In the Bundeswehr there are almost the same IT training and study courses as well as subsequent activities as IT specialists or managers as in civilian life. Captain Alexander Münster knows what these are. He studied business informatics with the Bundeswehr and heads the careers advice service in Frankfurt an der Oder. There are service centers like this nationwide. Interested parties can find out more about the Bundeswehr as an employer there. Münster is stationed in Frankfurt an der Oder. Not far from here, in Storkow, is the headquarters of Information Technology Battalion 381. The soldiers in this unit ensure secure communication systems on national and international missions. There are a total of five such information technology battalions in Germany. This is where most of the IT people in the Bundeswehr do their service.
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The Bundeswehr as an employer
The Bundeswehr is a professional army with around 183,000 volunteers doing military service, temporary and professional soldiers in military service. Their most important tasks are national and alliance defense and support in national crises. In addition to the soldiers in uniform, there are about 81,000 civilian employees. They mainly work in administration. With a total of around 264,000 employees, the Bundeswehr is one of the largest trainers and employers in Germany. All training and study courses are state-certified and are therefore recognized in the private sector. For example, anyone who is training to be an IT specialist with the German Armed Forces takes the same journeyman’s examination as an apprentice in an industrial company. With the universities in Munich and Hamburg, the Bundeswehr has two of its own universities.
If you want to do vocational training with the Bundeswehr, you have to commit to it for several years. In the field of IT, for example, training courses are offered for IT specialists specializing in system integration, information and telecommunications system electronics technicians and electronics technicians in various fields, such as automation or system technology. The training can be completed in 21 months, which is less than the usual 3 or 3.5 years in civilian life. Because the Bundeswehr is a non-profit organization, the trainees can concentrate exclusively on preparing for the final exam during their training, thereby shortening the training period. The training is organized in two ways: in the training workshops, the trainees practice practical tasks with the trainers. At the same time, they learn the necessary theoretical knowledge in the support centers for civil education and training. They are comparable to vocational schools.
For a degree in the Bundeswehr, the commitment period is at least 13 years. The Bundeswehr offers technical courses, for example in computer science, digital engineering, electronics and information technology, business informatics and recently in sustainable energy systems and electromobility. It is studied in trimesters and the master’s degree should be completed within four years. The two Bundeswehr universities have a campus system and the study groups are small, similar to school classes. Most students complete the degree within the required time. The Bundeswehr does not have such high failure rates in computer science courses as at civilian universities.
classification and salary
Apprentices in the Bundeswehr and those who come to the Bundeswehr as career changers with a completed apprenticeship are employed in the middle service if they are suitable. Anyone who studies in the Bundeswehr or enters the profession as an academic will be classified in the senior civil service. Even during their training or studies, servicewomen and men receive a salary that corresponds to their rank. In the middle service there are non-commissioned officers and sergeants, in the higher service it goes up to the captain. The amount of the salary depends on your personal situation, i.e. whether you are married and have children. There are surcharges for this in the public service. Length of service is also important because soldiers are paid based on experience. There can be big pay differences for the same job. A mid-level sergeant can earn between 2,045 and 3,477 euros as an IT administrator. An officer with a computer science degree is between 2,531 and 4,670 euros.
Only income tax is deducted from this gross salary. Soldiers pay neither health nor pension insurance contributions. They are subject to free medical care from the federal government and are cared for by their own unit doctors and in their own hospitals. The Bundeswehr pays the contributions for the statutory pension insurance for temporary soldiers. Professional soldiers are exempt from the pension insurance obligation due to their pension entitlement towards their employer and receive a pension. They have the same status as civil servants when it comes to pensions.
Opportunities for employment and advancement
IT specialists are employed in Storkow, for example, after completing their training in IT administration, satellite or radio communication. However, they can also serve in the navy on ships or as IT experts in the air force. Computer scientists work as IT security experts, for example. However, it is no different in the Bundeswehr than in the private sector: the higher the rank, the further away the servicewomen and men are from specialist work. In the officer ranks, the focus is on leading a unit. It’s like managers in industry.
In the case of advancement opportunities in the Bundeswehr, as everywhere in the public service, the career paths are permeable. A sergeant from the middle service can apply for an officer’s career in the higher service. If he meets the requirements, he completes a degree and takes the necessary courses.