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# What is the difference between Vocational Training and Studying?
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In Germany, there is a difference between:
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- Vocational training (Ausbildung) with the aim of getting a professional degree and,
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- Academic training (Studium) with the aim of getting a university degree.
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The German system for vocational training is special. In particular the system put in place for dual training as this type of vocational training doesn't exist in most other countries.
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**For example**:
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The IQ Network in Hesse wrote a good [summary](https://www.netzwerk-iq.de/fileadmin/Redaktion/Downloads/IQ_Publikationen/Arbeitshilfen/IQ_AH_2017_Informationsblatt_Syrien.pdf) of the differences between the educational system in Syria and in Germany.
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The summary explains that there is a different system in Syria for vocational training.
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You can learn a profession:
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- while you work or
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- at a technical college (with specializations in a technical institute).
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Many professions that you would learn at a technical institute in Syria are professions with dual training (duale Ausbildungsberufe) in Germany. A large proportion of dual training in Germany is through practical learning at a company. In technical institutions in Syria, you also learn the practical side of a profession but you mostly learn the theory.
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Technical institutes aren't universities in Germany. Universities in Germany are responsible for academic education with a degree and not for vocational education with vocational qualifications.
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The differences have an influence on the results of the recognition of a certificate in Germany. More information can be found in the chapter called [What is recognition?](#anerkennung)
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In Germany, you can also learn a profession while you work. Then you are an assistant (Helfer(in)) but not a specialist (Fachkraft). The German system is complicated. However, it offers many possibilities for getting a recognized qualification for all ages and all life situations. With a qualification, you will be better trained and you will have better chances at getting a job.
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## Vocational training (Ausbildung) With the Aim of Getting A Professional Qualification
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The most common concept in vocational training is "dual training".
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In Germany, dual training means more than just learning a profession from another person. Vocational training means that you learn both the theory and the practical side of your profession. In vocational training, schools and companies work together.
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More information about vocational training can be found at [Was ist eine Ausbildung?](#ausbildung)
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If you pass the test at the end of your vocational training, you get an apprenticeship certificate (Gesellenbrief), a trade proficiency certificate (Facharbeiterbrief) or a state recognized certificate (staatlich anerkanntes Zeugnis). All of these types of certificates are professional degrees.
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Through vocational training, you can get a state recognized degree (professional degree) - even when you didn't study at a university.
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Vocational training is a great option for people who don't study because
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- they can't (because, for example, they don't have a high school diploma) or
- they don't want to (for example, they would rather learn in a more practical way and work).
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With a professional degree, you can find a good job and work as a professional. You can choose whether you want to continue to learn later on. More information about the meaning of a professional diploma can be found at [Why is a professional diploma important?](#berufsabschluss)
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Vocational training also means that there is a specific duration and type of learning. For adults, there are also other types of vocational training apart from vocational training in a company (dual training) or in a school (school-based training). For information about all the different ways to getting a professional degree, have a look at [Hop-on Compass Vocational Training](https://hopon-newcomers.com/de/reader/de/index.html).
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It also depends on how you want to work and what sector you want to work in, in the future. Vocational training usually prepares you for a specific profession and job. Studying usually doesn't prepare you for a specific profession or job.
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## Academic Education (Studium) With the Aim of Getting an Academic Degree
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When talking about academic education, usually people use the word "studies". During your studies, you will lean about the basics and theory of a subject.
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If, for example, you would like to be a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer, you need a degree.
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If you want to work in the general sector for health, law or engineering, you can get a degree or a professional qualification (vocational training). For vocational training, you will also learn theory but for a certain profession.
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You can complete your studies at various universities:
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- Universities
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- University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule/Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften)
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- Distance Learning University (Fernuniversität)
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- Art college
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The focus and organisation of your studies can differ between institutes of higher education. All degrees are still equivalent.
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Your studies can also be organised differently:
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- Full-time studies
- Part-time studies
- dual studies
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- Distance Learning University/Online course
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You can find more information at [What ways are there to getting an academic degree in Germany](../wege/welche-wege-zu-einem-akademischen-abschluss-gibt-es-in-deutschland.md)
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## What Are the Biggest Differences Between Vocational Training and Studying?
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There are many differences between vocational training and studying. We will only focus on certain differences. There are also different types of vocational training and different types of courses of study. That is why the information we give can only be general information.
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![Unterschiede, Infoillustration von <a href=](https://collaborating.tuhh.de/itbh/hopon-study-gitbook/raw/master/de/abb/study_grafiken/welche-unterschiede-studium-ausbildung.jpg)Riesenspatz</a> für Hop-on, ist lizenziert unter einer [Creative Commons Lizenz CC-BY 4.0](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)" />
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### 1 Requirements for participation
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#### Studying
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*High School Diploma*
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To study at an institute of higher education, you need a special high school diploma or a professional diploma and professional experience. Generally these requirements are called Hochschulzugangsberechtigung, HZB (Higher Education Entrance Qualification).
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*Language Skills*
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You need to show prove your German level is high enough by taking a test if you want to study at university. For English courses, you also need special English skills. The institute of higher education determines what language skills you need to prove you have. There are exceptions if, for example, you got your high school diploma in Germany or you studied German language and literature. The reason why you need a high level of German is that you have to be able to understand the special language and vocabulary used during your studies. This language is scientific language. Scientific language is *what* one says or writes (vocabulary) but also *how* one says something or writes it (expression and form). It is very different to [slang or colloquial language](https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umgangssprache) (Umgangssprache).
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*Application*
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Usually you need to apply directly to the institute of higher education. Sometimes you have to apply to a central office first, for example through uni-assist or college start. This depends on the field of study and the institute of higher education.
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Sometimes you must meet more requirements, such as already have professional experience or a work placement.
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You can find more information at [What requirements do you need for your studies?](../voraussetzungen/welche-voraussetzungen-gibt-es-fuer-ein-studium.md)
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#### Vocational training
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*High School Diploma*
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For vocational training, whether you need a high school diploma and what type it needs to be depends on the profession you want to learn.
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According to the law, you don't need a high school diploma for vocational training with a dual training system. But companies often expect a high school diploma. According to the law, for vocational training with school-based training system, you need a high school diploma. All professions in Germany can be found at [berufenet](https://berufenet.arbeitsagentur.de/berufenet/faces/index?path=null/suchergebnisse&fil=eJwzNDAwBEJsAABHRAUU). For every profession, you can find information about what high school diploma a company usually expects for vocational training or what high school diploma you need.
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*German Language Level*
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For vocational training, you also need a good level of German because all of the lessons are in German. There is no statutory rule about German levels for professions with a dual system of training. For professions with school-based vocational training, there are rules about German language level. The level of German you need depends on the profession.
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You can't do vocational training in English.
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*Application*
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For dual training, you apply directly at the company where you want to do the vocational training. For school-based you need to apply at a university of applied sciences.
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More information can be found at [Was ist eine Ausbildung?](#ausbildung)
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### 2 Type and Content of What You Are Learning: Theory and Practice
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#### Studying
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Every course of study has academic basics (wissenschaftliche Grundlagen). This means that you will learn a lot of theory and that you will study and research concepts of a topic or multiple topics. The goal is for you to learn, understand and apply scientific knowledge.
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In an article on [studienwahl.de](http://www.studienwahl.de/de/thema-des-monats/wie-lernt-man-an-der-hochschule01409.htm) students talk about what it's like to study at an institute of higher education.
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There is usually a lot of theory and more theory than there practice.
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But:
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There are also different types of studies, that combine theory and practice, for example, dual studies. During dual studies, you work at a company and you study the theory at an institute of higher education. The requirements for scientific jobs are the same. For more information have a look at [What are dual studies?](../wege/was-ist-ein-duales-studium.md)
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During your studies you will learn scientific texts and you will take exams. Exams are written tests. In the exams, you have to be able to show that you understand the theory, the information and make links between everything you have learnt. At the end of your studies, you will have to write a dissertation or a thesis (Abschlussarbeit). For all your written work, you have to work in a scientific way. This means that you have to follow certain rules.
