RAF airman or airwoman
This month we are looking at careers in the RAF. As you will see there are a huge range of careers within the service – it’s not all flying aeroplanes!
Royal Air Force (RAF) airmen and airwomen use specialist skills for support roles in defence and peacekeeping missions.
How to become an RAF airman or airwoman
You can get into this job through:
- an apprenticeship
- applying directly
You could apply to join the RAF through an HM forces serviceperson intermediate apprenticeship.
You’ll still need to apply directly to the RAF to discuss which is the best apprenticeship route for you. This will depend on your qualifications and which service role you’re interested in.
entry requirements vary
Volunteering and experience
You can join the RAF Reserve to get some experience of what life is like in the air force and to learn new skills.
You’ll need to:
be between 18 and 54
commit to at least 27 days a year
attend a 2-week training camp each year
If you’re between 13 and 18 years old, you can join the Air Cadets.
You’ll visit RAF bases and develop some of the key skills that the RAF will be looking for in their recruitment selection process should you go on to apply.
You can apply directly to join the RAF.
- at least 3 GCSEs grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) including English and maths, and a science for some roles
- to be over 16 years old – upper age limit varies depending on the role
- to be physically fit
If your initial application is accepted, you’ll be invited to talk to someone at your local armed forces careers office about what you want to do, and take an aptitude test.
If you successfully complete the initial stage, you’ll be invited to attend further interviews and assessments, which include fitness and medical tests.
You’ll find out more about working in the RAF through RAF Careers.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- physical fitness and endurance
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- excellent verbal communication skills
- the ability to work well with others in a team
- concentration skills and quick reactions
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- thinking and reasoning skills
- to be flexible and open to change
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
- Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to:
- be a citizen of the UK, Republic of Ireland or the Commonwealth
- have a good level of fitness
- pass a medical check
- pass security checks
- pass enhanced background checks
What you’ll do
You’ll provide specialist support in one of the following areas:
- aircrew, including non-commissioned aircrew and weapon systems operators
- engineering and technical roles like aircraft technician
- catering and hospitality jobs like catering officer
- security and defence in areas like firefighting and the RAF police
- medical and medical support work in dental, nursing, medical and laboratory roles
- personnel support, including administration and training
- air operations support, like air traffic controllers
- communications and intelligence roles like photographer and intelligence analyst
- logistics and equipment, including driver and supply officer roles
You could work at a military base or in a warzone.
Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.
Career path and progression
As an airman or airwoman you could move up the ranks to a more senior position like corporal or sergeant. You could also apply to become a commissioned officer.
You could go into a wide range of careers once you leave the RAF, depending on your skills, training and qualifications.