What Is a Bildungsgutschein? (And How to Apply for One)

Are you unemployed in Germany? Looking to start an exciting new career in the tech industry? You could retrain for free with a Bildungsgutschein—here’s how.

A Bildungsgutschein is a voucher which allows you to study for free. With the right course, you can master the most in-demand skills that employers are looking for—like UX and UI design. In this post, we’ll explain exactly what a Bildungsgutschein is and show you, step by step, how to apply for one. We’ll also show you how you can start an exciting new career as a UX or UI designer or as a web developer with the help of a Bildungsgutschein and a CareerFoundry program.

We’ll cover:

  1. What is a Bildungsgutschein?
  2. Is it still possible to get a Bildungsgutschein during the Covid-19 pandemic?
  3. Who is eligible for a Bildungsgutschein?
  4. Is there a Bildungsgutschein for people who are working?
  5. What CareerFoundry courses can you take with a Bildungsgutschein?
  6. How to apply for a Bildungsgutschein
  7. How will a Bildungsgutschein help you land a job?
  8. Bildungsgutschein success stories
  9. Key takeaways and next steps

1. What is a Bildungsgutschein?

A Bildungsgutschein is a voucher issued by the German Agentur für Arbeit (the job center) which allows you to study for free. Funded by the German government, it enables you to learn new skills which will help you get back into the job market if you’re unemployed, or to obtain qualifications that are crucial to your current line of work. So, if you find yourself unemployed or facing the prospect of unemployment, you can apply for a Bildungsgutschein and use it to take a course of your choosing—as long as it’s with a provider approved by the Agentur für Arbeit. We’ll take a look at the CareerFoundry courses you can take with a Bildungsgutschein in section five.

What other costs are covered with a Bildungsgutschein?

In addition to the full cost of your chosen course, a Bildungsgutschein may also cover the following:

  • Travel expenses to and from your home and the educational institution
  • Accommodation (if you are required to stay away from home as part of your chosen course)
  • Childcare costs

Bear in mind that the above expenses will not be covered when you take a CareerFoundry course; our programs are entirely online, so there’ll be no need to travel. Any unemployment benefits you’re already receiving will not be affected by the Bildungsgutschein—you’ll continue to receive them as normal. You can learn more about the costs covered by the Bildungsgutschein here.

2. Is it still possible to get a Bildungsgutschein and change careers during the Covid-19 pandemic?

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to much uncertainty, especially when it comes to employment and career-change. If you’re wondering if now is a good time to apply for a Bildungsgutschein, the answer is still yes. It is still possible to get a training voucher from the Agentur für Arbeit—and, ultimately, the process should be the same (we’ve outlined all the steps you need to follow in section six of this post). The only thing to bear in mind is that it may take somewhat longer to process your application for a Bildungsgutschein given the current situation, and it may not be possible to visit your local job center in person. For the most up-to-date information, we advise speaking to your local job center directly.

Besides getting the Bildungsgutschein, you might be wondering about your career prospects in general. How has Covid-19 impacted the tech industry? Is it still feasible to become a web developer or a UX or UI designer in the current climate? 

Fortunately, the tech industry has fared much better than some other sectors since the pandemic hit. Market intelligence firm IDC predicts that the tech industry will be worth $5 trillion by the end of 2021—that’s 4.2% growth, signaling a return to pre-pandemic growth rates. And, looking even further ahead, IDC predicts a 5% compound annual growth rate for the industry between now and 2024. In short, the technology industry is recovering fast, and those with in-demand tech skills will continue to be just as employable as ever before.

Of course, some things have changed in the industry. Remote work is on the rise (up 300% compared to the pre-pandemic era) and it may be easier to find work in certain sectors, such as healthcare, software, media and entertainment, and logistics (to name a few). We’ve covered the impact of Covid-19 more extensively in the following articles:

How has Covid-19 affected the UX and UI industries?

How has Covid-19 affected the web development industry?

