Stormtroopers have been an iconic piece of the Star Wars universe since the beginning, but how much do the Empire’s soldiers actually get paid?
Stormtroopers are the foundation of the Imperial military in Star Wars, but how much do the Empire’s soldiers actually get paid? Because they’re generally on the wrong side of the story, Star Wars movies don’t show much of the lives of ordinary Stormtroopers. However, a number of Star Wars books, games, and recent shows have pulled back the curtain a bit on Stormtroopers’ day-to-day lives, including some information about how they’re compensated.
Immediately following the end of the Clone Wars, Palpatine’s new Galactic Empire began seeking out fresh ways to bolster its military. Kamino’s wartime cloning operations were halted, with the remaining clone troopers serving the Empire while new recruits were conscripted from across the galaxy. As seen in Star Wars: The Bad Batch, some of the more elite clone troopers served as trainers and squad leaders for the early Stormtroopers, creating a sort of bridge between the Republic era and the Empire.
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Admiral Tarkin says in The Bad Batch that normal recruits are far more cost-effective than clones, but he doesn’t offer many details. Thanks to some other Star Wars stories, the financial realities of life in the Imperial military have been made a bit clearer. As is standard in most real-world militaries, the Empire provided food and housing to its soldiers. In many cases, this was reason enough for young galactic citizens to enlist, especially those from Outer Rim worlds where economic opportunity was slim after the Clone Wars.
In most canonically documented cases, Stormtroopers also received regular pay in Imperial credits. However, due to the nature of the Empire’s conscription program, much of that pay didn’t stay with the soldiers themselves. That’s because many recruits sent their pay directly back to their families on their homeworlds. Enlistment was one of the only reliable methods of earning a consistent income for many poorer regions of the galaxy, as evidenced by Luke Skywalker’s own desire to attend the Imperial Academy at the beginning of A New Hope.
The higher someone ascended up the Imperial ranks, the better their compensation would be. But for most normal Stormtroopers, the Imperial credits they earned were a relatively moderate sum. Some recruits were more enticed by the mere promise of stability in the midst of the economic fallout from the Clone Wars – a promise the Empire wielded as a weapon to draw in troops and thereby ensure the loyalty of their homeworlds. Star Wars eventually sees that plan falter in the face of the Rebellion, but the Empire still stood strong for two decades before it fell, with the Stormtrooper corps at its center.
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