Life after the French Foreign Legion

9 mins read
Legionnaire thinking about life after the French Foreign Legion

How is life after the French Foreign Legion? Or what happens when you finish your contract?

First of all, I want to say an enormous thanks for the e-mail I received this morning about an eventual article. It means that I’m not writing this blog for myself, but people can gather useful information for their project. It’s also a first step in my future plan which is to build a community between people who want to join or already joined the French Foreign Legion.

Thus. What kind of job opportunities will you have after 5, 8 or more years of service?

A great question and not too easy to answer, so I’ll describe the three most common situations I saw since I joined the Legion.

Legionnaires leaving with 5 years of service.

Those who don’t reenlist after the first 5 years don’t have too many options. Your military experience won’t worth much on the market and if you don’t work on your French skills, it will be hard to find a better paying job, than you had in the Legion. The minimal salary in France – called SMIC – is 1 219 euros (net) a month for a 35 hours job and that’s what you can count on if you don’t have any “special skills”.

The best story I heard about guys who left the FFL after 5 years and made a great career was two Ukrainian brothers. During their years, they bought two flats and founded a small enterprise right after they left the Legion. In France it’s not too difficult to launch a business if you have a good idea and like to work. The job center (called pôle emploi) offers a lots of help for people who want to found an enterprise.

Legionnaires coming out of Europe and want to stay in France, have to apply for the “carte de séjour” which is like the green card in the USA. If I had to translate, I’d say “residence permit”. It allows Non-European people to stay legally in the country, because to apply for the French citizenship, 5 years aren’t enough and the process takes around 2 years via the civilian way once you left the French Foreign Legion. 

Legionnaires leaving with 8 years and more

Staying for 8 years is a great compromise. Not too much, but enough to prepare a project in great conditions.

At the beginning, I didn’t need the French citizenship, because I came from a great European country and I can travel wherever I want with my passport. When I started my second contract, I decided to apply.
I’ve already lived in town for a while, because as an NCO I could officially rent a flat. I quickly discovered what it really means to live in France and started to love my new lifestyle. So I thought it’s better to show a French ID card than the military ID when I do something in my civilian life… And either way, two different passport are better than one – I said. So that’s how I became French, not by the blood received but by the blood shed. – As the Legion says.

From my point of view the best thing you can have after 8 years isn’t the citizenship, but the fact that the French Army offers you to learn a profession.

How it works to to learn a profession payed by the French Army?

Before you finish your service, you contact an office in the regiment and choose the profession you want to exercise as a civilian. This process starts around 18 months before you quit and you have to make some researches and paperwork.

Once you elaborated your project, you sign another contract until the end of your formation, but you don’t have to work a minute in your regiment during the period you signed for your training. You’ll start your education in the establishment you chose to learn and receive your salary until you finish.

The options for trainings are almost limitless. You can even do it in your country, if you make a good report and the training isn’t available in France.

With 8 years, you’ll have a document called “professional passport” which allows you to work in the security area as a guard for example. For this type of jobs, employer are looking for legionnaires because they are reliable.

Legionnaires leaving after 20 years

You can go to retirement after 19,5 years of service, but this law is going to change in the near future. This is going to be valid for the whole French Army, not only for the French Foreign Legion.

The law was supposed to come out this summer, but due to the Coronavirus disease, the government has other more important things to do… So we won’t know anything before next year.

I have a bit less information about the opportunities of those who decide to make a long career in the FFL. They surely have the possibility to learn a profession and work after the Legion during their retirement and make a bit more money.

I know an adjutant who left with 22 years and receives the maximum amount he can in his rank and he’s around 1500 euros. That isn’t enough for a family in France, so he chose an “easy” job and working as a bus driver.

Resourceful people who transformed life after the French Foreign Legion into a succes

I know former Legionnaires who are working for the United Nations, but some chose to work for enterprises like G4S or organizations like the OSCE. I don’t have to say, that they earn a bit more money, than they did in the FFL.
Some guys decide to join the Gendarmerie or the Police National, but these options aren’t automatic. You shouldn’t imagine, that you finish your contract and someone calls you from nowhere and asks you to work for this or this kind of company. All of them prepared their project well before leaving.
Possibilities are limitless and if someone has a bit more than a bag of pebbles in his head, he can do incredible things. Whatever happens; learn the language and you already won something!

