Aircraft technician (mechanical)- but RAF or Army? Watch

AliHinks
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Hi all,

I'm new here and created an account just to post this, so please go easy on me if i've not got it all right first time! I've seen and read through a few other discussions and love the response and support people are giving so thought i'd shoot my shot too.

First off a little background about myself; I just last September finished my A-Levels, successfully getting Bs & Cs in Maths, Physics and Biology. However i've always been mad about cars and also the prospect of being in the military (initially just the army).
So therefore after enjoying the summer I began an application to become a vehicle mechanic in the REME. However after an initial face to face chat with the local recruitment officer, he immediately said applying to be a VM would not be anyway near as challenging for me as i'd need it to be, (no disrespect to any mechanics out there!) and suggested I apply for Aircraft Tech instead.
After taking this home and mulling the decision over for a few weeks I come to think he's got a very accurate measure of me and is totally right, I would need the challenge. Not only that but I could easily see my love of cars being transferred to tinkering with and fixing aircraft.
As a few more weeks went by and I was becoming more sure of myself, I spent some time with a family friend who suggested something which I could not believe I hadn't thought of already: if i'm thinking of working on aircraft, why on Earth have I not considered the RAF?

This now leads me nicely onto my predicament; The Army or The RAF? If there is anyone amongst the readers that is currently holding a position in either of these forces I would love to hear from you. I'm trying to weigh up which would be better and the pros and cons of both. I know the lifestyles would be very similar, so I guess what i'm specifically asking is what is the rank progression time like? Also opportunity to gain civilian and academic qualifications? And how gruelling is RAF basic training?

Even if you're not in either role just a simple insight to the lifestyle too would be a welcome contribution.

If you've taken some time out to read this- thank you. If you reply- even better!
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AlphaTango
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Do you want to fix rotary or fixed wing? Apache/Wildcat or Hercules/Typhoon/F35/Voyager etc?
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AliHinks
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Hi Alpha, thanks for your reply. I see where you’re going because of course if I want to fix wing then I’ll have to go RAF. I think to be honest I want to work on helicopters more than planes.

Do you have any prior service history yourself?
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by AliHinks)
The Army or The RAF?
Keep asking around, but apply to both and see where you get. You'll learn more along the way and only need to make a decision when you get two offers.
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Drewski
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(Original post by AliHinks)
Hi all,

I'm new here and created an account just to post this, so please go easy on me if i've not got it all right first time! I've seen and read through a few other discussions and love the response and support people are giving so thought i'd shoot my shot too.

First off a little background about myself; I just last September finished my A-Levels, successfully getting Bs & Cs in Maths, Physics and Biology. However i've always been mad about cars and also the prospect of being in the military (initially just the army).
So therefore after enjoying the summer I began an application to become a vehicle mechanic in the REME. However after an initial face to face chat with the local recruitment officer, he immediately said applying to be a VM would not be anyway near as challenging for me as i'd need it to be, (no disrespect to any mechanics out there!) and suggested I apply for Aircraft Tech instead.
After taking this home and mulling the decision over for a few weeks I come to think he's got a very accurate measure of me and is totally right, I would need the challenge. Not only that but I could easily see my love of cars being transferred to tinkering with and fixing aircraft.
As a few more weeks went by and I was becoming more sure of myself, I spent some time with a family friend who suggested something which I could not believe I hadn't thought of already: if i'm thinking of working on aircraft, why on Earth have I not considered the RAF?

This now leads me nicely onto my predicament; The Army or The RAF? If there is anyone amongst the readers that is currently holding a position in either of these forces I would love to hear from you. I'm trying to weigh up which would be better and the pros and cons of both. I know the lifestyles would be very similar, so I guess what i'm specifically asking is what is the rank progression time like? Also opportunity to gain civilian and academic qualifications? And how gruelling is RAF basic training?

Even if you're not in either role just a simple insight to the lifestyle too would be a welcome contribution.

If you've taken some time out to read this- thank you. If you reply- even better!
I think with your academic background there's a chance you'll find yourself a little underwhelmed by what you'd do as a tech. I don't think you'll find it challenging and stimulating enough.

But, anyway, aside from that - which isn't an exact science by any means, so don't take it as gospel - lifestyles are a bit different. The RAF has a reputation for being better to it's people, treating them better, giving them more. There's always been a feeling with the Army that you're just a number.

