There are hundreds of different armed forces careers. Explore what’s on offer to see if a challenging and rewarding life in the British Army, Royal Air Force or Royal Navy is for you.

The forces is a career and further education option for all students irrespective of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or background.

Women in armed forces

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.

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.

Life in the RAF:

Starting your forces career as a young person

There are opportunities including:

  • Apprenticeships
  • Sponsorships while you are at school
  • Sponsorships for undergraduates including bursaries for university students in subjects like:
    • Science
    • Technology
    • Engineering
    • Maths
    • Healthcare
  • 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 following links:

The forces provide funding to support A level or equivalent students who want to become an officer. For information, browse the following:


Joining the forces at any stage

Each of the Armed Forces has its own careers information website. Applications are taken from 16 years old, but options for study greatly expand once you turn 18 with certain roles only open to students who have undertaken minimum level qualifications such as GCSEs and A-Levels. You can find information on the different roles you can train to do, what’s involved and their entry requirements.

You’ll also find expert advice on the recruitment and selection process and tips on how to prepare.

Explore all of the opportunities available at:

Starting your forces career at university

You can also enter the forces after your have finished your university studies, the Armed Forces offer sponsorships and bursaries for university students in subjects like:

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Maths
  • Healthcare

If you're thinking of joining the armed forces after University, check out our guide to Higher Education pathways for more information. You can see full details on their recruitment websites. While you’re at university, there are exciting ways to get experience and a taste of military life during your degree. You could:


How to go through the recruitment process

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 from application to acceptance, so make sure you understand the timescale involved. The process will include an online application, security, fitness and health checks, psychometric assessment tests as well as a selection interview. Find out more about what to expect from the:

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