How much will I earn in the armed forces?
Starting pay for graduates and school leavers with A levels in the armed forces is at least on a par with that for other public sector employers and in some instances may be more generous than for first jobs in similar areas in the private sector. Officers in the Army, Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Air Force (RAF) are typically paid around £25,700 while training and there is also a broad range of benefits, from access to training and qualifications to subsidised accommodation and food.
These benefits can make a big difference to how much of your pay packet is left after you’ve covered your day-to-day living costs. For example, subsidised catering on RAF bases costs around £28 per week for three meals a day, while the rental cost for a furnished two-bedroom property for an officer is between £114 and £453 per month. If you were renting privately you would usually expect to pay significantly more.
There is also plenty of scope for your pay to increase when you complete your initial training and as your career progresses, in line with a fixed pay spine that determines the salary for armed forces personnel at different ranks. For example, if you join the Royal Marines as a commando officer your pay will increase to £31,000 on completing your training at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines, and after 26 months you'll be promoted to captain with a salary of more than £39,600. At a senior level, for example, as a colonel in the Army or a group captain in the RAF, you could earn up to £93,304. The benefits package for the armed forces typically includes a final salary pension scheme which can be claimed from the age of 40, as long as you have served for at least 18 years.
You can find out about armed forces bursaries and funding for university study from our advice on the university route into a career with the Army, Royal Navy, Royal Marines or Royal Air Force.