We're building a new service – your feedback will help us to improve it.

Royal Navy officer

Royal Navy officers  manage the day-to-day operations of ships and submarines, and are responsible for the welfare, training and development of the people under their command.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £25,750 to £79,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

To start Royal Navy officer training you'll need:

  • to be 17 or over
  • at least 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and maths
  • at least 2 A levels
  • to be at least 151.5cm tall
  • to be a British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen
  • to be in good health and physically fit
  • If you’ve a degree you could join the Royal Navy’s graduate programme

You’ll need specific qualifications for some officer roles, like:

  • as an air engineering officer, you'll need an engineering degree
  • to join the medical support services as a doctor, you’ll need (or be working towards) an approved degree in medicine and registration with the General Medical Council
  • to be a chaplain you must be ordained, recommended by your church and have 3 or more years’ experience

When you apply, you’ll be put through a series of selection tests, a medical examination and an interview.

You’ll need clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). 

You’ll also need a full security check.

Royal Navy Careers has information on the full range of officer specialisms.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • leadership skills and the ability to assess those under your command
  • resilience and resourcefulness
  • self-discipline, confidence and determination
  • the ability to assess the strengths and weaknesses of those under your command
  • good physical fitness levels and stamina
  • the ability to operate effectively in combat situations

3. What you'll do

You’ll work on board ships and submarines in all types of situations, from combat exercises at sea to humanitarian operations.

You’ll be responsible for the welfare and management of those serving in your squadron or unit. You’ll also have a specialist role, like:

  • warfare officer – controlling weapons and defence systems, and assisting with navigation
  • air fleet officer – as part of ground support, making sure the ship’s aircraft are ready to fly when needed, or as a Navy pilot flying aircraft and helicopters
  • engineering officer – overseeing the maintenance of a vessel's engines, weapon delivery systems, detection sensors and communications equipment
  • logistics officer – managing the control and delivery of supplies and equipment
  • medical or nursing officer – providing medical care to staff and their families on ships, submarines and ashore

4. Salary

Starter: £25,750

Experienced: £34,000 to £39,000 (depending on rank)

Highly Experienced: £79,000 (commander)

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually be on call 24 hours a day, and work 8-hour shifts, including weekends and public holidays.

You must be prepared to move within the UK and overseas. Whilst serving at sea, you may be away from home for several months at a time, sometimes working in dangerous situations.

6. Career path and progression

With experience you could be promoted to sub-lieutenant, lieutenant and higher ranks. 

When you leave the Navy, you could move into a wide range of careers including management or teaching. 

The type of career open to you will depend on the skills, training and qualifications you gained whilst serving.

Related careers

You may be interested in:

Last updated: 13 September 2017