You’ll go far beyond the usual admin job – opportunities include estate manager, personnel officer and public relations.
Pay after training
16 - 36
Similar civilian jobs
- Personnel/human resources administrator
- Office manager
- Recruitment consultant
Citizen of the UK or the Republic of Ireland, or a Commonwealth citizen since birth.
male or female
Qualifications you need
2 GCSE/SCEs at Grade G/6 minimum in English language and maths.
Qualifications you can gain
Apprenticeship in business and administration, including NVQ Level 2
Whether or not you were born in the United Kingdom, you should have resided there for the five years immediately preceding your application.
As a member of the Personnel Support trade, you will be part of a team that plays a vital role in ensuring that the RAF runs smoothly and efficiently. You’ll receive excellent training to ensure the provision of administrative and personnel support to RAF personnel, wherever the location.
You will be provided with organisational skills utilising electronic media, and you will be trained on an ORACLE-based Human Resource Management System. Initially, you’ll be responsible for the effective maintenance of movements and records, preparing RAF personnel for operational deployments, and ensuring that individuals receive their correct entitlement to pay, allowances and expenses. As your career develops and promotion ensues, a much wider sphere of posts will be available. The trade ensures diverse employment, such as on operational flying squadrons, as a career manager, instructing new students on Personnel Support trade matters or management and leadership training, or within RAF recruiting. Further areas include the administration of Service discipline, accounting, force development, welfare and headquarters policy staff.
As your career progresses and you earn promotion, a much wider range of posts will be available to you in the following fields:
- Human Resources
- Operational Squadrons
- Service Discipline
- Finance and Accounts Management
- Armed Forces Careers Office – Recruitment
- Instructor Duties – Basic, Trade or Command and Leadership
- Career Management – Assigning RAF Personnel to different jobs
- Headquarters Staff
- Community Support/Welfare
- Education and Learning Centre Staff
- North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) staff – overseas locations
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office – Defence Department within a British Embassy/High Commission – overseas locations.
Most of your tours will be on RAF bases in the UK, but there are excellent opportunities to work abroad; these can range from short detachments to three-year assignments. Within your first few years you will probably be detached overseas to carry out your job in temporary accommodation and office environments in support of the RAF’s expeditionary role.
The trade affords you fantastic opportunities for personal development throughout your career, to serve in a variety of areas of the trade within the United Kingdom, overseas, on operations, within a British Embassy or with NATO. Our strength is our diversity; wherever our people and aircraft go, we go.
I do this job
'You'll make friends for life. Things can be tough but everything you do is definitely worth it.'
What’s the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is the variety. It ranges from dealing with pay, leave and movements to prepping personnel for overseas service and leaving the RAF.
You can also work in accounts, discipline, on a squadron and as an instructor, which I hope to do in the near future. And you get to move around the UK and overseas. The pay helps as well!
What’s the worst thing about your job?
The worst thing about my job is... I can't think of anything! Actually, our computer system – JPA – can be a nightmare sometimes, but then that’s computers for you!
If you could do any other job in the RAF, what would it be and why?
I change my mind on this one all the time, but at the moment it would be a Physical Training Instructor (PTI). This is purely because I am getting more into my fitness and actually enjoy going to the gym.
PTIs must get great job satisfaction from arranging expeditions for personnel and then getting the thanks for it. I have signed up to the Basic Winter Training course next year (skiing) and will be applying for the Nijmegan March next July.
What did you want to be when you were 16?
When I was 16, I was attending college studying Business and working in a bar. I have always wanted to work in admin, but it dawned on me that I would be chained to a desk in the same office. That's why the RAF appealed to me.
What’s the best place you’ve ever been with the RAF and why?
I’ve been to the Middle East, the Falklands, Cyprus and all over the UK. I have enjoyed going to all these places as you see different cultures and have different experiences, and the wildlife is amazing. The turkey vultures in the Falklands count as one of the ugliest things I've ever seen!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and why?
Everything happens for a reason. No matter where I'm sent or what I do, I know it's for a reason and for a purpose so I get on with what's thrown at me.
If you could give a recruit one piece of advice, what would it be?
Enjoy every minute. You'll make friends for life. Things can be tough but everything you do is definitely worth it.
'The support and training provided by the RAF has given me both the opportunity and the ability to apply myself to any challenge.'
‘I’m currently based in Cyprus, where I work as part of a small team managing the administrative needs of the RAF personnel based here. We work across all aspects of administration including pay, expenses, leave and training courses.’
‘We start early in Cyprus – I’m usually in the office by 0630. But we are fortunate to finish our working day at 1330, which means I have the afternoons to relax. We have a constant flow of work here, which means I’m always busy, but the jobs vary from day to day.
‘Three times a week our team takes part in organised sport, like circuits, which enables us to maintain a good level of fitness.’
‘I’ve served all over the world since joining. I’ve done detachments in Canada, Cyprus, Germany, France, Croatia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the Falkland Islands.
‘In Iraq I worked as part of Media Operations alongside Marines, Guardsmen and Territorial Army soldiers, escorting media companies all over southern Iraq and Kuwait. While in Croatia I was part of NATO forces involved in reopening the border with Bosnia following the war.
‘I spent four months in the Falklands, where I was part of a small team at a remote mountain site. You couldn’t reach the site by road, so all travel to and from my work was by helicopter or amphibious vehicle.’
‘Living in Cyprus I have the opportunity to take part in a hugely diverse range of activities including mountain biking, diving, parachuting and golf. The facilities are second to none and I’ve even been able to raise significant money for various charities through sponsored events.
