The German Guidance system provides in principle access to educational and career guidance services for all citizens at any stage of their lives – whether they are in education or training, employed, unemployed or looking for continuing education.

The provision of career guidance is traditionally based on the distinction between educational guidance and vocational guidance in the vocational training and employment sector.

Educational guidance comprises

  • School Guidance and counselling,
  • Guidance on educational paths,
  • School Psychological Service,
  • Vocational and Career Guidance by the Federal Employment Agency (FEA),
  • Higher Education (HE) counselling services.

Vocational guidance includes

  • Placement and counselling in the Employment Agencies (EA)/Job Centre,
  • Career guidance in the FEA,
  • Municipal educational guidance,
  • Adult education centres,
  • Career Guidance in the chambers (eg. commerce or industry) and
  • Guidance by providers of further training.



The structure of guidance provision reflects the German education and employment system with its shared responsibilities between the Federal Government, the federal states and the municipalities. A key player in the implementation of guidance provision is the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (BA) with its more than 150 local Employment Agencies (EA) and career information centres (BIZ). In addition to Federal institutions, the local municipalities play an important role by providing guidance services either through Adult Education Centres or their social welfare services.

Further, the National Guidance Forum for Education, Career and Employment - an independent network of politically responsible institutions, organisations and experts - promotes the professionalism and quality delivery of guidance in the education and employment sector in Germany. Along with members of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK) and the Federal Employment Agency (FEA), it also contributes to a strategy of Lifelong Learning in Germany in which a coherent system of lifelong guidance is an integral component.



Institutions of general education are responsible for the provision of guidance services in schools which are offered throughout schooling. Specially trained teachers, social workers, school psychologists and cooperating vocational guidance practitioners from the FEA provide guidance in school.

In higher education central counselling services as well as faculty-based expert guidance are provided to students and applicants to inform on all study-related topics such as choosing a university, a field of study, subjects, and examination preparation. Career Services within the institutions of HE offer support in the transition from university to employment.

Guidance in the fields of employment, continuing education and avoiding unemployment is provided by the FEA free-of-charge to all citizens. This is mainly carried out by placement officers, who are usually trained counsellors and who assess skills and competences of their clients before defining an action plan for the latter. Young jobseekers (under 25) are served by a special unit and receive more intensive coaching (one case manager for 75 young people). Further, most municipalities maintain adult education centres. They provide both general education as well as continuing vocational education and training (CVET).

Besides the FEA and municipalities, the chambers of commerce, industrial federations and social partners provide services for information related to VET and CVET to all stakeholders. Guidance practitioners in the chambers, e.g. give advice on different topics concerning apprenticeship in the dual system such as information on the course of the apprenticeship, youth protection in the workplace etc.

Furthermore, Trade Unions provide career guidance to their members on questions related to further training while management consultants, private career guidance practitioners and a growing number of non-profit organisations offer guidance services within the private sector.

Finally, a variety of guidance services is offered to special targets groups, among others people with disabilities, disadvantaged youth and people with a migrant background.



There is no legal regulation of the qualifications, training and professional status of career guidance practitioners and counsellors in Germany. Each sector or provider of guidance defines its own requirements – normally a higher education degree (Bachelor or Master) and some additional further training are a prerequisite.

The FEA runs its own University of Applied Sciences (Hochschule der Bundesagentur für Arbeit (HdBA)) where career counsellors study a three-year multi-disciplinary Bachelor programme which closely links theory to practice in the Employment Agencies. The fields of study include public management, employer-oriented work incentive counselling, employee integration and social security. Further, the HdBA offers a Master Programme (5 terms) focusing on labour market-oriented guidance. In addition to the study programme at the HdBA, there are in-house training and further education for staff in local Employment Agencies and Job Centres who have various academic backgrounds and move from other posts to career guidance.

The University of Heidelberg (Universität Heidelberg) offers a Master Programme in “Job and Organisation-related Guidance Science” (5 terms with 120 ECTS points) for students who hold a university degree and who have relevant professional experience. The same entry requirements apply to the “Master Programme of Counselling “of the University of Applied Sciences for Social work, Education and nursing in Dresden (Evangelische Hochschule für Soziale Arbeit Dresden)  which is spread over 8 terms (120 ECTS points). There, the field of study focuses on Psychodynamic counselling and system coaching.



The work conducted by the IAB - the Institute for Employment Research (an institute of the FEA) - includes evaluations of labour market programmes; projections; policy simulations; international and regional comparisons; overall calculations; analyses of sectors and firms; concepts of occupational research; vocational classification; and simultaneous analyses of supply and demand. The IAB also compiles, optimises and organises data for a circle of academic users that extends far beyond the IAB.

Further, there is the Federal Institute for Vocational Training (BIBB) which researches in the areas of internationality of vocational education and training; vocational education and training for young people with poor prerequisites; lifelong learning, permeability and equivalence of educational pathways; modernisation and quality assurance in vocational education and training and training market and employment system.

Last year, the Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) introduced a new Framework Programme for Empirical Educational Research that will run for the next ten years. One of the main field of action is the reasonable use and conception of technological and digital developments, which have an important impact on guidance and the quality of educational systems.

At last, the German Institute for International Educational Research (DIPF) supports educational research, educational practice, educational policy and educational administration on the basis of scientific infrastructure services as well as research and educational system evaluations. As a member of the Leibniz Association, DIPF aligns fundamental research with innovative developmental work and its implementation to the benefit of society.



Ethical standards play an important role among German guidance counsellors and associations. While there is no national ethical guideline, they commit themselves to act in accordance with the ethical standards defined by the IAEVG.

Further, the National Guidance Forum for Education, Career and Employment, the Research Quality Group in Guidance of the University of Heidelberg (IBW) as well as numerous actors and stakeholders of the German guidance community have developed the so-called BeQu Concept . This quality concept is part of a professionalization strategy to promote the social and political value attached to professional career guidance and counselling. It also includes ethical standards and aims at becoming benchmark for the guidance practice and policy in Germany.


Last update by ©Euroguidance Germany (March 2018)