Student Jobs in German Universities – HiWi Guide

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German universities offer on-campus jobs to students as a research assistant, helpers at libraries or assisting professors. It’s known as the HiWi position.

There are many options for students to work while studying in Germany. During your study at a German university, student assistant (HiWi stands for Wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft) and research assistance (WiMi stands for Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) might be one of the options for you to work. If you are working in the research and development of university projects, it will help increase your knowledge and enhance your research skills while getting paid reasonably. Below is all information you will need about university jobs for students in Germany.

Student-assistant jobs are the most suited jobs for many students and highly recommended to stay focused on your studies and cover your monthly expenses. Therefore, many bachelor and master students look for information on how to find student jobs (HiWi) at a German university. In this guide, I’ll be providing all the information and important tips which will help you in getting a student assistant job with Professors or Ph.D. candidates at German universities.

What is a Hiwi Position?

(Wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft): Student Assistant Jobs

Hiwi” or “Wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft” is a German word that literally means scientific assistant but it could range from usual library jobs to being part of scientific research. A HiWi can be done by both undergraduate and graduate students. Hiwi jobs in Germany are very common among local and international students. It is one of the greatest opportunities for students to gain research expertise in some top-notch topics at your faculty. You don’t need to be an expert in the field of study but you need to be good enough with a lot of motivation to learn in order to get the job. Some HiWi jobs require fluent German skills but you can find English HiWi jobs as well.

What is a WiMi Position?

(Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter): Graduate Assistant Jobs

It is an umbrella term used to describe scientific employees at German universities e.g. graduate researcher, Ph.D., and post-doctoral candidates. The minimum requirement could be is a bachelor’s degree. This means that you must have enough prior knowledge about the subject. For example, for a Ph.D. candidate position, a general requirement could be a master’s degree with enough knowledge about the topic of research.

Our focus in this article is HiWi, so follow through if that is what want to know more about it. If you are interested in a WiMi, I’ll writing an article on that in some time.

How Much Can I Earn With a HiWi Job in Germany?

Student Assistant Salary

What you will earn as a HiWi depends on many factors like, the number of working hours per week, hourly pay decided by the university or sometimes by the state like in Berlin (Tariffvertrag). The range of hourly pay is generally from 9 to 14 euros depending on the city. However, the average hourly wage for a Hiwi job in Germany is around 10 euros relatively a bit higher than the minimum wage (Mindestlohn) which is 9.50 as of February 2021. 

Duration of a Hiwi Job

Allowed Limit for HiWi Working Hours

The duration of this student job depends on the type of project and the research institute itself. The time period you have work depends on your contract and could vary from a month to a semester as per German laws. If you wish to work after the contract ends you will have to renew the contract beforehand. Make sure you or your supervisor do not forget it otherwise you won’t be able to continue working.

Can I work more than the working limit allowed for HiWi job ?

Yes, as stated above, you can. But you must confirm with your professor and international office if you intended to work more than the allowed limit (20 hours per week). In my previous study, the university didn’t allow students to work a HiWi more than 20 hours, so that our studies do not suffer.

You may need to ask permission from the Foreigners’ Office (Auslanderbehörde) of your city. Generally, they may allow you based on a written statement from your university that the extra number of working hours will not interfere with your studies. Request your professor for a letter if the Foreigners’ Office (Auslanderbehörde) asked for it. If you have two HiWi positions e.g. 10 hours and 12 hours, it is generally not an issue. I would personally confirm with my HiWi supervisors if it would be a problem or not.

The number of working hours depends on your contract. This rule of 20 hours per week (80 hours per month) does not apply when you work as a HiWi job. For example, a student or research assistant, an instructor at a German university or public research institute.

For more information about working extra hours as a student in Germany read this article >>

How to Find a Student Job in German University – HiWi?

