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German market (via Chris Fleming’s Flickrstream)

Regulation is back in business in Germany. After 15 years since the measure was annulled, the German Parliament voted Thursday, December 12, to reinstate the need for the Meisterpflicht, or master craftsperson certificate, a designation that would allow the craftsperson to start their own business. The move is in part of an overall movement to curtail over a decade’s worth of deregulation. 

According to the Guardian, trade workers in 12 professions including “tilers, organ builders and makers of wooden toys” as well as “coopers, signmakers, parquet flooring installers, interior designers and glass refiners” will have to obtain the certificate designation before they can branch out on their own.  

Critics of the move to reinstate the Meisterpflicht said it would stifle competition and hinder upward mobility in these professions. There is also concern that holding back business with this kind of requirement may also affect German crafts workers in international markets. However, professional trade and craft groups were on the side of regulation, saying the move to get rid of the certificate led to poorer quality work, a lack of trained apprentices and failing businesses. There’s also support from political groups who say the return of the Meister program will boost quality and help skilled crafts workers in ever-competitive job markets. Workers from outside of Germany would not be held to the same law, as long as they can prove at least five year’s worth of work experience. 

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Monica Castillo

Monica Castillo is a writer and critic based in New York City. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Village Voice,, Remezcla, the Guardian,...

3 replies on “You Better Be a “Meister” If You Want to Start a Business in Germany”

  1. This is overally a good thing, because a Master of Crafts degree (“Meisterbrief”) not only gives the right to start one’s business, but also obliges these businesses to train apprentices who obtain a Bachelor of Crafts degree (“Gesellenbrief”). These trainees get paid a small salary – as opposed to having to pay tuition – and split their time 50/50 between traineeship in the business and classes in a vocational college.

    The past lift of the “Meisterpflicht” also freed businesses from educating and paying young trainees, and was part of 1990s neoliberal market deregulation.

  2. I have my Dungeon Meisterpflicht certificate. DM me if you’re adventuring in an ill crafted dungeon.

  3. the 1516 Reinheitsgebot governing ingredients in beer is no longer in effect, although many brewers still follow it. Many Germans hold tradition and purity in great regard. Respect for traditional products and a local cultures of multi-century heritage. That tendency also contributes to over-regulation of human behavior and disapproval of those who deviate from it…. Berlin has been a city of toleration and indulgence toward degenerates (except under domination of Herr Hitler).

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