Berlin: Big market, small companies

If you work in Berlin, you can have a career in one of several equally represented industries. The capital city gives you the opportunity to work in one of more than 350,000 companies, associations, institutions of higher education, vocational schools, institutes, or in the area of politics. This city doesn’t just stand for a flagship company that dominates the region. Here, optical analytics meets mobile business, laser technology meets design and plastic production meets cancer research. So it’s not at all unusual that a publishing house, a film production company and an old Berlin manufacturer of safety equipment or a chocolate factory are all located in the same industrial park.

Berlin has many small and medium-sized companies. The terms “small” and “medium” here refer to the number of employees. Less than 500 employees is completely typical here. 280,000 companies even have less than 250 employees. You will only find 1,000 coworkers in 100 companies.

Quality, not quantity

What does the number of employees say about the quality of the company? Nothing. It’s precisely small and medium-sized companies that form the backbone of Berlin’s economy. After all, it’s not for nothing that Berlin is known for its rear courtyard gems. Rear courtyard gems are companies that are world leaders in a specialized area thanks to their products and technologies. Quality, not quantity: These companies contribute to Berlin’s share in the global market economy. Whether in one of the 14 technology parks, the many commercial centers, or simply around the next corner – rear courtyard gems are a more lucrative place to work for many Berliners.

Headquarters in Berlin

More and more companies are moving their headquarters to Berlin or opening branch offices here. Why? The capital city is the only place in Germany with a close link between science, business and politics. Here, there are few limits on the development of a product and, therefore, a company. And development means a growing number of jobs.

Large and Small Berlin Companies

The term "small" or "large" companies refers to the number of employees. In Berlin, most of the companies have fewer than 500 employees, often even fewer than 200.

These small companies do not always have an HR department with many employees or e-recruiting software that automatically confirms the receipt of application documents, for example. Open positions are often only advertised directly on the company's own website and these sites don’t always have a “career” section. Daily business and the corporate structure do not always allow employees to concentrate on the topic of personnel. However, these companies are often world market leaders in some special field and offer a variety of challenging jobs.

Berlin’s biggest

 The city's largest employers are the Berlin administration with its offices and authorities as well as the municipal police and fire brigade. They are closely followed by companies whose daily work consists of coordinating public tasks. Companies such as Berliner Wasserbetriebe, Vattenfall and Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe with bus lines, suburban trains and underground trains. All of them are stable and competent employers who offer secure jobs. A total of 150,000 people currently work there.

OUR TIP: Are you a freelancer? With the "Berlin Underground Coworking Map" you can easily find a coworking space near you. Take a look now!

OUR TIP: Under the heading "Berlin Industries" you will find companies sorted by industry as well as links to clusters, associations or technology park websites. Use these pages for your research!

Sustainable businesses

There are lots of businesses in the capital region which promote the subject of sustainability, in view of social, ecological and economical aspects. As a job seeker in Berlin, for example, you have the possibility to work for small and medium-sized businesses that develop sustainable products, technology or services and therefore improve the quality of the environment. Or you may want to find work in which humane working conditions are supported through fair-trade products. Across all sectors there are jobs in the field of communication, marketing, social media, community, product and content management, distribution, sales, controlling, business development and software development.

It is more specific in particular sectors: especially in the field of renewable energy, electromobility, green IT, clean tech, building technology, finances and insurance, there is the need for talented individuals with backgrounds in engineering, computer science and technology. Whoever hasn’t decided on their focus during their studies or training is still able to change it: a lateral entry is possible by means of further training.

You can also advance and impart knowledge about the environment and society. Alongside public research institutions conducting research for ecology, sustainability and climate change, there are also private institutes and strategic agencies that carry out scientific analyses and advise businesses and politics. As a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) or environmental consultant, you could introduce and improve measures in businesses facilities for reducing environmental impact and promoting humane working conditions. In the meantime, many businesses have implemented their own departments, processes or representatives to promote the topics of sustainability, the environment and climate protection.

There are also jobs in politics, foundations and associations. Whether at a national or regional level – in Berlin there are many points of contact in the ministries and senate administration. Most German political parties also have their headquarters in Berlin and run their own foundation. Those who’d prefer to work independently of politics can also consider well-known organisations such as WWF, BUND or NABU. 

OUR TIP: Anyone who wishes to assess for themselves whether a business actually operates sustainably can familiarise themselves with the Criteria of the German Sustainability Codex, the Public Welfare Economy, the Entrepreneurs4future or the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the Agenda 2030 of the United Nations.

Startups

A new company is created in Berlin every 20 hours. In Berlin’s digital sector alone, one in eight new jobs is a job in a start-up, a trend that is only growing. Nowhere else in Germany do so many founders dare to go into business for themselves as in Berlin. Immobilienscout24, Soundcloud, Wooga, DaWanda, brands4friends, Zalando, Sofatutor and rebuy are just some of Berlin’s start-ups that have established themselves in the market and now rank among the largest employers in the capital city.

Investors believe in Berlin as a location, which has been proven by the high amount of funding programs, investors, incubators, accelerators and institutes. When you want to found a company here, you can take advantage of individual consulting, support and funding opportunities. If you are looking for a job in Berlin, you should keep your eye out for start-ups. The IT / software development, marketing & communications, sales & finance, product management and design & UX sectors in particular are hiring – offering interesting jobs for programmers, engineers, graphic designers, customer service representatives, team leaders, account managers, marketing managers, administrators, etc.

Best Workplaces in Berlin and Brandenburg

Great Place to Work is an international research and consulting institute, which honors every year the best employers in Berlin and Brandenburg. Here you will find the winners from the last years. Just click on the desired logo, check short profile and visit the company's website if interested.

OUR TIP: Do you find that the company where you work, is also a great employer? Then tell your recruiter about the competition.

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Industry Overview