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Meister (from Latin magister for 'teacher', 'scholar'; English master or master craftsman, also foreman craftsman ), abbreviation Mstr., In Austria Mst., In the craft in Germany also me. is a higher professional qualification in manual, artistic, technical-industrial, agricultural and other professions .

Who is master? - Who came up with something!
Who is a journeyman? - Who can!
Who is an apprentice - Everyone!

History of the master in the trades

The history of the master as a professional qualification is based on the rules of the guilds, which have shaped commercial life, especially in cities, from the Middle Ages to the beginning of industrialization at the beginning of the 19th century. As a union of master craftsmen, they formed their own social group in the class society of the Holy Roman Empire . In the class of the “guild craftsman”, three stages of development were planned: the apprentice , the journeyman and the master, with the latter alone being entitled to full guild and civil rights. To this day, have the craft numerous traditions from this period in customs preserved.

Although the social restructuring as a result of industrialization could no longer maintain the traditional guild regulations and the civic striving for freedom of trade made many class privileges void, the handicrafts managed to save the positive sides of a regulated three-stage vocational training into the new era, yes To serve as a model for other branches of the economy in this regard:

  • After the flow of skilled craftsmen into the industry had partially dried up and specific industry-specific qualification requirements had arisen, the industry itself began to impart professional knowledge to apprentices (today known as trainees ) in a regulated process and to transfer the chambers of industry and commerce with examination powers, as they used to do Guilds or guilds and later the chambers of crafts. The journeyman craftsman finds his industrial "mirror image" under the name of skilled worker .
  • In direct production, the person responsible for work organization and control on behalf of the entrepreneur usually bears the title “master”, although, unlike the master craftsman, he is no longer the owner of the workshop and the means of production. With the more and more formalized training to become a foreman or industrial foreman, he finally finds legally secure recognition.
  • The transfer of the training principle with a certified professional qualification to areas of the service sector, to agriculture, forestry and professional housekeeping as well as to trade and gastronomy resulted in further opportunities to acquire a master’s title as proof of qualification in these fields under the aegis of the competent professional chambers or state educational responsibility .

Despite the different forms of master craftsman training in the countries of the German-speaking Central Europe, which emerged from the medieval empire with its class structure, the professional title "master" is a visible expression of personal competence with regard to the subject represented and the responsibility of its owner. In the GDR, " Honored Master " was an honorary title awarded as a state award.


In Germany, the master craftsman is a so-called advanced training according to the Crafts Code or the Vocational Training Act , which is usually based on a completed vocational training and leads to a publicly recognized qualification. The exams take place at the respective professional bodies . Educational institutions and master schools offer preparatory courses for the final exams; However, participation in a course is not mandatory in all cases for admission to the examinations.

Master-level degrees

Master craftsman

The final master craftsman should enable primarily to a craft independently exercise, so a separate operation to perform, and apprentices adjust and train. The examination is held by master craftsmen's examination committees, which are set up as state examination authorities for the individual craft trades at the headquarters of the Chamber of Crafts (HWK) for their district.

Industrial master

The main task of the industrial foreman is the technical, organizational and personal management of working groups or departments in (industrial) companies. As a manager , the industrial foreman occupies a position between skilled workers and technicians . The exam is held by the master craftsman's examination committee of the responsible Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK).

Masters in various professions

The responsibility of the Chambers of Commerce, there are in addition to the traditional industrial masters also approved specialist masters who are not directly employed by the industrial production and not (including the craft example Restaurant masters , chefs , hotel master , operating brewmaster , master florist, logistics master , master for protection and Security , water master , master for motor traffic , master for event technology , etc.). You take your master craftsman's examination at a Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK).

Agricultural master

The agricultural master takes on specialist and managerial tasks in the agricultural sector . For example, he is responsible for the planning and implementation of plant and animal production as well as for the use of the corresponding machines and resources. The exam is taken at the responsible Chamber of Agriculture or the responsible Ministry for Agriculture and Food. - ( Master builders or master builders of cooperative production in the GDR were not job titles, but awards and honorary titles .)

