You'll use your engineering skills to maintain communications links or keep a squadron of aircraft ready to fly.
Pay after training
21 - 36
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Citizen of the UK or the Republic of Ireland, or a Commonwealth citizen since birth
male or female
Qualifications you need
Accredited degree or Masters degree in an associated engineering or scientific subject, such as aeronautical, mechanical or electronic engineering. Non-accredited degrees might be accepted. You also need a GCSE/SCE at Grade C/2 or equivalent in English language
Qualifications you can gain
Chartered or Incorporated Engineer status; second degree or Masters degree
Whether or not you were born in the United Kingdom, you should have resided there for the five years immediately preceding your application.
As an Engineer Officer you’ll receive excellent training and have the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art technology.
Depending on your qualifications and capabilities, you can join as either Aerosystems (AS) or Communications/Electronics (CE).
Whichever specialisation you choose, being an Engineer Officer is about leadership and management.
You’ll be given a lot more responsibility at an earlier age than you could ever expect as a civilian.
Aerosystems deals with the RAF’s cutting edge – its aircraft and missiles.
As an Engineer Officer (AS) you’ll deal with the weapons, avionics and propulsion systems of all kinds of aircraft, their airborne communications and the ground support that goes with them.
Early in your career, you could find yourself responsible for keeping a squadron of aircraft serviceable and ready to fly.
Engineer Officers (CE) are responsible for maintaining, and sometimes operating, every form of communications link – tasks that are vital to the effectiveness of air operations.
You could find yourself supervising the maintenance of ground radar systems, or looking after the complex ground-based communications networks of the UK’s air defence system.
You’ll also have a role to play in networking all our information systems to make sure up-to-the-minute information is always available to our decision makers.
We may be able to invest in your future by funding your studies until you’re ready to start training as an Engineer Officer.
If you’re in the sixth form, you can qualify for a sixth form scholarship of up to £1,000. The RAF also offers a special sixth form education for future Engineer Officers.
You’ll live and work at the Defence Sixth Form College near Loughborough in Leicestershire.
There you’ll do your A-levels and take part in a full range of sport, social and leadership activities that will prepare you for RAF officer life. What’s more, it’s available at little or no cost to your parents.
You can also qualify for sponsorship of £4,000 a year through the Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme (DTUS) if you’re studying engineering or a related subject at the universities of Aston, Cambridge, Loughborough, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumbria, Oxford or Southampton.
In return for being offered a DTUS place, we ask you to become a member of the University Support Unit, spending at least 45 days a year with the RAF, which will qualify you for an extra £1,500 training pay, with a £120–£170 bonus if the minimum attendance requirement is met.
As well as financial support, being part of RAF life while studying is an opportunity to get first-hand experience of the challenges you’ll face working with our people, technology and aircraft – and we’ll also give you free flying experience.
To find out more about sponsorship opportunities for potential Engineer Officers contact an RAF Senior Careers Liaison Officer via the careers staff at your school or college – or visit your local Armed Forces Careers Office.
For further information on Welbeck Sixth Form College visit their website or look on YouTube (link opens in new window), and for further information on the Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme visit their website (link opens in new window).
I do this job
‘Always listen to the people that are working for you. Treat them like grown-ups, support them and they will respect you as a boss.’
‘I’m a Communications and Electronics Engineer Officer. I look after all the systems that people take for granted on a day-to-day basis. This includes telephones, computer systems and all their applications, especially email. There are also the operational support systems; ground-to-air radios, radar plus everything an RAF aircraft needs take off, fly and land.’
‘I’m actually doing something a little different right now. I work within the Inspectorate of Recruiting as part of the Specialist Recruiting Teams. It is our job to go out to graduate fairs, careers fairs, job fairs and open days at universities, and help people understand what a career in the RAF could offer them.
‘On a typical day I’ll come into the office for half eight in the morning and sift through my emails. I might have some careers enquiries so I’ll answer them, or if I can’t, I’ll pass them on. There are a lot of specialists within this building, medical specialists for example, who can answer some questions better than I can. I also plan for future recruitment events. It’s my job to make sure everything is in place, so once we get on the stand, everything runs smoothly.’
‘In my previous post, I was part of Tactical Communications Wing. This is basically the deployable arm of the communications trade. It was a really punchy, exciting role – when I wasn’t out of the country on operations, I was on exercise or training to get up to speed on new equipment.
‘I went out to Afghanistan for 10 weeks. I had about 58 people working for me at Kandahar air base, as well as assets in Camp Bastion and at Lashkagar. I was always hopping between posts on a Hercules or a Chinook. I also did an 11 week deployment in Qatar, where I headed up a flight of about 30 personnel, providing all the standard station facilities, so telephones, computers etc.’
‘For a young officer, it can be quite hard at first, often you’re only a little bit older than some of the people that work for you. And on the flip side, you’ve got all the older guys that are just a little bit younger than your parents; they’ve been there, done that and you’re their boss as well. It can be quite daunting.
‘It’s an absolutely fantastic career, and I’d advise anyone to give it a go. I saw the RAF as a career that could offer me professional development as well as all the sports associated with the lifestyle. It didn’t take long to confirm that I’d made the right choice.’
Initial Officer Training
Like all our officers, you’ll begin your RAF career with Initial Officer Training at the RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire.
You’ll follow a challenging 30 week course designed to develop your leadership and management skills.
The course includes fitness development, military training and academic study as well as practical outdoor leadership challenges.
After your Initial Officer Training, you’ll move to Cosford and complete either the AS or the CE Engineer Officer Foundation Training course.
These are seven-month courses designed to prepare you further for your role as a leader, a technical manager and a professional engineer.
Here you’ll begin to learn about engineering for military technology – for example weapons engineering or defence network management, depending upon your AS or CE choice.
When you’ve completed your specialist training, you’ll receive your first posting.
Your First Tour
For your first tour, you’ll probably be posted to a flying station – an RAF base and home to several squadrons of aircraft. Here you could be responsible for a team of technicians, making sure aircraft are fit to fly, or ensuring equipment is fit to support them. Or you could manage navigation aids, ground radars, communications systems and the entire base’s IT. As well as engineering responsibilities, you’ll manage a team of non-commissioned officers and technicians, directing their work and looking after their welfare.
Your First Tour
As an Engineer Officer, you’ll have extensive opportunities for further professional development. As well as RAF training packages and courses linked to outside professional bodies, we actively support individual study programmes at every level. You could have opportunities to take Masters’ degree courses either full-time or part-time. Many qualification-awarding bodies and professional institutes also recognize our in-house training and work experience. For example, Engineer Officer Foundation Training is accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Royal Aeronautical Society as a recognised training route for Chartered or Incorporated Engineer status.
You’ll join the RAF on either a Short Service Commission of nine years, or on a Permanent Commission that will normally require a minimum of 18 years service.
Promotion to the rank of flight lieutenant is on a time served/satisfactory service basis.
Further promotion to squadron leader and above is by competitive selection.
As an RAF Engineer Officer, you’ll have all the development opportunities and career prospects of your civilian counterparts, together with the chance to work around the world, gaining unique engineering experiences.
You’ll have opportunities to earn professional qualifications and achieve either Chartered or Incorporated Engineer status.
Whenever you decide to leave the RAF, you’ll be well placed to find an alternative career in engineering or a management discipline.
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