Your Ultimate Guide to a Career in Defence

When you hear the word ‘defence’, you probably think of brave soldiers fighting on the front line.

Did you know there are thousands of other jobs – many of them behind-the-scenes – that provide dynamic and rewarding careers too?

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Defence Apprenticeships

The basics

Apprenticeships in the defense sector are often sponsored or supported by leading defence contractors, government agencies, and armed forces branches.

These programs provide you with valuable skills and knowledge tailored to the specific needs of the defense industry. Additionally, apprenticeships in the defence sector can lead to nationally recognised qualifications, providing apprentices with a solid foundation for long-term career advancement within both the public and private sectors of the defense industry.

There are over 22,000 apprentices working in the defence industry already and there’s plenty of room for more people like you to help keep the UK safe. So, what are the different branches of the army? And what kind of jobs can you get other than becoming a soldier? Let’s find out.  

Types of Defence Apprenticeships

Engineering Apprenticeships

Remember the famous Royal Navy advert, ‘If you can build a bike, you can build a submarine…’? Well, it’s true – if you have an aptitude for fixing stuff, an apprenticeship in the defence industry can give you the skills you need to work on highly classified projects like air systems, weapons and communications equipment. You could even be part of a Technical Corps like the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers or the Royal Engineers.

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Cybersecurity Apprenticeships

Modern warfare doesn’t just take place on the battlefield – it also takes place behind the screen. Criminals use sophisticated techniques to launch cyber-attacks, and the consequences can be disastrous. You’ll see lots of IT and cybersecurity apprenticeships in the defence industry using ground-breaking strategies to protect the nation’s digital infrastructure. 

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Project management Apprenticeship

Management and leadership opportunities are extremely popular in the defence industry, with many people completing degree-level apprenticeships later in their careers to make this a reality. Plus, you can become a qualified instructor in just about any role if you have a passion for teaching.

Weapon Technician Apprenticeship

From submarines to explosives, there are loads of different types of weapons used by the Armed Forces. You’ll be responsible for servicing the weapons (and repairing them if you become a weapons engineer), which is a huge responsibility – after all, the safety of your colleagues will be in your hands. Pretty impressive, right?

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Entry requirements?

It’s essential to have three GCSEs at grade 4 or above, and some apprenticeships require at least five GCSEs. Depending on the course you choose, you might need a qualification in a STEM subject: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Don’t forget that this is the army, so there are some physical entry requirements too that will differ between roles and branches. For example, most apprenticeships in the Royal Navy require applicants to have a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18 and 28 (for over 18s) and 17 and 27 (for under 18s). You’ll also need to be quick in the water to pass the Naval Swimming Test and other fitness exams.