Forestry Master

The forestry foreman guides the work processes in the care and management of forests by ensuring that work is carried out correctly and that safety regulations are observed. He is also a trainer for the forestry profession . The master craftsman's examination is uniformly regulated nationwide. Courses are offered by various educational institutions, but are not mandatory for admission to the examination.

Fisherman master

With the master's examination to become a fisherman's master, the knowledge and skills required to run a fishing business independently and to carry out the work occurring in the fishing industry at a high level are demonstrated. In addition, the fish management master trains properly in the profession of fish keeper. The prerequisite for admission to the training and examination is a qualification in the profession of fishkeeper or in another agricultural training profession and three years of practical experience in the fish industry, etc. Five years of professional experience is also sufficient.


Housekeeping masters take on specialist and managerial tasks in housekeeping operations. They take care of household chores and the care of people. The examination is held by examination committees, which are determined by the competent authority of the federal states.

District Hunting Master

Professional hunters can train to become a district hunter with a successful qualification as a district hunter or with professional experience that is regarded as equivalent. The procedure is regulated nationwide in the Revierjagd-Meisterprüfungsverordnung . - (The designation game master is not a professional title, but an honorary title, which - like the honorary title of a Revieroberjäger - can be awarded by the Federal Association of German Professional Hunters to particularly deserving district hunting masters .)

Business administrator and further qualifications at master level

There is also a qualification at the master’s level for commercial professions: the branch - related certified specialist and the function -related certified specialist . In addition, within the framework of the IHK further training structure, there is a further training opportunity for IT professions with the operational professionals and higher qualification in the training area with the certified training and further education pedagogue. The exam is taken before a committee of the responsible Chamber of Commerce and Industry. - In Ostbelgien (German-speaking community) and in South Tyrol, the championship title is awarded for similar advancement training courses (see below).

"Master" as a legally protected designation and delimitation

In the craft sector, the training designation master - in connection with a craft - may only be used by those who have passed the master craftsman's examination in the relevant craft. Obermeister or guild master is the official title of the elected chairman of a guild , district craftsman that of the elected chairman of a district craftsman's association .

The formally acquired designations of certified industrial foremen, the master craftsman titles of the chambers of industry and commerce as well as the master titles in agriculture, forestry, housekeeping and hunting are protected by law as evidence of recognized advanced training, but not those commonly used in industry and commerce. based on a nomination Master designations for holders of executive positions with only completed training and possibly an in-house training, such as foreman, foreman, workshop manager, department manager, shift manager , production manager, assembly foremen or simply just champions .

In addition to the masters in the degrees mentioned above , word compositions with -meister are the designation for some professions and professional functions , for example builder , sound engineer , cutter , caretaker or swimming master . However, these designations are not qualifications for advanced training courses, but are intended on the one hand to mark the managerial function (sound engineer, editor), and on the other hand they are the final designations for vocational training (e.g. masseur and medical lifeguard ).

Even official titles of officials contain the word -Master (eg police wardens or mayors ); for forester s. Head forester , on fire chief s. there. The artistic workshop directors at the State Bauhaus , who corresponded to the professors at art academies, bore the title of form master . See also reading master and schoolmaster .

In the Bundeswehr, soldiers who perform certain tasks after training, examination and appointment are or have been referred to as ... masters (for example air rescue masters , sonar masters, paramedics, load masters , mechanics).

European qualifications framework

In Germany, the federal and state governments and other partners agreed in February 2012 to classify master craftsmen's certificates acquired from chambers of crafts, industry and commerce at level 6 of 8 within the framework of the creation of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF). A master ’s degree is on the same level as a bachelor’s degree ( B.Eng. , B.Sc. ), as is the state-certified technician . Master and Bachelor were the level 6 of the German Qualifications Framework assigned (DQR), because it is equivalent but not identical IN QUESTION qualifications. Both qualifications were acquired in different educational areas and differ both in terms of their competence and task profiles; the DQR does not remove these differences; rather, all previous types of qualifications and qualifications are retained. The existing system of national access authorizations is also not affected by the DQR. In this respect, a master craftsman's certificate entitles the holder to direct access to the bachelor's degree, but not to the master’s degree . The assignments to the levels of the DQR also do not affect existing collective bargaining or salary regulations.