And, for general advice, check out this article full of tips for job searching during Covid-19, written by Mike McCulloch, Head of Career Services at CareerFoundry.

3. Who can apply for a Bildungsgutschein?

To be eligible for a Bildungsgutschein, you must be resident in Germany and have completed the official registration process (the “Anmeldung,” where you register your address at the local “Bürgeramt”). Aside from that, you may be eligible for a Bildungsgutschein if:

  • You are currently unemployed
  • You are currently employed but facing the prospect of unemployment
  • You require further training in order to ensure job security in your current employment
  • You require further training in order to make up for a “missing” qualification which is relevant to your line of work

It’s important to bear in mind that even if you meet the above criteria, you’re not guaranteed to receive a Bildungsgutschein, and CareerFoundry has no influence over the decision. Once you’ve gone through the application process, the decision ultimately lies with your local job center. We’ll show you how to apply for a Bildungsgutschein in section six.

4. Is there a Bildungsgutschein for working people?

If you’re currently employed, you’ll only be considered for a Bildungsgutschein if your job is not secure and you’re likely to face unemployment in the near future. If your job is secure and you just want to complete some further training, you will not be eligible for a Bildungsgutschein.

5. What CareerFoundry courses can you take with a Bildungsgutschein?

Here at CareerFoundry, our User Experience (UX) Design, User Interface (UI) Design, and Full-Stack Web Development programs are available for free with a Bildungsgutschein. Our programs are designed to prepare you for a career in the tech industry; you’ll build a professional portfolio and learn the practical skills needed to get hired as a designer. Not sure whether to study UX or UI design, or web development? Read about each below.

Study UX design with your Bildungsgutschein

User experience, or UX, refers to any kind of interaction a user has with a product or service. A good user experience is seamless and easy to navigate, while a bad user experience leaves you feeling frustrated and unable to complete your desired task. Think about booking a flight online or finding a certain item in your local supermarket; the quality of the experience depends on the overall design of the website or the store. UX designers consider all the elements that shape the user journey, combining market research, product development, strategy, and creativity to solve specific user problems. If you’d like to learn more about UX and what it entails, have a read through the following:

The CareerFoundry UX Design Program will take you from complete beginner to job-ready designer in a matter of months. The program is offered entirely online, but you won’t be going it alone; you’ll have the support of both an expert mentor and a tutor, as well as tailored coaching from a career specialist. The course takes just over five months to complete on a full-time basis (40 hours per week) or just over ten months on a part-time basis (20 hours per week). And, with your Bildungsgutschein, it’s completely free. You can learn more about the CareerFoundry UX Design Program here.

Study UI design with your Bildungsgutschein

UI design encompasses all the visual and interactive properties of a digital user interface. Consider the apps and websites you use on a daily basis, and how you navigate from A to B using various buttons, swiping, and scrolling motions. Think of all the colors, images, animations, and fonts you encounter, and how the design adapts to different devices and screen sizes. All of these elements are created by a user interface designer. UI designers tend to be highly creative with a good eye for aesthetics, but they’re not only responsible for making things look pretty; it’s also important to have an interest in human users and how the visual design impacts the overall experience. You can learn more about UI design in the following guides:

With your Bildungsgutschein, you can take the CareerFoundry UI Design Program for free. As with the UX program, you’ll work with an expert mentor, tutor, and career advisor, and build your professional UI design portfolio. The program takes four months to complete on a full-time basis (40 hours per week) and up to eight months on a part-time basis (20 hours per week). Learn more about the UI Design Program here.

