Soldiers may be in a fighting unit, or in a combat support unit doing catering, clerical, or medical work, or in a trade such as electronics or mechanics. There are over a hundred different jobs in the Army, from aircraft technician to tank crewman. All soldiers must be ready to go to war. They all train to fight, as well as having other skills.
You could be:
- working at your base in the UK
- taking part in exercises, in the UK or overseas, to practise for battle
- undertaking training and keeping fit
- taking part in combat operations
- taking part in peacekeeping or humanitarian operations.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
- where you work
- what job you do.
New recruits start on £15,364 a year. Salaries for qualified privates in the British Army start at £18,859 a year. Lance Corporals earn £26,265 a year. Corporals £30,632 a year and Sergeants £34,362 a year (salaries as of April 2018). You get extra allowances in some jobs and for being overseas.
The Army provides subsidised food and accommodation, uniforms and protective clothing, free healthcare and a pension.
- As a new recruit you must serve for at least 28 days before you can leave.
- If you are over 18, you can leave within the first 3 months if you have worked the 28 day period and given 14 days' notice. After this period of time you must serve a minimum of four years. You must give 12 months' notice of your intention to leave.
- If you are under 18, you can give notice to leave at any point up to your 18th birthday. You would usually have to complete the 28 day period plus the 14 days' notice.
- Working conditions vary, depending on where you are and what you are doing – you could be in a machine shop, a kitchen, an office or outside.
- If you are single you will live in the barracks in single living accommodation. If you are married you can live in an army house at a subsidised rent. If you have a family you may live in service families accommodation.
- You will sometimes have to live under field conditions.
- You can be sent anywhere in the UK or abroad, sometimes at short notice and may be away from home and family for several months on end.
- Although normal hours are Monday to Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm, when you are on exercises or on operations hours will be irregular and will more than likely include weekends.
- You will be entitled to 38 days leave a year. You will get additional time off mid-tour, and when a tour ends.
- It is not always adventurous and exciting; there is a lot of routine work.
You should be aware that in the army, you will at times be operating in difficult and dangerous conditions and there may be the risk of injury or death.
Workforce Employment Status
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- You do not always need formal qualifications, but you will need to pass the Army entrance tests for all roles in the Army.
- All soldiers start an Apprenticeship at Level 2, 3 or 4 when they join the Army. There are many jobs to choose from such as engineering, information and communications technologies, construction, driving or animal care. For Level 2, no formal entry requirements are required, for Level 3 you require 5 subjects at National 5. For Level 4 you would normally need 3 or 4 Highers.
- You must meet residence and nationality requirements – they are shown on the Army website.
- You should be aged 16-33 (you must have started Phase 1 training before your 33rd birthday).
- If you are under 18 your parents or guardians must agree to you joining.
- You must be fit and healthy – there is a strict medical check.
- If you are medically fit and meet eligibility standards then you spend two days at an assessment centre. This involves a series of physical and mental tests and a medical examination.
- For some jobs you need good eyesight and colour vision.
- Women cannot join some units of the Royal Armoured Corps or the Infantry (this includes The Royal Regiment of Scotland). From the end of 2018, this changes and women will be able to join the remaining units of the Royal Armoured Corps or the Infantry.
- There is a National 4 Skills for Work course in Uniformed and Emergency Services, which introduces school pupils to careers in the armed forces, emergency services and Merchant Navy. Contact the Scottish Qualifications Authority for details.
Workforce Education Levels (UK)
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What Does it Take?
You should be:
- physically and mentally brave
- reliable and adaptable
- able to accept strict discipline and follow instructions quickly and accurately
- good at working in a team
- able to work in dangerous situations.
- Having completed the assessment centre, you will be given a grade. This grade determines how long it will be before you start your initial training, known as Phase 1.
- If you are a junior recruit (under 17 years and five months) you will complete either a 20 week or 40 week course at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate.
- If you over 17 years and five months, you will complete their 14 week Phase 1 basic training course at either Pirbright or Winchester.
- If you are joining the Infantry you will complete a combined Phase 1 and Phase 2 course in Catterick, lasting 28 weeks, or 30 weeks for Foot Guard and Paratrooper roles.
- You then train in your chosen work, by on the job training and short courses. This training varies in length, depending on your specialisation.
- Apprentices receive basic military training, on the job experience and courses in your chosen work.
- You will have the opportunity to gain recognised qualifications.
- Taking training courses while in the Army will help you move on.
- There is a clear promotion route from private to lance corporal, corporal, sergeant and beyond.
- You may become a non-commissioned officer (NCO) after you have completed your first lot of training.
- When you leave the Army, you will be able to use your skills in other jobs.
For detailed information about the army, phone 0345 600 8080 or visit the Army website to find your nearest Army Careers Office. The Ministry of Defence website is also useful.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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