Salary Atlas 2021 reveals the highest paid jobs in Germany

Salary Atlas 2021 reveals the highest paid jobs in Germany has released its annual Salary Atlas (Gehaltsatlas), a report that provides an in-depth insight into salaries in Germany. As was the case last year, senior professionals in the medical industry earn the most money in the country.

Salary Atlas 2021

This year, the researchers at analysed salary data from more than 220.500 records to compile the Salary Atlas 2021, a comprehensive review of salaries from all over Germany. The report reveals how industry, occupation and location can affect an employee’s salary.

Aside from simply listing the best and worst-paid jobs, the report also looks at where employees earn the most money, by state and by state capital, thereby highlighting salary differences between eastern and western Germany. The report also takes into account the impact of employers, academic titles and relevant qualifications.

The best paid jobs in Germany in 2021

According to this year’s Salary Atlas, senior doctors once again make the most money in Germany. The ranking also reflects the importance of management roles, particularly in sales, which make up the rest of the highest-paid jobs. The jobs have been ranked by median income (with the average salary for each job in brackets).

  • 1. Head or consultant physician – 196.251 euros (212.808 euros)
  • 2. Senior physician – 121.748 euros (129.697 euros)
  • 3. Sales control / Sales management – 94.796 euros (103.836 euros)
  • 4. Regional sales manager for capital goods – 90.812 euros (96.868 euros)
  • 5. Commercial manager – 90.661 euros (101.900 euros)
  • 6. IT manager – 88.610 euros (96.076 euros)

The most in-demand industries

There is a distinct connection between the highest-paid industries and jobs this year, with the capital goods and pharmaceutical industries amongst those offering the highest salaries. The biotechnology industry ranked highest, with specialists in this field becoming increasingly sought-after for guiding Germany's pandemic response and vaccine research and development. 

  • 1. Biotechnology – 67.524 euros (81.309 euros)
  • 2. Capital goods – 66.594 euros (78.270 euros)
  • 3. Semiconductor – 65.586 euros (75.091 euros)
  • 4. Banking – 61.651 euros (68.295 euros)
  • 5. Pharmaceutical – 60.538 euros (72.625 euros)

The worst paid industries

The worst paid industries have largely been negatively affected by coronavirus in Germany, and the subsequent restrictions that were implemented to combat the spread of the disease. The five lowest-paid industries in Germany in 2021 are as follows:

  • 1. Hotels and restaurants – 29.693 euros (32.879 euros)
  • 2. Call centres – 29.391 euros (33.855 euros)
  • 3. Retail sale of groceries – 31.212 euros (36.034 euros)
  • 4. Clothing and textile retailers – 31.911 euros (37.311 euros)
  • 5. Tourism and leisure – 34.621 euros (40.037 euros)

Executives in Germany earn the most on average

The Salary Atlas also looked at how different factors affect employee salaries. Those who hold an academic title earn an average of around 67.000 euros, while those without a degree earn an average of 42.000 euros.

  • 1. Skilled workers – 41.514 euros (46.173 euros)
  • 2. Executives – 95.907 euros (109.562 euros)
  • 3. Academics – 57.040 euros (66.926 euros)
  • 4. Non-academics – 37.800 euros (41.815 euros)
  • 5. Young professionals – 37.334 euros (41.789 euros)

What should not come as a surprise for anyone is that larger companies (those with more than 1.001 employees) pay significantly more than smaller companies (those with less than 101 employees). Larger companies pay an average of 68.000 euros a year, while smaller companies pay around 42.000 on average, and companies with between 101 and 1001 employees pay around 56.000 euros.

Baden-Württemberg is the most lucrative state

Taking into account all employees, businesses in Baden-Württemberg pay the most, with a median salary of over 46.000 euros, which is about 8 percent above the national average. Those in executive positions earn the most in the state of Hesse, however, with a median salary of 100.378 euros.

Jobs in eastern German states command a much lower salary than those in the western states, showing that the east-west divide still remains as distinct as ever in Germany. The five lowest paid states (all of them situated in the east of Germany) are:

Which state capitals in Germany have the highest salaries?

Baden-Württemberg also came out on top when it comes to state capitals, with employees in Stuttgart earning the most. Skilled workers and executives will also find the most competitive salaries in Stuttgart.

  • 1. Stuttgart – 54.012 euros
  • 2. Munich – 53.662 euros
  • 3. Düsseldorf – 50.626 euros
  • 4. Wiesbaden – 49.611 euros
  • 5. Hamburg – 45.780 euros

The capitals of the eastern states make up the lowest-paid state capitals.

  • 1. Schwerin – 34.551 euros
  • 2. Magdeburg – 36.089 euros
  • 3. Potsdam – 36.616 euros
  • 4. Erfurt – 36.806 euros
  • 5. Dresden – 37.199 euros
William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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