Royal Navy ratings serve onboard ships, submarines and in naval bases, like the one at Faslane. Their work varies depending on their trade or specialism, from steering ships as a seaman or woman to servicing and repairing aircraft as an air engineering technician.
You can choose from around 60 rating jobs in the six branches:
- warfare – steering the ship, measuring weather and sea conditions or processing communications
- engineering – looking after the mechanical and electrical systems of the ships, aircraft and weapons
- medical – providing health care as a dental surgery assistant, medical assistant or naval nurse
- aviation (Fleet Air Arm) – servicing and repairing aircraft or providing support to the aircrew
- logistics and administration – providing support services such as catering, supplies and administration
- chaplaincy - Royal Navy chaplain.
All Royal Navy ratings must be ready to serve anywhere in the UK and overseas and must be prepared to go into combat zones at any time.
You could be:
- taking part in combat operations at sea
- taking part in exercises in home waters or abroad, to practise for battle
- taking part in peacekeeping or humanitarian operations
- helping in search and rescue missions
- operating equipment that finds and destroys mines
- ordering, preparing and serving food
- carrying out repairs on the weapons systems aboard a ship or submarine.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
- where you work
- what job you do.
The starting salary for Royal Navy ratings from April 2017 is £14,931 during basic training. After completing 26 weeks training, this rises to £18,489.
Salaries according to ranks are:
- Able Rating £18,489 to £29,899
- Leading Rating £29,769 to £35,378
- Petty Officer £33,490 to £41,441
- Chief Petty Officer/Warrant Officer 2 £37,698 to £47,895
- Warrant Officer 1 £47,488 to £50,685.
You get extra allowances in some jobs and for being overseas. The Royal Navy provides subsidised food and accommodation, uniforms and protective clothing, free healthcare and a pension.
- Working conditions vary, depending on where you are and what you are doing.
- You may be away from home and family for several months on end.
- You can be sent anywhere in the UK or abroad, sometimes at short notice.
- Hours might be irregular and you might have to work shifts.
- You are entitled to six weeks holiday.
- Space for living and working on ships, and particularly on submarines, can be limited.
- It is not always adventurous and exciting; there is a lot of routine work.
You should be aware that in the Royal Navy you will at times be operating in difficult and dangerous conditions and there may be the risk of injury or death.
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- You do not always need formal qualifications, but having subjects at National 4 or 5, including English, Maths and science subjects will give you a wider choice to choose from.
- You must meet residency and nationality requirements – they are shown on the Royal Navy website.
- To join most branches you need to be between the ages of 16 and 36. For some work you need to be 17 or 18 years old.
- If you are under 18 your parents or guardians must agree to your joining.
- You must be fit and healthy – there is strict medical examination.
- You must be at least 151.5cms (5ft 0in), or 157cm (5ft 2in) for the submarine service, and your weight must be in proportion to your height.
- You must have good eyesight and for some jobs you need normal colour vision.
- Women can join the Royal Navy and serve in all branches.
The selection process includes:
- taking the Naval Service Recruitment Test (NSRT), which includes English, maths, problem solving skills and understanding of mechanics
- a medical and eye test as well as Royal Navy pre-joining fitness test
- some jobs require extra aptitude tests.
If you are accepted:
- you join on a Full Commitment contract, which is 18 years or to age 40, whichever is later. You may be able to serve longer than this.
- if you want to leave earlier, you must give 12 months before completing your return of service. The length of that depends on the branch you join.
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What Does it Take?
You should be:
- courageous and self-disciplined
- reliable and adaptable
- able to follow orders and work in a team
- able to react quickly
- able to remain calm under pressure and work in dangerous situations
- practical and interested in technical matters.
- You first take a basic training course at HMS Raleigh in Cornwall which lasts 10 weeks.
- You then do up to five years of professional training for the job you have chosen.
- You keep up to date by attending short training courses during your time in the Royal Navy.
- Taking training courses will help you move on.
- After your training is complete there is a clearly defined promotion route starting from Able Rating, Leading Rating, Petty Officer, Chief Petty Officer and Warrant Officer.
- You can go on to become a Royal Navy officer.
- When you leave the Royal Navy, you will be able to use a lot of your skills in other jobs.
For detailed information about the Royal Navy, phone 0345 607 5555 or visit the Royal Navy website. The Ministry of Defence website is also helpful.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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