Careers in the armed forces

Explore what’s on offer when you choose a challenging and rewarding life in the British Army, Royal Air Force or Royal Navy. Learn about the recruitment process, and ways to get into the armed forces at any stage of your career.

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.

There are hundreds of different armed forces careers. 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.

Joining the armed forces

Each of the armed forces has its own careers information website, offering expert advice on the recruitment and selection process and tips on how to prepare. You’ll find information on the different roles you can train to do, what’s involved and their entry requirements at:

You can also find more advice on how to get into the armed forces and what to expect from Job Help.

Young people: starting your forces career

You can get the skills and support you need to get into the armed forces with:

  • apprenticeships
  • sponsorships while you’re at school or university
  • graduate entry schemes


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:

If you’re studying for A level or equivalent qualifications, you can get funding to become an officer with the:

University students

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

  • science
  • technology
  • engineering
  • maths
  • healthcare

You can find full details at:

There are exciting ways to get experience of military life during your degree. While you’re at university you can join the:

Joining the forces later in your career

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. You will need to check age restrictions for the role you want to do at:

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


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 to apply and be accepted, so make sure you understand the timescales involved. The process will include:

Find out more about what to expect from the:


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

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