Last Updated: 23 February, 2015

1.0     Chaplain

  • Specialist Training: After SERE, trainees will complete a Chaplain-specific induction course at an appropriate time within their first six months of service. The course explores the theology of military chaplaincy and considers its application to practical life in the Armed Forces.
  • Ongoing Development: The Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre (AFCC) at Amport House, Hampshire, is the chaplaincy training centre for all 3 Services and individuals will visit frequently for continuing ministerial education and other training courses. There are also opportunities to study at postgraduate level at a later stage of a chaplain’s career.
  • The RAF is a big family, embracing people from every walk of life. Each has his or her own outlook and beliefs, but all share the responsibilities of serving their country – both in peace and war. Spiritual guidance is important in the RAF and the role a Chaplain (or padre) plays cannot be underestimated. In times of personal and national crisis, Service personnel and their families will look to Chaplains for strength and support. Chaplains have two roles. Firstly, they will be a clergyman, and normally must already have three years’ pastoral experience as an ordained priest, vicar or minister. And they will also be an RAF officer. After specialist Initial Officer Training at RAF Cranwell, Chaplians will be posted to their first station. For further information, please see the RAF Chaplains’ Branch website, which outlines conditions of service, lists RAF liturgy, graces and prayers, and has biographies of serving RAF Chaplains.
  • Career prospects: enlistment is on a 6-year Short Service Commission as a Rev (flight lieutenant), with an option to leave at the 4-year point, and promotion to Rev (squadron leader) is after 3 years’ satisfactory service. Further promotion to Rev (wing commander) and above is by competitive selection after ten years service.

2.0     Human Resources

  • Specialist Training: at the RAF School of Administration at MOD Worthy Down in Hampshire, which lasts for 16-weeks and 2 days. During the course trainees will learn about administration in the UK military in general and the RAF in particular. By the end of the course trainees will achieve an Apprenticeship in Business and Administration which includes NVQ level 2 in Business and Administration. Trainees will also spend a week of the course away from the school on adventurous training. At the end of the course trainees will be assigned to their first tour.
  • First Tour: As a Personnel (Support) Airman/Airwoman individuals will initially be working in the Personnel Functional Area (PFA) on an RAF Main Operating Base (MOB) in the UK being the first point of contact, interacting with customers face to face, by e-mail or telephone to provide a professional Human Resources (HR) service. Individuals 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). Individuals will input details that will affect pay, allowances and absence. Individuals will carry out the administrative requirements that need to be completed on the move of personnel on temporary deployed operations, courses or training exercises and also administer personnel who are moving permanently to a new location including details on travel, removals and the storage of effects. Individuals will understand the administrative processes that must be carried out in the event of casualties and will process annual appraisals and documentation relating to promotion and extensions of Service for all personnel. Individuals will also administer personnel who are leaving the RAF to ensure that they have a smooth transition back to civilian life. In addition, individuals will be taught the principles of Defence Writing and be expected to write memos and documents, and also 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. Once individuals have completed their Trade Ability Tests and spent sufficient time in their first job they could be moved to another role such as working in a Flying Squadron Administration Office or be selected to serve for 3 years at an overseas location. Alternatively, individuals may be given further trade training so they can work in an accounts or Service discipline office.
  • Ongoing Development: As a 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.
  • As a member of the Personnel Support trade, individuals will be part of a team that plays a vital role in ensuring that the RAF runs smoothly and efficiently. Individuals will receive training to ensure the provision of administrative and personnel support to RAF personnel, wherever the location. Individuals will be provided with organisational skills utilising electronic media, and be trained on an ORACLE-based Human Resource Management System. Initially, individuals will 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 a 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. With promotion a much wider range of posts will be available 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; or
    • Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Defence Department within a British Embassy/High Commission, overseas locations.
  • Most tours will be on RAF bases in the UK, but there are excellent opportunities to work abroad; these can range from short detachments to 3-year assignments. Within the first few years individuals will probably be detached overseas to carry out their job in temporary accommodation and office environments in support of the RAF’s expeditionary role.