‘During the season I coach ‘little league’ football for the under-eights and I’ve also been chairman of the station football team. I currently help out with a kids’ cinema initiative and am planning a 55km off-road mountain bike race for charity when it gets cooler!’
‘Because of the support I’ve received from the RAF, I’ve accomplished things that may not have been possible with a different career path.’
‘I’m part of a team that manages and controls the structure of the Administration Specialisation (Personnel Administrator and Administration (Secretarial)). One of my latest projects has been to develop the A1 website, which is designed as a “one-stop shop” for all matters encapsulated within RAF personnel administration.
‘Following the website launch, I identified that the same information needed to be available to personnel assigned to locations without military connectivity. This resulted in the creation of a virtual “pay and personnel” area on the RAF’s community website, which ensures that information is accessible all over the world.’
‘In my previous role as PA to the Station Commander, I dealt with many sensitive issues before they were brought to his attention. I also organised his diary and social events. Through this I met lots of really interesting people, from pop stars and TV personalities, to politicians and members of the Royal family.’
‘The travel opportunities are excellent. I’ve spent three weeks in Nevada, USA as detachment cashier for a multi-national exercise. It was hard work but whilst I was there I took a helicopter ride to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, visited Las Vegas and drove over the Hoover Dam in a Mustang Cabriolet.
‘I’ve also completed a four-month detachment to Al Udeid in Qatar, also as a cashier. It was a challenging and responsible position to cope with in demanding circumstances but I enjoyed it immensely. The RAF provided all the training that was required and I gained valuable new skills and experiences.’
‘One of the major benefits of working for the RAF is the financial contribution you receive to further your qualifications. Since joining, I’ve gained an advanced GNVQ in leisure and tourism, a diploma in sports psychology, and I’m currently working on a Royal Horticultural Society Complete Gardening course. I’m also a qualified swimming teacher.
‘As part of my continuing professional development programme, I’ve also undertaken a university short course in strategic management and a leadership of change and listening skills course at the Ministry of Defence Pastoral Centre.’
Recruit training (Phase 1)
Your career will start with a 10 week Basic Recruit Training Course (BRTC) at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire. The course is designed to help you adjust to a military environment. As well as fitness and military training, you’ll also learn about the RAF lifestyle.
Specialist Training (Phase 2)
The next step is a specialist training course at the RAF School of Administration at MOD Worthy Down in Hampshire, which lasts for 16 weeks 2 days.
During the course you will learn about administration in the UK Armed Forces in general and the RAF in particular.
By the end of the course you will achieve an Apprenticeship in Business and Administration which includes NVQ level 2 in Business and Administration.
You will also spend a week of the course away from the school on adventurous training.
At the end of the course you will be assigned to your first tour.
Your first tour
As a Personnel (Support) airman/woman you will initially be working in the Personnel Functional Area (PFA) on an RAF Main Operating Base (MOB) in the UK. You will be the first point of contact, interacting with customers face to face, by e-mail or telephone to provide a professional human resources service. You will know how to understand and apply regulations laid down in joint and single Service publications and how to administer personnel records on the Armed Forces personnel IT system known as Joint Personnel Administration (JPA). You will input details that will affect pay, allowances and absence. You will carry out the administrative requirements that need to be completed on the move of personnel on temporary deployed operations, courses or training exercises. You will also know how to administer personnel who are moving permanently to a new location including details on travel, removals and the storage of effects. You will understand the administrative processes that must be carried out in the event of casualties. You will process annual appraisals and documentation relating to promotion and extensions of Service for all personnel. You will also administer personnel who are leaving the RAF to ensure that they have a smooth transition back to civilian life.
In addition, you will have keyboard skills and be able to use IT programmes to at least ECDL standard. You will operate office machinery such as fax machines, shredders and photocopiers. You will be taught the principles of Defence Writing and be expected to write memos and documents. You will also be able to conduct Information Management procedures ensuring the correct storage and retrieval of documentation both electronic hard copy understanding the principles of the Data Protection ACT and the Freedom of Information Act.
As a member of the RAF you will also be expected to comply with mandatory training for Health, Safety, Environment and Fire. You will be trained in first aid and weapon handling and will probably be allocated a period of time to be an armed guard at your Base. You will be required to pass a bi-annual fitness test.
Once you have completed your Trade Ability Tests and spent sufficient time in your first job you could be moved to another role such as working in a Flying Squadron Administration Office or you may be selected to serve for 3 years at an overseas location. Alternatively, you may be given further trade training so you can work in an accounts or Service discipline office.
As your career progresses there will be opportunities to undertake further specialist training, including management and leadership training, the majority of which will lead to various forms of accreditation with external professional bodies.
Personnel (Support) Trade Management Training is recognised by the Institute of Administrative Management.
There are also opportunities to study at higher education and gain a degree and accreditation with the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.
You will initially join the RAF for a period of nine years although there is the option to leave after approximately three and a half years if you want to.
After 12 months service, and subject to passing a trade ability test, you will be eligible for promotion to the rank of Senior aircraftman/woman.
Promotion to the rank of Corporal and beyond is by competitive selection.
The qualifications and skills you can gain are as valuable in the civilian world as they are in the RAF, which means that whenever you decide to leave the RAF you’ll be extremely well placed to find a job in human resources or a related field.
There are numerous courses that you will attend throughout your career that form the majority of coursework to gain civilian qualifications; you will be given additional information regarding accreditation by the RAF School of Administration.
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