Working in the armed forces with A levels (or similar)

If you have a vocational qualification already, you may be able to use your qualification to join the armed forces.

This is most likely to be in a technical, medical or nursing job. With A levels or other Level 3 qualifications, you can apply to be an officer, although most officers are graduates.

Example jobs

Lab technician
Carrying out tests, including blood tests.

HR (human resources) support
Managing the pay and careers of other service personnel.

Pharmacy technician
Helping to dispense medication.

Catering instructor
Training other catering staff and chefs.

Dental hygienist
Helping service personnel and their families to keep their teeth and mouths healthy.

Aircraft engineer
Carrying out maintenance on military aircraft.

Paratrooper
Functioning as part of an airborne force, training to be dropped from aircraft into operational areas.

Vehicle mechanic
Working on engines and vehicle systems, diagnosing problems and coming up with repair solutions.

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 provided. The cost is taken from your pay.

Pay levels graph

Typical working conditions

  • Conditions are very varied. While some jobs are done inside, such as submarines, offices or kitchens, many other jobs involve time outdoors, for example on a runway or the deck of a ship.
  • Conditions can be cramped and uncomfortable on training exercises or operational duty.
  • The work will be very fast-paced on exercise or operational duty.

Qualifications needed

You need a recognised qualification specifically relevant to the trade or profession, for example in nursing or dental hygiene. You may need to be registered with the professional council for that profession. You also need to pass a fitness test and medical. There are age limits, too. If you have enough UCAS points you could apply for sponsorship through university for officer posts.

Career path

You can apply or be selected for promotion through the ranks. You may be promoted faster than those who enter with few or no qualifications. As a non-commissioned officer, you will manage other staff. You may take further qualifications to develop your specialism. You could be selected for officer training.

Useful links

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The Royal Navy

The British Army

The Royal Air Force