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joining the french navy

How do I join the French Navy?

Feel like a sailor at heart and want to join the French Navy? Congratulations on your decision, sailor! You're about to embark on an unforgettable military adventure aboard Navy ships!

This marine branch of the French Army is open to those aged seventeen and over. The recruitment process varies according to age, qualifications and the position targeted by the future soldier.

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

If you're interested in joining the French Army or Air Force, read our article onjoining the French Army.

The different schools of the French Navy

national navy school

Depending on a soldier's age and level of education, the French Navy's training school is not the same. Here are the 4 schools open to future soldiers of the French Navy: l'école des Mousses, l'école des Matelots, l'école de Maistrance and the most prestigious, l'école Navale.

L'école des Mousses: for under-18s

Do you have a taste for risk and want to train quickly? Every year, the Ecole des Mousses takes on around 250 young recruits to train them in military discipline. Training at the École des Mousses lasts ten months and is open to students from the age of 16 with a 3ème level qualification. This school of life trains young servicemen who are ready to take to the sea at an early age!

L'école des Matelots: the post-bac school

sailors' school navy

École des Matelots offers training starting from the baccalaureate to over 2,000 soldiers every year. The seven-week training course is open to students aged 17 to 30. After initial training, the new sailor is assigned to an operational unit for a period of 2 to 4 years, depending on the chosen trade.

École de Maistrance: the post-baccalaureate school for the over-20s

If you want to become a naval officer, the Maistrance school is the place for you! Accessible from the age of 20, theMaistrance school requires the baccalaureate. For 5 months, it prepares future naval officers for military and maritime training. This is followed by 6 to 10 months' training in their future profession. The Maistrance school requires rigor, discipline and ambition. If this sounds like you, soldier, don't hesitate!

Here are just a few of the careers available after the Maistrance school: technician, team leader, helmsman navigator. Soldiers must choose from among 48 available training courses.

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

naval school national navy

TheNaval Academy is the French Navy's most prestigious training program. Its aim is to train future naval commanders and officers. Soldiers in training at the Naval Academy learn management and expertise in their specialty. This school of the sea is accessible after a bac+3 or bac+5 diploma. Students graduate with the rank of engineer.

Graduates of the Naval Academy are expected to provide rigor, excellent general knowledge and leadership.

There are three ways to enter the Naval Academy: career officer competitive examination, contract officer competitive examination and internal competitive examination.

Jobs in the French Navy

profession national navy

The French Navy trains future military personnel in a wide range of sectors! The doors of the Navy are open to a wide range of expertise: telecommunications, networks, human resources... but also to specific military expertise! Here are a few professions specific to the French Navy.


A mousse is a junior soldier in the French Navy. It is the first rank available in this army, accessible from the age of 16 after training at the Mousses school. A mousse is a multi-skilled sailor who performs minor tasks on ships. Nevertheless, they are essential to the smooth running of the Navy.

Operations and navigation

The Operations and Navigation Sailor occupies an essential position in the Navy. Assigned to the bridge team, he or she has an operational role. The bridge is the place where all decisions are made, and the Operations and Navigation Seaman has a great deal of responsibility. They are at the heart of naval supervision and operations, as well as ship maneuvering.

Semaphore technician

The military semaphore technician never goes on board ship, but stays ashore! Considered to be a sea signalman, they monitor and control maritime traffic to ensure the safety of the French coastline. They can work for watchtowers, semaphores or CROSS, in mainland France or the French overseas departments and territories. It's a vital job in the fight against pollution and illegal maritime traffic!

Aircraft maintenance operator

Like the semaphore technician, theaeronautical maintenance operator is posted on land or on aircraft carriers at sea. They are responsible for aircraft start-up, maintenance and cleaning operations. They also manage routine maintenance on aircraft and helicopters.


Without hydrographers, the French Navy's charts wouldn't be up to date! The hydrographer is a soldier who specializes in hydrographic and oceanographic charts. This Navy scientific technician is in charge of updating the charts. They study the evolution of the seabed to ensure reliable access and ship safety. It's an exciting and versatile job, requiring a scientific culture and constant monitoring!

Find out more about all the jobs in the French Navy on their website.

Recruiting for the French Navy

navy recruitment course

Have you made up your mind to join the French Navy? Here are the 8 steps to becoming a sailor in this French army:

  1. Get in touch with the French Navy via social networks, their website, forums... It's a step towards intelligence!
  2. Make an appointment with a recruiter and an advisor from the French Navy: they'll give you information on careers, training and further recruitment.
  3. Open your application to officially join the French Navy
  4. Next, you will have a motivational interview with a Navy advisor. This interview is decisive in choosing your future profession and posting! This is the time to show what you can do!
  5. You take English, sports and psychological aptitude tests, as well as medical examinations.
  6. If all the lights are green, your application has been accepted by the French Navy.
  7. You begin your training at your school: first with military training, then with your trade training. Welcome to the crew!
  8. At the end of your training, you'll be assigned to your French Navy unit: the strategic oceanic force, the naval action force, the naval aeronautics force or the fusiliers marins et commandos force. It's official: you're a soldier in the French Navy!

Becoming a reserve sailor in the French Navy

reserve sailor

Would you like to join the French Navy on a part-time basis? Consider becoming a reserve sailor or reservist. Reserve sailors make up 15% of the total strength of the French Navy. To become one, you need to sign an Engagement à Servir dans la Réserve (commitment to serve in the reserves ) for a period of 1 to 5 years.

Reservists can be deployed in a wide range of sectors and areas, and are essential to the smooth running of the French Navy. Although they may have a military background, military training is not compulsory for reservists. This activity is remunerated and tax-free.

French Navy reservists also benefit from advantages, bonuses and financial aid, such as a driving license. It's a privileged status, accessible to everyone!

Here are the prerequisites for signing a Reserve Service Commitment:

  • volunteer ;
  • be of French nationality;
  • be at least 17 years old;
  • have fulfilled all national service obligations;
  • possess all the required physical and other aptitudes;
  • not to have been convicted.

Military ranks in the French Navy

military grade navy

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

If you want to become a sailor and work your way up the ranks, you'll need to be fully committed to the French Navy, and demonstrate rigor, discipline and ambition.

Please note that some levels are directly accessible by competitive examination after bac+3 and bac+5. Good luck climbing the ladder, soldier!

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

Want to know more about ranks in the French Navy? Read our full article on military ranks in the French Navy!

See our article on tofind out how toearn your military medal.

Read our article on military units of the French Army !

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