RAF Officer

    If you are wondering how to become a RAF officer, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in this area of the armed forces and home security, as well as job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    RAF officers are responsible for the discipline, welfare and career development of a staff of non-commissioned RAF personnel (airmen and airwomen).

    The Royal Air Force (RAF)is made up of two commands:

    Strike, the operational air force
    Personnel and Training, which recruits, trains and manages the welfare of personnel.
    These are usually split into squadrons, and each squadron is managed by officers who have earned their ‘commission’.

    As an RAF officer you could choose to work in one of 20 specialist areas.

    Typical responsibilities:

    Air Operations – pilots, and weapons systems officers
    Operations Support – air traffic and fighter controllers, flight operations officers, intelligence officers and RAF Regiment officers
    Engineering and Logistics – aerosystems engineers, communications and electronics engineers, supply officers and movements officers
    Support Services – catering officers, security officers, training officers and physical education officers
    Professions – staff with specialised qualifications, such as medical and dental officers, nursing officers, chaplains and legal officers.

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of good RAF officers include:

    the ability to inspire and motivate others
    self-discipline and confidence
    to work well in a team
    good communication skills at all levels
    the ability to take responsibility and make decisions, sometimes under pressure
    the ability to operate advanced technical equipment
    a good level of physical fitness
    good organisational skills
    to be prepared to go into combat.

    How to become an RAF officer
    To join the RAF as an officer you will need to:

    be aged at least 17 years and six months
    be a citizen of the UK, Republic of Ireland or the Commonwealth since birth, or have dual nationality with Britain and another country
    have at least five GCSEs (A-C), including English language and maths, plus two A levels or similar qualifications.
    For some jobs, you will need a degree or professional qualification.

    Selection tests
    Before you can join the RAF, you need to pass a series of tests held at the Officers and Aircrew Selection Centre at RAF College, Cranwell in Lincolnshire. This is a three-day process that includes aptitude tests, practical initiative tests, health and fitness tests, interviews and a medical.

    Scholarships and bursaries
    If you are still at school or preparing to go to university, you may be eligible for an RAF sixth-form scholarship, university bursary, medical, dental or engineering sponsorship.

    Training and Development
    As a new recruit, you will take a 30-week Initial Officer Training course at the RAF College, Cranwell in Lincolnshire. If you join as a professionally qualified officer (for example, a doctor or dentist) your training may be around 12 weeks.

    Your training will include:

    defence studies
    general RAF service knowledge
    fitness training
    classroom lectures and practical exercises to develop leadership and management skills.
    After 30 weeks, you would go on to specialist training in your chosen branch. A lot of RAF training will provide you with civilian qualifications, which will be useful and recognised by employers outside.

    The Pay (a rough guide)
    New pilot officers earn £22,650.
    Flying officers earn between £27,250 and £30,100 a year.
    Flight lieutenants can earn up to £41,550 a year.
    The highest ranks can earn in excess of £80,000 a year.
    Salaries are independently reviewed each year, so check the latest rates with your local AFCO.

    If your job involves flying, you are entitled to flying pay as well as your basic salary. If you live in RAF accommodation, a charge for rent is automatically taken from your salary.

    Job Prospects
    The RAF recruits new officers every year. Many applicants are graduates and competition for places is strong. At the beginning of your career, promotion is often based on length of service and is from pilot officer to flying officer then flight lieutenant. If you are a graduate, you may be eligible for faster promotion through the ranks.

    Promotion beyond flight lieutenant to squadron leader, wing commander, group captain and above is usually by competitive selection. Free leaflets and advice are available from all Armed Forces Careers Offices (AFCOs).

    Useful security or armed forces resources:
    RAF Careers
    Tel: 0845 605 5555

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