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Life in the Army

The people you work alongside aren’t just your colleagues, they’re your best mates.  And you don’t just get brilliant training and support, you get somewhere to call home.

There is no typical day. Some days you might be on base, the next you’re on exercise. However, after work your time is your own – as with any civilian job.


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Relaxing off duty

Life in the Regular Army

Life in the Army is similar to life on civvie street. Every Army job is different, but when they’re not on a training exercise or operations, most soldiers work nine-to-five, Monday to Friday. What happens after that is up to you. You can socialise with your mates, use the free sports facilities or go home to see your family and other friends.

Training on salisbury plain

Army Reserve Phase 1 training

I’ve just finished my Phase 1 training over six weekends. It was really hard but a lot of fun. Weekends three and four were all about fitness, and we were introduced to circuit sessions. I’ve lost weight and I’m stronger. On the last two weekends we went out in the field and fired the weapons we had been training with for the first time. At the end I showed off my drill by marching out in front of my friends and family. It was a very proud moment.

- Reservist Private McShane, Royal Logistic Corps

Playing sports and adventurous training

Army sports

Sport is at the heart of Army life - from playing football with your mates to going on tour abroad.

Adventurous training

Adventurous training is great for teamwork as well as building your practical skills.

Where will you live?

At Assessment

Your two-day assessment includes an overnight stay at one of our Assessment Centres. The shared rooms are all either all-male or all-female, and you’ll have access to shared showers and toilets.

At Phase 1 Training

During Phase 1 Training, you’ll be living and working alongside other recruits, in shared rooms of up to 12 people. These are single sex rooms and bathrooms. You’ll get a bed, with bedding, lockers and drawers. While it won’t be like living at home, it will be comfortable. Food will be supplied throughout training, but there are also cafés and shops you can visit in your spare time. There are also sports facilities for you to enjoy.

Everyday living accommodation

Once you join your unit, you'll need to move to the area that they are based. You don’t have to live on the barracks, although most people do – it’s handy for early starts, cheaper than renting privately and most of your friends will be there too.

If you’re living on camp alone, you’ll be given your own room, but share the living space like bathrooms and kitchens. Many of these places are the most up-to-date and comfortable yet, and are known as Z-type.

If you are married you will be given a married quarter for you and your partner. The houses are still on camp, but found in the same area as lots of other families.

You will have to pay rent for living in Army housing, but they will help you out with this, so it is much cheaper than renting privately.

Most camps have lots of sports facilities on them. Sport and fitness are important part of Army life and you’ll be able to use the gyms and pitches both on and off duty. You’re also free to leave the camp when you’re not working.

FAQs - Army Life

Where will I sleep?

At an initial training centre you may have your own room or sleep in a single sex dormitory. After training it is usual to have your own room. Men and women have separate accommodation blocks, where they wash and sleep. But all other aspects of Army life, including eating and training, is together.

How much free time will I have?

When you’re not on exercise or operations, you will have evenings and weekends to yourself.

Can women do the same jobs as men?

From July 2016, more roles in the Army have been opened up for women to join.

Women can now apply for the following units within the Royal Armoured Corps:
• The Royal Lancers
• The King's Royal Hussars
• The Royal Tank Regiment
• All Army Reserve Royal Armoured Corps regiments will now welcome women

Role-based training will start from November 2016 for those looking to join the regular Army.

Entry standards for the roles stay the same. Women are expected to meet the same fitness levels as men.

Women will be able to join the remaining Royal Armoured Corps units, or the Infantry by the end of 2018.

Do women deploy on operations?

Yes, everyone who joins the Army is expected to go on operations.

Do men and women train to the same level?

Men and women get the same high standard of training. The only difference is in fitness tests where targets are slightly different.

What if I want to get married or have children?

The Army full supports men and women who want to marry or have a family. If you marry or enter into a civil partnership, you will be entitled to move into a family quarter. This will usually be offered before you are married. If you decide to start a family, we offer a good maternity (and paternity) package, as well as support with childcare once your baby is born. If you already have children, you can still join, and the Army offers help with childcare. LGB personnel are entitled to the same maternity rights as heterosexual soldiers.

Will I have to change the way I look?

When you are in uniform, you may wear a pair of stud earrings, but be prepared to take them out when necessary. Hair should be a natural colour, and if it is long enough to tie back, must be in a bun.

Do men and women get paid and promoted equally?

Men and women are on the same pay scale and are paid according to their rank. The Army promotes people based on their performance, capability and potential. Every soldier receives an annual report and the best people are selected for promotion.

Which countries does the Army train in?

We're currently found in over 80 countries, but the main ones are Africa, Brunei, Canada, Cyprus, Germany, Gibraltar and the South Atlantic Islands. For more info about these places, read our guide to overseas operations.

What activities could I do as part of Adventurous Training?

There are many opportunities, but the most usual ones are; canoeing, kayaking, caving, freefall parachuting, gliding, mountaineering, mountain biking, offshore sailing, paragliding, skiing and sub-aqua diving.

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