Unfortunately, HiWi jobs are not always listed on job listing websites like other student jobs. You’ll probably find them through your university. Some universities have partnered with job search platforms to list their HiWi jobs. The following are some suggested ways to find this job:

  • For HiWi in your interest area talk directly to your professors. Some HiWi positions are not advertised at all and only professors and their Ph.D. students can tell if they are looking for a student with the required skills.
  • Look for bulletins posted around campus, especially the department’s notice boards.
  • Check the department website or inquire directly at the respective department’s office. If your university has a job portal, you may find Hiwi jobs there as well.
  • The HiWi job ads are also displayed at the university library, labs, and professors offices
  • You can send an email directly to your favorite professor asking for research work.

Note: Don’t spam any professor or Ph.D. candidates. Do you research before getting in contact with any of them.

6 Tips to Successfully Get a HiWi Job

Job opportunities for Hiwi are slightly less than internships and other student jobs. However, by following the below tips you can increase your chances to get a Hiwi Job in your topic of interest.

1. Do your research

Check the requirement of the before you apply for any HiWi position. If you are apply to professors or Ph.D. candidates directly, you must check their research areas and make sure it’s similar to interests and skillsets. Don’t spam or apply all around. This will create a bad impression.

2. Write a Tabular CV

Your CV is worthless if it’s not in the right format and doesn’t catch the eye of the reader at the first glance (read more about the 6-second rule). Make sure everything in your CV is in the right order and tabular format. It is helpful to mention in your CV if you have worked on research projects. You can also get your CV reviewed by our experts before you apply for a HiWi.

You can take help from the this article, how to write a CV >>

3. Attach Cover Letter

Cover letter is also as important as your CV, when applying for HiWi position. The aim of this letter is to explain to the professor or prospective supervisor why you are willing to work on a particular topic. Professors and researcher at the university wish to hire students who are passionate about the topic and have future plans related to that topic. Therefore, your cover letter should enterian all these questions. You can find more information on the internet about cover letter on the internet. Later I’ll write a guide for how to write a perfect cover letter. Sign up to stay updated.

4. Be Consistent With You Search

You have to be resilient with your Hiwi search as the number of applications will be greater than the chance of getting a Hiwi position. Therefore, you need to consistent with your search for student job at the campus. Don’t apply if your skillset don’t match. Also, look for student jobs at other research institutes in your city. Many universities have collaborated research going on with especially public research institute e.g. Fraunhofer research institute.

If you cannot find a student job campus, you can apply off-campus in industry oriented job. Links can be found at the end of this guide.

4. Show Long-term commitment

In some cases, the candidates are rejected during an interview just because they lack long term commitment for the job. University wants you to consider the possibility of working long-term because most of the time the person you work with wants you to stay till they are done with the entire research or until your period of study if the research is taking longer time. Although in some cases your contract would be extended every three or six months depending on the funding for the research topic.

5. Show Motivated

Motivation for research project is the biggest factor that outweighs your skills during your interview. Supervisors such as professors and other researcher care about your career goals. Therefore, you must express your commitment to pursuing a Master’s thesis or Ph.D. in the topic if you are genuinely motivated. Many student who do a HiWi as research assistant with a professor, find master thesis and later Ph.D. position with the same professor or department.

Don’t send CV to every Professor or Ph.D. candidate to get a HiWi. Do prior and proper research if you have the matching skillset, genuine interest and right motivation for a HiWi position. You must be able to communicate this through your CV and cover letter.

6. Express Eagerness to Learn German

Even if the HiWi position you are applying for don’t require German, you should be eager to learn German for many obvious reasons. During the interview, you may be asked if you are making any efforts to learn German. Therefore, you must express your eagerness to learn German and should be taking practical steps towards learning German either at the university or taking an online course. It will give a positive impression regarding your efforts to adjust to a new work environment. If you are that shining student who might be a good candidate for a Ph.D. position, your German skills will come in very handy.

You have enough knowledge being provided to you start your HiWi search and successfully get one. If you have any further questions feel free to contact us.

Quick links

Find more related information in these links:

Working as an International Student in Germany >>

More article links coming soon such as:

  • Working as an intern
  • Finding thesis in a German company
  • Tax regulations for students workers in Germany

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