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Armed forces

RAF officer

Royal Air Force (RAF) officers manage teams of airmen and airwomen. They also carry out flying duties or work in specialist ground support.

Annual Salary

£27,273 to £42,009

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours


You could work: evenings / weekends / bank holidays; away from home

Day to day tasks

Your day-to-day duties will depend on your job. You could:

  • take part in flying sorties, reconnaissance, and search and rescue duties
  • provide target information as an aerospace flight operations officer
  • coordinate refuelling, digitally map terrain and plan missions
  • commission new aircraft
  • service fleets and manage aircraft and communications engineering teams
  • manage day-to-day services like catering, security or training for staff at base and in the field
  • manage specialist healthcare teams like dentistry or nursing

Working environment

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

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

You can get into this job through:

  • applying directly
Volunteering and work experience

You can join the RAF Reserve as a part-time officer. This will give you experience of what life is like in the air force, and you'll 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 RAF bases and develop some of the skills you'll need in the RAF recruitment process.

Direct application

You can apply directly for RAF officer training.

You'll need a minimum of:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and maths, and a science for some roles
  • 2 A levels or equivalent

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 take an aptitude test.

If you're successful, you'll be invited to attend the Officers and Aircrew Selection Centre at RAF College, Cranwell in Lincolnshire. You'll take part in a 3-day selection process which includes tests for aptitude, initiative and fitness. You'll then have an interview and a medical examination.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Further information

You'll find more details about how to become an officer through RAF Careers.

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With experience, you could move up the ranks, for example from pilot officer to flying officer, then flight lieutenant or higher.

You could go into a wide range of careers once you leave the RAF. Your career choices will depend on your skills, training and qualifications you've developed during your service.

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

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • leadership skills to manage and motivate teams
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • thinking and reasoning skills for making quick decisions
  • 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
  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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