The youth voluntary service
If you do not yet know exactly what you want to do after school – whether training or studies – a youth voluntary service is a good opportunity to get a taste of a certain professional field under expert supervision. In doing so, you gain valuable practical experience and orientation for your future career choice. In addition, the voluntary year is counted as a waiting year for the studies or can represent the practical part of the vocational diploma.
A youth voluntary service can be designed in different ways, so that a lot of areas of interest are covered. You can learn about many different opportunities on this website.
If you want to find out more about a specific youth voluntary service you can select it directly in the table of contents, or you can get a general overview.
- Voluntary social year
- Federal voluntary service
- Social welfare work
- Voluntary social year – politics
- Digital voluntary social year
- Voluntary ecological year
- Ecological federal voluntary service
- Voluntary military service
- European voluntary year
Voluntary social year
A voluntary social year (called the “FSJ”) is just the thing for people who like to be there for other people, no matter whether young or old, and are there to help.
There is the possibility to get involved in a kindergarten or school, or in a retirement and nursing home or in a sports club. You can also take on jobs in social services, handicapped care and hospitals.
In general, a voluntary social year is possible with all charitable and non-profit organizations.
There are no school requirements, but a work permit is required. You also have to be between 15-26 years old, from the age of 18 a voluntary social year abroad is also possible. The time span of an voluntary social year can vary between 6, 12 and 18 months, usually 12 months. Previous knowledge is not required, but you should be in good health, enjoy learning and dealing with people and be stress-resistant.
Workplaces for a voluntary social year can be found on the voluntary server of the respective federal state and you can apply for the desired location via the site.
You work about 40 hours a week and are rewarded by the institution with pocket money, which can amount to around 500 euros a month. During the year, you continue to receive child benefits and are entitled to 26 days of vacation. Furthermore, you are insured by the deployment center for health, care, accident and work.
I am doing a FSJ in a school for children with autism and I am employed in the middle school where the children are 10 to 13 years old.Read moreIn the school, practical life tasks are in the foreground, there are also learning units such as material lessons or maths. Individual support is also offered so that the children can work on the childs needs in one-to-one supervision. At school, we cook and eat with the children to prepare the students for real life. I really enjoy working with the children and now I want to study special education. That surprised me because I wanted to use the FSJ to bridge the gap and hadn’t considered the social field before. So the FSJ helped me a lot in my professional orientation.
For my FSJ I work with people in need of soul care in an art workshop. There I look after people with disabilities, encourage them to work as independently as possible and process the products so that they can be sold. I create folders, pads and painting boards. I also felt with the supervised workers, fold and glue cards and use paper in gift bags, boxes, envelopes and bookmarks.Read moreSometimes I find it difficult to draw boundaries because everyone is different and needs individual help . The biggest challenge is to be patient, for example when someone repeats the same question several times. What I like best about this work is that I shape people’s lives with them and that these people are so honest and open. An additional highlight of my work is that I can let my creativity run free.
Federal voluntary service
The Federal Voluntary Service is based on the FSJ, but with the difference that people over 27 can also participate. The places of work are just as diverse as at the FSJ, so that there is the possibility to work in the social area such as childcare, rescue service or even help the homeless and you can also work in the cultural, integrative and sporting area, e.g. in museums, theaters, sports clubs, but also as an assistant for various educators.
Within the usually twelve-month service, 25 training days are planned in which the focus is on the participants. The seminars vary depending on the association, but the seminar on political education is an integral part, in which one’s own decisions are made with the social context and the value of political judgment is discussed.
For people over the age of 27, less than 25 days are usually provided, where one day per month is calculated.
Hello, my name is Laura and after my school days I decided to do a Federal Voluntary Service (BFD) in sports at the Gymnasium Lehrte.Read moreMy main tasks include looking after children of the lower grades and supervising homework. In addition, there is the supervision of individual learning groups and regular supervision of the all-day area during school breaks. In addition, teachers keep coming up to me and asking me if I could help them with something. This is how my working day, which starts at 7.45 a.m. and ends at 3.30 p.m., is filled. The BFD also includes seminars made up of 3 compulsory seminars (basic, advanced and final course), the political education seminar and five seminar days of your choice. With these seminars and a self-designed teaching unit, you can obtain the C-popular sports license free of charge. During these seminar days, volunteers meet for five days. You work in groups and talk about the tasks and difficulties in the jobs. The seminar also addresses the legal aspects associated with working with children. The bigger task in the voluntary year is a project that you develop yourself and carry out in your place of assignment. This can look very different and you can decide for yourself what would be fun and what you want to do. I decided on a project in which individual Christmas cards from the fifth and sixth year were designed. These self-designed cards were then sold and the money raised was used to support the school and a children’s hospice.
In conclusion, I see the year as a good opportunity for orientation after school. Working with the children is great fun and varied. Since you are not seen as a teacher, but more as a contact person, you get to know the students better, talk to them more privately and are more on the same level with them. Apart from the children, you have a lot of freedom here, which means you can work independently. Despite the independent work and the associated responsibility, I can always approach my mentors with questions and problems and always find open ears. I like the fact that I can get involved and design something myself, but the seminars don’t meet my expectations. I was hoping for more or more detailed content that would not only be developed through logical thinking, but also supplemented with the help of other materials. In this way, one could eliminate the feeling of being under-challenged and thus increase the motivation for something else. It was really good that the speakers were at eye level. You are not dependent on them, as you know from school, which is clearly to be seen as positive. In addition, there are also fellow FSJers. They were friendly and open. They quickly made friends and had a lot of fun together, both during the seminars and afterwards.
Social welfare work
The Voluntary social year is structured in the same way as an FSJ. The differences are that the places of work are diaconal and ecclesiastical, so you can also work in a parish. The fields of application are church child and youth work, youth welfare, special schools, disabled assistance, elderly care and diaconal and social stations.
Legally, it is regulated like the normal FSJ, in addition, you can have the diaconal year recognized as a practical part of the higher education entrance qualification in health and social services or use it as a pre-study internship for social professions.
The expectation of the participants naturally consists of the ability to work in a team, enjoyment in dealing with people, curiosity about church and diaconal fields of activity, as well as the interest to deal with life and religious questions.
Voluntary social year – politics
The Voluntary Social Year in Politics is an offer for participants between 16 and 26 in the political field. Possible fields of application are political foundations, committees / administrations in local and state parliaments, local associations, public media, institutions for non-partisan education, human rights organizations and political groups in the state parliament. The aim of an FSJ Politics is to deal with political processes and to get closer to one’s own career aspiration. In addition, tolerance and respect for other attitudes should be striven for and an insight into regulated conflict management and balancing of interests should be given.
At the moment the FSJ Politik is not yet offered nationwide, so there is a choice between 7 federal states.
Digital voluntary social year
The Voluntary Social Year Digital is a model experiment and has the same requirements as in a normal FSJ and also the same legal basis for insurance, time span, working hours, etc.
In the FSJ Digital you learn and use media for non-profit institutions. Here it is possible to offer computer and smartphone courses in multi-generation houses for older people. In addition, you can submit your own project ideas and implement them in the desired location, such as a website about the life stories of the people from the retirement home or a descriptive website for a non-profit organization.
Since there have only been model tests since 2017, the digital year is still very vague, but this also offers the opportunity to contribute very freely through the project proposals.
Voluntary ecological year
The Voluntary Ecological Year is intended for young people who are close to nature. The topics dealt with biodiversity in the animal and plant world, environmental pollution, ecological agriculture and climate change. Focal points vary depending on the location where there is a wide range of offers. Possible locations are biological stations, nature conservation centers, botanical gardens and agricultural farms. So everything is there for the forest lover and the animal lover. The offer is aimed at people between 16 and 27 years of age.
FÖJ places can be found on the volunteer server of the respective federal state and you can apply for the desired location via the site. Sometimes it is possible to live directly at the place of work from the age of 18, and housing allowance can be reimbursed when applying if the place of work cannot provide its own accommodation.
The duration is usually 12 months. During this time, 5 seminars are planned, each lasting 5 days. Sustainable living and democracy are taught in the seminars and an exchange between the volunteers is made possible.
A remuneration is provided, which varies depending on the federal state and location. You can also apply for housing benefit if you have to change your place of residence. Travel expenses as well as the purchase of a BahnCard 25 for seminars will be reimbursed.
After my more or less successful Abitur at the Lehrte grammar school, it had to go on somehow. Since I had no idea what I wanted to study or what training I was going to start, a voluntary year came first for me. So I just applied for a few jobs and was finally accepted on an organic farm. Read moreI’ve been there for almost six months and I can only say positive things. I was received very well and the first few weeks worked so that I could quickly cope with everyday tasks, such as caring for the animals. With my nice and helpful colleagues, even work like weeding in the rain is great fun. With the common goal, lunch, in mind, time flies by. My personal highlights include the 95% of the working time that I am allowed to spend outside. It never gets boring as there are so many different things to do. One day you are a painter and paint a sprinkler system and another day you plant bushes like a gardener. A year as a volunteer also includes seminars with other volunteers, which are spread over the year. This can best be compared with school trips. You have a certain topic that you can find out about in the seminar, but also a lot of free time and fun activities. Find out more and make a year like this! It helps you choose your future education and is just great fun!
Ecological federal voluntary service
The ecological federal voluntary service is to be understood as a “green” federal voluntary service. As in the BFD, participants can also be over 27 years old.
The locations are based on the FÖJ with options in nature and environmental protection such as environmental education, ecological horticulture and organic agriculture.
Since there is no age limit, the agencies of the deployment sites work differently nationwide. Some integrate the ÖBFDler into the FÖJ groups, others reduce the age to 27 years or create groups for adult participants first.
A distinction to the FÖJ is that participants over 27 can reduce the weekly working time, from full-time to 20 hours a week. In addition, participants only need to complete one seminar day per month, but a political education seminar is mandatory.
