Jobs & careers working in the armed forces

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Each year the Armed Forces recruit some 22,000 young people to strengthen its 204,000 regular fighting force. More than 300,000 people are employed in the UK-based Armed Forces, of which about a third are civilians. The Royal Navy & Royal Marines look after our sea defences operating a fleet of surface warships, ship-borne aircraft (fixed wing and helicopters) and submarines as well as Royal Marines commandos who operate at sea, on land and from the air.

How2Become - Army

The Army provides troops who protect our interests on land, while the Royal Air Force provides the air power element – patrolling our airspace.

The range of jobs available is vast. For instance, everyone needs feeding and looking after. Ships, planes and vehicles need maintaining. And, the logistics needed to move groups of people and their equipment across the world create a large need for administrative skills.

Organisation of armed forces careers

How2Become - RAF

Each service is organised differently and each has its own traditions and ways of working. What they share is a command structure based on officers, non-commissioned officers and other ranks:

  • Other ranks are ratings in the Royal Navy, soldiers in the Army, and airmen/airwomen in the Royal Air Force. They carry out the basic military or specialist roles, often working in teams and usually under the direction of someone more senior.
  • Non-commissioned officers (NCOs) are supervisors and middle managers who lead teams of soldiers, ratings and airmen/airwomen.
  • Officers manage and lead the other ranks and NCOs. Senior officers lead large teams, including other officers, and are responsible for the deployment of people and other resources. Many have their own professional or specialist role as well.

Length of service working in the armed forces

How2Become - Join the Navy

Some people join the Armed Forces for a few years and others for their whole career.

All the services require you to sign on for a specified length of time. This varies according to whether you join as an officer or as an other rank, but you are given the choice at certain points to decide whether to extend your service, or leave.

Armed forces training for the job

You will be trained for whatever job you do in the Armed Forces. All new entrants have basic military training. This is followed by whatever training you need for the job you will do. Your training will continue while you are in that job and in any others you may do while you are in the Armed Forces.

Apprenticeships in the armed forces

Each of the services offers Apprenticeships in the technical trades. The training is very thorough and can last for several years.

Sponsorship for the armed forces

Each of the services sponsors good candidates through sixth form and university studies. The competition for these Scholarships, Bursaries and Cadetships is very strong. Candidates are judged on personal qualities of leadership and initiative as well as academic ability.

You can join as an officer or as another rank. Each service has its own procedure for selection and joining up but the minimum requirements are similar:

What do i need to have to become an officer?

  • You will need at least five GCSEs /S grades(A-C/1-3) including English and maths plus a science or foreign language and 140 UCAS Tariff points. These can be at A/AS level (Highers in Scotland), Vocational Certificate of Education, Key Skills and 1-Unit Awards
  • For some jobs you need a university degree and/or a professional qualification.

Other ranks

  • There are many jobs you can do in each of the services that do not need any qualifications. Each service will ask you to take an aptitude test.
  • For some of the technical trades you need qualifications (although there may be opportunities to move into some of these jobs after you have joined).

Jobs and careers working in the Armed Forces

Modified: 16 June 2013

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