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Army officers lead and manage a team of trained soldiers. They look after the operational effectiveness, training, discipline, welfare and career development of the soldiers under their command. The army plays an important part in NATO and UN operations wherever required in the world. Many overseas operations nowadays involve peacekeeping and humanitarian roles.
The army is made up of regiments and corps, divided into:
- the Combat Arms - troops directly involved in fighting in battle. They include the cavalry, armoured corps, air corps, and the infantry
- the Combat Support Arms - provide artillery, field engineering, signals and intelligence support, whilst fighting in close support of the Combat Arms
- the Services - provide a range of essential support services to the other Arms, for example, administration, transport and logistics, catering, technical engineering and medical care.
Hours and Environment
Hours vary depending on the situation. Army officers may work daytime hours or shifts. During exercises and operations, hours may be long and irregular, and they may be separated from their family for long periods.
Army officers are stationed in the UK and overseas and they are trained to work in a wide range of conditions and situations. The immediate work environment varies with the job and may include deskwork, outdoor work, field conditions and specialist areas such as workshops or kitchens.
Skills and Interests
To be an army officer you should:
- be able to inspire and motivate others to perform difficult tasks
- be self-disciplined and confident
- work well in a team
- have reasonable IT skills
- have good communication skills
- be able to take responsibility and make decisions
- be physically fit
- have good organisational skills
- be prepared to go into combat.
To be an army officer you need at least five GCSEs (A-C)/ S grades (1-3), usually including English language, mathematics, and a science or foreign language. You will also need two A levels/ three H grades, or equivalent qualifications. It is now also a requirement for entrants to have reasonable ability in the use of computers.
Many officers are graduates. Any recognised degree is accepted, though some regiments and corps may specify an approved degree. Candidates for nursing, medical and dental officers, barristers and solicitors, veterinary surgeons and chaplains should be professionally qualified.
An Access to Higher Education qualification may also be accepted for entry to certain courses.
Please check with colleges or universities for exact entry requirements.
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.
Candidates must pass a medical entrance test and meet the army’s nationality requirements. Selection is by a series of interviews and practical and written tests at the Regular Commissions Board (RCB) at Westbury, Wiltshire.
A Short Service Commission (SSC) is the normal first commission with a minimum engagement of three years. Certain Corps and regiments may have longer minimum engagements.
The Gap Year Commission (GYC) is open to people who have a firm place at a UK university for a first degree. The Undergraduate Army Placement (UGAP) is similar to the GYC for students at university who want to do a placement year with the army.
Sponsorship schemes include:
- the Army Scholarship Scheme for A level or H grade students
- university bursaries providing a small salary to students at university
- Welbeck College, the army’s sixth-form college, provides a residential sixth-form education.
All officers, except those listed below, complete the three 14-week terms of the Commissioning Course (CC) at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst (RMAS). The course includes training in leadership and management, tactics, weapons and fitness.
Professionally qualified officers take a four-week course at RMAS. These include medical and dental officers, barristers and solicitors, veterinary surgeons and chaplains.
After leaving RMAS, you complete the Young Officers course appropriate to your Arm or Service. Throughout your career you will continue to attend courses to develop skills and which prepare you for promotion.
There is a constant need for new recruits, so suitable candidates are always in demand.
Promotion is from second lieutenant through lieutenant, captain, major, lieutenant colonel and beyond.
Information and advice are available from a local Armed Forces Careers Office (AFCO) which you should be listed in telephone directories.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
On entry, second lieutenants earn £21,301 a year.
Lieutenants earn £25,605 to £28,298 a year.
Captains earn £32,810 to £39,018 a year.
The more senior ranks can earn £41,329 to £84,008 a year.
Where accommodation is provided the charges are deducted from your pay.
Further informationForest Road
Tel: 01980 615041
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The information contained in our Career Profiles Database was correct at time of publishing, but since publication certain details may have changed so please use this section as a research tool and in some cases further research may be required.
Careers Database Information By Learn Direct Advice