Voluntary military service
Voluntary military service can be completed in the armed forces from the age of 17 (with the consent of the parents) and the period can be adjusted up to 23 months. Compulsory full-time schooling is also a prerequisite.
The armed forces are divided into army, navy, air force, medical service, armed force base and cyber forces, in which there are further divisions.
The first six months are a probationary period, so that the Bundeswehr and the FWDLer, who gets to know the basics of the soldier’s profession in the meantime, can get in the right mood and if there are disagreements, both sides can terminate their work. The employment relationship is then adjusted to the desired time and is also mandatory. After the voluntary military service, it is possible for good graduates to become a temporary soldier or to gain a good start in the armed forces.
The military pay is above the minimum wage and increases with the time that is spent in the Bundeswehr.
I did my voluntary military service in Hanover from the beginning of October 2018 to the end of July 2019. In these 10 months I was able to get an insight into the life and work world of a Bundeswehr soldier.Read moreIt was an enriching time. On the one hand because of the life experience I gained and on the other hand because of the contacts I was able to make within the army.
The voluntary military service is divided in such a way that you have to go through the three-month general basic training, called AGA, immediately after starting your service. In it I learned various basic military skills: The etiquette of the Bundeswehr, first aid, rights and obligations of a soldier, shooting and combat service. The daily routine typically was that I got up at 05:30 with my three roommates and we first cleaned the room (sweeping, dusting, etc.). At 6:00 am we have breakfast. Then the entire platoon, around 25 soldiers, entered the hallway and the uniforms were checked for cleanliness and completeness by superiors. Then the rooms were checked. If everything went well, it was done by 8:00 am. The morning was a constant during the AGA. On theory days, the various classes started after 8 a.m. We got a theoretical explanation of everything. No matter if shooting or first aid. Other topics that were dealt with were e.g. History of the Bundeswehr, political education and legal studies. On practice days, the process looked different after 8 a.m. Depending on the topic, they went to the on-site practice area or the practice meadow in front of the barracks. There we e.g. worked on the weapon or simulated setting up positions.
At AGA you learn one thing above all else: camaraderie.
This part in particular has accompanied me in my ten months and beyond. Respecting others is a core skill in life and camaraderie is a special form of it. I’ve learned and seen that sometimes it’s just right and important to literally get into the dirt for the others. After the three months I unfortunately had to say goodbye to my platoon. Everyone was ordered to their respective home units, which were distributed all over Germany. I was lucky and was allowed to stay at the same location where I had my AGA: Hanover. I have to say in advance that the work for FWD members in the main units can be very different. In general, you are first of all the lowest rank in your company and, accordingly, you are also more likely to be entrusted with the not particularly popular tasks. But I think that in most companies it is similar and not specific to the Bundeswehr.
Soldiers under 25 must sleep in the barracks, unless they have a special permit. So you don’t have to worry about finding an apartment nearby. It also means you have a short commute to work. For me, the day in the home unit started at 6:30 a.m. and ended at 4:30 p.m. The inspection in which I served was responsible for specializing soldiers for service in the Bundeswehr. I wasn’t directly involved in it myself, but in the preparatory work for the courses. I primarily took care of supply tasks, but also sometimes organizational ones, such as contacting the units of the course participants. Even if I wasn’t directly involved in the training, I was able to take a lot with me through discussions with the experienced soldiers. Some had been in the major Bundeswehr operations such as Mali and Afghanistan and talked about their time there. Impressive for me personally.
Even if you shouldn’t do the FWD because of this: The financial side of the voluntary military service is definitely worth seeing. Depending on the length of service, an FWDler earns 900-1300 euros after taxes. From 01.01.2020 even up to 1500 per month. There are also various benefits that the Bundeswehr offers free of charge, such as living in the barracks, meals and family trips home. All in all, my time with the Bundeswehr was worth it for me and I can only warmly recommend the FWD for school leavers who want to develop their character and work skills. It is a good opportunity without any major obligation to get an insight into Germany’s largest employer. It is still possible to change careers within the FWD and become a regular soldier.
European voluntary year
The European Voluntary Service is part of the Erasmus + program and is funded by the EU. The costs are borne by Erasmus + and supported by the agency YOUTH for Europe. The prerequisite is an age between 17-30 years and the duration of the assignment is aimed at 2-12 months, but it makes sense to be able to speak English and be open to the national language. The EVS can be completed in all EU states and partner countries in various non-profit projects. There is the possibility to choose between social, ecological and cultural projects so that everyone can design their own voluntary year. To prepare for the host country, there is an introductory training course and a seminar halfway through the stay. Since EVS is financially supported by the EU, many costs are covered. The costs of living and eating, as well as the costs of the visa and vaccinations can be covered. In addition, the travel costs to be mobile, insurance, the language course and pocket money, the amount of which is adjusted to the host country, are covered. Finally, you will receive an EU certificate of participation.
If an EVS year is an option for you, you should choose your place of assignment via the European Youth Portal at least eight months before your planned start.