The German states and cities with the highest and lowest starting salaries

The German states and cities with the highest and lowest starting salaries

Someone who has only just left higher education in Germany can’t expect to start earning a top-whack salary straight away - but in certain professions and regions, some graduates earn a lot more than their peers. A new study has evaluated exactly where. 

Graduates earn the most in Baden-Württemberg

How much you can expect to earn in your first job out of university depends greatly on the region and the profession. This is demonstrated unequivocally by the latest salary report from the job portal According to their data, recent graduates in Baden-Württemberg earn, on average, 9.000 euros more per year than their peers in Saxony

The southwestern state, where the average starting salary clocks in at 47.800 euros gross per year - therefore takes the top spot in StepStone’s ranking of federal states. It is closely followed by its neighbour Bavaria, with an average starting salary of 47.400 euros, and Hesse, where graduates take home 46.400 euros per year at the beginning of their careers. 

At the other end of the spectrum, alongside Saxony, are Saxony-Anhalt, where the average starting salary is 39.400 euros per year, and Thuringia (40.100 euros). Both of these eastern states fall way below the national average, which this year stands at 45.400 euros per year - a slight increase since last year's report.

Starting salaries in Leipzig are significantly lower than in Stuttgart 

According to the study, there are clear differences not only between the federal states, but also between cities. Of the 10 most populous German cities, the highest starting salaries are claimed in Stuttgart, where graduates begin their careers on an average annual salary of 49.400 euros. In second place is Munich (48.400 euros) and in third place Frankfurt am Main (47.600 euros). 

The gap between first and last place on the cities list is even more pronounced than in the federal state comparison. At the bottom is Leipzig, where the average gross annual salary for young professionals is 38.300 euros - 11.000 euros less per year than in Stuttgart. However, when you consider regional differences in the cost of living, the difference seems less dramatic. 

The top-earning industries in Germany

But differences in starting salary cannot be explained by regional factors alone - graduates in certain industries also command much higher starting salaries in Germany. According to StepStone’s analysis, the top salaries are claimed by those starting out in the vehicle manufacturing, aerospace engineering, pharmaceutical, and chemical and petroleum processing industries. Graduate employees at banks are also among the top earners. 

It is therefore not surprising that places like Baden-Württemberg - a centre of technology and research - or Frankfurt - the country’s home of banking - boast high average salaries. The salary comparison among universities supports this: the highest starting salary of 53.000 euros is given to graduates of the University of Stuttgart, followed by four technical universities (TU Darmstadt, OTH Regensburg, TM Munich and TU Braunschweig). 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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