Your salary as a working student: interesting facts about earnings, salary limits, and taxes

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Working part-time during your studies – for many students, this is not an option, but a prerequisite for financing their studies. According to a survey by Forsa, more than 60% of students have paid jobs during their education. In addition to the salary, working student jobs offer the advantage of being able to get a taste of working life, trying out different activities, and thus preparing for the approaching start of your career. What distinguishes a working student from other employees? How many hours are you allowed to work as a working student and what are the salary prospects? How many taxes and duties do you have to pay as a working student. This article tells you everything you need to know.

Who can work as a working student?

Working students are people who do pay work during their studies during the semester break or during the semester. As long as you as a student do not work more than 20 hours a week, you are exempt from health, nursing care, and unemployment insurance. So you have significantly fewer deductions and you have more of your gross salary left over the net than if you were employed as a regular worker.

In order to work as a working student, you must be enrolled at a university or a (technical) college for a degree. You must be actively studying, so you must not have graduated yet. Many companies advertise jobs, especially for working students, where a maximum working time of 20 hours per week is planned. However, at the latest when you are hired and with each new semester, you must prove that you are entitled to work as a working student.

Why are you only allowed to work a maximum of 20 hours per week as a working student?

In fact, your weekly working hours as a working student may also exceed 20 hours – but only for a limited period of time. In the course of a calendar year, you may not be employed more than 20 hours for a total of 26 weeks (182 calendar days). However, it is possible to temporarily increase your working hours during the semester break, for example, in order to improve your salary.

The reason for the time limit is that the legislator assumes that the main focus and the greatest amount of time spent by working students is on their studies.

What is the salary of working students?

As with a conventional job, the question of the salary of working students cannot be answered in general terms – your gross salary depends, among other things, on the industry, the location, your experience, and your negotiating skills. our users give the salary as a working student at an average of 20,700 euros per year, but in the best case, a salary of up to 36,500 euros is also possible.

As a working student, you are entitled to the minimum wage, which will be increased to 12 euros from October 1, 2022. If you make full use of the possible 20 hours per week, you will get a maximum gross income of 960 euros per month if you are paid according to the minimum wage.

However, the information provided by users indicates that the hourly wage for working students is in most cases well above the minimum wage.

Bachelor’s or master’s degree – does that make a difference in the hourly wage for working students?

As in other jobs, work experience can play a role in salary levels. It is, therefore, possible that you as a freshman (e.g. in the 2nd or 3rd semester of your bachelor’s degree) will receive a lower hourly wage as a working student than in the master’s degree if you already have some experience. Especially for working students who have been working for the same company for several years, the following applies: Negotiate salary regularly.

In which sectors are working students earn the most?

In general, it can be said: In the sectors in which you earn the best as a permanent employee, there are also the best salaries for working students. The banking and insurance sectors are traditionally among the sectors in which salary prospects are highest, followed by mechanical engineering, chemicals, and the automotive sector.

In social professions, in tourism, but also in areas such as marketing/PR/advertising, salaries are lower – for permanent employees as well as for trainees and working students.

What taxes and duties do working students have to pay?

In principle, employees are subject to social security contributions and income tax. Contributions for the following social insurances are deducted from the gross salary:

  • Health insurance
  • care insurance
  • unemployment insurance
  • accident insurance
  • pension insurance

In addition, there is income tax, the amount of which depends on salary and tax class, as well as church tax for employees who belong to a denomination.

The employee pays part of the social security contributions, but the company also has to pay a share. As a working student, you are exempt from most social security contributions. The company also has to make fewer contributions for you, which is why employing working students is also very attractive for employers.

If you meet the requirements for the working student rule, you are insured free of charge in health, nursing care, and unemployment insurance. Contributions are only due for pension insurance, the amount of which depends on your income.

Pension insurance as a working student

The contribution rate to the statutory pension insurance is currently 18.6% for each employee. The contribution is split and paid half by the company and half by the employee. Depending on how much you earn as a working student, your contribution can also be lower.

Mini-job (up to 450 euros): If you do not earn more than 450 euros per month as a working student, your company pays a flat rate of 15% of your gross salary. You only pay the difference, i.e. 3.6%.

Mini-job (EUR 450.01 to EUR 1,300): Your contribution to pension insurance as a working student depends on your actual income. The contribution rate starts at 4% and increases with salary up to 9.3%.

Wage tax as a working student

Whether you have to pay income tax as a working student depends on your salary. If you earn more than the so-called tax allowance of currently 9,984 euros net in a calendar year, you are subject to income tax. This corresponds to a monthly salary of around 832 euros.

If you exceed the basic allowance, you do not have to pay tax on your entire income, but only on what exceeds 9,984 euros. If you are obliged to pay income tax because of your salary, your company pays it directly to the tax office.

There are numerous gross-to-net calculators on the internet. Since different rules for social security contributions apply to working students than to conventional employees, these are not meaningful. Here you will find a calculator that is aimed specifically at working students.

*Caution: The fact that as a working student you do not have to pay any health insurance contributions from your gross salary does not mean that you do not need health insurance! Up to the age of 25, students are automatically covered by their parents’ family insurance free of charge if they are members of a statutory health insurance company. Students over the age of 26 and those whose parents are privately insured need their own health insurance, regardless of whether they work or not. You can find more information here, for example.

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