Study web development with your Bildungsgutschein

Web development is the process of building applications and websites for the internet, or for a private network known as an intranet. Web developers are not concerned with the design of a website; rather, they focus on the code that powers the website and actually drives its functionality. For example, when you fill out an online form and the information is sent to a database, that’s powered by code which has been written by a web developer. In fact, pretty much everything we use on the internet has been built by a web developer—from the most simple, static webpages to social media platforms, from e-commerce websites to content management systems used to publish blogs (like this one!). You can learn more about web development in the following guides:

With your Bildungsgutschein, you can take the CareerFoundry Full-Stack Web Development Program for free. With the one-to-one guidance of your expert mentor and tutor, you’ll learn all of the skills, tools, and processes necessary to become a job-ready developer. You’ll also build a professional portfolio out of the projects you complete on the course. The course takes six months to complete on a full-time basis (40 hours per week). Learn more about the Full-Stack Web Development Program here.

Is it completely free to take a CareerFoundry course with a Bildungsgutschein?

Yes! As long as you’ve got a valid Bildungsgutschein, the CareerFoundry UX and UI Design Programs are completely free. However, if you take the UI Design course, you will need to pay for Sketch. It’s also important to note that you can only take one training course per Bildungsgutschein. Once you’ve got your Bildungsgutschein, you’ll need to complete the CareerFoundry admissions process, which we’ve outlined in the next section.

6. How to apply for a Bildungsgutschein to study with CareerFoundry

If you’d like to apply for a Bildungsgutschein and study for free with CareerFoundry, there’s a process you’ll need to follow:

  1. Decide which CareerFoundry program you would like to take
  2. Make an appointment with your local Agentur für Arbeit (job center)
  3. Bring all the necessary documents to your appointment
  4. Complete the CareerFoundry admission process
  5. Start your course

Let’s go through each of these steps in more detail.

1. Decide which CareerFoundry course you would like to take

Before you apply for a Bildungsgutschein, it’s a good idea to have a particular training program in mind. It’s important to show the Agentur für Arbeit how a Bildungsgutschein will help you, and this will be easier if you’re able to talk about specific course outcomes and job prospects within your chosen field. If you’re not sure whether UX or UI is the better fit for you, spend some time researching each field and really getting to grips with what they entail. You can also try your hand at both with a free introductory short course:

2. Make an appointment with your local Agentur für Arbeit

To start the application process, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with your local Agentur für Arbeit. You can give them a call or send an email. To prepare for your appointment, be ready to talk about:

  • How motivated you are to take a CareerFoundry program and start a new career in the tech field.
  • Any connections or parallels between your professional background and the course you’re going to take. If you’ve worked in marketing, for example, you’ll be well-equipped for the user research aspect of UX design.
  • The UX/UI design or web development job market (depending on your preferred program). If you can demonstrate that UX / UI designers or web developers are in high demand (which they are!), you’ll have a good case for getting a Bildungsgutschein. You’ll get an idea of how in-demand UX and UI designers are in these posts: Are UX designers in demand near you?, The UI design industry outlook, and Getting started in web development.

3. Bring all the necessary documents to your appointment with the Agentur für Arbeit

In addition to the above, you’ll also need to bring the following with you (or be prepared to email them over, depending on restrictions regarding the Covid-19 pandemic):

  • A form of photo ID (passport or ID card)
  • Proof of residence and registration in Germany (This is known as the “Anmeldebescheinigung”)
  • An up-to-date copy of your resumé
  • The CareerFoundry application guide and a personalized course proposal. You can find our UX design application guide here, our UI design application guide here, and our web development application guide here.
  • The vocational identification number (Berufskennzahl) and measure number (Maßnahmennummer) for your chosen course. You’ll find these in the CareerFoundry application guide.
  • A list of current job openings in your chosen field—you can bring screenshots from job sites such as indeed and LinkedIn.

If you do not speak German, it is advisable to bring a German speaker with you to your appointment. Please bear in mind that you’re not guaranteed to get a Bildungsgutschein—it’s at the discretion of your Agentur für Arbeit advisor.

Note: As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it may not be possible to attend an in-person appointment. Your advisor at the job center will let you know what the situation is in your local area and will inform you on how to proceed if a physical appointment isn’t possible.