3.0     Legal Officer

  • Specialist Training: As a fully qualified solicitor or barrister, individuals will already have the core legal skills to do their job. However, during induction training at the Directorate of Legal Services (RAF) trainees will receive an introduction to those aspects of law in the RAF that may not be familiar to them, with more in depth training in areas relevant to a Legal Officer’s first appointment being provided by the team to which they are assigned. Thereafter, individuals will gain hands-on experience on the job and, throughout their career, they will be offered opportunities to develop and experience new areas of legal practice, including international humanitarian law, as well as the same though-life Professional Military Development as all other RAF officers.
  • Ongoing Development: In accordance with Bar Council or Law Society policy guidance, individuals will be able to maintain their Continuing Professional Development (CPD) currency through a combination of accredited external and internal legal training.
  • The RAF needs qualified barristers and solicitors to tackle the many – and often unique – legal challenges which the Service presents. Individuals will advise in criminal cases and conduct prosecutions both in the UK and overseas. They will also provide specialist legal advice to Ministry of Defence (MOD) departments, RAF Commands and formations, station commanders and the RAF Police.
  • Variety: briefs could include Air Force law, the law of armed conflict, new legislation or the host of civil issues that affect RAF personnel. A Legal Officer career will also stretch way beyond the courtroom, such as taking managerial responsibility outside the specialist sphere. If individuals can successfully demonstrate their abilities, then an excellent career structure should see them progress through the ranks in competition with fellow legal officers. This could see individuals move into the senior leadership of the Branch and, potentially, become Director as an Air-Vice Marshal.

4.0     Musician

  • Specialist Training: is delivered at RAF Northolt. If an individual already plays to the standards of a Performer’s Diploma, they will spend approximately 4-weeks at Headquarters Music Services (HQMS), undertaking instrumental lessons, learning band drill and completing some academic work, prior to their first posting. If an individual does not yet play to the standards of a Performer’s Diploma, they will spend approximately 12-weeks at HQMS studying their primary instrument, learning band drill, completing aural lessons and written projects. Individuals will then be detached or posted to one of the three established RAF bands, depending on the rate of progress in training.
  • Ongoing Development: As a Musician, individuals will have extensive opportunities for further professional development throughout their career. When not performing or rehearsing, there will be plenty of time to practise, learn new musical skills, or participate in a modular training system that could culminate in an LRSM diploma.
  • RAF Musicians play at venues from symphony halls to graduation ceremonies on military parade squares, and encompass all kinds of disciplines – brass, woodwind, percussion and strings. Musicians provide musical support for all sorts of events, from dinners and dances to visits by Heads of State. Musicians could play in dance bands, jazz bands, and baroque brass and woodwind quintets. Rehearsals, individual practice, developing a second instrument, travelling and performing – RAF Musicians lead full and active lives. Dance music; chamber repertoire; military marches; symphonic concerts; jazz – just a few of the types of music that RAF Musicians play over the course of a year. Musician will perform at a variety of engagements ranging from State ceremonial occasions to recording sessions. They could play at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo or at a dinner for HM the Queen in Windsor Castle. Musicians will be posted to one of the RAF’s three bands at RAF Northolt in London or RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire. All RAF musicians – whether woodwind, brass, percussion or string players – learn band drill and a variety of playing styles. Musician will also have an operational role, providing medical support in times of crisis and war. Within the first few years, individuals will probably be detached overseas for anything from a few days to a few weeks. Musicians could travel to Cyprus or the Falkland Islands and play for personnel stationed overseas, or go on a small group tour to support UK troops on operations. They may also be involved in the major concert tour that takes place annually.
  • Responsibility: Alongside full-time musical duties, Musicians will also train for medical support roles in times of crisis. If an individual would like to find out more about being a musician in the RAF, visit

