We receive a lot of questions about joining, religion, life in the RAF and individual needs. Browse through our list of frequently asked questions below and get in touch if you have a question you’d like to ask.
How long do I have to commit for?
Once you’ve completed initial training, you sign up for a minimum length of service. This will vary depending on your role and interest in being a full time Regular or spare time Reserve, but is normally twelve years. Check the role for specific details.
Are NVQs accepted as qualifications?
We accept certain qualification in lieu of the standard GCSE/SCE/SNE/A levels required for different roles. You can find out all of the different certificates we accept by looking at the equivalency table here.
Are there opportunities for women?
The RAF is widely recognised for leading the way on the inclusion and progress of women in the workplace. We’ve received a number of awards including being listed as the one of the Times Top 50 Employers for Women in 2014. All of our roles are open to women, with the sole exceptions of the RAF Regiment Officer and RAF Regiment Gunner.
What if I decide the RAF is not for me?
Many people extend their career in the RAF well beyond the number of years they join for initially, but if you find that the RAF really isn’t for you, it is possible to make arrangements to leave early.
Do I need to be super-fit to join the RAF?
The RAF requires all recruits to be physically fit. New entrants undergo physically and mentally challenging training and are expected to stay fit while in the RAF. We will support you to get to the right fitness level, but if you’re already used to regular exercise, you’ll find it easier. Visit our Eligibility page to learn more about fitness requirements.
Can I join if I need glasses or contact lenses?
Eyesight requirements vary for different RAF roles. For the majority of roles you can apply as long as your glasses or lens correction is no more than -6 or +6 dioptres. You will be precluded for application to certain roles if you require vision correction though, aircrew for example.
How long does the selection process take?
On average the process can take between three and nine months depending on which role you’re applying for. During this time we test all of the candidates and give you the time to make sure the RAF is right for you.
I've got asthma. Can I join the RAF?
Certain medical conditions rule out RAF service. Visit our Eligibility page for details. Any history of asthma will rule out an application for aircrew or the firefighter role. However, if you have been diagnosed as suffering from asthma, but have remained both prescription and symptom-free for a continuous five-year period you may be considered for some RAF ground roles.
How do I apply?
You can apply through the careers information line. You’ll then be invited to undergo aptitude tests, an interview and a medical before being selected to join the RAF and begin your training.
What makes me eligible for an apprenticeship?
You must be aged between 16-30 (must attest before 30th birthday), You must be a citizen of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, holder of dual UK/other nationality or have been a Commonwealth citizen since birth and have lived in the UK for at least five years.
What qualifications do I need?
You need to meet the entry requirements for whichever role your chosen apprenticeship requires. These are listed on each role. If you do not hold these qualifications, there, may still be opportunities for you if you show the appropriate potential in the selection tests.
What will I earn?
Pay after one year is just under £17,500 for an apprentice in the RAF.
Are RAF part of the National Apprenticeship Scheme (NAS)?
What are the advantages of an apprenticeship?
The training is predominantly practical and you receive a civilian recognised qualification for your training.
What’s the difference between an RAF apprentice scheme and civilian options?
At the end of your apprenticeship, you are guaranteed a job for a minimum of nine years. In parallel to your apprenticeship you receive personal development through a range of leadership opportunities. You’ll gain essential military skills including self-discipline and you’ll have excellent opportunities to undertake wider training such as adventurous training and sport.
Civil partners and families
Can Service Families Accommodation be adapted to suit special needs?
Yes, but there may already be an appropriate property suitable to your needs.
Will I have to spend months away from my partner?
The RAF works to place married couples and couples in a Civil Partnership who are both RAF Regulars, at the same, or nearest, base. If you’re a Regular or Reserve on an overseas posting, we’ll do our best to support your partner in the RAF when you’re away, but if your partner is not in the RAF they may be able to accompany you.
Will my partner find it hard to meet other like-minded people?
If you’re the partner of someone in the RAF and need the low-down on local amenities, or just want to meet new people, the Help, Information and Volunteer Exchange (HIVE) is the place to go to meet others, send emails and speak with a trained staff member.
What is accommodation on base like for married couples and people in civil partnerships?
To qualify for Service Families’ Accommodation as a Regular, you need to be married or in a civil partnership and plan to remain on the same base for a minimum of six months. The property will have up to four bedrooms, based on the size of your family. To give you an idea of how much rent you’ll pay, a furnished, two-bedroom property for an officer is between £114 and £453 per month, and between £75 and £242 per month for other ranks – rates are based on a 30-day month and how much you pay depends on the standard of accommodation provided.
What childcare facilities are there on the base?
Many bases have crèches which are good value and convenient. The Help, Information and Volunteer Exchange (HIVE), found on most bases, can provide a list of registered child-minders. There is also a good selection of social media avenues on each station where you can get information and advice.
I'm gay and in a Civil Partnership, will we qualify for Service Families Accommodation?
You qualify for Service Families Accommodation if you are in a Civil Partnership and will be living together at an RAF base for at least six months.
I'm married, will we qualify for Service Families Accommodation?
You qualify for Service Families Accommodation as a Regular if you are married and will be living together at an RAF base for at least six months.
Can I take my family with me when I'm posted abroad?
Most personnel will have the opportunity to take their dependent family with them on an overseas posting, at some time in their career. This could include your husband, wife, civil partner and children. Parents are not classed as dependent family.
As a Regular, will I be able to spend time with my children?
Most people in the RAF work hours that let them spend evenings and weekends with their children.
Work and pay
As a Regular, how much time off will I have?
The majority of RAF staff have their evenings free after work. You will also have weekends off and six weeks paid holiday a year. When you’re on detachment overseas you may work longer or different hours though. In Cyprus, for example, working hours start early to avoid the afternoon heat.
