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Army officer Professionally Qualified Officer (PQO), Army Reserve

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Army officers command, manage and motivate teams of soldiers.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £26,504 to £40,826 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll need to:

  • be aged between 18 and 28 years and 11 months
  • meet the British army nationality and residency rules
  • get a GP’s medical report and pass a full army medical

You'll also usually need:

  • 7 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and a science or foreign language
  • 2 A levels (or equivalent) with 72 UCAS Tariff points

All officer roles are open to all genders, apart from Infantry, which will be open to women towards the end of 2018.

The recruitment process involves an interview and going to the Army Officer Selection Board (AOSB).

You’ll also need clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and a security check.

You could become a volunteer part-time officer with your local Army Reserve unit. You'll need to be between 17 years and 9 months, and 48 years and 9 months.

If you're between 12 and 18 you could join the Army Cadet Force which will help you understand the roles and responsibilities of an officer in the armed forces.

2. Skills required

To be an army officer, you'll need:

  • excellent communication skills
  • the ability to lead and motivate others
  • the ability to act quickly and make decisions under pressure
  • teamworking skills
  • organisational skills
  • IT skills

3. What you'll do

Your duties will depend on the section you work in and the type of job you do.

You might work in a combat role as:

  • an infantry platoon commander leading a team of 30 trained soldiers on operations
  • a helicopter pilot officer with responsibility for your crew and supporting ground troops
  • a tank troop officer in charge of 12 men and their vehicles
  • an artillery troop officer leading a team of 30 soldiers and in charge of weaponry

You might work in medicine and healthcare as:

  • an adult heath nurse caring for injured soldiers in demanding situations
  • a medical support officer or dental officer looking after the health of army personnel and their families
  • a veterinary officer working with military animals

You could also work in:

  • transport and Logistics as a logistic troop commander
  • engineering and maintenance as an engineering troop commander
  • intelligence, communications and IT as an intelligence officer
  • support and HR as a military police officer of a chaplain

You'll be responsible for the operational effectiveness, training, discipline, welfare and career development of the soldiers under your command.

4. Salary

Starter: £26,504 (during training) to £31,000 (2nd Lieutenant)

Experienced: £40,826 (Captain)

Highly Experienced: £102,000 (Brigadier)

Your pay will depend on your rank and how long you've served.

You may receive extra pay if you work in a specialist role, like parachutist, diver, or in the Special Forces.

Medical and dental care is free. You’ll also get help towards the cost of food and housing. If you live in army accommodation, the rent is taken from your salary.

You'll get allowances if you work overseas.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

Your working hours will depend on which part of the armed forces you work in. During exercises and operations you may work long and irregular hours.

You could be posted in the UK or overseas, and may be away from your family for long periods of time.

Depending on your role and regiment, you may be based in an office, engineering workshop or field hospital.

6. Career path and progression

With training and experience, you could move up through the ranks from Lieutenant to Captain, Major, Lieutenant Colonel and beyond.

You could move into a wide range of careers once you leave the army. The Officer's Association gives advice and support to officers on finding a career outside the army. 

The Career Transition Partnership and Quest also have information on careers outside the armed forces.

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Last updated: 14 November 2018