Navy Officer

Job Description:

Navy officers manage ships and submarine operations and are responsible for all personnel in their command.

Job Category:
Aerospace & Defence

What you will do:

You’ll be responsible for the welfare and management of those in your squadron or unit. Your day-to-day duties will depend on your role. You could:

  • control weapons and defence systems
  • assist with navigation
  • make sure the ship’s aircraft are ready to fly when needed
  • fly aircraft and helicopters
  • oversee the maintenance of a vessel’s engines, weapon delivery systems,
  • detection sensors and communications equipment
  • manage the control and delivery of supplies and equipment
  • provide medical care to staff and their families on ships, submarines and ashore


You’ll need:

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

As well as:

  • leadership skills to manage and motivate personnel
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • thinking and reasoning skills for making quick decisions (adaptability skills)
  • persistence and determination
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • concentration skills
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Navy Officer, you will typically need to meet certain educational and eligibility requirements, including obtaining specific subjects. The specific requirements may vary depending on the branch of the Navy you wish to join and your chosen career path within the Navy. Below is a general list of recommended subjects for aspiring Navy Officers:

  1. Mathematics: Mathematics is essential for many roles within the Navy, especially those related to navigation, engineering, and technical positions.
  2. English Language: Strong communication skills are crucial for Navy Officers, as you’ll need to give and receive orders, write reports, and communicate effectively with your team.
  3. Science (Physics or Chemistry): A solid foundation in science, particularly in physics or chemistry, can be important for roles that involve technology, engineering, or scientific research.
  4. Physical Education (PE): Physical fitness is a key requirement for Navy personnel. Physical Education can help you maintain good physical health and prepare for the physical fitness assessments required for entry.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • applying directly

If you have a degree, you can apply through the Direct Graduate Entry route.

For some officer roles you’ll need specific qualifications and experience, for example:

  • as an air engineering officer, you’ll need a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths (STEM)
  • to join the medical support services as a doctor, you need to have or be working towards an approved degree in medicine
  • to be a chaplain you must be ordained with 3 years’ experience and have a theological degree

In the UK, you can start applying before you finish your studies, as the process can take up to 6 months. If you’re accepted, you’ll attend Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth to begin officer training.

You can join the Navy Reserve to get some experience of what life is like in the service, and to learn new skills at the same time. Requirements may vary from country to country. In the UK, You’ll need to be:

  • between the ages of 16 and 42
  • able to commit to basic training which includes a 2-week course at Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth
  • If you’re between 12 and 18 years old, you can join the Sea Cadets.

Direct Application
You can apply directly for officer training. In the UK, you’ll need a minimum of:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths
  • 2 A levels or equivalent
  • Age limits vary depending on which officer role you’re interested in.

If your application is accepted, you’ll be invited to talk to someone at your local armed forces careers office about what you want to do. You’ll also have a medical and fitness check.

There will be further assessments and interviews to complete and if you’re successful, you’ll be offered a place on a full officer training programme.

Working Hours and Environment:

You could work at a military base, in a warzone or on a ship.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding and outdoors in all weathers.

You may need to wear a uniform and protective clothing.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience you could be promoted to sub-lieutenant, lieutenant and the higher ranks.

You can go into a wide range of careers after leaving the navy. The type of career open to you will depend on the skills, training and qualifications you’ve gained while serving.

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