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How to become a Royal Air Force Officer

royal air force officer careers

What does a Royal Air Force Officer do?

The RAF has two Commands – Strike, and Personnel and Training. Each of these is made up of stations and squadrons, and each squadron is managed by commissioned officers.

Commissioned officers lead and manage non-commissioned personnel and are responsible for their career development, discipline and welfare.

There are 20 officer specialisms, which fall within five categories:

Air Operations, which includes pilots and weapons systems (navigation) officers.

Operations Support, including air traffic and fighter controllers, flight operations officers, intelligence officers and RAF Regiment officers.

Engineering and Logistics, including aerosystems engineers, communications and electronics engineers, supply officers and movements officers.

Support Services, including catering officers, provost/security officers, training officers and physical education officers.

Professions, which includes staff with specialised qualifications, such as medical and dental officers, nursing officers, chaplains and legal officers.

Further details of these are on the RAF Careers website.

What's the working environment like working as a Royal Air Force Officer?

Although they work normal office hours over a five-day week, officers are on call at all times. If on exercises or involved in operations, hours could be long and irregular.

Officers could be posted to RAF bases in the UK or overseas. When on detachment, they might be away from their families for several months.

What does it take to become a Royal Air Force Officer?

To be an RAF officer you should:

  • be able to inspire and motivate others to perform difficult tasks
  • be self-disciplined and confident
  • work well in a team
  • have good communication skills at all levels
  • be able to take responsibility and make decisions, sometimes under pressure
  • be able to operate advanced technical equipment
  • be physically fit
  • have good organisational skills
  • be prepared to go into combat.

Royal Air Force Officer Career Opportunities

The RAF recruits new officers every year, many applicants are graduates and competition for places is strong.

Early promotion is usually based on length of service and is from pilot officer to flying officer then flight lieutenant. Entrants with degrees may be eligible for faster promotion through these ranks.

Promotion beyond flight lieutenant to squadron leader, wing commander, group captain and above is usually by competitive selection.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Royal Air Force Officer that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Free leaflets and advice are available from all Armed Forces Careers Offices (AFCOs). You can find the address of your nearest office in the telephone directory (under Royal Air Force).

Royal Air Force Careers
Tel: 0845 605 5555

Facts and Stats:

  • The Ministry of Defence is British Industry''s largest single customer
  • Every year, civil servants are responsible for public spending of around £300bn
  • If every MP turned up at the chambers of the House of Commons at the same time, there would not be enough seats for them all to sit down

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