Armed Forces Officer

Job Description:

Officers in the armed forces command, manage and motivate teams of soldiers.

Job Category:
Aerospace & Defence

What you will do:

Officers work as part of a country’s army, air force or navy to protect its civilians. They hold a position of authority and are responsible for a team of soldiers.

Within a country’s armed forces, there are usually many specialist roles to choose from, including:


  • household cavalry officer (lead a troop of armoured cavalry vehicles and soldiers in combat)
  • officer pilot (fly and command military helicopters)
  • infantry officer (command frontline soldiers)


  • weapon systems officer (manage a mission crew of weapon systems operators)
  • air operations systems officer (run airfield operations and monitor suspicious air activity)
  • regiment officer (lead a flight of gunners to protect aircraft, people and bases)


  • warfare intelligence officer (deliver intelligence to commanders on operations)
  • submarine officer (be responsible for sonar, tactical kit and communication systems)
  • logistics officer (manage equipment and supplies for humanitarian aid and combat missions)

N.B. the name of a role can differ from country to country. For full details on the range of roles available to you, take a look at the websites for your country’s army, air force, or navy.

Your day-to-day duties will depend on your role.

In a combat role you could:

  • command an infantry platoon on operations
  • pilot a helicopter and lead your crew and ground troops
  • take charge of a tank troop and their vehicles
  • lead an artillery team

In a medical or healthcare role, you could:

  • care for injured soldiers as an adult nurse
  • provide dental care for army personnel and their families
  • work with military animals as a veterinary officer

You could also:

  • manage the supply of things like petrol and ammunition
  • manage engineering projects
  • specialise in intelligence and security
  • manage military police soldiers
  • provide support and guidance to soldiers and their families as a chaplain



You’ll need:

  • to be able to use relevant computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • leadership skills, including the ability to manage, motivate and assess those under your command
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to work well with others in a team (teamwork)
  • patience and the ability to remain calm and to operate effectively in stressful situations
  • concentration skills and fast reactions (adaptable)
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • persistence and determination, resilience and resourcefulness
  • self-discipline, confidence and determination (drive)
  • good physical fitness levels and stamina
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

Becoming an armed forces officer, whether in the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines, typically doesn’t require specific GCSE subjects. However, certain subjects and skills can be beneficial for pursuing a career as an officer in the armed forces. These subjects and skills can help you prepare for the academic and leadership aspects of military training. Here are some relevant GCSE subjects and skills:

  1. Mathematics: Strong math skills are essential for various aspects of military service, including navigation, logistics, and technical roles.
  2. Physics: Physics principles are important for understanding technology, mechanics, and systems used in the armed forces, especially in engineering and aviation roles.
  3. Physical Education (PE) and Sports: Physical fitness is a critical aspect of military training. Engaging in sports and physical education can help you develop the stamina, strength, and agility required for military service.
  4. English: Good communication skills, including reading and writing, are vital for effective leadership, clear orders, and documentation.
  5. Geography: Geography knowledge can be beneficial for navigation, understanding terrain, and planning military operations.
  6. History: A basic understanding of history can provide insights into military strategy, tactics, and the historical context of armed conflicts.
  7. Leadership and Teamwork: Developing leadership skills and the ability to work effectively as part of a team is crucial for an officer’s role. Participation in school clubs, teams, or community organizations can help you build these skills.
  8. First Aid and Health Education: Basic first aid knowledge and health education can be valuable for emergency response and maintaining the health and well-being of personnel under your command.
  9. Foreign Languages: Depending on your military career path, knowledge of foreign languages can be advantageous, especially in roles involving international relations or deployments to foreign countries.

While specific GCSE subjects can be helpful, becoming an armed forces officer generally involves further education and training, typically through a military academy or officer training program. The specific requirements and processes can vary by country and armed service branch.

Post School

The entry requirements differ depending on whether you’re applying to the Navy, Air Force, or Army. Also, they may differ from country to country so take a look at the websites for your country’s army, air force, or navy.

In the UK, generally speaking, you’ll need:

  • to be 17 or over
  • at least 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or their equivalent, including English and maths
  • at least 2 A-Levels
  • to be a British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen
  • to be in good health and physically fit

Most officer roles will require you to undergo training. For example, you can become a British Army officer by training at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst following secondary education, higher education, or employment.

Some specialist roles (e.g. surgeon or engineer) also require a degree, and you can often apply for a bursary towards the cost of studying.

In the UK you will also need pass security & enhanced background checks.

Working Hours and Environment:

Your working hours will depend on which part of the armed forces you work in. During exercises and operations, you may work long and irregular hours.

You could be posted overseas, and may be away from your family for long periods of time.

Depending on your role and regiment, you may be based in an office, engineering workshop or field hospital.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could be promoted to a higher rank (such as a lieutenant). If you’re a graduate, you may be able to get a faster promotion through the ranks.

When you leave the armed forces, you could move into a wide range of careers, including management or teaching.

The type of career open to you will depend on the skills, training and qualifications you gained whilst serving.