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How to join the French Navy?

Do you feel like a sailor at heart and would you like to join the French Navy? Congratulations on your decision, sailor! You will soon be embarked on an unforgettable military adventure aboard Navy ships!

This marine branch of the French Army is accessible from the age of seventeen. The recruitment process varies depending on the age, diplomas and position targeted by the future soldier.

Here's everything you need to know about joining the French Navy !

If you want to join the Army or Air Force, discover our article onjoining the French army .

The different schools of the National Navy

national marine school

Depending on the age of the soldier and his level of education, the French Navy training school is not the same. Here are the 4 schools open for the training of future soldiers of the French National Navy : the Mousses school, the Matelots school, the Maistrance school and the most prestigious, the Naval school.

The Mousses school: for under 18s

Do you have a taste for risk and want to train quickly? The Mousses school welcomes around 250 young recruits every year to train them in military discipline. Training at the Mousses school lasts ten months and is accessible from 16 years old with a 3rd level. This school of life trains young soldiers ready to join the sea from a very young age!

The sailors’ school: the post-baccalaureate school

national navy sailor school

The Matelots School offers training from the baccalaureate to more than 2,000 soldiers each year. This seven-week training course is accessible from 17 to 30 years old. After his initial training, the new sailor is assigned to an operational unit for a period of 2 to 4 years depending on the chosen profession.

The Maistrance school: the post-baccalaureate school for over 20s

If you aspire to become a petty officer , the Maistrance school is your training school! Accessible from the age of 20, the Maistrance school requires a baccalaureate. For 5 months, it prepares future petty officers during military and maritime training. Then, training lasting 6 to 10 months trains the petty officers for their future profession. The Maistrance school requires rigor, discipline and ambition. If you recognize yourself here, soldier, don't hesitate!

Here are some professions accessible after the Maistrance school : technician, team leader, helmsman navigator. The petty officer soldier must choose from 48 available professional training courses.

The Naval School: accessible from bac+3 to bac+5

national navy naval school

The Naval School is the most prestigious training course in the French Navy. It aims to train future commanders and officers of the Navy . Soldiers training at the Naval School learn management and the expertise of their specialty. This sea school is accessible after a bac+3 or bac+5 diploma. Its training offers cadets the rank of engineer .

Soldiers leaving the Naval School must ensure rigor, excellent general culture and leadership.

Three access routes are available to join the Naval School: competition for career officers, competition for officers under contract, and internal competition.

Careers in the French Navy

national navy profession

The French Navy trains future soldiers in many sectors! The doors of the Navy are open to numerous areas of expertise: telecommunications, networks, human resources... but also to specific military expertise! Here are some jobs specific to the French Navy .


The cabin boy is the junior soldier of the French Navy. This is the first rank available in this army, accessible from the age of 16 after training at the Mousses school. The cabin boy is a versatile sailor , who takes care of minor tasks on ships. However, it is essential for the proper functioning of the Navy.

Operations and navigation sailor

The Operations and Navigation Seaman occupies an essential position within the Navy. Assigned to the bridge team, he has an operator role. The bridge is where all decisions are made and the operations and navigation deckhand has great responsibilities. It is at the heart of naval supervision and operations as well as ship maneuvering.

Semaphore technician

The military semaphore technician never boards ships, but remains on land! Considered a sea switcher, it monitors and controls maritime traffic to ensure the security of the French coasts . He can work in lookouts, semaphores or CROSS; in mainland France or in the French Overseas Territories. It is an essential profession to fight against pollution and illegal maritime traffic!

Aviation maintenance operator

Just like the semaphore technician, the aeronautical maintenance operator is assigned to land or to aircraft carriers at sea. He is responsible for the implementation of aircraft and maintenance and cleaning operations on them. It also manages routine maintenance of planes and helicopters.


Without hydrographers, the French Navy's maps would not be up to date! The hydrographer is an expert soldier in hydrographic and oceanographic maps . This Navy scientific technician is responsible for updating the maps. It studies the evolution of the seabed in order to ensure reliable access and secure ships. It's an exciting and versatile job that requires scientific culture and constant monitoring!

Discover all the professions of the French Navy on their website.

National Navy recruitment paths

national navy recruitment course

That's it, the decision is made and you want to join the French Navy? Here are the 8 recruitment steps to become a sailor in this French army:

  1. Get in touch with the French Navy via social networks, their website, forums… This is an information step !
  2. Make an appointment with a recruiter and an advisor from the French Navy: he will offer you information on professions, training as well as on the rest of the recruitment.
  3. Open your application file to officially join the French Navy
  4. Then you have a motivational interview with a Navy advisor . This interview is decisive for choosing your future profession and your assignment! It's time to show what you can do!
  5. You take English, sports aptitude and psychological tests; as well as medical examinations.
  6. If all the lights are green, your application is accepted by the French Navy.
  7. You enter training in your school: you start with military training then with your professional training . Welcome to the crew!
  8. At the end of your training, you are assigned to your National Navy unit : the strategic oceanic force, the naval action force, the naval aviation force or the marine rifle and commando force. It's official, you are a soldier of the French Navy !

Become a reserve sailor in the French Navy

reserve sailor

Do you want to join the French Navy part-time? Consider becoming a reserve sailor or reservist. Reserve sailors make up 15% of the overall strength of the French Navy. To become one, you must sign a Commitment to Serve in the Reserve for a period of 1 to 5 years.

Reservists can be assigned to many sectors and areas and are essential to the proper functioning of the French Navy. Sometimes with a military background, military training is not compulsory for reservists. This activity is paid and not taxable.

Reservist sailors of the French Navy also benefit from advantages, bonuses and financial assistance, for driving licenses for example. It is a privileged status and accessible to everyone!

Here are the prerequisites for signing a Commitment to Serve in the Reserve:

  • be volunteer ;
  • be of French nationality;
  • be at least 17 years old;
  • be in good standing with respect to national service obligations;
  • possess all the required skills, particularly physical;
  • not having been convicted.

Military ranks in the French Navy

military rank national navy

As with other armies in France, soldiers of the National Navy can progress through echelons. The French Navy classifies its sailors by rank, according to 6 levels: non-commissioned officers, junior petty officers, senior petty officers, junior officers, senior officers and general officers.

If you want to become a sailor and climb the ranks , you will need to fully commit to the French Navy and demonstrate rigor, discipline and ambition.

Please note that certain levels are accessible directly through competitive examinations after bac+3 and bac+5. Good luck climbing the ranks, soldier!

The highest rank in the French Navy, Admiral of France , is not a rank, but a state distinction. Extremely rare, the last Admiral of France dates back to 1869!

Do you want to know more about ranks in the French Navy? Read our complete article on military ranks in the French Navy !

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