What is an FSJ? Information on the Freiwilliges Soziales Jahr (Voluntary social year) in Germany


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FSJ is the abbreviation for Freiwilliges Soziales Jahr, the voluntary social year in Germany. Young people between the ages of 15 and 26 can do the FSJ. An FSJ lasts between 6 and 18 months, in exceptional cases also 24 months.

The FSJ is a voluntary service: During the FSJ, young people work in a community-oriented institution. They are doing something there that is good for the coexistence of all people in society. That’s called commitment. Volunteers do not receive a salary for their commitment, but pocket money.


Understanding the FSJ in Germany?

  • Practical help in a social institution
  • Voluntary commitment outside of vocational training and comparable to full-time employment
  • An opportunity to get to know social activities “independently” at first
  • A decision to find another career path
  • To gain a variety of broad-based experiences and to show your own limits
  • Experience a lot of new things as a perfect balance to life before training or studying
  • 25 training days take place during the FSJ period

For whom is an FSJ?

  • Anyone who has completed compulsory full-time education and has not yet reached the age of 27
  • Young people who want to get a taste of practical work after school
  • Are in the waiting semester for a place on the course
  • Seek a reorientation
  • A year of FSJ can help to discover completely new sides of one’s own personality and to decisively influence the course for the future career path.

How long does an FSJ last?

  • Begins every year on September 1st. and ends on August 31st. of the following year
  • Depending on vacancies, entry into the current year is also possible at any time
  • The FSJ is usually completed in twelve consecutive months
  • An extension of up to six months is generally possible

What financial and social security do I have?

  • The payment of pocket money in the amount of €350, which includes accommodation, meals and monetary compensation, is guaranteed by law.
  • There is still an entitlement to child benefit (including an orphan’s and half-orphan’s pension).
  • The insurance protection (health, unemployment, long-term care, pension, accident and professional liability insurance) is guaranteed by the employer.
  • With the FSJ card, volunteers usually receive the same discounts on local public transport as pupils, students and trainees.
  • Entitlement to annual leave
  • Health insurance
    In order to be able to do the FSJ law, you have to be an independent member of a statutory health insurance company. If you start school or study after the FSJ, you will automatically be covered by family insurance again.
  • Social security contributions
    The same regulations apply to FSJ students as to employees or trainees. Accordingly, FSJler(innen) are insured within the period of service in the statutory pension, accident, health, nursing care and unemployment insurance. For the period of the FSJ, this is considered an activity that is subject to social security contributions.
  • Child benefit / orphan’s pension
    The entitlement to child benefit remains during the FSJ as long as you have not yet reached the age of 25 and do not exceed the statutory annual income. In the case of child allowances and child-related benefits, the completion of an FSJ is equivalent to periods of school and vocational training. The payment of the orphan’s pension remains unaffected by the implementation of an FSJ.

How do the FSJ seminars work?

  • In the seminar days and blocks, practical, technical, but also general educational, preventive, cultural, political, creative and social as well as youth-relevant, career-oriented and general life-preparing topics can be conveyed
  • The seminar days serve in particular for the exchange of experiences among the young people
  • The focus is in particular on reflecting on experiences from everyday work and presenting the various areas of application
  • Our seminar leaders encourage and demand the right to have a say and the FSJlers’ own wishes when choosing a topic
  • The goals of the seminar work are to strengthen the sense of responsibility for the common good and the group feeling

Where can I be employed?

  • In geriatric care
    – nursing homes
    – social centers
    – outpatient care services
    – residential groups
    – day care
  • In nursing
    – hospitals
    – rehabilitation centers
  • In the work with the disabled
    – workshops for people with disabilities
    – homes for people with disabilities
  • In child and youth welfare
    – day-care centers
    – school support
    – Hort
  • Other institutions oriented towards the common good
    – parishes

How does the application process work?

You can apply for an FSJ all year round with the following documents:

  • Cover letter (motivation and career aspirations)
  • Tabular curriculum vitae with photograph
  • Copy of the current certificate
  • Proof of completed internships
  • Possibly proof of voluntary work and additional qualifications

You will be invited to an interview where your ideas, your interests and your motivation will be discussed. Then you introduce yourself to a placement (if necessary, you complete a taster day) and can get a concrete picture of your future FSJ assignment. If the decision is positive, an agreement is concluded between the place of assignment, the provider and the FSJler. You will need the following documents:

  • Member certificate of health insurance
  • Tax identification number (from the tax office)
  • Proof of medical suitability from the general practitioner
  • Social security number (from the health insurance company)
  • Bank details
  • If required, health certificate and/or certificate of good conduct

Who supports me during the FSJ?

  • In addition to the technical support provided by the supervisor in your assignment location, the contact persons of the agency “Achieving goals together” are there to support and advise you
  • Your individual learning goals will be discussed and evaluated when your contact person from the provider visits the deployment site
  • During the seminar there is the opportunity for an intensive exchange of experiences with others doing their FSJ
  • If there are problems at the place of assignment, the pedagogues are on hand to offer help and advice to the volunteers.

Are there other volunteer options in Germany?

Yes! There is the FÖJ and the BFD

What is an FÖJ (Freiwilliges Ökologisches Jahr)? – A Voluntary Ecological Year is a type of voluntary service. During the FÖJ you will help as a volunteer in a nature conservation or agricultural facility and can gain new experiences that sharpen your awareness of nature. The Voluntary Ecological Year is intended as an orientation and educational year for young people and is intended to strengthen your interest in nature and the environment.

What is the BFD (Bundesfreiwilligendienst)? – The Federal Volunteer Service is the official successor to the civil service, which was adopted in July 2011. It offers old and young people the opportunity to get involved socially, ecologically, or culturally. Because unlike the Voluntary Social Year (FSJ), Voluntary Ecological Year (FÖJ), and International Youth Volunteer Service (IJFD) there is no age limit for the Federal Volunteer Service (BFD). You only have to have completed full-time compulsory education for the BFD.

Unlike the FSJ: The FÖJ

Unlike FSJ, FÖJ stands for the “Voluntary Ecological Year” and describes a one-off 6-12 month voluntary service in nature and environmental protection. The FÖJ can be credited as an FSJ.

  • As with the FSJ, you must be under 27 for the FÖJ and have completed compulsory full-time schooling.
  • The pocket money also depends on the carrier. As a rule, €150 is paid per month, but no more than €363.
  • Accommodation can be provided by the provider, but this is usually not the norm. In this case, the carriers are also not obliged to reimburse them.
  • You will be deployed wherever there is a non-profit organization. This must be committed to nature conservation, environmental protection, environmental education or environmental research.
  • For example, you could work in agriculture or in nature conservation centers.
  • The sponsors of the FÖJ are environmental organizations and sometimes also churches. Apply through the institution and then get your job. You will also be looked after here and can ask your questions to the staff.

Differences between BFD, FÖJ and FSJ

The BFD has some differences to the FÖJ and FSJ. BFD stands for “Federal Voluntary Service” and describes a 1-18 month voluntary service that can be repeated every five years.

  • Just as with FÖJ and FSJ, you must have completed full-time compulsory education. However, there is no upper limit. This means that you can theoretically still do a BFD at the age of 40.
  • Pocket money at the BFD is a maximum of €363 per month. Again, this depends on the location.
  • Accommodation is usually provided for you, but the assignment sites are not obliged to do so here either.
  • You can do your BFD in many different areas. Either in the social, in the ecological, in the sporting, or the cultural.
  • Unlike the FSJ and FÖJ, you are not tied to a specific area of ​​application with the BFD. Simply choose one of the many activities and off you go.


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