Army soldier

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would be sent to fight, protect and rescue people in dangerous situations and disaster zones at home and abroad.

You would join a regiment in one of two sections of the British Army.

In Combat Arms you’d become part of the fighting forces, such as the infantry, armoured corps, air corps or cavalry.

In Combat Support Arms you’d be trained for essential services such as mechanics, engineering, IT and communications, catering or healthcare.

Whichever section you joined you’d be trained to fight so you could take part in operations. You’d do fitness training regularly and take part in exercises so you’d be ready for work in conflict zones.

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

In Combat Arms you might be:

  • An armoured vehicle driver
  • A musician
  • A gunner on board a battlefield helicopter

In Combat Support Arms you might work as a:

  • Mechanical or electrical engineer, maintaining vehicles and equipment
  • Logistics controller, making sure that regiments have operational supplies
  • Communications operator, using radio and satellite systems to keep commanders in touch with officers and troops

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

As an experienced soldier you could take on specific duties, such as target surveillance or explosives work. You could apply to join a specialist unit like the commandos.

Working conditions

Hours

Your working hours will depend on your regiment and your particular job. When you are not on exercises or operations a working day can be from 8am to 5pm. During exercises and operations you may work much longer and irregular hours.

Environment

You would face a wide variety of conditions and situations ranging from office duties to working in an engineering workshop, kitchen or field hospital. Working conditions will depend on your job. You would also spend a lot of time on training exercises.

Travel

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

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

People behind the job

Meet real people who’ve done this job – hear their stories and the path they took to get there.

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Working as part of a team
  • Following instructions
  • Working with your hands
  • Being physically fit
  • Coping with pressure

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

Keep track of your skills in your account and find the jobs, opportunities and courses that suit you.

Click here to view / add your skills

Getting in

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

Qualifications

Some positions require no formal qualifications.

If you are entering an army Modern Apprenticeship this usually requires National 4/5 qualifications (SCQF Level 4/5).

To join as a soldier, you do not need any qualifications, except in some of the specialist roles.

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Maths
  • Sciences
  • Languages
  • Social subjects
  • Physical education.

Some army apprenticeships will require English, maths and one or more science subject.

You will also need

To pass the army medical, fitness test and entrance test (‘British Army Recruit Battery’ known as BARB).

To join as a regular soldier you need to be at least 16 years old, although you can start the application process earlier, with your parents' permission. If you're under 18, you'll also need parental consent to join. You should be in Army phase 1 training before your 33rd birthday. 

You can apply to become a Reservist soldier when you're 17 years and 9 months - ready to start when you turn 18. You can join until the day before your 50th birthday.

There are higher age limits for some specialist roles.

The Army Foundation College (AFC) is in Harrogate, North Yorkshire trains young people to become Junior Soldiers for the various Corps and Regiments of the Army you could apply for this if you are aged between 16 years and 17 years and 5 months prior to starting training.

You will need to be a British citizen, British subject under the Nationality Act, 1981, British Protected Persons or Commonwealth Citizen. If you are a citizen of a Commonwealth country, you'll need to have lived in the UK for at least five years before you start an application to join the Army. You must not have been out of the UK for a continuous period of more than 180 days (6 months) during this five-year period.

You will go through a range of strength and stamina tests, as well as a 1.5-mile run. The standards you need to meet in these tests depend on your choice of unit and job.

If you have a tattoo that 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. Some body piercings may also stop you joining.  

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.  

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show an 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 Organisations or other Youth Awards

There are uniformed service preparation courses available up to SCQF level 5; entry is usually by interview - these courses do not guarantee entry to the Army.