Employer profile: Royal Navy, the maritime branch of the British military
What it’s like to work in the Royal Navy
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The Royal Navy protects both UK and international waters, but what is it like to work for them? In this guide, you’ll learn all about working for the Royal Navy, what apprenticeship opportunities are available, and how to apply.
The Royal Navy at a glance:
All over the UK. We have three Naval bases, nine training centres, three air stations, and six Royal Marine bases.
Chemicals and materials engineering, electrical engineering, geographic and environmental sciences, maintenance, and mechanical engineering
People who like to push themselves and get involved in challenges
Jobs you might not expect
Royal Navy Police, Musician, Mine Clearance Diver, Meteorology Specialist, Survival Equipment Technician
Fleur Spencer, who is a Training Manager, tells us what it’s really like to work for the Royal Navy.
What does the Royal Navy do?
The Royal Navy is the maritime branch of the British military. In times of peace and conflict the Royal Navy helps to keep the seas safe, which allows international trade to keep moving.
We could be helping to support a global humanitarian aid project in a hurricane-hit area, tracking down drug runners in the Caribbean seas, or working to resolve conflict in areas affected by war.
Where is the Royal Navy based?
Our employees work all across the world. New recruits are often at sea, visiting ports in foreign countries and participating in a wide range of tasks. You might spend two years travelling the world on a Warship, followed by two years of office working in London, and then another two years working at a Cornish air base.
What is the Royal Navy's work environment like?
No matter where you are in the world, every day in the Royal Navy is different. For example, travelling the world in a warship presents a unique working environment that few people get the chance to experience. There are many roles that are needed to make this happen, so teamwork and camaraderie are a key part of our work environment.
We also have a number of bases and offices, both in the UK and abroad, where the work day is more of a 9-5. In the course of a Naval career, you might find yourself anywhere from London to Bahrain to America.
I currently work in one of the Royal Navy’s offices, where there are several teams and a mixture of civilian and military staff. Although not all offices are the same, our office work environment is similar to what you’d expect from a civilian office. There’s a positive atmosphere and it’s an enjoyable place to be.
There are varying levels of flexibility to a typical week for us depending on our job roles and seniority. For example, some colleagues split their weeks between working from the office and at home, whereas others will work from the office five days a week.
How does the Royal Navy meet the needs of employees with additional requirements?
The Royal Navy is a diverse and inclusive employer and additional medical or accessibility requirements will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Who wouldn’t be the right fit for the Royal Navy?
There are many different roles in the Royal Navy, including engineers, chefs, and pilots. Most people will be able to find a role that suits them, but if you prefer home comforts and don’t like getting stuck in, then it may not be for you.
What are some of the most common roles in the Royal Navy?
There are over 60 different roles in the Royal Navy and these are split into seven key areas: warfare, engineering, aviation, logistics, medical, Royal Marines, and chaplaincy.
If you enjoy getting your hands dirty and working on cutting-edge technology, then a career as a marine or weapons engineer might be for you. If you love flying then you might want to join as an air engineer or aircrew. If you’d rather sail the world and be a part of multi-nation exercises then you could consider joining as a warfare rating. Other careers include logistics, chefs, and medical roles.
You can join at entry level (rating) or, if you have enough UCAS points and the correct skills, as an officer. Joining as an officer means more responsibility early in your career as you’ll be a manager from day one.
What are some of the most common entry-level roles in the Royal Navy?
A common entry-level role in the Royal Navy is Engineering Technician, where you undertake a Level 2 Maritime Mechanical and Electrical Mechanic apprenticeship. Our engineering technicians perform maintenance and repairs on our systems and equipment to make sure that they’re working properly. For example, you could maintain our SONAR systems, which allow our ships to detect and avoid underwater obstacles and threats.
After completing your Engineering Technician training, you could go on to train to become a Marine Engineer or Weapons Engineer.
Unlike regular apprenticeships, where you might work four days per week and study one day per week, in the Royal Navy you’ll complete the apprenticeship full-time and then go on to work in that role afterwards. The hours that you work will depend on your role – in some roles you might work 9-5, but in others you could be completing defence watches on a six hours on, six hours off basis.
How can someone join the Royal Navy at entry-level?
You could join us straight from school as a rating on a full-time apprenticeship. For example, you could join us as a Warfare specialist on a Level 3 Data Technician Apprenticeship, and within a year you could be on a warship tracking enemy submarines across the ocean, or escorting foreign military powers through UK waters.
If you've completed a degree then there’s the opportunity to train as an officer. As an officer, you’ll be an important part of our command structure and you’ll be responsible for managing a team.
Alternatively, if you want to start a career with us whilst also attending university, you could apply for our sponsored degree programmes and get a (paid for) degree, as well as a guaranteed job with us after you graduate.
What are the entry requirements for these roles?
You don’t need any formal qualifications or experience to join as an entry-level apprentice, although all new joiners are expected to pass medical, fitness, and hearing tests.
To join as an accelerated apprentice, you’ll need GCSEs in English language, maths, and science at grade 4-9. You’ll also need 48 UCAS points in A level mathematics and another STEM subject (grade D or above), or a Level 3 vocational qualification in an engineering discipline.
The entry criteria for officers depend on the branch you wish to join – some require a degree (such as Engineering) and others require just UCAS points (such as Warfare).
You can find more information on entry requirements for specific roles on the Royal Navy website.
What skills does the Royal Navy look for in applicants?
We look for four main skills during the application process. These are: teamwork, physical and mental resilience, discipline and trustworthiness, and development and motivation.
During the interview process, we ask applicants to give specific examples of when they’ve displayed the above skills alongside their motivation to join the Royal Navy, in particular their chosen job role.
Once you’ve selected your ideal role and applied online, we'll arrange for you to take the Defence Aptitude Assessment (DAA), which tests your general intellectual ability. This assessment shows your capacity to cope with the technical and academic aspects of training for the role you’ve chosen.
We’ll invite you to a formal virtual interview to assess your suitability for your chosen career in the Royal Navy. You’ll also need to take medical, eyesight, and fitness tests.
The process for joining as an officer requires additional tests and there is a longer initial training programme that you’ll need to complete.
Related Unifrog skills:
Resilience / Staying positive
Organising / Time management
Planning / Aiming high
What is one top tip to help an entry-level applicant succeed at getting into the Royal Navy?
The Royal Navy application process is rigorous and like any physical or mental test, being prepared will give you the best chance of success. Knowledge of your chosen career is vital, as is a good understanding of what the Navy does.
Initial training can also be tough so a good level of physical fitness is vital. We offer a four-week training package, which supports applicants in preparing for life in the Royal Navy.
What opportunities are there for progression in the Royal Navy?
The great thing about a career in the Royal Navy is that all promotion is on merit. It’s not just about experience, it’s about capabilities – so the faster you learn, the further you’ll get.
We’d expect you to gain promotion around 2.5 years of completing your initial training for your chosen role. If you join as a rating, there are opportunities to advance onto the officer pipeline.
Good stuff from elsewhere
Royal Navy apprenticeships Find out more about apprenticeship opportunities with the Royal Navy