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What do language schools pay in Germany?

Thanks very much to everyone who looked at the last blog post on direct client freelance rates in Germany for English language teachers, based on the results from the 2014 Germany Pay Survey I conducted this year.

As freelancers, your time is split between a number of different clients, right? So it’s fair to say that 100% of your time won’t always be given to the highest paying, most lucrative and profitable section of the market out there, right? That’s why the main focus of this post will be on what private language schools pay. Yes, they’re the lowest paying in terms of hourly remuneration of any segment of the pay survey, and debates as to why and what is possible to do about this will not be the focus of this post. As always, the aim is to take the data and give an angle on it.

What’s your method?

As with the previous post, I took the data sets for highest and lowest hourly remuneration in each city and ran the 10th-90th percentiles on these. I also included the top 10 percentiles, as this is where we normally see the most drastic changes (this tends to identify higher rankers as well).

Have you added any special sauce?

Special sauce? Excuse me? Oh, you mean the extra figures I added for Berlin. Yes, I took the figures from the ELTABB institutional evaluation form carried out last year and added them to the data, which add more number to the Berlin data set. If you’re an ELTABB member, I can give you the link to this.


The table below shows the percentiles. What the devil is a percentile and how is it different from a percentage?

The percentile rank of a score is the percentage of scores in its frequency distribution that are the same or lower than it. For example, a test score that is greater than or equal to 75% of the scores of people taking the test is said to be at the 75th percentile rank.


If you take for example the 50th percentile in Stuttgart. This represents the hourly renumeration which is equal to 50% of the rates (highest and lowest) people gave in the survey for the that city. The number is €23 per 45 mins. In Berlin for example, the hourly remuneration that is equal to 50% of the rates given in the survey is €18 per 45 mins*

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 11.20.27


What you can see in the table below is the graph for Germany based on the figures in the table above.



Poor and sexy, I hear you say? It would seem that from the data Berlin lags behind the rest of Germany. Starting slow and finishing slow seems to be the pattern for Berlin in all areas.


Potential Pesky Data 
I’ve added this heading in an attempt to qualify some of the patterns found in the Rhine Area and the massive growth of Stuttgart at the end of the graph you can see above. The Rhine line looks the way it does because there were too few data entries in the sample. I’ve included it in the totals because, well, it’s part of the other studies, but also to demonstrate that at times some data has to be left out, which is why Munich and Hamburg, despite providing results, has remained largely untouched by this survey.

The stuttgart figure goes to show that looking at the data as percentiles is perhaps a more accurate way of showing the trends the mean, medium or mode. The outlying data in this case hasn’t seriously skewed the majority of the data, quite the opposite actually, we can identify it more easily as a potentially pesky result.

*you might be wondering what all this means without any comparison to average wages, rents, living costs in each of these cities. You would be right, very right, and good job for spotting that. It’ll be the subject of a later post in which I look at a “living wage” so to speak and examine the probability of a trainer making it. Keep your eyes peeled.

What do Freelance Language Trainers Charge?

This post aims to give you a bit more insight into the spread of the hourly rates of freelance language trainers in Germany. Before reading, please not that I have limited my search to direct contracts, which means a learner or group of learners you have directly with companies rather than through a language school or any type of ‘middle man’.

After publishing the first round of results from the Germany Pay Survey 2014, there’s been a lot of positive feedback and in particular some really interesting observations:

Frances commented that:

I’m also wondering about the highest and lowest figures for hourly rates for direct work…was there a big difference? I find the results interesting because the Stuttgart average figure seems quite low to me.  Most people I know won’t accept less than 35 Euros from direct clients (more or less a guideline) and usually get about 45 Euros. By the way, I have the impression that the rates  have been stagnant for the last 10 years and people are hesitant to ask for more

Mura Nova also commented that

When you say you averaged did you take the mean?

If so did you try say try taking the middle or median score as well as you say for example that Stuttgart may be an outlier and so mean can be distorted by extreme scores?

Thanks for your questions. Your input and curiosity has given me the motivation to kick-start another foray into the data.I hope to provide an introductory answer below in this video.

What about the other areas surveyed?

I reran the same calculations for the remaining areas surveyed (Frankfurt, Berlin and the Rhine Area*). This is what was thrown out:

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 15.05.21

What you might notice is that firstly, Berlin hourly freelance rates for direct contracts lag behind every other area surveyed. As we saw before, the distribution throughout the percentiles for Stuttgart doesn’t vary as much as it does in other areas of Germany, which could explain the ‘stagnant’ comment. Here’s the same information in a pretty graph format (excluding the top 10 percentiles)


What is extremely evident from this graph is that the 80th-90th percentiles in Frankfurt earn more per 45 mins than any other region surveyed. What’s also interesting to note is that, although not hitting the same highs as Frankfurt, the Rhine Area has a more even distribution of hourly remunerations than any other area surveyed. Quite simply, trainers surveyed in this region are more likely to earn between €35-55 per hour than in any other region.

What about if we include percentiles from 90-100? 

Funny you should ask, because here’s another pretty graph to show just that:


So we can see from this graph that only the 99th percentile in the Rhine Area earns €75,5 (70+), while the 96th-99th in Stuttgart, the 90th-99th in Frankfurt and the 96th-99th in Berlin. What’s more, we can see that from the 80th percentile downwards, the increase in hourly remunerations is gradual and steady, changing to sharp and sudden increase when the 90 percentile is reached.

So what does it all mean?

That’s up to you, dear reader. My conclusion here is that it’s less common to earn above €50 per 45mins and the top 10% of trainers are able to charge over 26% more than the rest of the pack.

Again, comments and suggestions are welcomed. To get hold of me directly, just send me a message below:

*Rhine Area is a wishy washy category – I know, there are lots of cities this could include. The reason for this categorisation is that I grouped all responses from trainers that are members of ELTA Rhine or a city around the region this association serves. In the next edition of the survey, the categories will be altered to remove this grouping.