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The facts

Job description

You’ll provide spiritual guidance as service personnel and their families look to you for strength and support.



Pay after training


Joining age

21 - 48

Similar civilian jobs

  • Parish priest
  • Vicar
  • Minister

Usual service

6 years


Citizen of the UK or the Republic of Ireland, or a Commonwealth citizen since birth

Open to

male or female

Qualifications you need

Professional. GCSE/SCEs at Grade C/2 minimum or equivalent in English language and maths.


Whether or not you were born in the United Kingdom, you should have resided there for the five years immediately preceding your application.

The job

The RAF is a big family, embracing people from every walk of life. Each has his or her own outlook and beliefs, but all share the responsibilities of serving their country – both in peace and war. Spiritual guidance is important in the RAF and the role you play, as a Chaplain (or padre), cannot be underestimated. In times of personal and national crisis, Service personnel and their families will look to you for strength and support.

Chaplains have two roles. Firstly, you’ll be a clergyman, and normally you must already have three years’ pastoral experience as an ordained priest, vicar or minister. You’ll also be an RAF officer. After your specialist Initial Officer Training at RAF Cranwell, you’ll be posted to your first station.

For further information, please see the RAF Chaplains' Branch website, which outlines conditions of service, lists RAF liturgy, graces and prayers, and has biographies of serving RAF Chaplains.

I do this job



'Chaplains are valued by everyone else in the RAF'

What’s your favourite bit of the job?
Meeting people.

What’s the worst bit of your job?
The paperwork.

Tell us something you didn’t know about your job before you started.
Probably how much Chaplains are valued by everyone else in the RAF.

What do you do at lunch?
Either eat or go running. Lunchtime is a good time to meet with others in the Mess and pick up on how operations and stress levels are at the moment.

What are you going to do this afternoon?
I’m going to play tennis at five o’clock.



'I love it. I wake up every morning and think ‘I’m going to work, and I’m really looking forward to it.’'

What’s your favourite bit of the job?
Being able to see that sometimes you can really help somebody.

What do you do at lunchtime?
Normally, take the dog out for a walk.

What’s the worst meal in the Mess?
I’ve never had a bad meal.

If you could give a new recruit one piece of advice, what would it be?
I would say that if you’ve got a vocation for it, there is no better job in the world. I love it. I wake up every morning and think ‘I’m going to work, and I’m really looking forward to it.’

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever had?
When I was first ordained, my dad (he’s ordained as well) told me that you must always wear your dog collar when buying a second-hand car!


Jonathan Chaffey

‘No one day or week is the same as the previous one. There's great variety in the work we do.’

My role

‘I’m a senior Chaplain working with a team from Roman Catholic, Free Church and Anglican denominations, but we’re here for the spiritual welfare of all service personnel and their dependants.

‘We tend to ACT as a sounding board for senior officers and a listening ear for the junior ranks, so we have to understand issues right across the RAF.’

My day

‘Like everyone else, people in the RAF have concerns about their family lives but they also want to talk about their next detachment or posting. On operations, people often have ethical questions that we try to help them address.’

My experiences

‘I was with the Harrier force in southern Italy when they were involved in Kosovo. A Pilot would come back from a mission and need to talk. Just being there to listen to people in those situations is very important.’

My life

‘Being in the RAF brings new challenges and opportunities, professionally and personally.

‘I’ve been to America on white-water rafting and skiing expeditions. These really were experiences of a lifetime.’

More stories and views:
Jonathan Chaffey


Initial Officer Training

Like all our specialist branch officers, you’ll begin your RAF career on the Specialist Entrant and Re-entrant (SERE) course at the RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire.

You’ll follow a challenging 11 week course designed for professionally qualified entrants to the RAF, exploring how to apply your ministry in a military context.

The course includes fitness development, military training and academic study as well as practical outdoor leadership challenges.

Specialist Training

After SERE, you will complete a Chaplain-specific induction course at an appropriate time within your first six months of service.

The course explores the theology of military chaplaincy and considers its application to practical life in the Armed Forces.

Ongoing Development

The Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre (AFCC) at Amport House, Hampshire, is the chaplaincy training centre for all 3 Services and you’ll visit frequently for continuing ministerial education and other training courses.

There are also opportunities to study at postgraduate level at a later stage of your chaplaincy career. 

Your future

Career prospects

You’ll join the RAF on a 6-year Short Service Commission as a Rev (flight lieutenant), with an option to leave at the 4-year point, and promotion to Rev (squadron leader) is after 3 years’ satisfactory service.

Further promotion to Rev (wing commander) and above is by competitive selection after ten years service.

Apply now

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