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For example:
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Mrs. Z has to write a seminar paper for her seminar.
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That means, for example:
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- She has to find a subject that fits within the topic of the seminar,
- She deliberates over one or more questions that she wants to talk about in her paper,
- She does research to find what books and articles exist about her subject,
- She makes sure that her sources are scientific or serious,
- She reads different scientific texts about her subject,
- She uses relevant arguments for her own paper and cites her sources,
- She writes down her results and writes a summary about her subject.
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In this [Video](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kB4gKoS4MNw) you can have a look at what the basis of scientific work is. The video is in English.
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On the Hamburg Online Open University (HOOU) platform, you can find a free [Online course about scientific work](http://www.hoou.de/projects/6020e8b5-5fd6-4294-bd46-35a8ca9c7701). The course is in German.
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#### Vocational training
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During vocational training, you will learn theory. There is no vocational training where you only learn the practical side of a profession.
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In vocational training, theory and practice are combined. Especially in dual vocational training. Dual training means that you learn a profession in two places. You work at a company and learn the practical side of your profession. In a vocational school, you'll learn the theory. In dual training, the requirements for the vocational training depend on the company.
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But:
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There is also vocational training that includes more theory. During school-based training, you learn a lot of theory. School-based theory means that you learn the theory primarily at a special school. This school is called vocational school or university of applied sciences. Usually you get an internship at a company. The university of applied sciences is responsible for your vocational training. An example of this type of vocational training is preschool teachers. In vocational training for preschool teachers, you learn for example about the development of speech for kids. At the end, you have to write a research paper. This means that you have to develop a topic with science methodology. An example of a research paper can be found [here](http://www.wegderwildnis.de/sites/default/files/Facharbeit%20Intensive%20Naturerfahrung\_jk.pdf). The certificate you get from completing school-based vocational training is also a professional qualification and not an academic degree.
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Vocational training prepares you for working life. You will know a little about employment laws, taxes or politics. You won't learn anything about that whilst you are studying (unless you take special courses).
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### 3 Organisation of Learning and Requesting to Self-Organise
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#### Studying
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Each course of study has certain conditions of study (Studienordnung) and examination rules (Prüfungsordnung). The study rules or exam rules can depend on:
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- What type of studies they are (dual, full-time, distance learning),
- How long your studies are (standard study length),
- What modules or courses you have to complete,
- What type of exam you have at the end of the course of study,
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- How long the thesis has to be.
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On the University of Leipzig website, you can find an example for [conditions of study](https://www.biphaps.uni-leipzig.de/fileadmin/user_upload/Fakultaet/Ordnungen/stud-psych/2013/BSc_Psychologie_SO_130405_oU.pdf) and [examination rules](https://www.biphaps.uni-leipzig.de/fileadmin/user_upload/Fakultaet/Ordnungen/stud-psych/2013/BSc_Psychologie_PO_130405_oU.pdf) for a Psychology Bachelor's. Each institute of higher education has its own regulations for a course of study. This means that other institutes of higher education can have different priorities for studying Psychology.
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You have to plan your semester yourself. Usually, no one checks whether you completed your courses or if you did your seminar work on time. In other words, you are responsible for the organisation of your studies. However, the conditions of study or examination rules are set in stone. This means you don't decide how many courses or exams you have to complete successfully.
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Before or after your courses, you have to read or research a lot. This means that you review or add to what you heard or that you will read what you need to read. Many students study a lot at the end of the semester when you have to take long exams.
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Often, you don't have a fixed class. This does depend on what you're studying and whether you're studying at university or at a university of applied sciences. At a university of applied sciences, you will often be in small groups that can be described as classes. The organisation of your studies and the courses themselves are often more regulated than at university. You can find more information at [What is a university of applied sciences?](../institutionen/was-ist-eine-fachhochschule.md)
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#### Vocational training
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Every profession has rules for vocational training (Ausbildungsordnung). For school-based training, these rules are sometimes called "Verordnung" which means regulations. In these vocational training rules or regulations you can have rules about:
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- What you have to learn,
- How long you have to learn for and,
- What you have to know for the final exam.
