There are over 320 recognised training occupations in the dual apprenticeship system; their content and structure are jointly agreed among VET stakeholders. Most of them have a three years duration and the majority of them are so-called mono occupations.

 Programmes and duration

The training year 2016 accounts for 327 government-recognised training occupations under the Vocational Training Act (BBiG) or the Trade and Crafts Code (HwO). The number differs slightly each year due to the modernisation or creation of training occupations. A general trend over the last years points to a decrease in numbers of training occupations. This can be partially explained by the trend to integrate related training occupations into single ones with different features. New training occupations are also being developed to cover emerging needs on the labour market. Most of the programmes for training occupations last three years, some few have a duration of two years or three and a half years. The occupations of three years and more are mapped in the German and European Qualification Frameworks at level 4, the two-year occupations at level 3. Almost all of the two-year training occupations offer a clear progression route to a determined training occupation with a longer duration.

Training is carried out at different venues which usually include the in-company training, the school-based teaching and in some cases the inter-company training centres or similar venues. The apprentices spend three to four days a week in the company. It is also possible to alternate blocks of several weeks duration. The coordination of the relevant training and teaching activities is ensured on the basis of the training regulations and is described under Training and Teaching.

Structure of training occupations

There are no binding criteria on the structuring of training occupations. Over time structures following different patterns developed: Most occupations remain so-called mono-occupations in contrast with occupations structured along specialities, main focus areas or those including qualifications units. Specialisations are mostly offered in the second and third year of training. Some occupations also allow training companies more flexibility through optional or additional qualifications.

Germany Structure of occupations

Source: Data report on VET 2015 (

For some training occupations of the dual system training modules were developed. The modules are based on typical work processes within the occupation and the combination of all modules covers all the standards set in the training regulation. The training modules are aimed at young people that failed to enter a regular apprenticeship. They are also used for second chance qualification.

Training outside the dual apprenticeship system

The dual apprenticeship system does not cover all sectors of secondary vocational education in Germany. For example many social occupations like child care worker are part of the full-time vocational school system of the federal states. Most of the occupations of the health sector also have their legal base outside the Vocational Training Act.

With the amendment of the vocational training act in 2005 there is an option for federal states to declare full-time school vocational training programmes as equivalent to existing training occupations. Criteria are e.g. the correspondence in scope and content and sufficient practical work experience. Graduates of those programmes are then entitled to register for the final exams in the according training occupation at the competent body.


  • Bretschneider, M./Schwarz, H. 2015: Bringing order to the regulations - A heuristic for the structuring of training occupations.