Welcome Service Tirol

The Welcome Service Tirol is the first point of contact for Tyrolean companies and universities and their international, highly qualified employees.

© Standortagentur Tirol

Academic titles

To this day, academic and job titles are considered part of the name in Austria, even if they are not legally recognised as such, and academic titles may be used in daily life and entered on IDs, although they do not have to be.

Malicious tongues claim that the Austrian obsession with academic and professional titles began after the First World War and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire with the 1919 Law on the Abolition of Nobility, which banned the use of the preposition “von” to indicate an aristocratic name, such forms of address as “Noble” or “Highness”, and the various aristocratic hierarchy titles (Knight, Baron, Count, Prince, Duke, etc). 

The ban did not apply, however, to the Austrian titles of office conferred on public employees (especially those in the “higher classes of rank”), such as “Hofrat” (Court Councillor) or “Regierungsrat” (Government Councillor), the honorary title of “Professor” for university and secondary school teachers, or the titles awarded to officials in the chambers of commerce and industry.
Thus, after the abolition of the nobility, the use of official and academic titles at least permitted education and status to be indicated in the form of address.

At all events, academic titles and occupational titles have status, and you are expected to know and use them. Some consider it provocative, or even insulting, to ignore a person’s academic or job title when talking or referring to them. An exception is made in the case of the academic titles Bachelor and Master, which are usually used in written contexts but hardly ever as a form of spoken address.
Heads of public institutions (with some differentiation according to importance) are also addressed in written and spoken language in the Tyrol with their respective titles, e.g. “Herr/Frau PräsidentIn” of the Chamber of Commerce or Chamber of Labour or of a court, or “Herr/Frau DirektorIn” of a school or bank.

We therefore recommend neo-Tyroleans applying for a job in the Tyrol to always check whether a potential superior has an academic or vocational title and if so, to use it for the written form of address at least!

A nice story in this context, and one that is anchored in the collective Austrian memory, is that of an armed hostage-taking incident during an attempted breakout from the Stein high-security prison: The emergency was ended without bloodshed when Josef Holaubek, who was chief of police in Vienna at the time, spoke the legendary words,”Kumm‘ ausse, I bin‘s, dein Präsident” (Come on out. It’s me, your President). In an interview Josef Holaubek later corrected this famous quotation. He explained that he had merely said: “It’s me, the president,” as he was not on “du” terms with the inmates.