How to get into the RAF straight from school

members of RAF staff at work


Have you had enough of studying but still want an amazing career rather than just a job? Then joining the RAF could be the best decision you ever make.

A career with the RAF isn’t simply for would-be Top Guns, there are more than 50 different career paths you can take. Jobs in STEM subjects that you might think are off limits without a degree can still be yours if you have the drive and enthusiasm for them.

And the best part? You can get started straight after GCSE’s and continue your learning by doing an OFSTED “Outstanding” RAF Apprenticeship and get paid!

Thomas, 19, trained as a Cyberspace Communications Specialist with the RAF, completing his training while gaining valuable on-the-job experience.

“I decided to join the RAF because I wanted a job where I could gain qualifications and have an exciting career,” he says.

“I have gained my BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Professional Competence for IT and Telecoms Professionals and Communications Technology Professional NVQ Level 3. Within 12 months after leaving training I was promoted and my pay increased to £24,666.”

Despite not following a traditional degree path, Thomas is now studying for an ICT degree with Staffordshire University and has a career which has already given him many rich experiences.

No Ordinary Job

The job of a Cyberspace Communications Specialist is a vital one and can lead to travel all over the world. It’s an entry-level, non-commissioned role with plenty of possibilities for advancement. You’ll be trained to work with more powerful computer equipment, like typhoon jets – and you’ll help protect the UK’s interests at home and abroad.

You will be working as a part of a world-class team, and be trained and supported at every stage. Without the Cyberspace Communications Specialists, or the communication networks they set up, operations can’t happen.

It’s also a role that provides plenty of variety and excitement.

“My best experiences since joining the RAF have come from being able to travel the world; I have been deployed to Afghanistan, Italy, Senegal and the United Arab Emirates on both operations and exercises,” says Thomas.

“My typical day is 8am to 5pm with an hour for lunch. My main role is maintaining and servicing an array of high-tech communication equipment and preparing the kit for any operations or exercises that are imminent.

“I have had lots of opportunities for sport and adventurous training, having participated in activities like canoeing, rock climbing, paragliding, mountain biking, hiking and mountain snow survival skills.”

Earn while you learn and get qualified

One of the great things about joining the RAF is you earn on the job, unlike university students who are saddled with tuition fees and large amounts of debt. In addition, any qualifications you undertake in the role will be heavily subsidised.

A trainee Cyberspace Communications Specialist earns £14,931 during training and £18,489 after training.  You’ll be enrolled on a Unified Communications Technician Trailblazer Advanced Apprenticeship which is a level 3 qualification; this will be completed in the workplace during your first tour. You can also gain a Foundation Degree in Information Technology and Communications from Staffordshire University.

Thomas adds: “My top tips for anyone interested in joining the RAF as an apprentice is go in with an open mind and push for what you want as the possibilities are endless.”

The RAF has more than 20 different apprenticeships available. To find yours search ‘RAF Apprenticeships’

About our partner

royal air force regular and reserve royal air force regular and reserve

The Student Room is proud to work in partnership with the Royal Air Force. The RAF has a wide range of career options for school-leavers and university graduates. In this section of the site, you can find out more about many of these careers and what it's like to work with the RAF.

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