Some of the most recognizable characters from Star Wars are the soldiers in all white with the helmets. That’s right—Stormtroopers, the foot soldiers for the Empire. In the Star Wars canon, stormtroopers are the bad guys, even though they have some of the coolest armor in the franchise. They are meat to the grinder and the first ones that are defeated by the Jedi’s and rebels. However, for all this work they do, do they even get paid? And if they do, what do they spend the money on?
The humans that were used as Stormtroopers were either slaves, volunteers, or kidnapped children. It wasn’t until the Empire established itself that humans could enlist in the stormtrooper corps, and that is when they started getting paid. When a pay structure was developed, they were given full medical benefits, substantial pay, and paid leave. However, it was highly discouraged to use the leave.
In the remainder of this article, we’ll discuss the progression of the different variations of Stormtroopers that appear in the Star Wars saga, as well as theories on how they were compensated for their efforts to support and defend the Empire and what exactly they end up doing with those funds.
The History of the Stormtrooper Corps
Because Stormtroopers were not initially paid for their work, it’s essential to understand their history to determine the reasoning behind the sudden shift from volunteer/slave work to paid work.
The Clone Wars
“The Clone Wars” covers a three year battle within the era of the Galactic Civil War between the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems. The Civil War has ties that stretch back a millennium to the dark ages of galactic history, where the Sith and Jedi fought for control of the galaxy.
Unbeknownst to much of the galaxy, the Clone Wars were an elaborate plan by Darth Sidious, Dark Lord of the Sith, to seize control over the Republic and create an empire ruled by Sith. His alter ego, Senator Palpatine, became Supreme Councilor of the Galactic Senate. This position gave him the political power to control the senate.
Throughout this time, the Republic created an army of clone soldiers that used the genetic imprint of famed bounty hunter Jengo Fett. With the superior DNA of a warrior and training by the bounty hunter, the seemingly endless clone army of the Republic was too much for the efforts of the Jedi, and the Confederacy.
The Aftermath of the Clone Wars created a new era in galactic history with the creation of the first-ever Galactic Empire ruled by Darth Sidious. The clone troopers that were used in the clone wars became the first phase of an independent branch of the imperial army known as the Stormtroopers.
The Reign of The Galactic Empire
In the aftermath of the Clone Wars, the galaxy was broken and left in disarray. The rise of the Empire created jobs for people on planets whose economies were left in shambles after the wars. It wasn’t until the cloning operations were ceased that the Empire started to enlist humans to be trained for military operatives.
At first, the Stormtrooper corps’ highest-ranking officers were clones, genetically imprinted with ultimate loyalty to the Republic turned Empire. The initial inductees in the phase of human soldiers were not treated with respect. They were slaves, volunteers, and children left orphaned by the Empire or kidnapped (as mentioned by Finn in “The Force Awakens”).
It wasn’t until the Empire started using humans for their military force that stormtroopers were paid. At first, stormtroopers only received lodging and food for their service.
Stormtrooper Pay Structure
Throughout the nine episodes that were released as movies, there was never any indication that Stormtroopers were paid for their services. It wasn’t until a couple of canonical books mentioned that there is some sort of pay structure for troopers.
In the book Battlefront: Twilight Company, we are exposed to a couple of firsts about the Stormtrooper corps. One of the story protagonists, Thara Nyende, was introduced as the first known female Stormtrooper. In chapter three, the narrator explains, “She’d joined with the intention of serving one tour of duty, making more money than she possibly could elsewhere…” (Battlefront: Twilight Company, pg. 121).
Also, in the short comic Darth Vader #8: Dying Light when human archeologist Chelli Lona Aphra states, “The Imperial stormtrooper pension scheme isn’t exactly market-leading, Bossk. They’re not letting anyone with anything other than a program in their head anywhere near the rich stuff.”
It appears that there is some sort of payment structure that the Empire has created for its employees. Depending on their position and rank, the pay may be less or greater.
If we are to take “real-world” economics and apply it to the Star Wars universe, one can imagine that the pay and benefit structures apply to imperial employees, the highest-paid being the emperor, and then so on and so forth, down the chain of command.
In the Stormtrooper corps, there are many different classes of troopers. Like military on earth, there are different skills needed for different classes. To name a few of the specializations:
- Shock Troopers
- Flame Troopers
- Jump Troopers
- Scout Troopers
The most feared Stormtrooper may be the Death Trooper, the most elite in the military branch. One can imagine that these terrifying individuals may be the highest-paid military agents before becoming an imperial officer.
Stormtroopers are supplied room and board, as well as full medical benefits and paid leave. Troopers can use their time off immediately, or they can be saved and used for a longer leave of absence.
As we all know, vacation is a luxury in life that everyone should be afforded. Unfortunately, the Empire sees it differently. Using time off is considered to be disloyal to the Empire and can be punished.
What Do Stormtroopers Do with Their Money?
It’s easy to imagine that being a Stormtrooper is not a morally fulfilling job. Their jobs require putting their life on the line for an empire that cares nothing about them. They are continually required to kill and plunder. Their primary food source is a blue-grey beverage that supplies all their essential vitamins and minerals. So, how do they let off all that steam?
One could conclude that they partake in nefarious activities. As we know, for the most part, Stormtroopers are not necessarily good beings under their helmets, which could mean that they are not interested in wholesome fun. To relieve the stress of their job, they probably frequent the bars on whatever distant planet they are stationed.
They could spend their credits, or maybe even make some on the Casino Planet of Canto Bight, but that might be too swanky for their humble dispositions. So, maybe they would visit an unsavory entertainment halo now and again.
For the moralistic human in the Stormtrooper armor, most enlisted because of the pay. That would mean that they would send most of their paycheck back to their families. This selfless act would cleanse their soul from all the harmful deeds they are commanded to do.
If a trooper saved up enough of their credits, they could purchase a PO5 Entertainment droid. These droids have little known about them, so what entertainment they actually provide can be left to the imagination.
In the galaxy far far away, life is difficult. The never-ending battle between the Jedi and the Sith seems to affect every life form on every planet. During the rule of the Empire, being a stormtrooper wasn’t the best gig in the world, but then again, at least you didn’t have to be a pet for Jabba the Hut.
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