On this matter, the VDI published a position paper, which shows that the master craftsman and technician degrees correspond to the same level of competence as the Bachelor, but are not of the same kind .

Promotion of advanced training to become a master

Skilled workers who have completed initial training or a comparable professional qualification recognized in accordance with the Vocational Training Act (BBiG) or the Crafts Code (HwO) can receive training funding for further training as a master craftsman under the advancement training promotion law (so-called Master BaFöG ). The prerequisite is that they take part in a training course that specifically prepares them for a corresponding public law examination. The completion of the advanced training must be above the level of a skilled worker, journeyman and assistant examination or a vocational college qualification, which is the case with the master craftsman examination. Academic qualifications that are higher than the master’s degree (e.g. technical college or university degrees) are not funded in this way; measures under the Federal Training Assistance Act come into consideration here.

The funding includes both part-time and full-time measures. The contribution to the measure consists of a contribution to the course and examination fees (maximum 10,226 euros) and to the cost of the examination piece (maximum 1534 euros) and is granted regardless of income or assets. In the case of full-time measures, depending on income and assets, a contribution to subsistence can be granted. 30.5% of the funding amount is awarded as a grant, 69.5% as a loan . The grant for the examination piece is granted exclusively as a loan. Since July 1, 2009, an additional 25% of the loan can be converted into a grant on request that does not have to be repaid. A further conversion is possible on application if the sponsored person sets up or takes over a company and hires at least one employee or trainee who is permanently subject to social security contributions. In this case, 33% of the loan for the course and examination fees can be waived. The minimum loan amount is 33% of the original loan, even if several reasons for waiver coincide.

Excursus: Masters in the GDR

There were two types of master in the German Democratic Republic :

  • the master craftsman in the tradition of craft training that is also cultivated in West Germany. The examining body was the handicraft chambers that still existed in the GDR. The possession of the master craftsman's certificate was the prerequisite for the entry in the trade register and the exercise of the profession as a self-employed. With the state-run dissolution of independent handicraft businesses through the establishment of production cooperatives for handicrafts and their gradual integration into state- owned companies , the qualification of master craftsmen lost its importance. (For more details see main article master craftsman )
  • the master in the state-owned enterprise or in the state-owned industry (also VE master for short ), whose activity is comparable to that of the West German industrial foreman under the other conditions in a socialist economic system. (For more details see main article industrial master )

In the GDR there was also the opportunity to award experienced skilled workers and craftsmen the master's title without training or exams. Overall, this happened relatively rarely, but was more common in the service sector in the 1980s.

According to the Unification Treaty of August 31, 1990 between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, the educational qualifications obtained in both countries are “equal to each other and confer the same entitlements if they are equivalent” (Article 37, Paragraph 1); see. for the concrete handling of the master craftsman's degree, the articles master craftsman and industrial master .


The master is the highest level of professional training in Austria. Following the classification of the master at level 6 in the National Qualifications Framework (NQR) and thus equality with the bachelor's degree, the amendment to the trade regulations of July 8, 2020 resolved the master’s title as a registrable title.

People who have successfully passed a master craftsman's examination are entitled to refer to the respective craft as “master” and write it in full or in short form (e.g. “Mst.”, “Mst .in "or" Mstin ") before their name. Entry in official documents may also be required (e.g. passport, driver's license, identity card, etc.). The designation in front of the name also complements the use of the “Meisterbetrieb” seal of approval (Section 21 (4) GewO 1994). 

In Austria, a distinction is made between the commercial master and the foreman . The commercial master is comparable to the German master craftsman , the work master corresponds to the German industrial master . In contrast to the foreman, the master craftsman also has the necessary commercial training for independent company management. For master craftsmen, there is also the possibility of taking an entrepreneurial course in order to receive the necessary commercial training for independent company management like the master craftsman.

Furthermore, there is the possibility of the examination for agriculture, forestry and housekeeping master at the chambers of agriculture of the federal states .


