Jobs and professions

Generally, German-speaking countries tend to have a fairly high rate of employment and are an important export market for British goods. This means there is often a high demand in British firms for people with German language skills.

Hilfsvokabeln– Helpful vocabulary

Professions (male forms)

  • der Dozent – lecturer
  • der Lehrer – teacher
  • der Krankenpfleger – male nurse, carer
  • der Moderator – TV presenter
  • der Schauspieler – actor
  • der Schüler – male pupil
  • der Sportler – sportsman

How do German speakers say what they do for a living?

Was sind Sie von Beruf? – What do you do for a living?

Listen to these people telling us what they do.

This clip is from: BBC TWO Talk German

Did you notice two important facts?

Fact one

In German, you omit the indefinite article 'a' – ein, eine, when saying what you do for a living. This means that you do not follow the same pattern as English and say, 'I am a doctor' or 'I am a pensioner', but instead leave it out completely, eg

  • ich bin Konditormeister – I'm [a] master cake-maker
  • ich bin Fischer – I'm [a] fisherman

Fact two

The men and women answered slightly differently. The man said ich bin Student and the woman said ich bin Studentin. This is the feminine form.

  • Student (male student) but Studentin (female student)
  • Lehrer (male teacher) but Lehrerin (female teacher)
Question
Was sind Sie von Beruf?

Translate the following sentences into German. All are male forms.

  • I'm a pupil.
  • I'm a sportsman.
  • I'm a TV presenter.
  • I'm a master cake-maker.
  • I'm an actor.
  • Ich bin Schüler.
  • Ich bin Sportler.
  • Ich bin Moderator.
  • Ich bin Konditormeister.
  • Ich bin Schauspieler.

Did you know?

Two carpenters in traditional clothing
Men dressed in traditional journeymen's costumes

The word Meister is used together with a number of professions to show that someone is an expert or literally 'master' of their trade, eg a master cake-maker is Konditormeister, a master baker is Bäckmeister, and a master mechanic is Mechanikermeister.

Tradesmen traditionally work their way up the career ladder starting as an apprentice – Auszubildene, or Azubi for short. They then move up a rank to become a journeyman – Geselle.

This period lasts for exactly three years and one day. Finally, after producing a masterpiece from their chosen trade, they are accepted as a Meister into a guild of masters.

Gesellen are easy to spot as they dress in distinctive, old-fashioned looking costumes, consisting of black hats, white shirts, black jackets with silver buttons and bell-bottomed cords. To help support themselves, they often ask for donations in bars and cafés. Most people are learning to become masters in carpentry, roofing, tiling and plumbing.