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German for Beginners: Lesson 14

Was sind Sie von Beruf?
What’s your occupation?

This lesson introduces: (1) vocabulary related to occupations and trades, (2) expressions related to that vocabulary and (3) the grammar of accusative prepositions. A recommended review for this lesson is Part 2 of Lesson 11 (accusative case).

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CULTURAL NOTE: Although it is quite common for English-speakers to ask new acquaintances what their profession is, Germans are less likely to do so. Some Germans wouldn't mind, but others may consider it an invasion of their personal sphere. This is something you'll just have to play by ear.

Below you'll find a list of common occupations and professions. Note that all professions in German have both a feminine and a masculine form. We have listed the feminine form only in cases where it is not just the standard -in ending (as in der Arzt/die Ärztin), when there is also a difference in English (waiter/waitress), or when a job is more likely to be feminine (nurse, secretary) or the German feminine form is very common (student).

GRAMMAR NOTE: When you say "I'm a student." or "He's an architect." in German, you normally leave out the "a" or "an": Ich bin Student(in). - Er ist Architekt. (no "ein" or "eine"). Only if an adjective is added, do you use "ein/eine" — as in: Er ist ein guter Student. - Sie ist eine neue Architektin. See the examples in the chart below.

Berufe - Professions
Englisch Deutsch
architect der Architekt
auto mechanic der Automechaniker
baker der Bäcker
bank teller der Bankangestellte, die Bankangestellte
bricklayer, stone mason der Maurer
  stock broker
  real estate agent/broker
der Makler
  der Börsenmakler
  der Immobilienmakler
bus driver der Busfahrer
computer programer der Programmierer, die Programmiererin
cook, chef der Koch, der Chefkoch
die Köchin, die Chefköchin
doctor, physician der Arzt, die Ärztin
employee, white-collar worker der Angestellte, die Angestellte
employee, blue-collar worker der Arbeiter, die Arbeiterin
IT worker Angestellte/Angestellter in der Informatik
joiner, cabinetmaker der Tischler
journalist der Journalist
musician der Musiker
nurse der Krankenpfleger, die Krankenschwester
photographer der Fotograf, die Fotografin
secretary der Sekretär, die Sekretärin
student, pupil (K-12) der Schüler, die Schülerin
student (college, univ.) der Student, die Studentin
  Student: Note that German makes a distinction between a school student/pupil and a college-level student.
taxi driver der Taxifahrer
teacher der Lehrer, die Lehrerin
truck/lorry driver der Lkw-Fahrer
der Fernfahrer/Brummifahrer
waiter - waitress der Kellner - die Kellnerin
worker, laborer der Arbeiter
Q & A - Fragen und Antworten
Questions and Answers
Q: What's your occupation?
Q: What do you do for a living?
A: I'm a...
F: Was sind Sie von Beruf?
F: Was machen Sie beruflich?
A: Ich bin...
Q: What's your occupation?
A: I'm in insurance.
A: I work at a bank.
A: I work at a bookstore.
F: Was machen Sie beruflich?
A: Ich bin in der Versicherungbranche.
A: Ich arbeite bei einer Bank.
A: Ich arbeite bei einer Buchhandlung.
Q: What does he/she do for a living?
A: He/She runs a small business.
F: Was macht er/sie beruflich?
A: Er/Sie führt einen kleinen Betrieb.
Q: What does an auto mechanic do?
A: He repairs cars.
F: Was macht ein Automechaniker?
A: Er repariert Autos.
Q: Where do you work?
A: At McDonald's.
F: Wo arbeiten Sie?
A: Bei McDonald's.
Q: Where does a nurse work?
A: In a hospital.
F: Wo arbeitet eine Krankenschwester?
A: Im Krankenhaus/im Spital.
Q: At which company does he work?
A: He's with DaimlerChrysler.
F: Bei welcher Firma arbeitet er?
A: Er ist bei DaimlerChrysler.
Wo arbeiten Sie?
Where do you work?
at Deutsche Bank bei der Deutschen Bank
at home zu Hause
at McDonald's bei McDonald's
at the office im Büro
in a garage, auto repair shop in einer/in der Autowerkstatt
in a hospital in einem/im Krankenhaus/Spital
with a big/small company bei einem großen/kleinen Unternehmen
  Also see: German Stores and Businesses - English-German glossary
sich um eine Stelle bewerben
Applying for a Position
company, firm die Firma
employer der Arbeitgeber
employment office das Arbeitsamt (Web link)
interview das Interview
job application die Bewerbung
I'm applying for a job. Ich bewerbe mich um eine Stelle/einen Job.
resume, CV der Lebenslauf

NEXT > Part 2 of this Lesson (Accusative prepositions)

ÜBUNGEN > Exercises - Occupations - Practice what you've learned!

Lesson 14: Part 1 > Part 2 > Exercises 1 > Exercises 2

Careers and Jobs for German
Resources, articles, and links related to finding employment in German Europe or with a German firm.

Previous Lesson (Lektion 13 - Essen und Trinken)

German for Beginners - Contents

Related Pages

German Stores and Businesses
An annotated English-German glossary of kinds of businesses, stores, and shops.

Akkusative - Lektion 11
The accusative case.

Adjective Endings - Exercises
Test yourself on the German adjective endings. A self-scoring quiz.

Preposition Quiz 1
A test on some German words that can be dangerous. Self-scoring.

English-German Glossaries
All of the annotated glossaries on this site - from aerospace to travel.

Jobs/Careers for German
Resources, articles, and links related to finding employment in German Europe or with a German firm.

German Grammar
All of the grammar resources on this site.

German Newsletters
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