Armed forces careers

Explore what’s on offer when you choose a challenging and rewarding life in the military.

The armed forces includes the British Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. Together, they’re responsible for the safety and security of the UK. They’re involved in combat, peacekeeping and humanitarian aid.

Types of careers

There are hundreds of different armed forces careers. You have the chance to see the world in many jobs you can do in civilian life. For example, a chef, a nurse or an engineer.

They also have lots of roles that you’ll only find in the forces. These roles include 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
  • move up through the ranks

Length of service

You’ll have to commit to a length of service when you join.

This can be from 3.5 to 6 years, depending on which of the forces you want to join.

How to join

Each of the armed forces has its own careers website. You can use them to get tips on recruitment, the selection process and how to prepare.

There are lots of opportunities for adults. You’ll need to check the age restrictions for the roles you’re interested in. You can also join through a graduate entry scheme if you’ve got a degree.

Find out about the different roles, what’s involved and their entry requirements at:

  • British Army careers
  • Royal Air Force (RAF) careers
  • Royal Navy Careers

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


Cadets can be a great way to get some experience while you’re still in school.

As a cadet, you’ll show commitment to the armed forces and and find out about life in the military.

Find out more about the:

  • Army cadets
  • Royal Air Force (RAF) cadets
  • Royal Navy cadets


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

  • Army Officer Scholarship Scheme
  • Royal Air Force scholarships
  • Royal Navy Scholarship

University groups

The armed forces also offer sponsorships and bursaries for university students. You can apply for subjects like science, technology, engineering, maths and healthcare.

There are exciting ways to get experience of military life during your degree.

While you’re at university, you can join the:

  • Army’s University’s Officer Training Corps
  • RAF’s University Air Squadron
  • Navy’s University Royal Navy Unit


If you’re working and have time to spare, you could join part-time in paid roles as a reserve.

Reserves train and serve alongside regular recruits. It can be a great way to build your skills, travel and meet new people.

Find out more about reserve schemes at:

  • Army reserves
  • RAF reserves
  • Royal Navy reserves

Restarting your forces career

If you’ve been in the armed forces before, there are rejoiner schemes to help you pick up your career.

Find out about the:

  • Army rejoiner scheme
  • RAF rejoiner scheme
  • Navy rejoiner scheme

Get specialist advice

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.

Application process

It can take a long time to apply. Make sure you understand the timescales involved.

The process will include:

  • an online application
  • security checks
  • fitness and health checks
  • psychometric assessment tests
  • a selection interview

You should understand the values and standards expected of you before you apply. Common armed forces values include discipline, courage, respect, teamwork and integrity.

Find out more about what to expect from the:

  • Army selection process
  • RAF applications process
  • Royal Navy joining process

Speak to an adviser

Call 0800 100 900 or use webchat.
Webchat is unavailable if you are using Internet Explorer 11 as your browser. To use webchat, try opening this page on a different web browser.

  • 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday
  • 10am to 5pm Saturday