Career outlook for army officer

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would lead a team of British Army soldiers to compete a task or mission. You’d make quick decisions about what action to take in dangerous and stressful situations.

You’d be responsible for the training, welfare, physical fitness and discipline of the men and women under your command. You’d motivate them to work together as a disciplined and effective team.

If you are an officer in a unit in the Combat Arms you would lead troops involved in fighting, such as the infantry, armoured corps, air corps and cavalry.

If you join a regiment in Combat Arms Support you would lead a unit working in artillery, engineering, information technology and communications, intelligence, logistics and healthcare.

You’d make sure your soldiers have the equipment, skills and support they need. As an officer you’d manage the soldiers in your unit and supervise the training and the integration of new recruits. There will also be administration to do.

Your exact duties would depend on which Arm you join and what type of job you do.

Examples of roles in the Combat Arms are:

  • Infantry platoon officer - leading a team of 30 trained soldiers on operations
  • Helicopter pilot officer - with responsibility for your crew and supporting ground troops
  • Tank troop officer - in charge of 12 soldiers and their vehicles
  • Artillery troop officer – in charge of a team of 30 soldiers and their weaponry

In the Support Arms, the roles include:

  • Adult heath nurse – caring for injured soldiers in demanding situations
  • Medical support officer or dental officer – looking after the health of army personnel and their families
  • Veterinary officer – working with military animals
  • Chaplain – offering spiritual support to soldiers and their families

Your unit could help with peacekeeping and humanitarian missions as well as undertaking missions in a combat zone.

Working conditions


Your working hours will depend on which part of the armed forces you work in. When not on exercises or operations your working day could be from 8am to 5pm. During exercises and operations you may work longer and irregular hours.


You could face a range of testing challenges, conditions and situations depending on your role and regiment. You would spend a lot of time on training exercises, you may also be in an office as a manager, or in an engineering workshop or field hospital.


You could be away from your family for long periods of time. You could be deployed or posted in the UK or overseas in places like Canada or Cyprus.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Adaptability
  • Resilience
  • Delegating
  • Taking responsibility
  • Motivating others
  • Making decisions
  • Developing a plan
  • Verbal communication
  • Cooperating
  • Resourceful

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


You would need seven National 5 qualifications at C or above (SCQF level 5), two Highers achieving 180 UCAS points across no more than four subjects (SCQF level 6), plus at least two more at Higher or Advanced Higher (SCQF level 6 or 7) and/or a university degree in any subject (SCQF level 9/10).

Alternatively you can join the Army as a soldier and apply internally for promotion.

To join as an officer, you'll need 35 ALIS points (34 for SNQs) from seven GCSE/SNQ subjects, with a minimum grade C/2 in English Language, Maths and either a science or a foreign language; plus 180 UCAS Tariff points from a maximum of three subjects (four for Scottish Highers and excluding General Studies) with a minimum of two at National Level 3 (excluding AS Levels) or National or International equivalent.

Useful subjects

  • English (required) 
  • Maths (required) 
  • Sciences or language subjects (required) 
  • Social subjects
  • Physical education


You will also need

You will also need to pass the:

  • Army medical
  • Army fitness test
  • And the Army Officer Selection Board (AOSB), a two-part 24-hour briefing and a 3½ day assessment

Part of the assessment process is the 'beep' test, which is used to measure your cardiovascular fitness. Other tests include sit-ups and press-ups.

To apply to become a regular officer you need to be between 18 - 28 years and 11 months, although you can apply for sixth form and university sponsorship before you reach this age.

Welbeck is the services’ residential sixth form college for officer applicants who wish to join the Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force or MOD Civil Service, more information can be found on

If you're over 30, you may be considered on a case by case basis, if you can get sponsorship from a regiment or corps during the application process. Higher age limits for professional or specialist applicants may apply.

Some body piercings may also stop you joining. If your tattoo is offensive, obscene or racist it will prevent you from joining the Army. Small tattoos that aren't offensive in any way are not normally a problem, depending where they are on your body and how visible they are. Tattoos on your head and face are not acceptable. If you have a tattoo, the best thing is to go to your nearest Army Careers Centre and ask them to check if it's okay.

The Army carries out random, compulsory drugs testing, and if the tests find you have been using drugs, you are highly likely to be discharged.

A full medical examination is part of the application process, but it’s worth checking this list before you start to see if you are eligible.

Helpful to have

Qualifications that demonstrate understanding of armed services, physical and mental fitness and commitment to your community such as:

  • Skills for Work Uniformed and Emergency Services (SCQF level 4)
  • SQA  Leadership Award (SCQF level 5/6)
  • Cadet Organisation or other Youth Awards