Careers in the armed forces

There are hundreds of different armed forces careers. Explore what’s on offer to see if a challenging and rewarding life in the British Army, Royal Air Force or Royal Navy is for you.


Career opportunities in the armed forces

The British armed forces are responsible for the safety and security of the UK. They are involved in combat and peacekeeping duties as well as things like providing humanitarian aid.

They offer the chance to see the world in many jobs you could choose to do in civilian life, like being a chef, a nurse or an engineer. They also have lots of roles that you'll only find in the forces, like tank crew or military intelligence specialists.

For some jobs, you do not need a lot of qualifications. Wherever you start, you'll have the chance to build a career, get more qualifications, and move up through the ranks.

You'll have to commit to a minimum length of service which can be from 3.5 to 6 years depending on which of the forces you want to join.


Starting your forces career as a young person

There are opportunities including:

While you're still at school, cadet schemes can be a great way to get some experience, show commitment and find out about life in the military. You can find out more from the:

The forces provide funding to support A level or equivalent students who want to become an officer. For information see the:


Starting your forces career at university

The armed forces offer sponsorships and bursaries for university students in subjects like:

  • science
  • technology
  • engineering
  • maths
  • healthcare

You can see full details on their recruitment websites. While you’re at university, there are exciting ways to get experience and a taste of military life during your degree. You could:


Starting your forces career as an adult

You may be an adult with work experience looking to get into the Army, Navy or Air Force. There are lots of opportunities for adults though you will need to check age restrictions for the role you want to do. You can check these on the forces' own careers websites.

If you are working and have time to spare, you could join on a part-time basis in paid roles as a reserve. You train and serve alongside regular recruits and it can be a great way to build your skills, travel and meet new people.

Find out more about reserve schemes at:

Restarting your forces career

If you have previously been in the Army, Royal Navy or the RAF and want to return to the forces, there are rejoiner schemes to help you pick up your career.


Joining the forces at any stage of your career

Each of the armed forces has its own careers information website. You can find information on the different roles you can train to do, what’s involved and their entry requirements.

You’ll also find expert advice on the recruitment and selection process and tips on how to prepare.

Explore all of the opportunities available at:


How to go through the recruitment process

You can contact an Army, RAF or Royal Navy careers centre to get specialist careers advice. Look out for their recruitment experts at careers fairs too.

Before you start an application, read information on the armed forces websites to make sure that you understand the values and standards expected of you in military life, like:

  • discipline
  • courage
  • respect
  • teamwork
  • integrity

It can take quite a long time from application to acceptance, so make sure you understand the timescale involved. The process will include an online application, security, fitness and health checks, psychometric assessment tests as well as a selection interview. Find out more about what to expect from the:

You can find out more about the fitness standards you'll need to meet from: