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Article: Armed Forces


This article covers the following jobs:

  • Army Officer
  • Army Serviceman/woman
  • RAF Airman/woman
  • RAF Officer
  • Royal Marines Commando
  • Royal Marines Officer
  • Royal Navy Officer
  • Royal Navy Rating.

The job descriptions are only a brief summary. It is recommended that you do further research on jobs that interest you.

Video: - Various: Armed Forces


The Army is made up of regiments and corps, each with its own military role and specific duties.

Regiments/corps are 'Arms' or 'Service' related. Arms regiments/corps are trained to do the actual fighting. Service regiments/corps (although also prepared for combat) provide background and support services. These include providing food and medical services and supplying weapons.

If you are in the Army, you need to be prepared to train and carry out duties in all types of weather conditions at any time of the day and night. You must also be prepared to live and serve anywhere in the UK and abroad.

All applicants have to pass selection tests, an interview, a medical and a physical assessment. Upper age limits for entry to the Army vary according to the particular branch.

Army Serviceman/woman

There are many different jobs within the Army. Each job involves performing the role of a professional soldier, as well as carrying out the duties required for a particular trade.

Trades are many and varied, and include engineering, carpentry, telecommunications, electronics and vehicle mechanics. Training in the trades leads to recognised qualifications.

Each trade has specific requirements in terms of personal qualities and skills.

Servicemen and women need to be responsible, adaptable, well disciplined and willing to follow orders. Good teamwork and physical fitness are both essential.

Combat soldiers need to be able use a wide range of weapons and have the ability to work well in all types of environment.

Generally speaking, there are no minimum educational requirements to become an Army serviceman/woman. A few specialisms require GCSEs (A to C) or professional qualifications.

Army Officer

Army officers are responsible for the welfare of the soldiers they command and must lead by example. They motivate soldiers, impose discipline, make decisions and accept responsibility.

All officers must have organisational and management skills and be able to communicate clearly.

Officer training includes fitness training, basic soldiering skills, organisation, administration, and leadership and management skills.

For entry as an officer, you usually need a minimum of 2 A levels and 5 GCSEs (A to C). However, entry requirements vary according to regiment/corps and specialism. Many new officers have a degree.


The RAF is made up of different trades and branches that are mainly concerned with flying or supply, maintenance and training. Branches include intelligence, engineering, logistics and medical services.

In the RAF, you need to be prepared to train and carry out duties in all types of weather conditions, at any time of the day or night. You must also be prepared to live and serve anywhere in the UK and abroad.

Entry to the RAF involves selection tests, a medical, and at least one interview. Upper and lower age limits for entry to the RAF vary according to the particular branch.

RAF Officer

Officers are responsible for the airmen and airwomen under their command. Their specific duties vary, according to the branch they work in. However, all officers need leadership qualities and the ability to work as part of a team.

You must be a good decision maker, with the ability to motivate and discipline those under your command. Good communication skills are essential to explain ideas and give commands effectively. You must also be physically fit and prepared to work in combat situations.

To become an RAF officer, you will need a minimum of 2 A levels and 5 GCSEs (A to C).

However, certain specialisms have their own entry requirements. For example, graduates are preferred in some branches, and some occupations require a particular degree or professional qualification.

RAF Airman/woman

There are many trades open to airmen/women. Most are employed in ground support trades, which provide a range of services to keep the RAF flying. A small number - called aircrew - are based on aircraft.

Airmen/women need to accept military discipline and follow orders. They must also be prepared for active duty; although they spend most of their time in their chosen trade, some will be on the front line and will use weapons.

Teamwork is vital in the RAF. Specific skills vary according to trade. Some trades require good eyesight and good colour vision and/or good hearing. Good health and fitness are essential.

There are usually no minimum educational requirements to become an RAF airman/woman. Some specialist posts require qualifications.

Royal Navy and Marines

The Royal Navy patrols and protects the waters of the UK and its allies. It also provides help and aid when there are natural disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes, and protects offshore oil and gas installations.

The Royal Marines (part of the Royal Navy) is a fighting force. They operate from air, land and sea - anywhere from the Arctic Circle to tropical jungles.

Women cannot join the Royal Marines.

Navy and Marines personnel must be prepared to serve anywhere in the UK or abroad.

Entry to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines involves selection tests, physical tests, an interview and a medical. Upper and lower age limits for entry to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines vary according to the particular branch.

Royal Navy Officer

Officers are responsible for the ratings under their command. They work at sea, on submarines and ships, and onshore.

All officers in the Royal Navy are expected to demonstrate leadership. They need the ability to motivate and guide the people under their command. Leadership involves imposing discipline, making decisions and accepting responsibility.

All officers must be able to communicate clearly and demonstrate administrative, organisational and management skills.

To become a Royal Navy officer, you need a minimum of 2 A levels. Certain specialisms have further entry requirements.

You can become an officer after school/college sixth-form, as a graduate or after gaining professional qualifications in employment. The Navy may agree to sponsor you through sixth-form or university.

Royal Marines Officer

The Royal Marines is an elite corps of male soldiers trained to do combat in all weather conditions, on all terrain and in any location. Marines train in a wide range of skills, including parachuting, skiing, climbing, mountaineering, and jungle warfare.

Officers are in charge of units of commandos. They are involved in planning, organising and leading the men in combat operations. They must lead by example: motivating, imposing discipline, making decisions and accepting responsibility.

Officers also need to work well as members of a team. Communication skills are important. Officers need to have a high level of physical fitness, stamina and endurance.

To become a Royal Marines officer, you need a minimum of 2 A levels. Many officers are graduates, however.

Royal Marines Commando

Marines are trained to make landings on every type of coastline. They use either small, light craft or large landing craft to carry them and their vehicles. Helicopters are also used to transport commandos inland as part of assault operations.

Marines are trained in desert, jungle, mountain and Arctic warfare techniques. Some Royal Marines serve on board Royal Navy ships, taking part in naval operations.

Most Royal Marines are riflemen serving in one of the above areas, but some specialise in other trades, eg, weapons specialist, physical training instructor, chef, clerk or driver.

Intelligence and quick reactions are needed. Marines need a sense of responsibility, readiness to obey orders and the ability to work with others as a member of a team. Physical fitness is essential.

You do not need qualifications to become a Royal Marines commando.

Royal Navy Rating

Ratings (or sailors) are the servicemen and women of the Navy. They work in a variety of trades at sea, on ships and submarines, and onshore.

It's vital that ratings are able to work well together as a team. Onboard ship, and especially on submarines, people need to be adaptable and tolerant.

All ratings have to accept discipline. They must also be prepared to take part in armed conflicts when they arise.

Physical fitness is important. Some trades have additional health requirements, such as good colour vision and hearing.

There are no minimum educational requirements to become a Royal Navy rating. However, some specialist posts require GCSEs (A to C).

Further Information

Maritime UK Careers

Tel: 020 7417 2837



The Air League

Address: Broadway House, Tothill Street, London SW1H 9NS

Tel: 020 7222 8463



British Army Jobs

Tel: 0345 600 8080


Royal Air Force (RAF)

Tel: 0845 6055555


Royal Navy

Tel: 0845 6075555


Skills for Justice

Skills for justice, community safety, armed forces and legal services

Address: Distington House, 26 Atlas Way, Sheffield S4 7QQ

Tel: 0114 2611499




Publisher: Royal Air Force



Ministry of Defence (MOD)


Royal Marines

Tel: 0845 6001444


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