RAF airman or airwoman

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 could work in one of the many support roles in the Royal Air Force. You’d use specialist skills to carry out crucial tasks, mostly on the ground.

There is a wide range of areas in which you could work:

  • Aircrew – which includes non-commissioned aircrew and weapon systems operators
  • Engineering and technical – including roles like aircraft technician
  • Catering and hospitality – which includes roles such as catering officer
  • Security and defence – with jobs in firefighting and the RAF police
  • Medical and medical support – dental, nursing, medical and laboratory roles
  • Personnel support – including administration, bands, and training
  • Air operations support – for example air traffic controllers
  • Communications and intelligence – such as photographers and intelligence analysts
  • Logistics and equipment – which includes drivers and supply officers

While your exact role would vary according to your specialist skill or trade, you would also carry out military tasks like guard duties and take part in military exercises and training.

Royal Air Force airmen and airwomen make up the largest number of RAF personnel.

Working conditions

Hours

You would usually work 9am to 5pm, over a five-day week, although you are likely to be on-call at all times. When you are on exercises or involved in operations, your hours may be longer and more irregular.

Travel

You would be posted to RAF bases in the UK or overseas. You may also go on detachments and exercises anywhere in the world. When on detachment, you could be away from your family for several months at a time.

Environment

You might have duties and exercises both indoors and outdoors in all weather conditions.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

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
  • Communicating ideas through writing
  • Working on your own
  • Being physically fit
  • Finding solutions to problems
  • Working with numbers

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

To apply to the RAF you'll need a minimum of five National 5 qualifications (SCQF Level 5) including English and maths. 

For more specialised roles, you'll need three Highers at grade C or a degree (SCQF Level 9/10). 

The RAF recruitment website has qualification requirements for each role.  

Useful subjects

  • Maths (required for most roles)
  • English (required for most roles)
  • Sciences and technologies subjects such as engineering
  • Modern languages
  • Social subjects
  • Physical education

Any subjects that link to the specific role you wish to apply for. 

You will also need

You will need to research individual roles to find out the specific entry requirements but you will need to meet fitness, health, nationality and residency criteria for all roles.

To meet RAF nationality requirements, you need to be one of the following: 

  • British citizen
  • British national
  • British/Dual national
  • Commonwealth citizen
  • Irish Republic national 

You should have been a UK Resident for a minimum of five years immediately preceding application, and have spent no more than 28 days per year outside the UK within those five years. UK residents of less than five years or those who have spent more than 28 days per year outside the UK will require more eligibility checks.

Age requirements vary depending on which role you choose.

The youngest age for applying is 15 years and nine months for an Airman. The oldest is 55 years for a Medical Officer. If you’re under 18 years of age, you’ll need consent from a parent or guardian before you apply.

Every candidate undergoes two or three separate fitness tests as part of the application process: Selection Fitness Test, Pre-joining Fitness Test or Pre-recruit Training Course. The fitness requirements for these tests vary according to your role, age and gender.

There are three main health requirements that must be met by all applicants:

  • Body Mass Index requirements
  • Eyesight requirements - they vary for different roles.
  • Medical conditions - there are some medical conditions that may stop you from entering the RAF. Check the website for details.

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show understanding of the 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