Royal Navy officer
Emergency Services and Military

Royal Navy officers have management responsibility for people and state of the art equipment, working in ships, submarines, aircraft, naval air stations and shore establishments.

Work Activities

The Royal Navy patrols and protects the waters of the UK and its allies. They work on board ships and submarines in all types of situations, from

  • combat exercise at sea to
  • humanitarian operations
  • supporting the fight against drug trafficking
  • protecting offshore oil and gas installations.

Officers specialise in a particular area and are responsible for the welfare and management of the ratings in your squadron or unit.

There are 19 different graduate officer roles, which include:

Organisational roles

  • Training Management Officers co-ordinate and deliver education Navy personnel both onshore and at sea.
  • Logistics Officers organise the delivery and storage of naval supplies, such as food and equipment. They also manage pay and accommodation. Other duties include advising senior officers on legal matters, accountancy and personnel.

Tactical roles

  • Aircrew Officer Pilots fly fast jets, armed with air-to-ground or air-to-air weapons; or transport troops of Royal Marines commandos and their equipment by helicopter.
  • Aircrew Officers Navigation and Weapons Systems/Observers operate surveillance anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare systems.
  • Warfare Officers work in the front line of the Royal Navy's operations. They control weapons and defence systems, and assist with navigation.

Technical roles

  • Engineering Officers specialise in marine, air or weapon engineering. They oversea the maintenance of a vessel's engines, weapon delivery systems, detection sensors and communications equipment
  • Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCO) are responsible for making sure that the aircraft of the Royal Navy find safe routes for their destinations. They use sophisticated radar and communications equipment.

Medical roles

  • Medical Officers are employed as doctors for Royal Navy personnel and their families. They serve on ships, submarines or at Royal Navy hospitals or shore bases.

Hours of work for Royal Navy officers vary depending on operational requirements, but may include shifts, weekend work and working on public holidays.

As a Royal Navy officer you many need to work at short notice, and you should expect to work longer hours during military exercises or on operational missions.

Royal Navy officers must be prepared to live and serve anywhere in the UK and overseas. This can mean extended periods spent away from home. Living conditions on board ship are very cramped in comparison with civilian life.

Offices will sometimes have to work in difficult, dangerous (and sometimes life-threatening) conditions.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills for Royal Navy officers

  • Leaderships skills and the ability to assess those under your command
  • Resilience and resourcefulness
  • Self-discipline, confidence and determination
  • The ability to assess the strengths and weaknesses of those under your command
  • Good physical fitness levels and stamina
  • The ability to operate effectively in combat situations.

Each trade has specific requirements in terms of personal qualities and skills. For some trades, your colour vision and/or hearing will be tested.

You may serve under combat conditions and will need to demonstrate skills of weapon handling and fieldcraft.

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of Royal Navy officers

Rates of pay vary, depending on qualifications and age on entry. On appointment, a Royal Navy officer earns around £25,750 a year. After this, pay increases with promotion up to £79,000. If you choose to join the Submariners Service, you will receive a £5,000 ‘golden hello'.

See the Royal Navy website for the latest recruitment information.


Qualifications and training required

You can enter the Royal Navy as an officer from the age of 17. The maximum age of entry depends on the specialism you choose, ranging from the mid-twenties to the mid-fifties. You must be no shorter than 151.5cm.

You can join after sixth-form/college, as a graduate, or after gaining work experience and professional qualifications in civilian occupations.

For entry to the Royal Navy as an officer, the minimum requirement is:

  • 72 UCAS points from at least 2 A levels or 3 Highers
  • GCSEs (9-4) or National 5s in 5 subjects (or equivalent), including English and maths.
  • To be a British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen
  • To be in good health and physically fit
  • Engineering & Medical roles require relevant degree qualifications, for example, Engineer Officers must have a degree in a relevant engineering subject and doctors with the medical support services will need (or be working towards) an approved degree in medicine and registration with the General Medical Council.

Check with the Royal Navy for full details.

Officer cadetships schemes are available, as well as Bursaries. The Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme is available for those studying an approved engineering or science subject at certain universities.

Almost all areas of service are open to both male and female officers, except the Royal Marines, the submarine service and mine clearance, which are only open to men.

When you apply, you will be put through a series of selection tests, a medical examination and an interview. You will also need a full security test.

You will sign up for a 12 year commission.

Basic training lasts for 30 weeks and takes place mainly at the Britannia Royal Navy College in Dartmouth (BRNC). You will learn naval and leadership skills, take part in exercises and have your first sea-going experience.

After your initial training, you will receive further training in your chosen specialism.

There is a clear route of progression and promotion available to officers in the Royal Navy.

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