£14,300 + per year
As a British army soldier you could be fighting in combat zones or providing peacekeeping and humanitarian services around the world. If you are looking for a challenging and active job, this could be ideal for you.
You will need to have self-discipline and confidence. You will also need to work as part of a team and be able to think and react quickly in changing situations.
To join the army, you must be aged between 16 and 33. You will need to meet the army’s eligibility criteria.
As a soldier in the army, you would be a member of a regiment in one of two areas:
- Combat Arms – as part of the fighting forces, such as the cavalry, armoured corps, air corps or infantry
- Combat Support Arms – providing support to Combat Arms in areas like artillery, engineering, IT and communications, logistics and healthcare.
You would carry out a wide range of military duties. This would include taking part in operations and learning a skill or trade essential to the army. Your exact duties would depend on which of the two areas you work in.
For instance, in Combat Arms, you could be:
- an armoured vehicle driver
- a musician
- a gunner onboard a battlefield helicopter.
In Combat Support Arms you might work as a:
- mechanical or electrical engineer, maintaining vehicles and equipment
- logistics controller, making sure that regiments have operational supplies
- communications operator, using radio and satellite systems to keep commanders in touch with officers and troops.
As an experienced soldier you could take on specific duties, such as target surveillance or explosives work. You could apply to join a specialist unit like the commandos. For more information about your duties in different roles see the British Army website.
Your working hours will depend on your regiment and your particular job. When you are not on exercises or operations a working day can be from 8am to 5pm. During exercises and operations you may work much longer and irregular hours. You could be away from your family for long periods of time.
You could serve in the UK or overseas in places like Canada, Cyprus or Afghanistan. You would face a wide variety of conditions and situations ranging from office duties to working in an engineering workshop, kitchen or field hospital. Working conditions will depend on your job.
You would also spend a lot of time on training exercises.
Your pay as a soldier in the army depends on your rank, how long you have served and the pay band for your particular job.
New recruits in training start on around £14,300 a year. On completion of training this rises to around £17,700 a year, depending on your job role.
Private soldiers start on around £17,700 a year. Corporals can earn from £26,700 a year.
There are extra allowances, for example whilst serving overseas. You may also get subsidised food and accommodation. Housing for married soldiers is also subsidised to help soldiers maintain a family life throughout their careers.
You may also receive extra pay if you work in specialist roles like parachutist.
To join the army, you will need to meet the following eligibility criteria:
- be aged between 16 and 33 on the day you enlist
- meet the army nationality and residency requirements
- get a GP’s medical report and pass a full army medical examination.
If you are aged under 18 you will need consent from a parent or guardian to join the army. You can join if you are a man or a woman although some units, such as the infantry, recruit men only. See the army website for more information on nationality and residency requirements and other eligibility criteria.
You may need some qualifications for certain technical roles, such as in engineering or communications. For many army jobs you will not need any. You can check the entry criteria for each job role on the British Army website, or discuss your options in detail with your local Armed Forces Careers Office. See the British Army website to search for your local careers office.
During the army recruitment process you will need to go through a number of different stages. At first you would speak with an army careers advisor to discuss your application. If you then wished to apply you would fill in a full application. During the last stage you will be invited to attend an Assessment Centre for two days.
At the centre you will go through the following assessment:
- medical examination and physical fitness tests
- numeracy and literacy tests
- technical selection test (depending on job role)
- British Army Recruit Battery (BARB) test – matches you with jobs that suit your abilities
- team activities and interview.
To take practice numeracy, literacy and BARB tests, and for more information, visit the army website.
When you finish the assessment you will be given an overall score which will decide when you can start the Phase One training programme. See the Training and development section for details.
You may prefer to become a part-time soldier with your local Army Reserve unit as a volunteer. You can apply to join the Army Reserve between ages 18 and 43. Reservists are committed to serving a minimum of 19 or 27 training days a year, depending on your unit, plus a two-week annual camp. You can serve every weekend if you wish.
Army Cadet Force
The Army Cadet Force (ACF) is a voluntary organisation for young people aged between 12 and 18. Its aim is to help people understand the role and responsibilities of the armed forces. It also helps young people to develop life skills and get involved with the local community. For more information see the ACF website.
The army offers a variety of different bursaries, scholarships and grants if you wish to continue your education before joining. For more information and eligibility criteria see the army website.
Training and development
As a new recruit older than 17½ years you would take part in a 14-week Phase One training programme, often called basic training. New recruits under 17½ years complete either a six- or twelve-month course.
Phase One training involves:
- drill skills, map reading, first aid and weapons handling
- field craft and night training, including camouflage techniques
- target practice and live firing
- fitness tests and adventure training.
When you have completed Phase One, you would move on to your chosen regiment or corps to begin Phase Two specialist training. This will vary in length depending on your chosen job role.
You will also be able to work towards relevant qualifications for your trade.
Infantry soldiers complete a combined Phase One and Phase Two course that lasts for 28 weeks. This is known as the Combat Infantryman’s Course.
All soldiers receive regular training throughout their career to help them to develop the skills needed for further promotion through the ranks.
Skills, interests and qualities
To become an army soldier, you will need to have:
- self-discipline, confidence and initiative
- good teamworking skills
- the ability to think and react quickly in rapidly changing situations
- good communication skills
- good fitness levels
- willingness to be involved in combat
- the ability to take orders and follow instructions
- practical and technical skills relevant to the regiment or corps you want to join.
Tel: 08457 300111
Soldiers are given an initial contract with the army to serve for four years, which can be extended. You can leave any time after this point, as long as you give 12 months’ notice. Promotion has to be earned through good management, leadership, qualifications and commitment. All soldiers have the opportunity to rise through the ranks from private soldier to warrant officer class 1. Many then go on to become officers.
Contact your local Armed Forces Careers Office for more information and advice. See the Army Jobs website to find your local office or Territorial Army (TA) centre.
In your career you will have opportunities to develop and enhance your personal qualifications, giving you many transferable skills that are recognised by civilian employers. This would give you a much wider range of career opportunities once you leave the army.
You may find the following links useful for vacancies and general reading:
The following organisations also offer careers support for wounded, injured and sick ex-services personnel: