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Soldier army soldier, army NCO, army reserve

Soldiers defend the interests of the UK by taking part in peacekeeping missions, supporting humanitarian efforts, or fighting in combat zones around the world.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £14,750 to £47,500 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll need to:

  • be aged between 16 and 33 (you'll need consent from a parent or guardian if you're under 18)
  • meet the British army nationality and residency rules
  • get a GP’s medical report and pass a full army medical

You won't need any qualifications unless you're applying for a technical role like engineering or communications.

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

The army recruitment process involves a series of tests including a fitness test and medical check. Once you pass, you’ll also need clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and a security check.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

Army Reserve

To join the Army Reserve you'll need to:

  • be between 18 and 49
  • serve at least 19 or 27 days (depending on your unit) each year
  • attend a two-week training camp each year

Army Cadet Force

You'll need to be between 12 and 18 to join the Army Cadet Force.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • self-discipline
  • excellent teamworking and communication skills
  • practical skills
  • the ability to think and act quickly under extreme pressure
  • to be able to understand and follow instructions 

3. What you'll do

Depending on your role and regiment, you may be based in an office, engineering workshop or field hospital. You'll live and work on military bases in the UK or overseas.

Your day-to-day duties will depend on your job. Examples of some of the roles you might work in include:

  • combat - as an infantry soldier or aviation crewman
  • engineering - as an aircraft technician or vehicle mechanic
  • HR, finance and support - as an HR specialist or military police soldier
  • intelligence, communications and IT - as a military intelligence operator or communication systems engineer
  • medical - as a healthcare professional or veterinary technician
  • logistics and support - as a chef or logistics supply specialist
  • music and ceremonial - as a musician or ceremonial gunner

Once you're fully trained you could take on different military tasks depending on your role.

4. Salary

Starter: £14,750 (while training)

Experienced: £18,305 (trained soldier)

Highly Experienced: £29,500 (Corporal) to £47,500 (Warrant Officer)

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.

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.

You may sometimes be working in dangerous combat situations.

6. Career path and progression

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.

With training and experience you could move up through the ranks or into a specialist unit like the commandos.

You could also gain a commission to become an officer which would give you a higher salary.

You could move into a wide range of careers once you leave the army. The Career Transition Partnership (CTP) and Quest have information on careers outside the armed forces.

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Last updated: 12 May 2017