Cologne has long benefited from a central location in Europe and in the past, trade brought in along the Rhine River, which forms one of the largest inland ports in Europe. As the largest city in the region, a great deal of the city’s economy is based around the finance sector, specifically insurance companies and banking. There are also some significant players in the media industry based in Cologne, specifically Westdeutscher Rundfunk and RTL Television. Despite this, some of the largest employers in Cologne are Ford and Toyota, both of whom have commercial and manufacturing centers in the city. Breweries also account for a great deal of employment. Cultural events bring in a great deal of tourism which is an ever-growing industry, particularly for weekend breaks. Companies who employ foreign workers tend to be looking for highly skilled individuals in engineering or in the education sector.
Finding a job in Cologne without being able to speak German is difficult, but not impossible. The advantage is that many Germans speak English very well, so are able to recruit from a wider pool of nationalities. Expatriates who are highly skilled in engineering are very sought after, and there is a significant advantage because many of the main employers in this city are international businesses. Jobs can be found online, but there are few specific forums for more specialized jobs, so the best option is to look for the larger German employers and visit their websites to find opportunities. Using social media such as LinkedIn can help you make contacts in the city of Cologne and hear about new opportunities. IT professionals are also in demand. The main other sector which employs foreign nationals is the education sector. However, this is only an option for professional teachers, rather than gap year opportunities. Once again, contact schools and universities directly — some universities will welcome classes being taught in English to their students.
If you are a citizen of a European Union member state or from United States, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland or the Republic of Korea, you can apply for a work permit once you have already entered the country. If you are not from one of these countries, you will need to apply for a visa before entering the country; this application can be completed online. For both of these options, you will need two passport photographs, a passport with at least six months validity left, and the details of your future employer, including a letter of intent from the employer. If you are applying for a work permit once you have already secured a job in Cologne, your employer will support you with the application.