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On the website of the Bundesinstituts für Berufsbildung (Federal Institute for Vocational Training) you can find all the vocational training rules for all professions with vocational training in the field of [Computer Science (IT)](https://www.bibb.de/tools/berufesuche/index.php/regulation/76989u87.pdf). The vocational training rules apply everywhere in Germany.
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The courses at vocational school and universities of applied sciences is comparable to teaching at high school. You receive a timetable for each school year. This means that you have to organize everything yourself a lot less. For dual training, you will receive most of your tasks from the training supervisor. You usually work closely with your training supervisor and you can ask them questions or get feedback.
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Often, at vocational school, you will be in a fixed class and you will always learn with the same students.
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### 4 Length
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#### Studying
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The duration of your studies depends mostly on:
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- The degree you will obtain at the end (bachelor's, master's, state examination)
- The type of study (full-time, part-time) and
- Accomplishments from your previous studies.
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For every course of study, the institute of higher education determines a standard study period (Regelstudienzeit). This is the time during which all students can or have to achieve all the accomplishments necessary. For a bachelor's in full-time, the standard study period is usually 3 years (6 semesters) and for a master's it's usually 2 years (4 semesters).
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Depending on each student individually, the time it takes to complete your studies can be shorter or longer. If a course of study has already started, other possibilities exist that can make your studies shorter. The decision comes down to the institute of higher education.
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Medecine, law, pharmacy and learning to be a teacher are courses of study that often end in a state exam. A state exam is a big final exam which all students must complete. In these professions, a Bachelor's degree is not enough to start working. For example, you have to study for 6 years in medical school in Germany.
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#### Vocational training
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Vocational training can last beween 2 to 3,5 years. Only a some vocational training is less than 3 years long. It depends on the profession.
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The length of most vocational training is the same as the standard study period of most bachelor's - 3 years.
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Dual training can sometimes be shorter if you:
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- have a high school diploma
- you have started the studies already or
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- Have very good results.
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School-based training can't be shortened most of the time.
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More information and other, shorter ways to get a professional qualification for adults with work experience can be found in the [Hop-on Compass Vocational Education](#wegezumberufsabschluss).
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### 5 Money and Financial Support
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#### Studying
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Most of the time, you won't make any money during your studies. This means that most students work alongside their studies.
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The most important and common financial support is the BAföG. BAföG is the acronym for the law that regulates financial support, the [Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz](https://www.bafög.de/de/bundesausbildungs--foerderungsgesetz---bafoeg-204.php) (Federal Vocational Education Assistance Act). For the BAföG, usually you have to pay back half of the money you receive after your studies.
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There are types of studies during which you can make money- for example in dual studies. Dual studies are organized by a company and an institute of higher education. For more information have a look at [What are dual studies?](../wege/was-ist-ein-duales-studium.md).
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All the information you need about financial support can be found in the chapter called [What ways are there to get an academic degree in Germany?](../wege/welche-wege-zu-einem-akademischen-abschluss-gibt-es-in-deutschland.md)
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#### Vocational training
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During dual training, you make money because your vocational training will consist of you working for a company. If you earn too little and you don't receive money from the Jobcenter, you can apply for financial support. This financial support is called Berufsausbildungsbeihilfe (vocational training grant). You don't have to pay any of the money back after you finish your vocational training. More information can be found at [What is vocational training?](#dual)
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During most school-based training, you won't earn any money. However, you can apply for financial support if you are doing school-based training. This financial support is called Schüler-BAföG (student BAföG). The basis for the BAföG is also the [Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz](https://www.bafög.de/de/bundesausbildungs--foerderungsgesetz---bafoeg-204.php) (Federal Vocational Education Assistance Act). In most cases, you don't have to pay back the Schüler-BAföG. More information can be found at [>Was ist eine school-based vocational training?](#schulisch)
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All the information about funding can be found in the different [ways to get a professional diploma](#wegezumberufsabschluss).
