Royal Navy officer

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Royal Navy officers manage ships and submarine operations and are responsible for all personnel in their command.

Salary range: £27,273 to £45,984

How to become a Royal Navy officer

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • applying directly


If you have a degree, you can apply through the Direct Graduate Entry route.

For some officer roles you’ll need specific qualifications and experience, for example:

  • as an air engineering officer, you’ll need an engineering degree
  • to join the medical support services as a doctor, you need to have or be working towards an approved degree in medicine
  • to be a chaplain you must be ordained with 3 years’ experience and have a theological degree

You can start applying before you finish your studies, as the process can take up to 6 months. If you’re accepted, you’ll attend Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth to begin officer training.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

More information

Volunteering and experience

You can join the Royal Navy Reserve to get some experience of what life is like in the service, and to learn new skills at the same time. You’ll need to be:

  • between the ages of 16 and 42
  • able to commit to basic training which includes a 2-week course at Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth

If you’re between 12 and 18 years old, you can join the Sea Cadets.

Direct application

You can apply directly for officer training.

You’ll need a minimum of:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths
  • 2 A levels or equivalent

Age limits vary depending on which officer role you’re interested in.

If your application is accepted, you’ll be invited to talk to someone at your local armed forces careers office about what you want to do. You’ll also have a medical and fitness check.

There will be further assessments and interviews to complete and if you’re successful, you’ll be offered a place on a full officer training programme.

More information

Further information

You’ll find more details about how to become an officer from the Royal Navy.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • leadership skills to manage and motivate personnel
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • thinking and reasoning skills for making quick decisions
  • persistence and determination
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • concentration skills
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

You’ll be responsible for the welfare and management of those in your squadron or unit, and you’ll also have a specialist role, like:

  • warfare officer, controlling weapons and defence systems, and assisting with navigation
  • air fleet officer, as part of ground support, making sure the ship’s aircraft are ready to fly when needed
  • Navy pilot flying aircraft and helicopters
  • engineering officer, overseeing the maintenance of a vessel’s engines, weapon delivery systems, detection sensors and communications equipment
  • logistics officer, managing the control and delivery of supplies and equipment
  • medical or nursing officer, providing medical care to staff and their families on ships, submarines and ashore

Working environment

You could work at a military base, in a warzone or on a ship.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding and outdoors in all weathers.

You may need to wear a uniform and protective clothing.

Career path and progression

With experience you could be promoted to sub-lieutenant, lieutenant and the higher ranks.

You can go into a wide range of careers after leaving the navy. The type of career open to you will depend on the skills, training and qualifications you’ve gained while serving.

The Career Transition Partnership, Quest and Troops to Teachers have more information on careers outside the armed forces.

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