A former member of the French Special Forces

I found the Instagram profile of a former member of the French Special Forces, who built a civilian career of his military experience. Now he’s working as a firearm and close combat instructor, but also as a consultant for video games and films including military subjects. Even if he’s never been a Legionnaire and the level of the Special Forces is highly above the best units of the French Foreign Legion, I’d like to share his profile. It’s very inspiring!
Click here to meet Alex, a former French SAS.

That’s all I have in mind for the first time. If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I’ll try to answer the best possible.

19 Comments

  1. Can we join french police? What’s the salary there. N how much pension we get after retirement if we go back 2 our home country. What is ur kind advice should we leave after 5, 8years or continue till retirement if we want 2 bring family in france? After leaving legion r their good salary jobs available in marine security n private military sector inside france?

    • Yes, you can join the French Police, but it’s the same like for the gendarmerie. You have a way more serious entry test than to join the Legion.
      I can’t say how much you’ll earn at the police, because it’s like in the army. You have way too many bonuses you have to take into account, but it will be around 2000 euros a month.
      If you want to bring your family in France and live an easy life, staying till the retirement could be an option, but it depends on your personal life.
      I can’t give a general advice concerning the years of service, because each case is different.
      For the well paying jobs, you shouldn’t imagine that you leave the FFL and employers will begging you to work for them for 8000 euros a week… I know some guys who are working for enterprises you mentioned, but all of them prepared their project during years and it’s not automatic.

  2. Thankyou respected Mr. Aron for your kind answer. I would like 2 ask few more, does every legionnare is allowed 2 bring his family in france & gets payments n housing for family. Does everyone gets citizenship or its a myth? What benefits family gets. And what is the deployment schedule in legion will i get time 2 stay with my family at leat 3 to 4 monts a year. After retirement if i went back 2 my home country will i still get pension? I heard legion allows leave of 45 days a year as u go up the rank your vacation is extended to 60 days a year after 5 years.

    • Hey,
      yes you can bring your family if you finished your first 5 years or passed NCO. Not evveryone gets the citizenship, but you can obtain it after 5 years. 3-4 months at the base is normal. It can be more or less. Yes, if you go back home, you’ll continue to get your pension. And finally no, you won’t have more the 45 days off a year.

  3. When out on a mission, do you feel you had adequate support such as artillery, air or back up troops if your unit got into an untenable position?

    • I’ve never been in an untenable position, but yes. From my point of view, all of the operations I participated in were well organized.

  4. Hie Aron thank you so much for all this understandable information you gave us. My Name is Bright a 27 years old man from Zimbabwe. I want to join the French Foreign Legions is there any way I can get a visa without the embassy requiring me to have about €3000 minimum amount in my account

    • Hi
      Let me answer you in that one,there is no way you can be granted a Shengen VISA unless you meet the requirements.
      The point is for then to try and minimise the number of immigrants

  5. I there any written test exam for recuirment .Exams like maths english written tedt
    If yes .Then plz ..Tell me the example of it.

  6. Good post.

    I left after 15 years (in 2000) and have since been employed as Security Manager, first in Africa and the last 15 years in the Middle East.

    The opportunities for ex legionnaires are numerous and there are excellent networks operating.

    • Thank you Charles for your comment. If you want to add to this article anything you find useful, don’t hesitate to contact me.

    • After 5 years can I get my French passport? What kind of job do you get after 5 years in the FFL, and how much will I earn on those jobs on average?

  7. Hey Aron, thanks for sharing your time at the legion with us, it is refreshing to read an up to date view of how life is in the legion, I was wondering if you can become an officer from with in the FFL, thanks again!
    Have a good day

    • Hey,
      Yes it’s possible, however you have to speak French at a high level and there are some other requirements but yes it’s possible.

  8. Would someone be able to save up for their Pilot Training during their time in the Legion?

    Pilot training would cost about 40,000 euros and I presume on the time off that you get from the Legion you would be able to do the training along side?

    Would love your opinion on this. Thank you for everything you do brother.

    • Hey. Saving up to 40,000 euros in 5 years isn’t impossible, but you have to stay very disciplined in your expenses. The best is if you stay for 8 years, because the army will pay you a training or participate in your pilote course up to 12,000 euros. You wouldn’t be the first who’ll do this

  9. Hey Aron, after the legion, assuming you obtained French citizenship, could you join one of the other branches of the French military? If so, what’s the cut off for age in those?
    Thanks

  10. Buen dia,cuando ingresas a la legión puedes hacer diferentes curso para especializarte,para aplicar a estos cursos es por merito o esta disponibles a todos los legionarios ? ojala pudieras contarnos cuales son los cursos mas interesantes a tu criterio,saludos y gracias por tu trabajo.

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