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### 6 Prospects After Getting A Degree
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#### Studying
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*Working*
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With an academic degree, you can work in different sectors or positions. During your studies, you will learn the technical basics but you will also learn techniques that will make it easy for you to be able to work on new topics.
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The unemployment rate of people with a degree is low. The [Institut für Arbeitsmarkt und Berufsforschung](http://doku.iab.de/arbeitsmarktdaten/qualo_2016.pdf) (Insitute for the Labour Market and Vocational Research) shows that in 2015, 2,4% of graduates were unemployed.
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How much you make depends on many things, for example:
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- Profession
- Professional experience
- Demand on the (regional) labour market
- Number of applicants
- Size of the company
- Whether it's a full-time or part-time job
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The salary of university graduates with a degree is often higher than the one for professionals with a professional qualification. It also depends on the subject and area in which you work.
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**Note:**
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For most placements and in most courses of study, companies look for applicants with a master's degree. It always depends on where you want to work, what job you want to have and what you studied. Companies look for people with a master's degree especially for management positions or positions where special knowledge is needed.
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Professional experience usually helps if you want to find a job and you just have a bachelor's degree.
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This is also the reason why there are more and more programs that are dual studies. For more information have a look at [What are dual studies?](../wege/was-ist-ein-duales-studium.md)
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*Continuing to study*
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With a bachelor's degree, you can continue on and do a master's degree. In Germany, there is a difference between consecutive master's and non-consecutive master's. Most master's programs are consecutive. Consecutive means that you want to do a master's in the same field of study as your bachelor's.
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With a master's degree, you can continue on and do a PhD. This is especially advantageous and important for people that want to work in a scientific domain.
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Consecutive study is explained in this [Video](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlJVDVg3rck&list=PLM9N2zvFTBQ9c1PfWgTzntmbn3YGwl9QC&index=9). The video is in German and Arabic.
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#### Vocational training
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*Working*
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During vocational training, you learn what you will do day-to-day in a profession.
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After dual training and completing the final exam, it's pretty likely that you will work in the same company. Another possibility is to work as a specialist in another company.
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During school-based training, you usually don't work at a company. However, you can still make good contacts with companies during the internship.
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The [Institut für Arbeitsmarkt und Berufsforschung](http://doku.iab.de/arbeitsmarktdaten/qualo_2016.pdf) (Insitute for the Labour Market and Vocational Research) shows that in 2015, 4,6% of specialists (people with professional qualification) were unemployed. Out of the people that don't have a qualification, 20% of them were unemployed.
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How much you make depends on many things, for example:
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- Profession
- Professional experience
- Demand on the (regional) labour market
- Number of applicants
- Size of the company
- Whether it's a full-time or part-time job
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However, a specialist in handcraft can sometimes earn more than a university graduate. For example, if you started up your own company and continued to train alongside your job.
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*Further education*
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After your vocational training, you can decide whether you want to continue to learn as well as work.
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There are many options, for example by being a master craftsman (Meister) or furthering your education in a specific sector. More information can be found at [Why is a professional diploma important?](#berufsabschluss)
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With a professional qualification and work experience, you can study at an institute of higher education and do a bachelor's if you study something professionally similar. The rules are different for each institute of higher education. You can find more information at [What high school diploma do I need so I can start my studies?](../voraussetzungen/welchen-schulabschluss-braucht-man-fuer-ein-studium.md)
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It's hard to make a decision between vocational training and studying. It can help if you consider:
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- What and how you wan to learn and
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- What and where you want to work.
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2 Examples:
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In this [video](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jjczzos1eo), a man is explaining why he stopped his energy, building and building technology studies and started vocational training as an electronics engineer for buildings and infrastructure instead. The video is in German.
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In another [video from oncampus](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NtJVaGKxVM) a man tells us why he stopped studying political sciences and is now doing vocational training to be an office manager. The video is in German.
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Stand: [22.11.2017]