In the RAF
‘Environmental health is about keeping people safe where they live and work. We check kitchens are hygienic, that people have clean water supplies or that where they work doesn’t present any dangers.
It’s an important role in the UK, but it’s critical for the RAF when we’re deployed when everyone needs to be kept fit and well.’
‘If I do a workplace assessment on a base, I might visit an aircraft hangar to check everything there meets our safety standards.
I’ll have a checklist and I’ll make sure anything from lighting levels to the way people use any hazardous substances is right. If there are problems, it’s my job to offer advice to help solve them.’
Dan, Environmental Health Technician
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 will also learn about the RAF lifestyle.
The next step is four years of specialist training leading to a BSc Honours Degree in Military Environmental and Occupational Health awarded by Leeds University. The specialist training commences with a ten-month classroom-based foundation course at the Defence College of Health and Educational Training at Litchfield in Staffordshire, the training school for military medicine. You will then go to RAF Henlow for nine months of practical training, followed by a further six months of classroom-based learning and confirmatory exercises at the Defence College of Health and Educational Training. You will then be posted to your first unit and undertake 2 years end-on training to complete the final block of the degree which includes a dissertation and the Integrated Professional Assessment (IPA). The BSc Hon Degree is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.
As your career progresses, we’ll continue to train you in new skills. You will be encouraged to gain a qualification in occupational hygiene and there are also opportunities for management and leadership training. You will need to maintain your skills and as such will be required to undertake at least 20 hours of Continual Professional Development (CPD) every year.
Your First Tour
For your first tour, you will probably be assigned to work within a team of Environmental Health Technicians at RAF Henlow. You could carry out food hygiene assessments or occupational health surveys on bases throughout the RAF and you could be required to respond to aircraft incidents and outbreaks of communicable disease. Within this first tour you will also be required to complete the 2 years end-on training to complete the BSc Hons Degree.
Like most people in the RAF, you will probably move jobs every few years. For some of your tours, you may be based in a medical centre on an RAF base, with responsibility for all environmental and occupational health matters on that base. During other tours you may work at RAF Henlow in Bedfordshire, or as an instructor at the Defence Medical Services Training Group. Within your first few years, you may be detached overseas for anything from a few days to a few months
Your Future Prospects
You will initially join the RAF for a period of twelve years on a Notice Engagement with effect from 1 April 2015. After completing one year’s total service and graduating from your training course you will be eligible for promotion to Senior Aircraftman. Further progression to corporal and sergeant, subject to the completion of service courses, will be on a time promotion basis.
The qualifications you will earn are as valuable in the civilian world as they are in the RAF – which means that whenever you decide to leave the RAF, you will be well placed to find a job in environmental health
You need to have at least 112 UCAS Points, from a minimum of 2 A levels or equivalent, excluding General Studies.
In addition you require at least 5 GCSEs at Grade C (Grade 4 to 5 with effect from Aug 17) or above in English language, Mathematics, Physics (or a Physics-based science), Chemistry (or a Chemistry-based science) plus one other subject or at least five SCE Standard Grades at Grade 2/Scottish National 5 or above in English, Mathematics, Physics (or a Physics-based science), Chemistry (or a Chemistry-based science) plus one other subject.
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To join the RAF you will also need to meet fitness, health, nationality, residency, and other criteria detailed below.