Studying can be compared to a full time job. While, because of both study-related costs and the amount of money needed to live on, working part time in Germany is often necessary for students - regardless of the support they may receive from their family.
Combining studying with working can be problematic and beneficial to a student. If a good balance is achieved between work and studying, a student may become more confident through working, and improve their time-management skills. On the downside, working too many long hours, or in a job that is labour intensive, can mean that students have less time to relax and enjoy the company of their friends.
Achieving the right balance is challenging even in one's own country. Doing so in a foreign country is likely to be even more difficult.
A Deutsche Studentenwerke survey, carried out not too long ago, revealed that around two thirds of students in Germany combine studying with work. Germany has a big global academic community. As a result, the German authorities understand that foreign students (significantly more so than German students) need to find way of boosting their income.
However, employment prospects can vary considerably among foreign students, with where they come from often being a determining factor in what type of work they are likely to find.
The different employment regulations for students going to Germany from EU and EEA countries and those coming from elsewhere are considerable. For instance, students from EU and EEA countries don't have any restrictions put in their way regarding the job market, and are treated pretty much equally to German students. Non-EU and Non-EEA students have a lot more limitations placed on them, jobs-wise.
For international students in Germany, how much can they work, legally?
If you're not from an EU or EEA member country then you can work no more than 120 full days or 240 half days in a year. These restrictions also cover voluntary work placements, including when you're not paid. A permission for foreign students to work the permitted level of days or half days isn't required by the employment authorities in Germany. In addition, students coming to Germany from non-EU countries cannot be self-employed, or undertake freelance work while working the permitted number of days/half days.
When a student has to work in excess of the permitted 120/250 half days, then a permission via the Federal Employment Agency (www.arbeitsagentur.de) is necessary. The conditions of the job market in the relevant area will determine if the application is successful. Though in areas of high unemployment it would be unlikely that working more than 120 days would be permitted.
But, exceptions can be made when a student wishes to work more than 120 hours in an academic setting, such as being a student assistant. Though there's a strong likelihood that permission will be granted, it will still be necessary for the Department of Aliens to be notified quickly.
However, regulations for students attending language courses (i.e. at a Studienkolleg) are quite strict. Work can only be undertaken at lecture-free times, with permission from the Federal Employment Agency needing to be granted in advance. It should be noted that not complying with German labour laws can result in a student being expelled from Germany.
An Important Warning
Income from part-time work very probably won't cover all your study-related expenses, and finding the appropriate part-time job could be difficult.
Typical examples of finding part-time jobs for students?
Yellow Pages, newspaper ads, and online portals with local ads are useful places to find information on working part time in Germany. Job agencies (“Studentenwerk”) overseen by students are useful too, as can be noticeboards in libraries and lecture halls, and in local shops.