Career outlook for RAF 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 airmen and women to work as a unit to complete 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 welfare, discipline and career development of the non-commissioned Royal Air Force airmen and airwomen in your squadron.

The Royal Air Force (RAF) has two sections (known as commands). Strike is the operational air force while Personnel and Training recruits, trains and manages the welfare of staff.

As an RAF officer you could choose to work in one of 20 specialist areas, each with different responsibilities, such as these examples:

  • In Air Operations you could become a pilot or weapons systems officer. You would fly sorties, carry out reconnaissance and take part in search and rescue duties.
  • In Operations Support you could be an air traffic manager, an aerospace battle manager or a flight operations officer. You would:
    • Provide information about targets
    • Coordinate refuelling
    • Digitally map terrain
    • Plan missions
  • As an aircraft or communications engineer you would be based in Engineering and Logistics. You would commission new aircraft, service fleets and manage resources and supplies.
  • In Support Services you’d provide day-to-day services for staff at RAF bases and in the field during operations. Roles include catering, security and training officers.
  • As a medical, dental or nursing officer you would manage specialist teams in the Professions branch

The areas of responsibility are split into squadrons and you would manage a squadron with other officers who have also earned their rank or 'commission'.

Working conditions


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


You may be posted to RAF bases in the UK or overseas, which could include working in combat zones.


You may have duties and exercises both indoors and outdoors in all weathers.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Resilience
  • Building relationships
  • Cooperating
  • Verbal communication
  • Working with technology
  • Researching
  • Developing a plan
  • Making decisions
  • Taking responsibility
  • Recalling

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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.


There are a number of officer roles within the RAF. Most require at least five qualifications at SCQF level 5 and three Highers at grade C or above (excluding general studies or critical thinking).

Some roles, such as medical officers, require a relevant degree (SCQF level 9/10) and in some cases professional registration and experience.  

Useful subjects

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

You will require a driving licence for some roles such as RAF Police Officer.

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

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