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What to Expect When you Start in the Army

Joining the British army is an achievement that some people work towards for years and some will spend their careers working through the ranks. Before making the decision about whether this is the career for you, it is important that you understand what to expect when joining the army.

The army recruitment process

The recruitment process will depend on what level of education you have and the role you are applying for: either infantry soldier or officer. Both positions require an online registration of interest, and during this section of the application you will be asked a series of questions to determine your eligibility, such as age and nationality.

Applying to be a soldier

Once you have applied online you may be invited to your local career centre where you will be given a plan to follow to prepare you for the assessment centre.

The assessment centre is the next step in the recruitment process for a soldier and will last two days. Your assessment will include a medical examination, physical and mental tests and team exercises. Following this you may be given an offer of employment, after which you will begin your basic training.

Applying to be an officer

After your online application you may be invited to in for an interview, which will enable the other officers a chance to get to know you as well as providing an opportunity for you to ask questions. If your interview is successful you'll be offered an assessment.

The assessment will test your physical and mental abilities and give you a chance to understand more about the role of an officer. If you pass this stage you will be given an offer of employment, after which you can begin the 44-week course at Sandhurst.

Rank progression in the army

When you join the army as a soldier there are many different routes you can take through the ranks, depending on your skills and interests. Your actual title will depend on which corps you join, including troops, guardsmen and riflemen. The highest level you can reach as a soldier is Warrant Officer Class 1: in this position you will have responsibility for up to 650 people.

After achieving Warrant Officer Class 1 as a soldier, you can also opt to apply to the Late Entry Commissioning Board (LECB), for late entry commissioning as an officer. You can also apply for this as a Warrant Officer Class 2 and, in some corps, as a Staff Sergeant.

The typical career path for an officer can involve a number of different roles depending on your experience and the track record you build up. As you work your way through the ranks you will be responsible for more people. There are also a number of staff ranks which can be achieved such as Brigadier and Lieutenant General.

For more information on the different roles within the army visit the Ministry of Defence website.

Adventurous training in the army

Everyone in the army, regardless of rank, can apply for adventurous training. These challenges give you the chance to learn new skills under pressure that enhance your ability to serve in the forces, including leadership, teamwork, physical fitness, moral and physical courage.

There are also opportunities to join expeditions such as treks across the Antarctic or yacht races. These allow you to test your physical and mental limits and are designed to further encourage teamwork and develop leadership skills.

Learning career skills in the army

Being in the army can offer many different career paths and can also teach you a huge number of skills which you will be able to utilise once you leave. To learn more, read our article on what trades you can learn in the army.

Military insurance from Towergate

If you choose to pursue a career in the army it is worth investing in military insurance to ensure that your specialised kit and equipment is protected. Visit our military insurance page or call us on 01242 533 784 to speak to an adviser.

About the author

Karl Scott, boat insurance articles authorKarl Scott is a respected leader with nine years’ varied experience in niche personal and commercial lines insurance, including military, boat, pleasure craft, private car and cycle, with proficiency in leadership, sales and account management.


This is a marketing article by Towergate Insurance.

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