Grad Jobs in the Armed Forces

The Graduate Market 2015 by High Flyers has identified the Armed Forces as one of the largest growth sectors in graduate employment. The sector intends to fill 1,246 graduate roles in 2015 (a 13.4% increase from 2014), placing it well above sectors such as IT, Media, Oil & Energy and Consulting in terms of graduate recruitment. For this reason alone, it is very much a graduate career worth considering!

So what is it all about?


You’ll be heavily invested in and paid to undertake training available to almost no one outside the military, often using technology not yet available in the public or private sector. Ex-Armed Forces personnel are heavily sought after in sectors such as engineering, aviation, law enforcement, medicine and private security for this very reason.

Gain experiences not normally available to those in civilian careers

Ever wanted to perform High Altitude Low Opening parachute jumps, fire heavy weapons or travel to parts of the world well off the beat and track of typical tourist attractions? The Armed Forces is one of the few sectors that offers the opportunity to be paid to do so.

Clear career progression and professional development structure with salary and responsibilities increasing by rank

You’ll have an ever present incentive to perform your job to the best of your ability and excel at whatever you choose to do. Starting salaries for officers range from £25k – £30k, with pay grade and responsibility increasing by rank.

Adventurous training (e.g. skiing, sailing and mountaineering)

Armed Forces recruitment material puts a heavy emphasis on adventurous training and extreme sports. While this in no way forms the crux of military life, these are great experiences you’ll find in almost no other job.

Career variation

The Armed Forces offers the widest range of career paths of any single employer with over 200 roles existing within the Army alone. Employment areas include IT, HR, Combat, Policing, Engineering, Environmental Health, Logistics, Medicine and Dentistry, Aviation, Intelligence and Catering and Hospitality among others.

Riflemen of The Royal Regiment of Scotland training at Castlelaw Ranges, Edinburgh. More than 40 soldiers drawn from across The Royal Regiment of Scotland have been practising their combat skills as part of a gruelling, six week course designed to prepare them to lead infantry soldiers into combat. The ‘Section 2I/Cs’ course is the first step in the command ladder and provides junior soldiers with the command, leadership and management skills they require to be promoted from Private to Lance Corporal.  The course includes practical live and blank firing training exercises alongside management and instructional theory exercises.

But there are things you should consider…


In order to meet entry requirements you’ll need to meet stringent health and residency standards. Periods of longer than 28 days outside the UK in the past 5 years and medical conditions such as food allergies can preclude entry.

Service commitment

Upon joining the Regular Army, RAF or Navy you’ll be under contract to serve for a minimum period depending on role, generally ranging from 3 to 14 years. You will also be obliged to serve in the Reserves for a minimum period after completing Regular service. Failure to meet the contractual obligations you agreed to when enlisting could result in a Court Marshal and criminal prosecution.

Risk factors

Your mental health, physical health and life will potentially be subject to risks not present in the majority of civilian careers.

Military conduct

Military life is extremely regimented. You will be expected to follow orders from personnel of a higher rank unconditionally unless you believe such orders to be unlawful.

The moral component

Regardless of your role within the Armed Forces you will be trained to kill people and expected to do so if ordered. Equally, you will be expected to facilitate government foreign policy through military action irrespective of your personal views.


You may be required to spend long periods away from friends and family.

And what are the entry routes for a graduate?

Due to the number of entry routes (including entry into the Reserves) and complexity of selection processes across the Army, Navy, RAF and Royal Marines, it is not within the scope of this article to discuss all the options within each service. Below however are some of the graduate entry routes offered by the British Army (for information relating specifically to other services please see Useful Links below).

University Officer Training Corps (OTC)

Gain skills, experience and a taste of Army life as an Officer Cadet and a chance to apply for the Army Officer Selection Board (AOSB) upon graduating University. As an Officer Cadet within the Corps you’ll be under no obligation to enlist, can leave at any time and cannot be mobilised. As well as enhance your CV, this is an opportunity to see if being an Officer within the British army is for you.

Undergraduate Bursaries

If you’re currently studying for a first undergraduate degree you’ll be eligible to receive a bursary of up to £8000. In return you’ll be obliged to serve as an officer for at least 3 years after commissioning.

Lead First

An intensive 12 month leadership programme leading to a Queens Commission as an Army Reserve Officer and a Chartered Management Institute Level 5 Qualification in Management and Leadership. This will be followed by full-time Reserve service of up to 6-12 months.

Apply directly to become an Officer within the Regular Army

After passing the AOSB and Main Board you’ll be invited to complete a 44 week training course at Royal Military Academy (RMA) Sandhurst, after which you’ll go on to undertake specialist training with your chosen corps or regiment:

For the Soldier selection process see here:

What skills do I need?

In order to meet the selection requirements to attend RMA Sandhurst or its RAF or Navy equivalents (RAF Cranwell and Britannia Royal Navy College Dartmouth) you’ll need to demonstrate good numerical reasoning, deductive reasoning, verbal reasoning, spatial reasoning, a good understanding of current events and an understanding of the service’s structure, history and values. Depending on the role you are applying for you may be required to demonstrate further specific skills and knowledge.

You’ll also be required to demonstrate a good level of physical fitness and an ability to work effectively with other people and show leadership potential, as your primary tasking upon commissioning regardless of specialism will be to lead and be responsible for a team of up to 30 soldiers, sailors or airman.

Useful Links

RAF Careers:

Army Careers:

Navy Careers:


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