Nonrated Personnel Careers

Whether they are loaders in battle tanks, medics in mobile surgical hospitals or light infantry on operations in urban or wooded terrain: military personnel pursuing careers as nonrated personnel are the mainstays of the Bundeswehr.

Soldat kriecht unter einem Hindernis durch

Nonrated personnel careers – the backbone of the Bundeswehr

Nonrated personnel are the foundation of the armed forces. Although they hold the lowest ranks, they have the widest variety of tasks. The entry ranks for nonrated personnel careers have German designations that are specific to each armed service or branch. Some examples include “Schütze” (in the Army), “Flieger” (in the Air Force) and “Matrose” (in the Navy), as well as “Grenadier” (in the armoured infantry corps), “Funker” (in the signal corps), “Jäger” (in the light infantry corps) and “Pionier” (in the engineer corps). All subsequent higher ranks for nonrated personnel careers have the same German designations in the Army, the Navy and the Air Force: the entry rank is followed by “Gefreiter” (private E-2, airman or seaman apprentice; OR-2), “Obergefreiter” (private first class, airman first class or seaman; OR-3), “Hauptgefreiter” (private first class (senior grade), airman first class (senior grade) or seaman (senior grade); OR-3), “Stabsgefreiter” (corporal, senior airman or petty officer third class; OR-4) and “Oberstabsgefreiter” (corporal (senior grade), senior airman (senior grade) or petty officer third class (senior grade); OR-4).

Starting out at the bottom – and rising to the top?

Servicemen and women who are candidates for officer careers or junior and senior noncommissioned officer careers initially also hold a nonrated personnel rank. Therefore, the ranks also exist with the addition of FAFeldwebelanwärter for “Feldwebelanwärter”, BABootsmannanwärter for “Bootsmannanwärter” (both senior NCO candidates) or “OAOffiziersanwärter” for “Offiziersanwärter” (officer candidate).

Servicemen and women who joined the armed forces as military service volunteers can also pursue nonrated personnel careers. In this case, they can get to know the armed forces with an individual term of enlistment from 7 to 23 months and then enlist as a temporary-career volunteer if they want to stay.

A temporary-career volunteer pursuing a nonrated personnel career must enlist for at least two years.

During their tour of duty, servicemen and women can change careers. If they are suitably qualified, nonrated personnel also have the opportunity to pursue careers as junior or senior NCOs and as officers – meaning they might even become generals one day.

Versatile and responsible

Servicemen and women in nonrated personnel careers perform important tasks. Without them, the entire armed forces would not be able to function. The employment opportunities range from tank driver or paratrooper to sonar operator.

First, all military personnel complete the three-month basic training. After the introduction training for their future posts, members of the nonrated personnel assume responsibility early on, for example as crane operators, drivers or surface-to-air missile operators.

It is very important to remember that anyone who wants to do voluntary military service or become a temporary-career volunteer must be ready to participate in Bundeswehr operations abroad. This also applies to nonrated personnel. The term of enlistment for nonrated personnel depends on the armed service and ranges from two to twelve years


RankMinimum period of serviceNATO rank
Private E-1, basic airman, seaman recruitEntry rank


Private E-2, airman, seaman apprentice

3 months


Private first class, airman first class, seaman

6 months


Private first class (senior grade), airman first class (senior grade), seaman (senior grade)

12 months


Corporal, senior airman, petty officer third class

36 months


Corporal (senior grade), senior airman (senior grade), petty officer third class (senior grade)

48 months


Rank insignia – an overview

Other Topics