Working as a mercenary is a controversial career path. With ethical and legal issues surrounding the job title, it’s an important decision to make.
Here, we’re going over what it means to be a mercenary, why you might want to become one, and how you can work as a mercenary without military experience.
What Is a Mercenary?
A mercenary is a private military contractor working as either protection personnel or for a foreign army or militia. Mercenaries typically have no political, religious, or cultural affiliation to their employer and are paid to simply use their military skills for monetary gain.
Mercenaries are often hired as personal bodyguards, security personnel, or to aid in foreign military missions without actually serving in the military.
The legality of mercenaries is a gray area and the UN even created the UN Mercenary Convention in 2001 to attempt to outlaw the recruitment, training, use, and financing of mercenaries. However, countries like the United States, Russia, and the United Kingdom haven’t ratified the convention.
As a result of the disagreements about the ethics of mercenaries, clients who hire these private military contractors range widely – from legitimate telecommunications provides to shady private militias. So, it’s important to do your research and choose your future employer wisely.
Why Become a Mercenary?
The main reason someone might decide to pursue work as a mercenary or military contractor is for the money. Mercenaries get paid salaries of up to six figures, which is considerably more than active duty service members receive.
But, there’s definitely a cost. Working as a mercenary is extremely dangerous and many who have done it say that it was “violent and emotionally difficult,” even more so than their careers serving in the military.
Ex-mercenaries claim that they experienced firefights that were a lot more up close and personal as a mercenary than the action they saw in the military. They also found it difficult not to be able to call for back-up (as you would in the military) and had far more close-calls as a mercenary.
So, even though you’re making big bucks as a military contractor, some people don’t find that it’s worth it. But, if you like living on the edge and couldn’t imagine sitting at a desk for work – perhaps using your relevant experience to work as a mercenary could be an interesting position for you.
How To Become a Mercenary Without Military Experience
In truth, most mercenary positions require military or police experience at a minimum. The main job functions of mercenaries are extremely similar to those serving in the armed forces, so without this relevant experience, many companies won’t be interested.
Still, if you lack the military or police experience that many clients require, it might be smart to look for jobs in the security industry, for example, before you become a mercenary. This may be another foot in the door on your way to private military work.
However, some companies offer training programs to those without a military background. Plus, other skills are beneficial when seeking a job as a mercenary including foreign language skills and physical fitness.
To expand on those topics, let’s start with foreign language skills. It’s certainly not required that you know a second or third language but it can be highly beneficial, especially if you’re proficient in the languages of common conflict zones like Arabic, Kurdish, Pashto, Dari, Somali, or French.
Physical fitness might be an obvious requirement for a mercenary position but it’s worth mentioning. If you do have military experience, you’ll be aware of the requirements necessary to perform well in the job. If you don’t have military experience and want to be a mercenary, do your research on the physical requirements of the military and either meet or exceed those standards.
Finally, make sure your resume exemplifies these skills once you have them and you’ll have a better chance of securing a position as a mercenary even without military experience.
How To Find a Mercenary Job
Due to its controversial nature, finding job openings for mercenary positions are definitely a “word of mouth” situation. In other words, don’t expect to find a “Mercenaries Wanted” ad on Seek or LinkedIn. The private military contracting world is known as “The Circuit” to insiders and finding your way to this insider group will be essential to securing a position.
Oftentimes, people get interviews with the right people after being recommended by colleagues. Still, it is possible to apply directly to these companies and get a job without any “ins.” Some of these companies you can send your resume to include:
- Academi: This US company was founded in 1997 by the former Navy SEAL Erik Prince and has been previously known as Blackwater and then Xe Services. The company gained notoriety in 2007 when their mercenaries killed 17 Iraqi civilians and injured 20 more.
- Aegis Defence Services: This UK company was founded in 2002 with offices in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Mozambique. Its CEO is a former British Army Major General and its chairman is a former UK defence minister.
- Corps Security: This is also a UK-based company founded in 1859 with offices throughout the UK that was originally established to help Crimean War veterans find employment.
- DynCorp: This US company was founded in 1946 and is most well-known for its work providing security for the former Afghan president Hamid Karzai. Dyncorp mercenaries also trained Afghan and Iraqi police forces while performing activities in Bolivia, Bosnia, Somalia, Angola, Haiti, Colombia, Kosovo, and Kuwait.
- Erinys International: This UK company was founded in 2001 and is actually based in Dubai with offices in the UK and South Africa. Created by the former British Army Officer Jonathan Garratt, it has been involved in US operations throughout Iraq as well as activities in the Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria.
- Pinkerton Government Services: This US company is relatively well-known and started out as a private detective agency until it was acquired by the Swedish company Securitas AB in 2003.
The companies listed are only a small portion of the companies that hire mercenaries and, again, you’ll have your best shot at a mercenary position if you get in with “The Circuit.” This industry is still relatively underground and you’ll have better luck if you get a relevant recommendation. So, do your networking and gain the experience necessary.
Overall, becoming a mercenary can be extremely stressful and incredibly difficult. Similar to life in the military, it’s certainly not for the faint of heart. Especially if the company you work for is involved in a particularly violent mission, being a mercenary is as tough as it gets.
Still, ex-military service members and those who live for that adrenaline rush (even if you have no prior military experience), working as a mercenary is an exciting career path and a rather hefty paycheck, too. So, for some, this line of work can prove to be worth it.