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Officer careers

As an officer, you’re in charge of a team of soldiers. It’s up to you to use their skills and direct their work to get the job done. You look after their welfare and deal with any problems to keep your team working at its best. Most officers are graduates, but you don’t need to have a degree – your personal qualities are as important as your qualifications.

Officer training

Officer training develops your leadership and management skills and shows you how to adapt them to the special demands of Army life. You learn to make difficult decisions under pressure. You also work on your fitness and learn the same military skills as the soldiers you will be leading. The course takes place at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and lasts 44 weeks for Regular officers, or three weeks for Reservists.

Applying your skills

After you’ve completed your initial officer training at Sandhurst, you will go on a course to provide you with the specific skills you’ll need in your first appointment. How long this course lasts will depend on the type of role you'll be doing. Training is delivered by experienced officers and generally involves realistic exercises based on the kind of situations you can expect to face as a junior officer on operations.
reading a map

Early tests of leadership

Most officers start life at their chosen unit as a Second Lieutenant before being promoted to Lieutenant after 12-24 months. For the first couple of years as a junior officer you will be in charge of around 30 soldiers. You will be responsible for their effectiveness as well as their training and welfare, to ensure that you get the very best out of them when it matters most.
working on a vehicle

Moving up the ranks

You can expect to be promoted to the rank of Captain from the end of your fifth year onwards, or third year if you have a degree. You could be second in command of a unit of up to 120 soldiers or might lead a smaller, highly specialised team. With each promotion your pay increases, as well as your level of responsibility. There will be special leadership courses along the way to keep your management skills up to scratch.
officer in afghanistan

Got qualifications?

If you have certain qualifications you could be on the fast track to becoming an officer. The Professionally Qualified Officers’ (PQO) Course lasts for ten weeks and is open to doctors, dentists, nurses, lawyers, pharmacists, physiotherapists, veterinary surgeons, environmental health officers, operating department practitioners and chaplains with the relevant degrees and experience. PQOs can expect to be commissioned in a higher rank, and at a correspondingly higher pay grade.

Ready to fill in an application form? It’s your first step towards Army Life

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