, and it was still really shit.

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A stressed programmer | change a profession in Germany
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