In terms of quals, yeah, broadly similar, not going to differ too much. Specific licenses may vary, but that would go with aircraft type, rather than service.

RAF basic training isn't grueling. It's only a couple of months, yes it'll be new and different and unlike anything you've done previously, but not really like the bad old stereotypes of boot camp.
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AliHinks
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
Keep asking around, but apply to both and see where you get. You'll learn more along the way and only need to make a decision when you get two offers.
Good idea. Thanks!
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AliHinks
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(Original post by Drewski)
I think with your academic background there's a chance you'll find yourself a little underwhelmed by what you'd do as a tech. I don't think you'll find it challenging and stimulating enough.

But, anyway, aside from that - which isn't an exact science by any means, so don't take it as gospel - lifestyles are a bit different. The RAF has a reputation for being better to it's people, treating them better, giving them more. There's always been a feeling with the Army that you're just a number.

In terms of quals, yeah, broadly similar, not going to differ too much. Specific licenses may vary, but that would go with aircraft type, rather than service.

RAF basic training isn't grueling. It's only a couple of months, yes it'll be new and different and unlike anything you've done previously, but not really like the bad old stereotypes of boot camp.
Hi Drewski thanks for your reply,

Interesting that you say that even being an aircraft tech wouldn’t be challenging enough for me. What would you suggest instead? I have considered going for a commission, but I’m not interested in management and want to do something practical.

I have also heard that too that the RAF generally treat you better. Having said that I did research the salary and after finishing the trade training in The Army you’re promoted to Lance Corporal which is £26k+, but in RAF when you finish you’re on £18,800+. I know the salary shouldn’t determine my choice, but I think it’s an important factor too.
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RAF_Adam
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(Original post by AliHinks)
Hi Drewski thanks for your reply,

Interesting that you say that even being an aircraft tech wouldn’t be challenging enough for me. What would you suggest instead? I have considered going for a commission, but I’m not interested in management and want to do something practical.

I have also heard that too that the RAF generally treat you better. Having said that I did research the salary and after finishing the trade training in The Army you’re promoted to Lance Corporal which is £26k+, but in RAF when you finish you’re on £18,800+. I know the salary shouldn’t determine my choice, but I think it’s an important factor too.
Hi

Once you've completed your phase two training and passed all of your tests you'll be promoted to SAC and you'll be on similar money to the Army, around £22-23K at that point.

ryan9900 Is the person to talk to for in-depth knowledge.

Kind regards
Adam
RAF Recruitment
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AliHinks
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(Original post by RAF_Adam)
Hi

Once you've completed your phase two training and passed all of your tests you'll be promoted to SAC and you'll be on similar money to the Army, around £22-23K at that point.

ryan9900 Is the person to talk to for in-depth knowledge.

Kind regards
Adam
RAF Recruitment
Thanks Adam I’ll DM him.
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Surnia
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(Original post by AliHinks)
Hi Drewski thanks for your reply,

Interesting that you say that even being an aircraft tech wouldn’t be challenging enough for me. What would you suggest instead? I have considered going for a commission, but I’m not interested in management and want to do something practical.

I have also heard that too that the RAF generally treat you better. Having said that I did research the salary and after finishing the trade training in The Army you’re promoted to Lance Corporal which is £26k+, but in RAF when you finish you’re on £18,800+. I know the salary shouldn’t determine my choice, but I think it’s an important factor too.
You wouldn't be alone in joining the RAF as an aircraft technician with higher qualifications than GCSEs; people do what you are doing as they want to be hands-on. However, bear in mind that as you move up the ranks you'll be more involved with admin, supervision and additional responsibilities around the section, so which part of 'management' are you not interested In?

There's other activities you could get involved with outside of work; I know aircraft techs who have been involved in aircraft restoration projects or there are bases with car clubs where people work on their own or other vehicles. Plus there's all the sports, adventure training, etc.

