Salary & pay grades: everything you need to know

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Civil servants in Germany do not receive a salary, but a salary. Unlike salaries in the private sector, the amount of the salary is not negotiated individually, but is determined by so-called salary brackets. What are the pay grades and what jobs do they apply to? What is the pay in the different salary groups and what income ranges are possible? We have put together everything you need to know.

What is salary and who gets it?

In Germany, salary is the income of civil servants, soldiers and judges. The salary consists of different amounts:

  • base salary
  • Benefits (for university teachers)
  • family allowance
  • Allowances and Compensation
  • foreign salary
  • Candidate salaries and capital-forming benefits

The basic salary for civil servants depends on the responsibility associated with the rank and the office. The amount of the basic salary is defined in so-called salary groups, which are regularly reviewed and adjusted accordingly.

The salary is paid monthly in advance, unlike employees in the private sector. For federal civil servants, soldiers and federal judges, the salary is regulated in the Federal Salary Act (BBesG), for civil servants and professional judges of the federal states (i.e. also teachers, for example) by the respective state salary laws for Bavaria, NRW, Hesse etc.

By the way: Not all people who work in the public sector are civil servants. Only around a third of employees in the public sector are civil servants. Employees without civil servant status bear the designation collectively agreed employees or employees in the public sector.

What grades are there?

According to the Federal Salary Act (BBesG), there are four higher salary brackets: A, B, C and W as well as salary grade R. In addition to the federal salary scale, the legal provisions of the individual states apply. If no state-specific requirements are defined, the federal regulations apply. The information in this text refers to the federal regulations. Depending on the federal state, there may be deviations up and down, but the nationwide information offers a good guideline. The salary tables for the individual federal states can be found here.

The applicable salary tables are arranged according to groups (qualifications) and levels within a group (experience). These grades apply to these payees:

  • Grade A: Civil servants in the simple, middle, elevated and higher service
  • Grade B: Top officials and soldiers in special positions
  • Salary group C or W: scientific officials such as professors, lecturers and senior staff at universities and technical colleges
  • Grade R: judges and prosecutors

The salary tables are also valid for civil servants on probation, civil servants on revocation, civil servants for life and trainee teachers. You can find the salary tables for applicants for civil servant status here.

By the way: The salary tables below show the basic salaries. Depending on the individual situation, these are supplemented by family allowances, foreign allowances or other allowances. The salary tables also contain information on the salaries of soldiers in the Bundeswehr. The basic salaries of soldiers result from the federal salary regulations A and B. The Bundeswehr has put together an overview of the basic salaries here.

Salary groups in the salary scale A

Group A salary levels apply to civil servants who do not work as public prosecutors, judges, university professors or in the armed forces.

the Salary regulation A is divided in:

  • A3 to A6: simple service
  • A6 to A9: technical and non-technical middle service
  • A9 to A13: senior service with a diploma or bachelor’s degree
  • A13 to A16: higher service with a master’s degree or equivalent degree from a university or technical college

Opportunities for advancement exist within the pay scale based on experience and seniority. For example, as a civil servant teacher you can be grouped in A10, but A11 or A12 are also possible. There are different salary levels within groups A3 to A16.

The basic salary of civil servants increases every two years up to the fifth age level, every three years up to the ninth level and every four years thereafter. Appropriate qualifications (e.g. a degree) and regular assessments (performance, ability, suitability) are decisive for advancement within the career path, i.e. within the salary scale from A2 to A16, for example.

Salary brackets in salary scale B

In the Salary regulation B is there 11 grades (B1 to B11), which apply to top civil servants and soldiers in the higher service. Compensation is granted regardless of seniority or experience and is paid as a fixed salary. Unlike the A salary scale, there are no ranges within a subgroup in the B salary scale.

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Salary groups in the salary scales C and W

Until 2002, the salary of academic civil servants was defined in the salary scale C. It was then replaced by the W salary scale (W stands for science).

Salary groups in the salary scale R

Judges and public prosecutors receive their remuneration according to the R salary scale, which is divided into the R2 to R10 salary groups (the R4 salary group is currently not used). Judges’ salaries vary greatly depending on the federal state. In the course of the federalism reform, the right to pay was transferred from the federal government to the states. Only the remuneration for federal judges at the Federal Constitutional Court is stipulated in the Federal Salary Act.

Remuneration: what remains net of the gross?

The ratio of gross to net salary is different for civil servants than for employees under private law or employees under collective agreements. In general, it can be said that civil servants have more net income than the gross income because they have fewer deductions. Here you will find a gross-net comparison of civil servant teachers compared to teachers who are paid according to the collective wage agreement.

There is a large selection of salary calculators that can be used free of charge on the Internet, with the help of which you can calculate both the gross total income (i.e. the basic salary plus bonuses) and the net income that ends up in the account.

With the offer of the Federal Office of Administration, one can also calculate, for example, how a reduction in working hours or a promotion affects income.

last update: September 01, 2022

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