Airforce non-commissioned aircrew

Job Description:

Air Force non-commissioned aircrew fly patrols over local airspace and take part in international operations.

Job Category:
Aerospace & Defence

What you will do:

Depending on your specialisation, you could:

  • use radar and sonar to find and monitor submarine and ship movements
  • load aircraft, including weapons, supplies, parachutists, and troops
  • take part in search-and-rescue operations
  • operate a helicopter winch for search-and-rescue
  • operate electronic warfare systems to track movements on land, sea and in the air
  • relay information to commanders about the position of units
  • work on early warning defence systems
  • monitor electronic surveillance equipment
  • translate radio and telecommunications traffic


You’ll need:

  • to pass a medical check
  • to pass a fitness test
  • to pass security checks
  • to pass enhanced background checks
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • physical fitness and endurance
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to work well with others in a team (teamwork skills)
  • concentration skills and quick reactions
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be flexible and open to change (adaptability skill)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

Becoming an officer in the air force typically requires a strong educational background, leadership qualities, and the ability to excel in a variety of subjects. While there are no specific subjects that are mandatory for this career, certain subjects can provide a solid foundation and make you a competitive candidate when applying to join the air force as an officer. Here are some subjects that can be beneficial:

  1. Mathematics: Mathematics skills are important for various aspects of air force roles, including technical, engineering, and aviation-related positions.
  2. Physics: Physics provides a fundamental understanding of the principles governing flight and aerodynamics, which can be valuable if you plan to pursue a career in aviation.
  3. English Language: Effective communication skills are essential for officers in the air force, as you’ll need to give clear instructions, write reports, and communicate with colleagues and superiors.
  4. Information Technology (IT): Proficiency in IT and digital skills can be valuable in today’s technology-driven air force, where many systems and communications are computer-based.
  5. Physical Education (PE): Physical fitness is a crucial aspect of air force training, so a good foundation in PE can be beneficial.
  6. Foreign Languages: While not a strict requirement, having proficiency in a foreign language can be an asset, especially if you’re interested in certain intelligence or international liaison roles.
  7. Leadership and Citizenship Education: Some schools offer courses or programs that focus on leadership development and citizenship education, which can help you develop important qualities for an officer role.

It’s important to note that becoming an officer in the air force typically involves further education and training beyond school. The specific requirements and qualifications for air force officer training programs may vary by country, so it’s essential to research the specific entry requirements for the air force branch you are interested in.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly


You’ll need to apply directly to the Air Force to discuss which is the best apprenticeship route for you. This will depend on your qualifications and which service role you’re interested in.

You can join the Air Force Reserve to get some experience of what life is like in the air force and to learn new skills at the same time.

You’ll need to:

  • be between 18 and 54
  • commit to at least 27 days a year
  • attend a 2-week training camp each year

If you’re between 13 and 18 years old, you can join the Air Cadets.

You’ll visit Air Force bases and develop some of the key skills that the Air Force will be looking for in their recruitment selection process should you go on to apply.

Direct Application
You can apply directly to join the Air Force.

You’ll need:

  • to be over 17.5 years old – upper age limit varies depending on the role
  • to be physically fit

For some roles like weapons system operator linguist, you’ll need to be fluent in at least 2 languages.

If your initial application is accepted, you’ll be invited to talk to someone at your local armed forces careers office about what you want to do, and take an aptitude test.

If you successfully complete the initial stage, you’ll be invited to attend further interviews and assessments, which include fitness and medical tests.

Working Hours and Environment:

Weekly working hours are variable and could include evenings, weekends, and holidays.

You could work in a warzone or at a military base.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience and further training, you could progress to flight sergeant, then to master aircrew. You could also apply to become a commissioned RAF officer.

You could go into a wide range of careers once you leave the RAF, depending on your skills, training and qualifications.

The Career Transition Partnership, Quest and Troops to Teachers have more information on careers outside the armed forces.