In the RAF
‘I’ve done all the advanced courses in turning, grinding and milling but I still work primarily as a machinist, making aircraft parts from scratch.’
From the time I went into the Armed Forces Careers Office to the day I started my recruit training was less than three weeks, so I had to train hard to get myself ready.
It was a bit of a culture shock: I was 17, had never been away from home and found myself sharing a room with 18 blokes. Plus, we were on the go from 5am to midnight. But I made a lot of good friends that I still keep in touch with, and after the first week I really enjoyed it.’
‘I get a lot of job satisfaction because I love working with the aircraft – if it was engineering for washing machines I wouldn’t be satisfied. And there can be so much variety in what you do too.
I live only a couple of hundred yards from where I work and I’ve got the gym right on my doorstep. I like to keep fit and do a bit of weight training, and the gym’s a good place to socialise, believe it or not, because you see the same people and you get to know them.’
Andy, General Technician Workshops
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
The next step is a specialist training course at RAF St Athan, near Cardiff, which lasts approximately 18 months. You will be enrolled on an Advanced Apprenticeship and a team of RAF and civilian instructors will teach you production engineering principles. You will then put the theory into practice when learning the three main disciplines of sheet metalwork, welding and machining. On successful completion of the training course, you will be awarded a City & Guilds Level 3 Progression Award in Engineering Fabrication and Welding before your first posting. Your specialist training, along with the experience you gain on the job, will lead to the award of an NVQ Level 3 in Engineering Production, and your Advanced Apprenticeship could be completed within three years of joining the RAF.
Ongoing Training/Development Opportunities
As your career progresses, you will develop your production engineering techniques and we’ll continue to train you in new skills. You will learn many processes and use a much wider range of equipment than you might come across outside the RAF. You will receive advanced training in welding, turning, milling and sheet metalwork using computer numerical controlled applications. There are also opportunities for management and leadership training; in addition, the qualifications and experience you’ll gain in your RAF career can be used to meet the joining criteria for relevant civilian professional associations.
Your First Tour
For your first tour, you will probably be posted to an RAF base, where you will be involved in production engineering and the repair and manufacture of equipment essential to the support of RAF activities; you will have a key role in supporting the station’s mission and you will form part of a professional team.
Your Future Career Prospects and Progression
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, you will be eligible for promotion to Senior Aircraftman, providing you pass a Trade Ability Test and Basic Trade Training. Further promotion to the rank of Corporal and beyond is by competitive selection. As you gain experience and complete your NVQ Level 3, you will achieve Technician status. As you advance through the ranks, you will have the increased opportunity to lead and direct people, managing resources and manpower within your area of work to deliver the required outputs whilst maintaining and instilling the highest standards expected within the RAF.
The qualifications, experience and skill-sets that you develop as a specialist Workshops Technician are recognised and are as highly regarded in civilian industry as they are in the RAF, which means that should you ever decide to pursue a career outside the RAF, you will be well placed to find employment.
GCSEs at Grade C (Grade 4 to 5 with effect from Aug 17) or equivalent in English language, Mathematics or SCE Standard Grades at Grade 2/Scottish National 5 in English, Mathematics and an approved Science/Technology-based subject.
A list of approved Science and Technology qualifications can be found below Acceptable Science and Technology Qualifications
- 16–30 (Must attest before 30th birthday)
To join the RAF you will also need to meet fitness, health, nationality, residency, and other criteria detailed below.