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Ex Army, joining Navy age 36, going comms tech! Got questions


Hello All,

I am looking for advice, and have certain queries to make and thought this might be the best place for it. It might be a bit long, but its probably not an average Navy application. First, some background:

I am 36, ex army, left as a Corporal of Horse (Sergeant), JTAC qualified, completed 5 frontline tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. Didn't at that time fancy a peacetime armed forces, so left the army, then went and did some CP in Kabul for 6 months, before being injured in a non combat accident. A year later, once recovered, put the feelers out to get back out on the same contract, found out the guy who replaced me was killed by a decided to knock it on the head. Switched to working UK, researcher, chauffeur and now corporate security.

Basically now after 5 years, i have realised i enjoyed being in the military and i took a lot of things for granted i would never fully realise without signing off and getting out. No regrets.

I decided that i needed a new career that i really take an interest in. I briefly applied to go back in the army, but decided at 36 i can't be bothered with the army lifestyle, going for 9 mile runs every morning with a load of 18 year olds (Though i do realise i will still have to stay fit in any arm of the armed forces, which i already do as a civilian, but just not to the sometimes ridiculous army standards of fitness). Also, the idea of serving under people that i knew well, that were far junior to me when i left, and in some cases less capable, did not appeal. The Army in general just did not appeal anymore. Done everything i really wanted to in the Army. So i rethought instead, and decided something fresh appealed far more than anything. One of my old army mates who is too old himself or he would have done it too, suggested applying for the Navy. So now here i am.

Anyway, was pretty clueless in all honesty to start with. Applied initially for warfare specialist, because it felt similar to what i had done before. However when i went to do my psychometric test in the career's office, i apparently got a really high score, over 100 out of 120. One of the guy's there said i should rethink and maybe go for CT. Initially i thought CT was repairing radio equipment (this is how truly clueless i was) but he told me it was basically intelligence work. This appealed to me, and sounded just the fresh start i was looking for. One big thing i learnt from leaving the army as a combat orientated soldier, is that you need a transferable skill or qualifications for when/if you leave. Which i didn't really have once i stopped doing CP.

Now, looking for more details for my interview, just got a few queries and was hoping for some advice. I realise some things can't really be mentioned but would appreciate anything that can.

Firstly, roughly what form does the training take? HMS Raleigh initially of course for 10 weeks, then the website is vague. 6 months at sea? 6 months at Chicksands? It says 2.5 years training on the documentation i received from the AFCO. Is the other 12 months at Beaconsfield on a relevant course (i have been there before, got 95% on MLAT)? Is that about right? Do you get time off during all that, such as weekends?

Secondly, how often would i go away approximately? What are the main kinds of ships you end up on or is it varied across the whole fleet? How often do you get non residential postings? Do you have to go on a submarine? Would i be able to choose to stay around the Portsmouth/Southampton area?

Third, as i am joining after a career in the Army, i have been told i can earn a wage similar to what i was on when i left the Army. Is this true? If so, anyone know if it is the same wage or similar but less? Does it equate to a similar Navy pay band as a similar Army equivalent?

Fourth, What are the requirements for earning a degree out of the CT trade, and what is the time bar if any?

Fifth, are CT's considered 'slime'? I heard that name mentioned......?

Sixth, what is the promotion rate for CT? What is the realistic age limit before i would have to leave? What are prospects like after discharge?

Finally, seventh, any other useful information anyone thinks could help me or be of use? Anyone think i should go warfare specialist after all?

Thanks in advance for any replies that anyone is kind enough to provide, it is much appreciated.

EDIT: Realised this may have been better off being posted in the another sub forum for joining the Navy, so posted there as well.
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War Hero
Welcome, I'm surprised your AFCO weren't able to answer your queries, there are a few of them serving as Careers Advisers at present so we can usually give you their number for a chinwag, particularly with regard training pipelines which is best advised by the subject experts. For example I had a 45 minute careers brief on Comms Tech and was none the wiser at the end of it.

As a former sergeant, you'll probably be aware we don't get many wishing to join the RN as a trainee on the new entry rate of pay, but if you can afford a significant pay drop, rank drop and are happy and content to be supervised by those in their early twenties, why not?

You may have already seen this thread, but there's heaps of info here, that can legitimately be disclosed in the public domain:

You'll usually get about three out of four weekends off on most phase two training courses.

As a CT you are commonly operationally deployed on seagoing ships and submarines of all types, but typically frigates and up. Although some ships do have CTs drafted to them, you may well find yourself joining ships/boats as they deploy and leaving them upon return. If serving on boats, you'll mostly be sailing out of Faslane.

