How much will I earn in the armed forces?
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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 are typically paid around £25,000 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.
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.
Officers are paid £25,220 while training, rising to £30,314 if you are commissioned as a second lieutenant. After five years you could be earning at least £38,847 if promoted to captain, and if you rise to the rank of colonel you could earn up to £92,381. The benefits package 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.
If you join as an officer you’ll start on £25,472, which will rise to £30,617 when you’ve completed your training at Britannia Royal Naval College. You could go on to earn as much as £92,381 as you progress through the ranks.
Royal Marine commando officers start on £25,472, increasing to £30,617 on completing their training at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines. They can go on to earn up to £91,466.
If you join as an officer, you’ll start on around £25,000 and if your career takes you all the way to the senior leadership role of group captain you’ll earn more than £80,000.