Working in the armed forces with GCSEs (or similar)

Members of each service are trained as specialists, often through an apprenticeship.

Some jobs are specific to the armed forces, such as intelligence operative or infantry soldier. Other jobs may be more familiar, such as driver or bricklayer. As well as your profession or trade, you will have military tasks that will include handling weapons.

Example jobs

Electronics technician
Maintaining electronic equipment, in a tank or on a ship or aircraft.

Musician
Playing an instrument in a military band.

Chef submariner
Ordering, storing and cooking food for a submarine crew.

Aerospace systems operator
Tracking aircraft by radar and using computers to plot position and speed.

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

  • Working conditions are very varied. Many jobs are mainly outdoors, such as weapons specialist or infantry soldier. Others are indoors, such as chef or office clerk.
  • Conditions may be cramped, for example on board a ship or in a training camp.
  • You may go overseas for training or on operational tours of duty.
  • The minimum age for applying to the armed forces in 15 years and 9 months.

Qualifications needed

Many jobs within the armed forces do not require qualifications. For some jobs, you will need GCSEs, often English and maths, and sometimes science for technical jobs such as Aircraft Technician or Telecommunications. You need to be able to pass a fitness test and a medical.

Career path

You can apply for or be selected for promotion through the ranks. You can also be selected for specialist training such as engineering, accountancy or nursing. Very able candidates may be selected to train as officers.

Useful links

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The Royal Navy

The British Army

The Royal Air Force