In Germany, the master craftsman (Meister) is the highest professional qualification in crafts and is a state-approved grade. The certification is called Meisterbrief. The qualification includes theoretical and practical training in the craft as well as business and legal training. Additionally, it implies the qualification to train apprentices. These qualifications prepare the Meister for running their own business. The status of master craftsmen is regulated in the German Gesetz zur Ordnung des Handwerks (Crafts and Trades Regulation Code).
In Germany, the ranks of apprentice (Lehrling), journeyman (Geselle) and master craftsman have been retained even through modern times. Any business in the trade has to be run by a master craftsman or Meister.
Journeymen and master craftsmen are by law automatically members of their regional chamber of crafts (Handwerkskammer), which is a self-governing public body. The chamber organizes vocational training and oversees the examination of the journeymen and masters.
To become a master craftsman, it is usually required to have completed vocational training in the craft in which the examination should be taken, which finishes with a final examination called Gesellenprüfung (journeyman’s examination), and to have practical experience of at least 3 to 5 years as a journeyman (Geselle). If these requirements are fulfilled, the candidate can apply for the Meisterprüfung (master craftman’s examination). The duration of the courses takes 4 to 6 years depending on the craft. A creation of a masterpiece is also part of the examination.
The German “Meister” qualifies, in accordance to the German Qualifications Framework,” the Meisterbrief”, at the same level as a bachelor’s degree.