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Army soldier

  • Hours


  • Starting salary

    £14,784 + per year

As a British Army soldier, depending on your role, you could be taking part in peacekeeping missions, supporting humanitarian efforts or fighting in combat zones around the world. If you're looking for a challenging and active job, this could be ideal for you.

You'll need to have self-discipline and confidence. You'll also need to work as part of a team and be able to think and act quickly.

To join the army, you must be aged between 16 and 33. You'll also need to meet the army’s eligibility criteria.


Work activities

As a soldier in the army, you could serve in the UK or overseas in places like Canada or Cyprus. You could work anywhere from an office or engineering workshop, to a kitchen, field hospital or camp.

There are over 70 different jobs open to new recruits and more for people with specialist skills. Your duties will vary depending on your role.

Once you’re fully trained you could take on different military tasks depending on your role. Life in the army isn’t just about being a soldier, you could work in one of over 200 roles available like bricklayer, chef or nurse.

With experience you can apply to join specialist units like the commandos.

Visit the British Army website for more information about your duties in different roles.

Working hours and conditions

Your working hours will depend on your role. When you are not on exercises or away from home doing your job – ‘on tour’, a working day can be from 8am to 5pm with evenings and weekends off.

During exercises and on tour you may work longer hours. On tour you’ll be away from your family for up to 6 months at a time. You’ll be flown home for two weeks leave in the middle of your tour and get more leave when it ends.


You’ll earn £14,784 while you train. 

The starting salary for a trained soldier is £18,305 a year.

Once you’re trained your salary will increase every year, depending on your job and rank. Within five years you could reach the rank of corporal with a starting salary of £29,474. 

A 'golden hello' payment of between £1,250 and £2,500 is available to recruits who have qualifications and skills the army needs. Soldiers in some roles will be paid a further £4,500 after specialist training. 

You'll receive benefits like free health and dental care and a pension scheme that the army pay for you. You’ll also get help towards the cost of your food and housing.

Entry requirements

To join the army, you’ll need to:

  • be aged between 16 and 33 on the day you join
  • get consent from a parent or guardian if you are aged under 18
  • meet the army nationality and residency rules
  • get a GP’s medical report and pass a full army medical exam
  • have the right qualifications if you’re joining in a technical job - for example, in engineering or communications – for many army jobs no qualifications are needed to start

Both men and women can join the army. Although some units, like the infantry, only recruit men.

Check out the army website to find out if you’ll pass the army’s joining rules.

You can also talk to an adviser at your local Army Careers Centre. Check out the search facility on the British Army website to find a centre near you.


When you join the army, you’ll go through a number of stages. At first, if you wish, you can speak with an army careers adviser. If you prefer you can go straight online to complete your application. You’ll then be invited to an army briefing at an Army Careers Centre which is followed by a two-day visit to an assessment centre.

You’ll be assessed on the following:

  • medical exam and fitness
  • English and maths
  • technical selection – depending on which job you’ve applied for
  • British Army Recruit Battery (BARB) test – matches you to jobs that suit your skills
  • team activities and interview

When you finish the assessment you’ll be given an overall score. This will help the army decide when you start the first phase of training - Phase One.

Try out the practice tests on the British Army website. 

Army Reserve

You can have a civilian job and still be a fully trained soldier and go on exercises and operations worldwide. Reservists are paid to train. You’ll serve at least 19 or 27 days depending on your unit, and attend a two-week camp every year. 

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. Visit the ACF website for more information.

If you want to continue your education and still join the army, you can apply for army funding. The army offers a range of bursaries, scholarships and grants. Visit the British Army website for more information and eligibility criteria.

Training and development

Once you’re employed by the army you’ll learn with experts who’ll teach you everything you need to know to do your job.

If you’re a new recruit, older than 17½ years, you’ll start with a 14-week Phase One training programme. This is often called basic training. New recruits under 17½ years complete either a 6 or 12 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've completed Phase One, you go to your regiment or corps to begin Phase Two specialist training. This is where you’ll learn to do your chosen job. The time it takes will depend on your role.

You will also be able to take an apprenticeship and work towards qualifications for your trade.


The army has the largest employer apprenticeship scheme in the UK. With an apprenticeship you work for the army but also study towards a qualification. You’ll receive full pay during your apprenticeship and at the end you’ll have a job with the army.

The army offers over 40 apprenticeships in subjects from health, engineering and telecommunications to animal care, logistics and business administration. All apprenticeships fit in with military training and are linked to your job.

You can study towards a Level 2 apprenticeship or a Level 3 advanced apprenticeship during your Phase Two trade training. To take an advanced apprenticeship you’ll need five GCSEs (A*-C) or a Level 2 army apprenticeship.

Visit the British Army website to find out more about apprenticeships in the army.

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. If you join as a Guard, you’ll receive an extra two weeks' training.

Whatever your job, you’ll get regular training throughout your career to help you build the skills you need to move up through the ranks.

Skills, interests and qualities

To become an army soldier, you’ll need:

  • self-discipline
  • confidence and initiative
  • good teamworking skills
  • the ability to think and act quickly
  • good communication skills
  • good fitness
  • willingness to be involved in combat
  • to be ready to take orders and follow instructions
  • the practical and technical skills to join your regiment or corps

More information

British Army  (Opens new window)
Tel: 08457 300 111



In the army you’ll have the opportunity to take your career in many different directions. To move up the ranks you’ll need to be a good manager and leader, work towards qualifications and show commitment. The army offers over 500 qualifications that are recognised by civilian employers. You’ll also learn about teamwork, leadership, communication and many more skills, which you can transfer later to civilian life. You’ll be able to build a career and gain qualifications that will give you a wide range of career opportunities if you decide to leave the army.

When you join the army, you sign up for 4 years. You can leave at any time after this as long as you give 12 months’ notice. If you want to stay you can extend your 4-year contract.

Contact your local Armed Forces Careers Office for more information and advice. See the Army Jobs website to find your local office or Army Reserve Unit.

If you leave, the army will help you write a CV and find a job. The army has links with a number of organisations that may be useful:

The following organisations also offer careers support for wounded, injured and sick ex-services personnel:

Job market information

This section gives you an overview of the job area that this profile belongs to. You can use it to work out your next career move. It can help if you’re looking for a job now or want to do some further training.

The 'Market statistics' charts are based on figures from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) and the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The list of job vacancies under 'Apply for jobs' is from the Universal Jobmatch database. The vacancies are not from the National Careers Service.

Median income: Security
Avg Inc
UK Sector
27017 36128
Gender: Security
Female Male
35 65
Working pattern: Security
Part-time Full-time Self-employed
17 80 3
Gaps in sector due to skills shortages: Security
This sector* All vacancies*
4.5 16.2
Employment forecast: Security
Forecast Employment Figures
Year Predicted nos. employed
2014 358000
2015 352000
2016 342000
2017 340000
2018 340000
2019 340000
2020 338000

Jobs available on Universal Jobmatch

DateJob TitleCompany NameLocation
05/10/2016Army Reserve Soldier - Royal Engineer (Full Training Given)350 Field Squadron, Army ReservesChesterfield
05/10/2016Army Reserve Soldier (Full Training Given)350 Field Squadron, Army ReservesMansfield
05/10/2016Army Reserve Soldier - Royal Engineer (Full Training Given)350 Field Squadron, Army ReservesNottingham
26/09/2016Infantry SoldierArmyRhyl
05/10/2016Driver/Communications SpecialistArmy Careers Centre WrexhamDeeside

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