The German education system: Ausbildung and University
In Germany, besides the university system, there is another system for professional studies.
As everywhere, also in Germany many young people study at universities. This, however, is not always the best option if you want to become a well-trained and highly skilled professional. For many professions, the German system of “Berufsausbildung” (or “Ausbildung”, best traduced as “professional studies”) is just the right thing.
Usually, any type of more practically-oriented profession is studied outside universities, in the so called Ausbildung. After school, young people can choose to study an Ausbildung and such an Ausbildung lasts usually 2 to 3 years. During the Ausbildung, one goes to a special school and, most importantly, works at a company.
If you decide to become a carpenter, or an electrician, for instance, you will have to apply at carpenter or electrician companies as an apprentice (“Auszubildender”). Once you are accepted, you are employed at this company in a special apprentice status. And you will have to go to the special school, learning the theoretical background of your profession. The other days, you go and work “normally” as an apprentice. At the end of your Ausbildung, you have to pass written and oral exams, and afterwards, you get your professional title.
One great plus of choosing Ausbildung over university studies is the fact that an Ausbildung is much quicker, gives you a lot of practical experience from the very beginning, and that you will start working and earning money way faster. Of course, studying at a university will give you a bigger theoretical background and many times you enter at a higher career level after completing your university studies. However, once you successfully absolve an Ausbildung, you will have the opportunity to gain more practical experience than a university student.
It depends of course also on the type of profession one chooses. And all scientifically demanding careers, one has of course to go to university. However, for practical (but nonetheless demanding) professions, such as a bank administrator, a saleswoman, office management, office assistance, carpenter, nurse, electrician, or something similar, the Ausbildung will be ideal.
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Text and Photo by: Alicia Enciso