Do RAF jobs pay less than civilian graduate jobs?
The RAF offers a highly competitive pay and benefits package that can include subsidised housing, free gym membership, bonuses, six weeks of annual leave and more – all of which leave you with more disposable income. Visit our Benefits Package page to learn more about the pay and benefits we offer full time Regulars and spare time Reserves.
Will I have to work long hours?
As a Reserve you’ll mainly work normal, eight hour days, on weekends or holidays in your spare time, unless you’re on active duty. As for Regulars, most work normal office hours, most of the time. Having said that, they’re not nine-to-fivers - they take on whatever tasks are asked, which is especially crucial on round the clock missions. Certain roles work on shift patterns, for example.
Are there any kinds of pay bonuses?
The RAF offers a highly competitive benefits package that includes bonuses. Visit the Benefits Package page for details about the many perks that come along with being a member of the RAF.
Training and sponsorship
Will I have to work my way up through the ranks as a Regular?
Advancement through the ranks in the RAF is by continual assessment and professional development. The RAF offers other opportunities for career development as well. For example, if you join the RAF as an airman/airwoman, you don’t have to reach the top of the non-commissioned officer rank before you can apply to train as an officer – you can apply at any time if you have the necessary qualifications and the role is open.
Will the RAF sponsor my education?
The RAF offers sponsorships and scholarships for some roles to exceptional individuals looking to join the RAF full time. Visit our Education & Funding page details about these opportunities.
Will the training I get from the RAF help me find a civilian job when I leave?
As a Regular you will train for all kinds of civilian recognised qualifications and could qualify to receive additional support when leaving the RAF. As a Reserve you will broaden your skill set. Visit our Education & Funding page and Benefits Package page for more details.
What qualifications can I earn while in the RAF?
Depending on your role and commitment level, you could earn anything from additional skills, apprenticeships to a driver’s licence, NVQ or Master’s degree. Visit our Education & Funding page for more details about the educational opportunities we offer and qualifications you could earn.
Religion and Beliefs
Can I adapt the uniform to suit the standards of my religion?
Yes, unless it gets in the way of specialist equipment that you might have to wear to do your job safely. For example, flying helmets do not function properly unless they are closely fitted to the contours of the head. Muslim women can wear uniform trousers instead of a skirt.
As a Sikh, will I be able to wear a turban?
In the Armed Forces Sikhs are permitted to wear the five Ks and male Sikhs can also wear a turban. However, some trades require specialist headgear to be worn, especially under operational circumstances. Male Sikh personnel can normally wear a patka under specialist headgear; however, this is not possible under a flying helmet, which must be closely fitted to the contours of the head. Aircrew with long hair, male and female, may also be required to have their hair cut short in order to achieve a satisfactory fit of a flying helmet.
As a Regular, can I take days off for religious reasons?
Subject to any operational requirements, of course you can. We make every effort possible to give you time off for religious festivals and holidays, whether that’s Christmas, Yom Kippur, Vaisakhi, Eid ul-Fitr, Diwali or another religious holiday.
Does the RAF have prayer facilities?
Yes. You will also always be able to discuss these matters with your commanding officer or line manager and they will make every effort to accommodate your religious requirements.
As a Muslim man, can I wear a beard?
Muslim men are permitted to wear short, neatly trimmed beards. However, for occupational or operational reasons, where a hazard clearly exists, Muslim men may be required to modify or remove facial hair to enable the correct wearing of breathing apparatuses, oxygen masks or respirators. That aside, Muslim men will not be required to shave their beards in order to perform Nuclear, Biological and Chemical training drills.
As a Jew, when can I wear my yarmulke?
Yes, you can whenever you aren’t wearing protective headgear.
Am I allowed to wear religious dress?
You’ll have to wear a uniform on duty, but we can adapt this to fit your religious obligations. The biggest exception is where you’d be wearing specialist equipment that we cannot adapt because it could endanger your life if we did.
As a Regular, will I have to attend church?
No. There are no compulsory services or church parades. You can observe your own faith and you don’t even have to attend church if you want to talk to the Chaplain.
Will my race or religion count against me?
No. We are an equal opportunities employer. No eligible candidate will be excluded on the basis of their race or religion.
Can Regulars follow their religion's dietary requirements?
The RAF aims to cater for all special dietary requirements. Halal and kosher meals are available, even as packed rations on operations and exercises. Fasting is also usually allowed, but some physically demanding operational situations may make it risky.
Lifestyle and Accommodation
What is the accommodation like during training?
During basic training you’ll share accommodation with other new Regular or Reserve recruits so you can get to know them. There can be about a dozen people in a room, so it’s a great opportunity to build friendships. As well as providing your accommodation and food, the RAF will launder your bedding, however you’ll be expected to wash your own clothes (there’s a launderette on base), look after your kit and equipment and keep your sleeping area clean and tidy.
As a Regular, will I live on an air base?
You live on base for your initial training so you can get to know people and find out what life in the RAF is really like. After that, it’s your choice.
What is it like for Regulars to live in the Mess?
You might choose to live on base in the Mess, commute from home, or rent nearby. If you choose to live in the Mess it’s a bit like being in a residence hall at university. You get subsidised accommodation and food, great leisure and sports facilities and a real sense of community. Living on base also makes budgeting simple, as your rent and food costs will be deducted from your pay at source.
What is the food like on base for Regulars?
If you live on base, either in a barrack block or a Mess, you can expect good quality food which will cost you around £28 per week for three meals a day. There’s a whole range of food on offer and lots of choice available. We try to cater for all dietary requirements, including religious and vegetarian preferences. We also apply similar standards and variety to our ration packs.
Can Regulars have visitors on base?
Yes. Your family and friends can visit you, whether you live on base or in families’ accommodation.