5.0     Personnel Officer

  • Specialist Training: After Initial Officer Training, trainees will attend a specialist training course at the Defence School of Personnel Administration. To ensure RAF training keeps up-to-date with what the Service requires it is constantly evolving, although finance and human resources are key elements of the course. The training is scenario-based, covering the Personnel Branch officer’s role on a RAF station and on operations, so trainees will be able to develop their skills in a simulated practical environment. On completion of training individuals will receive their first posting.
  • Ongoing Development: As part of the Personnel Branch individuals will have extensive opportunities for further professional development throughout their career. Individuals will be able to choose to develop their qualifications which recognise their transferrable skills through accreditation of their training and experience against a range of Higher Education qualifications from Foundation Degree level to Masters Degree. Furthermore, the RAF encourages individuals to develop their leadership and management skills through a series of residential and distance-learning courses that are common to all officer branches. Much of the training received is accredited or recognised by a wide range of professional bodies, including the Chartered Institute of Management, and has been specifically aligned with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development to provide enhanced membership opportunities.
  • Personnel Branch officers have the most diverse portfolio of any branch in the RAF. To ensure the Service operates at the cutting edge, there is a continuing need to develop, train and support RAF personnel. RAF Personnel Branch officers are there to make sure this happens. As a result, individuals will be engaged in a wide variety of roles from administrative support functions that have parallels in civilian life. Working on developing programmes that help engender team spirit, personal robustness and general resilience, to the parachute training of the UKs Airborne Forces, individuals will lead and manage essential support services for the Service. Typical work roles include:
    • Human Resource Management;
    • Infrastructure, Facilities and Estate Management;
    • Accounting and Finance;
    • Media and Communication;
    • Community Support;
    • Force Development;
    • Training Management (including Training Requirements Analysis, Design & Development, Delivery and Assurance);
    • Operational Training (including Flying, Synthetic and Ground Training);
    • Governance of Training (including interaction with legislative bodies such as OFSTED, SFA and SCC);
    • Language and Cultural Capability Training;
    • Physical Education;
    • Adventurous Training; and
    • Exercise Rehabilitation.
  • First Tour: during a first tour individuals could be in the role of Station Adjutant on a RAF station, where they will assist the Station Commander with the day-to-day running of the base including internal communications, public relations, disciplinary and ceremonial duties, management inspections and contractor liaison. Alternatively, individual could be in the role of Training Officer developing programmes of activity to get the best from individuals, small teams and larger organisations. Individuals will work alongside training and physical education specialists to help them achieve their aims; however, individuals will be responsible for the strategy and the planning, known as Force Development, of unit personnel. Individuals could also be the Accounts Officer ensuring the smooth running of financial matters and budgets – a key activity if the unit is to function well. Or in some cases, and depending on previous experience, individuals could be appointed as the Human Resources Officer, known as Personnel Services, where they will ensure that RAF personnel are managed according to industry best practise.
  • Academic qualifications: There are two methods of entry to the Personnel Branch: Qualified Entry and University Graduate Entry.
    • Qualified Entry: individuals will need a minimum of 5 GCSEs/Scottish Standard Grades at GradeC/3, including English Language and Mathematics. In addition, you must have a minimum of 2 A Levels/3 Scottish Higher Grades at Grade A, B or C (excluding the subjects of General Studies or Critical Thinking). If individuals do not have A Levels but have at least 5 GCSEs (including English Language and Mathematics) at Grade C or equivalent, and a qualification of at least EdExcel (formerly known as BTEC) Higher National Award or NVQ Level 4 standard in a technical, management, business, modern language or training-related subject, individuals may also be considered for Qualified Entry.
    • University Graduate Entry: individuals should hold a recognised degree to be considered for University Graduate Entry. However, they may also be considered if they possess a complete pass in the final examination of a Chartered Institute which is relevant to one or more of the Personnel Branch roles.

6.0     Physical Training Instructor (PTI)

  • Specialist Training: lasts approximately 29-weeks and is delivered by the School of Physical Training, RAF Cosford near Wolverhampton. The course is designed to qualify individuals in class instructional techniques, the effects of exercise on the body, leadership, coaching techniques, sports administration and officiating. At the end of this course individuals will have earned the National Pool Lifeguard Qualification.
  • Opportunities: On promotion to Corporal individuals will be encouraged to specialise – as a parachute jumping instructor, adventurous training instructor or remedial instructor.
  • First Tour: For a first tour individuals will probably be posted to an RAF base where they will help with the implementation of physical fitness and recreation programmes. Individuals will carry out physical fitness tests, counsel RAF personnel on health and fitness and teach a variety of classes.
  • Ongoing development: As a career progresses, the RAF will continue to train individuals in new skills. There are opportunities to study for a BSc in Physical Activity and Health and Exercise, as well as to undertake management and leadership training.
  • Fitness and sport are essential to life in the RAF. Physical Training Instructors (PTI) are part of a team providing physical fitness and training programmes for all RAF staff. PTIs will also manage a wide range of sports facilities and administer sporting and adventurous activities, both on and off base. As well as instructing classes in physical education, PTIs conduct fitness tests, provide fitness and health counselling, and organise sporting activities. The RAF is looking for fit, active people that can motivate others to be the same way. The primary role of a PTI is to teach and promote physical fitness and health programmes – all RAF personnel are required to be fit so that they can perform their tasks effectively, whether they are in the UK or overseas. In the basic PTI role individuals could teach physical education classes and help manage RAF sports facilities. However, after further training, the role could be to work in any of the three specialist areas:
    • Exercise Remedial Instructor, using exercise to aid recovery for injured or sick personnel;
    • Adventurous Training Instructor in mountaineering, climbing and canoeing; or
    • Parachute Jumping Instructor, as the RAF provides parachute training for all the UK’s airborne troops, including Special Forces.
  • Career prospects: individuals initially join the RAF for a period of 9-years with the rank of acting Corporal. After a year, providing individuals pass further training courses, they will be confirmed in the rank of Corporal. Further promotion to the rank of Sergeant and beyond is by competitive selection.
  • RAF PTI Trade Career Projection for a New Entrant (2014-06-02)
  • RAF PTI Trade Chance of Further Service (2014-06-02)

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