The master craftsman training was included in the higher vocational training in Switzerland and can be found in it as a professional examination and higher technical examination . The completion of the advanced technical examination or the federal diploma awarded is equivalent to the German master craftsman's certificate .

Differences to Germany

In Switzerland, one or more years of professional experience is often required after the apprenticeship. In many professions, the training is tiered, admission to the higher technical examination requires the passing of one or more (e.g. two in the electrical trade ) professional examinations.

Attending a master's school is not absolutely necessary, but attending preparatory courses is always recommended or prescribed in some regulations.

The final certificate is a federal diploma and not, as in Germany, the master craftsman's certificate. The job title can (for example, federally certified boat builder, federally certified master farmer ), but does not have to contain the term “master” (for example, federally certified electrical installer ).

The designation federal diploma poses a problem, especially in Germany, because in Germany the diploma is reserved for academic degrees .


In the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, there is only the possibility of acquiring a master craftsman's certificate ( Luxembourg Meeschterkaart, on the French Brevet de Maîtrise ) in the handicraft sector, but not in the industrial or other economic sectors . The Luxembourg Chamber of Crafts (Chambre des Métiers) is responsible for training and testing . The legal regulations are largely similar to those in Germany (see main article master craftsman ).

Belgium (German-speaking Community)

The German-speaking Community of Belgium also knows the master craftsman training. As a qualification offer, it is aimed at suitably trained people in numerous commercial areas and is not divided into the sectors of activity of craft, industry, trade and other economic fields.

The supervisory authority is the Institute for Education and Training in SMEs and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (IAWM).

Italy (South Tyrol)

In the autonomous province of Bolzano - South Tyrol , the provincial administration in its area of ​​German vocational training offers master craftsman training for more than 70 practical trades, gastronomy and trade.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Deutsche Handwerks-Zeitung of March 4, 2002 (accessed on July 19, 2010) The abbreviation me. is a trademark registered by the Wiesbaden Chamber of Crafts and is not widely used.
  2. Structured advanced training in the skilled trades (PDF; 196 kB)
  3. Industrial foreman - generally in the profession of the Federal Employment Agency
  4. IHK master craftsman
  5. ^ Agricultural master in the profession of the Federal Employment Agency
  6. forestry master / in the Berufenet the Federal Employment Agency
  7. Ordinance on the requirements in the master craftsman's examination for the profession of forest manager in the education server for agriculture ; accessed on February 6, 2019.
  8. Course offers (accessed on February 6, 2019)
  9. Information on the fish management master in the education server Agrar ; accessed on January 6, 2020.
  10. ^ Master craftsman - housekeeping in the profession of the Federal Employment Agency
  11. Information on the job description in the agricultural education server
  12. ^ RevierjagdMeisterPV of April 9, 2019; accessed on November 18, 2019.
  13. Appointment. (No longer available online.) In: Bundesverband Deutscher Berufsjäger. Archived from the original on December 5, 2018 ; accessed on December 5, 2018 .
  14. The structure of the IHK advancement training
  15. § 51 and § 51d Crafts Code
  16. In Austria, in contrast to Germany, a protected professional title ; s. Industrial master
  17. Annual Report 2008 , (pdf; 539 kB)
  19. ( Memento from June 9, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  20. ( Memento from June 9, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  21. VDI on the German Qualifications Framework April 2012 ( Memento of the original from December 3, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , (pdf; 50 kB) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  22. The master in the GDR economic system (PDF; 135 kB)
  23. Federal Ministry of Education and Science: Vocational Training Report 1992. Bonn / Bad Honnef 1992 (Basics and Perspectives for Education and Science 35), p. 74
  24. Master craftsman training in the Agricultural State College Rotholz in Tyrol (accessed on February 8, 2019)
  25. Internet presence of the Luxembourg Chamber of Crafts
  26. Information on master craftsman training at the center for training and further education for medium-sized businesses in Eupen (accessed on February 2, 2019)
  27. Information pages of the South Tyrolean provincial administration on master craftsman training (accessed on February 2, 2019)

Web links

Wiktionary: Masters  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations