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2.8 Professions

Der Beruf
The German construction for explaining what your job is involves the German word for profession - "der Beruf". You have a choice of word order with this construction, and can also choose whether to say "ich bin Manager von Beruf" or simply "ich bin Manager".

What's your job? I'm a... (male)
Was sind Sie von Beruf?
Was bist du von Beruf? 
von Beruf bin ich Arzt
ich bin Arzt (von Beruf)
What's her job? She's a...
Was ist sie von Beruf? von Beruf ist sie Ärztin
sie ist Ärztin (von Beruf)

You will have noticed that we use exactly the same construction for professions as we do for nationalities. Whereas in English we would say "I'm a doctor", in German you would say "Ich bin Arzt" (literally - "I am doctor"). Once more, the verb which you will need throughout is the irregular verb "sein".

And just as there are two words for "a friend" or "a German" depending on the gender of the speaker, there are also two forms of each profession which need to be learned to employ the feminine version of the noun if the person being described is a woman - "Ich bin Ärztin".

Table of professions
Listed below are the names of the most commonly used German professions with their male and female variants.

Profession Male Variant Female Variant
Actor  Schauspieler  Schauspielerin 
Artist  Künstler  Künstlerin 
Author  Schriftsteller  Schriftstellerin 
Bank clerk  Bankangestellter  Bankangestellte 
Business(wo)man  Geschäftsmann  Geschäftsfrau 
Car mechanic  Automechaniker  Automechanikerin 
Chemist  Chemiker  Chemikerin 
Civil servant  Beamter  Beamtin 
Doctor  Arzt  Ärztin 
Engineer  Ingenieur  Ingenieurin 
Farmer  Landwirt  Landwirtin 
Hairdresser  Friseur  Friseurin 
Journalist  Journalist  Journalistin 
Lawyer  Rechtsanwalt  Rechtsanwältin 
Lecturer  Dozent  Dozentin 
Nurse  Krankenpfleger  Krankenpflegerin 
Pensioner  Rentner  Rentnerin 
Photographer  Fotograf  Fotografin 
Politician  Politiker  Politikerin 
Postman  Briefträger  Briefträgerin 
Professor  Professor  Professorin 
Salesperson  Verkäufer  Verkäuferin 
Secretary  Sekretär  Sekretärin 
Student  Student  Studentin 
Taxi driver  Taxifahrer  Taxifahrerin 
Teacher  Lehrer  Lehrerin 
Waiter  Kellner  Kellnerin 

Test yourself!
You can test yourself on your knowledge of German vocabulary for professions by clicking on the bar below:

1) As you will have noted from the above list, the suffix "-in" is often added in the feminine form - i.e. Kellner + "-in" = Kellnerin.

2) Sometimes the female equivalent modifies slightly with the addition of an "Umlaut" - i.e. Arzt + "-in" = Ärztin.

3) Occasionally the male form ends in "-in", and the female equivalent in "-e" - i.e. Bankangestellter - "-r" = Bankangestellte.

4) There are sometimes different words for male and female jobs - i.e. Geschäftsmann (male) and Geschäftsfrau.

Weiter!Chapter 2.9: Conversation: Der Beruf

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