The other option is to keep tinkering with cars as a hobby and go for a commission in a non-tech related branch; say, logistics, where there's a wide involvement with units across a station. Yes, you've got personnel under your command, but the challenge of learning new subjects, moving to new jobs on a regular basis, decision- or maybe policy-making, even at a local level.
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AliHinks
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(Original post by Surnia)
You wouldn't be alone in joining the RAF as an aircraft technician with higher qualifications than GCSEs; people do what you are doing as they want to be hands-on. However, bear in mind that as you move up the ranks you'll be more involved with admin, supervision and additional responsibilities around the section, so which part of 'management' are you not interested In?

There's other activities you could get involved with outside of work; I know aircraft techs who have been involved in aircraft restoration projects or there are bases with car clubs where people work on their own or other vehicles. Plus there's all the sports, adventure training, etc.

The other option is to keep tinkering with cars as a hobby and go for a commission in a non-tech related branch; say, logistics, where there's a wide involvement with units across a station. Yes, you've got personnel under your command, but the challenge of learning new subjects, moving to new jobs on a regular basis, decision- or maybe policy-making, even at a local level.
Hi Surnia, thanks for taking the time out to reply so in detail!

I completely understand where you’re coming from about the progression, with it becoming less involved and more supervision. There are several reasons I don’t want to apply as an officer:
- I want to learn a trade doing physical, hands-on work prior to moving into management
- I don’t feel I could be a respectable leader without first having done the work myself
- Lastly and most prominently I am not joining the military to sit behind a desk, doing a 9 to 5 I could do on civi street.
I guess that’ll have to be a decision I make in years to come; will I want to move up and progress or stay put to remain in a practical position?

Thank you though for your insight about the restoration projects, hearing about bases with car clubs too sounds very exciting and up my street. The adventure stuff and travelling was another massive pull for me to join the military.

Finally the whole basis of my military service for me, has to revolve around some kind of engineering profession. It’s what I am passionate about and it’s where I want my future to be headed. I appreciate your suggestion though. Can I assume you’re an RAF Officer then?
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Surnia
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(Original post by AliHinks)
There are several reasons I don’t want to apply as an officer:
- I want to learn a trade doing physical, hands-on work prior to moving into management
- I don’t feel I could be a respectable leader without first having done the work myself
- Lastly and most prominently I am not joining the military to sit behind a desk, doing a 9 to 5 I could do on civi street.
I guess that’ll have to be a decision I make in years to come; will I want to move up and progress or stay put to remain in a practical position?
Busted! Ex-Engineer Officer (Aerosystems).

First point: completely understand.

Second: That's personal preference, but the RAF don't think like that, otherwise no-one would join direct as an officer. You do the necessary training, including specialist courses, and you get the respect from how you do the job, no matter your background. I went straight in on a commission and there's been times when my staff have gone above and beyond to get work done; I've also had them organise leaving events and a birthday celebration for me, which was entirely their decision.

Third: Yes, as an officer there are days (like annual report time!) when there's a lot of admin, and there are roles that are office-based, like at High Wycombe, but if you're sitting behind your desk for long stretches when on a flying station you're not doing it right! You go out and find out by talking to people. There isn't an equivalent in civvy street.
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AliHinks
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(Original post by Surnia)
Busted! Ex-Engineer Officer (Aerosystems).

First point: completely understand.

Second: That's personal preference, but the RAF don't think like that, otherwise no-one would join direct as an officer. You do the necessary training, including specialist courses, and you get the respect from how you do the job, no matter your background. I went straight in on a commission and there's been times when my staff have gone above and beyond to get work done; I've also had them organise leaving events and a birthday celebration for me, which was entirely their decision.

Third: Yes, as an officer there are days (like annual report time!) when there's a lot of admin, and there are roles that are office-based, like at High Wycombe, but if you're sitting behind your desk for long stretches when on a flying station you're not doing it right! You go out and find out by talking to people. There isn't an equivalent in civvy street.
You made it a fairly easy guess for me! Great this is exactly what I wanted; to speak to someone with past experience.

In response to your points I hear everything you’re saying and that does reassure me somewhat that I don’t need to know everything people below me have to do. I recognise too that there are obviously totally different roles as you say, some of which are heavy admin based and others that are not. I think I’ll save the commission until my body becomes too tired to the more physical stuff.

I think I’m going to just crack on with applying to both The Army and The RAF, get as much info as I can from them and then decide from there. Fingers crossed someone who’s been in The Army will comment on this discussion too and get involved.

Thanks again for your insight Surnia.
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