Army Officer

The Job and What's Involved

The Army is one of the Armed Forces that defend the UK and its allies, both in this country and overseas. It also takes part in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) and UN (United Nations) operations across the world. Many of these overseas operations are for peacekeeping and humanitarian purposes.

Army officers lead and manage teams of soldiers. They are responsible for carrying out effective operations and for overseeing the training, discipline, welfare and career development of the soldiers under their command.

As well as these general duties, some officers have a profession in the Army, providing the same services to Army personnel as they would in civilian life. These include nurses, doctors, dentists, veterinary surgeons, barristers, solicitors and chaplains.

The Army is made up of regiments and corps and Army jobs fall into one of seven areas:

Combat

Combat officers work in the field, keep the peace in war-torn areas and deliver humanitarian aid where it is needed.

Engineering

Providing engineering expertise for the machinery and hardware used by the Army - from building a base to getting a tank's weapons system repaired.

Logistic and Support

Getting materials and supplies from A to B, and making sure the Army has the equipment it needs. This can involve taking supplies across country to ensure that all soldiers have food and water, or backing up tank and helicopter crews with fuel and ammunition.

Intelligence, IT and Communications

The Army relies on effective communication between allies, the field and those back at base. This can also involve listening in on the enemy.

Human resources and Finance

The Army recruits and trains its own human resources, administrative, finance and IT specialists to ensure it is run effectively.

Medical

Doctors, nurses, dentists and veterinary surgeons protect the lives, health and well-being of soldiers, civilians and the animals that serve in the Army.

Music and Ceremonial

Army musicians take part in the ceremonial occasions that keep the modern Army in touch with its past, and represent the public face of the Army at concerts and military parades. For more information, see Armed Forces Musician.

Working hours depend on an officer's specialism. Some may work regular office hours, while others work shifts. Hours may be long and irregular when taking part in exercises and operations, and officers may be separated from their families for long periods of time. They are on call at all times if needed, and may find they have to cancel personal plans if the situation demands it.

Army officers can be stationed in the UK or overseas. They are trained to work in a wide range of conditions and situations. Depending on their particular work, they may be in an office, outside in field conditions, or in specialist areas such as workshops or communications centres.

Officers wear a uniform most of the time.

Regular officers can leave the Army at any point, once they have served for a minimum of three years after training. All officers have to give 12 months' notice. There are longer periods for some specialised jobs, such as pilot and doctor. Pregnant women can choose to resign or take maternity leave.

Starting salaries for Army officers are around £22,700 a year. Accommodation may be provided, with pay reduced accordingly.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are around 14,000 officers in the Army, with an additional 5,000 in the Territorial Army. About 1,000 officer cadets are recruited each year for the commissioning course (CC) - the first stage of officer training and education.

People interested in becoming Army officers can get further information at www.armyjobs.mod.uk. The website also has a full list of Armed Forces careers offices. New enquirers will be put in touch with an Army careers adviser.

Education and Training

Trainee officers must normally be between 17 years and nine months and 28 years (or 33 years for the Territorial Army). They need a minimum of two A levels/three H grades, or the equivalent, and seven GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), including English language, maths and either a science or foreign language. The top seven GCSE's must total a minimum of 35 ALIS points (34 for candidates with S grades). Certain regiments or corps may also specify subjects.

Of the 1,000 cadets accepted for the commissioning course each year, more than 80 per cent are graduates. Any UCAS-recognised degree is accepted, although some regiments and corps may specify a particular degree, depending on their needs.

Nursing, medical and dental officers, barristers and solicitors, veterinary surgeons and chaplains should already be professionally qualified before applying. However, financial sponsorship is available for doctors, dentists, veterinary surgeons and nurses.

Candidates must pass a medical entrance test and meet the Army's nationality and residency requirements. Selection is by a series of interviews, and practical and written tests at the Army officer selection board (AOSB) at Westbury, Wiltshire.

Candidates apply to a particular regiment or corps for sponsorship through the selection process. Women cannot apply for a commission in the Household Cavalry, the Royal Armoured Corps or the Infantry.

About 60 per cent of candidates who apply to the Army officer selection board (AOSB) are successful. There selection remains valid for seven years. If they are not accepted, they may be able to reapply, depending on the reasons they were turned down.

The Armed Forces have their own residential sixth form college, Welbeck, which offers a two-year A level education, combined with personal development and physical training. After leaving Welbeck, students may be able to go on to university on a technical bursary, before joining the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst (RMAS) to prepare for a career as an officer in one of the Army's technical corps.

The University Officers Training Corps (UOTC) offers paid experience with the Army alongside university study. Training exercises involve anything from driving Army vehicles to building bridges. While many members of the UOTC do go on to join the regular or Territorial Army, there is no requirement to do so. There are 19 UOTCs across the UK.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

All officers, except chaplains, go through military training and are trained in weapons handling.

Most officers follow the commissioning course at RMAS, which consists of three 14-week terms. The course includes training in leadership and management, tactics, weapons and fitness.

Professionally qualified officers, such as medical and dental officers, barristers, solicitors, veterinary surgeons and chaplains, do a four-week course at RMAS.

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As an ambulance technician you would respond to accident and emergency calls, as well as a range of planned and unplanned non-emergency cases. You would usually work in a team, providing support to a paramedic during the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients at the scene of an incident and during hospital transfers.

You may use life saving skills as part of your day-to-day work.

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After leaving the Royal Military Academy new officers complete an additional course appropriate to their particular arm or service, and receive a commission. There are three main types of commission:

  • A short service commission (SSC) is the normal first commission, awarded for at least three years (six in the Army Air Corps) after leaving Sandhurst, with opportunities for extension.
  • An intermediate regular commission (IRC) - applications can be made after at least two years on an SSC. Officers can serve on an IRC for up to 16 years, and have the opportunity to convert to a regular commission.
  • A regular commission (Reg C) offers a full career, potentially up to the age of 60. It is awarded to officers who have had at least two years' IRC service.

Throughout their career, officers continue to attend courses to develop skills and prepare for promotion. They are also encouraged to gain nationally recognised qualifications.

Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Army officers need to:

  • Be able to lead and motivate others.
  • Be self-disciplined and confident.
  • Be prepared to go into combat.
  • Be able to plan, think and act under pressure.
  • Use their initiative.
  • Fit into a highly organised structure.
  • Work well in a team and encourage others to do so.
  • Communicate well with people at all levels.
  • Take responsibility and make decisions.
  • Be physically fit with good stamina.
  • Be well organised.
  • Accept that social engagements are part of the job.

Your Long Term Prospects

Officers begin as cadets during their initial officer training at Sandhurst. After commissioning they become second lieutenants (for up to two years of service). Ranks above this level are lieutenant, captain, major, lieutenant colonel (typically after 16 to 18 years' service) and brigadier.

Officers who leave the Army may use their leadership skills and specialist training for a variety of careers in civilian life.

Get Further Information

Army Jobs
Tel: 0845 730 0111
Website: www.armyjobs.mod.uk

Welbeck College, Forest Road, Woodhouse,
Loughborough, Leicestershire LE12 8WD
Tel: 0845 600 1483
Website: www.dsfc.ac.uk/

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