4. Complete the CareerFoundry admission process

Once you’ve received your Bildungsgutschein, you’re ready to enroll on your chosen CareerFoundry course. To do this, we’ll ask you to:

  • Complete a quick survey—this helps us get to know you better and make sure you’re a good match for the program you’ve chosen.
  • Read and sign the terms of participation. This contains everything you need to know about the program and how our partnership with the Agentur für Arbeit works.
  • Complete an admissions test. Don’t worry, it’s not as serious as it sounds; we just want to make sure you know exactly what to expect from the course.
  • Complete an English test—the minimum required level of English is B1.2.
  • Send us a copy of your Bildungsgutschein.

5. Start your program

Once you’ve got your Bildungsgutschein and completed the CareerFoundry admission process, you’re ready to start your program! You’ll be given access to the online platform and assigned a one-to-one mentor and tutor. You’ll also receive ongoing support from your student advisors, our dedicated Bildungsgutschein team, and a community of fellow students and career-changers. In a matter of months, you’ll have learned all the key practical skills needed to get hired as a web developer or a UX or UI designer, and you’ll have the professional portfolio—and the confidence—to show for it.

7. How will a Bildungsgutschein and a CareerFoundry course help you land a job?

Our mission at CareerFoundry is to train people for the in-demand tech careers of today and tomorrow—whether you’re a complete beginner or already have some relevant experience. All of our programs are based on extensive research into the job market and in-depth surveys with industry experts, and the course curricula have been designed to equip you with all the practical skills that employers look for—leaving you with a polished portfolio which showcases these skills.

In addition to project-based learning and continuous feedback from industry professionals, you’ll also have access to a free Job Preparation course. This has been designed to help you with every aspect of finding a job in the field; you’ll work with a one-to-one career specialist who will help you search for jobs, prepare for interviews, refine your LinkedIn profile, and develop an effective networking strategy. And, if you complete the Job Prep course, you’ll have access to our career support for another six months after you complete your program.

96% of eligible CareerFoundry graduates find a job within six months of completing their chosen program, and we’re confident that you can, too. But don’t just take our word for it; check out some of our favourite Bildungsgutschein success stories in the next section.

8. Bildungsgutschein success stories

Here at CareerFoundry, we’ve helped hundreds of people retrain and start exciting new careers in the tech industry. Many of our successful graduates have used the Bildungsgutschein to study for free and land a job shortly after—like Nimet, a former account manager who now works as a UX/UI designer at a well-known price comparison site, and Alexander, a former business admin professional who now works as a UX designer at a creative agency.

Sharing her experience as a Bildungsgutschein career-changer, Nimet says:

“Before studying with CareerFoundry, I considered just applying for jobs as a UX designer and learning on the job. I’m so glad I didn’t do that because I would’ve made a total fool of myself. Many people learn the lingo and dive into the field without truly learning the process and the discipline. CareerFoundry trained me in practical tools like Sketch, but I was also trained not to assume that what works for me will necessarily work for others. I’m still learning so many new things on the job, but CareerFoundry taught me enough to feel so confident in what I do.”

Alexander, meanwhile, highlights the value of the Job Prep Course:

“Doing the course is one thing, but the real challenge is taking everything you’ve learned on the course and applying it to a new career. UX design isn’t like any other vocation. It’s not just going to work and doing the 9 to 5; it’s what you do outside of your working hours—how you improve and how you network. There’s a lot more to it, and the job prep course really gets you ready for that.”

You can read Nimet and Alexander’s full career-change stories here:

9. Key takeaways and next steps

As you can see, the Bildungsgutschein offers an excellent opportunity to learn new skills and future-proof your career—completely free of charge. Keen to learn more about UX, UI or web development? Check out the following:

What You Should Do Now

  1. Check out one of our free design or development courses.

  2. Become a qualified UX designer, UI designer, web developer, or data analyst in less than a year—complete with a job guarantee.

  3. Talk to a program advisor to discuss career change and find out which fields are best for you.

  4. Learn about our graduates, see their portfolio projects, and find out where they’re at now.