Working in the armed forces

The Royal Navy (including the Royal Marines), the British Army and the Royal Air Force (RAF) are all uniformed services.

They defend the UK both here and overseas. The Royal Navy is based in and around the sea and many RAF operations are in the air, while the British Army is mainly land-based. There are a range of jobs in each of the services. Some are similar to civilian jobs, such as chef, mechanic, driver or nurse. Others are specific to the uniformed services, such as weapons technician, infantry soldier or tank crew. You can join the armed forces for a short time (three to five years), do an apprenticeship and leave with qualifications that you can use anywhere.

Skills match quiz

Is a career in this area a good match for you?

Take the quiz

Approximate pay levels

Figures supplied as a guide only

Salaries rise in line with promotion and experience. Your training salary will be lower than the salaries shown here.

Food and accommodation are usually provided. The cost is taken from your pay.

Pay levels graph

Future careers

  • As the armed forces use more technology, they will need more specialists in areas such as electronics and IT to operate and maintain equipment.
  • The regular armed forces are shrinking in size and will rely more on the reserve forces in future. 
  • The reserve forces are civilians who spend part of their time in military duty in the Territorial Army and the Royal Naval and RAF Reserve.

Things to consider

Things you may need to know:

  • You cannot choose where you live and work. This may be a long way from home, even overseas.
  • You will live and work with the same people all the time, so it helps to be sociable.
  • You will wear a uniform, which is often provided.
  • The minimum age for applying to the armed forces is 15 years and 9 months.

Useful links

Pearson is not responsible for content on external websites.

The Royal Navy

The British Army

The Royal Air Force