Your specific pay will be advised in the approval to process letter and if joining as a trainee, you'll not be earning a sergeant's wage in the early part of your career. But, CTs are relatively rapidly promoted so you could reach Petty Officer (Sgt equivalent) relatively quickly. You maybe awarded partial seniority reflecting your former service once on the trained strength but not in the first few years, I'd have thought.

Vocational qualifications are again best advised by the branch subject matter experts but I'd expect foundation degree feasible at the Petty Officer career stage.

Again it's an unusual set of circumstances so I'd be loathe to predict your entry rates of pay in particular and the other thing to bear in mind is those joining as recruits need to join before their 37th birthday & I suspect you are cutting it fine even though CT is a shortage branch at present.

Never heard of CTs being called slime before, that's a new one on me. Secret Squirrels, yes.

Best of luck


Lantern Swinger
I'm a CT.

Degree wise- I've just got a BSc(Hons) Intelligence and Security via Staffs Uni (took 15 months; you need to have completed CT trade training first to qualify).

The only ships to have CTs permanently drafted to then at present are T45s; though Ninja is quite correct in that we serve on all platforms, and in fact a majority of the branch work tri service in places like Digby, Cheltenham and Chicksands.

Training is done at Chicksands, (briefly) Blandford and Collingwood.

Beaconsfield is no more, languages are done at Chicksands or Shrivenham. However, languages are not done as part of basic CT training but as a sort of adqual. Not everyone does them.

Promotion to LS(CT) is fairly automatic based upon completing task books, thereafter it's selection on merit. We are very short of POs.

Not much more you can be told, really. There's lots on here though. If you search.


Thanks mate!

I have been quite aware that everyone seems quite concerned at how well i could handle starting at the bottom again!

To be honest, the pay isn't an issue as i will probably save almost as much in travel costs for my current job as i will lose in training. The main issue is time away as i am newly married (i know, i pick my moments). I understand i will be away a lot training, but my wife has a big family and is very independent anyway, and we have discussed the length of training and potential absence. Time will tell i guess, but as you already alluded too, time is a major factor as i need to start training before i am 37.

As for younger people giving me orders, i may not like it all the time, but it will be part of the job. And i have no doubt playing the game in the Navy is no different than playing the game in the Army! In all honesty, after being out for 5 years, i'm happy to start again. My outlook is distinctly demilitarised. I think if i had just left the army and had no other experiences, my view might be different!

Thanks for the answers though, ill check the link you provided.

One more question, what is the current time frame for getting to Raleigh from completing the interview process?


Yeah i heard that one many times, but this was a marine/navy individual that said it. Maybe he was trying to put it into terms he thought i would relate to....


War Hero
I'll certainly start using the term slime when talking to my CT oppos in future, anyway. It's more polite than what I usually call them :)


Ha ha, fair enough, i can only imagine. I call half of my civvy work colleagues "c u next tuesdays" as it is. The forces ruined me!


War Hero
Super Moderator
Ha ha, fair enough, i can only imagine. I call half of my civvy work colleagues "c u next tuesdays" as it is. The forces ruined me!
My biggest learning curve when I left the mob was learning that a lot of civvy colleagues didn't share the same sense of humour, a polite way of putting it. It was easy to spot the other ex-service people though!


Yeah i found that too in certain places. Luckily, security is fairly forgiving. Especially when half your colleagues struggle to make it to work intact. Let alone realise they are offended at something!

That isnt a mil versus civvy thing either, just some really special people work security in London. The few decent ones are just like squaddies anyway.

One thing i genuinely learnt being out for a while, is a new respect for most civilians.
@sj25105815 You may already be aware that someone joining the RN from another service may be entitle to the award of the appropriate number of Good Conduct Badges (one per every 4 yrs, etc.) At your level I'd guess two or three (3 being the maximum) would go up at your kit issue. [Unless the rules have changed, @Ninja_Stoker ??]

Just a thought, but would be a WTF head turner to see a NE 'Stripey'/Sergeant at HMS RALEIGH passing out parades. o_O

Best of luck, by the way, if all goes well you'll find you've made the right choice.

An ex S/M buddy of mine left after his initial 9 years (plus the 3 'freebies' served under 18). When he tried to rejoin the RN the upper age limit (lower then) barred him despite the dire shortage category in his old Comms. Branch.

Poor chap had to opt for third best and plied his trade in the RAF until he completed 22 for pension...:(


Sounds good, thankyou! Thanks for the heads up as well. Medals for passing out parade too? :)

RAF......commiserations to him!
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Telic and Herrick with bars, plus jubilee and accumulated campaign service! Should also look a bit random on a passing out parade, ha ha.

Still, need to actually get to Raleigh first before i worry too much about the little details.


Medals too - Aye. The only (?) difficult bit might be un-learning the marching & drills you were taught as a Tom.

Yeah someone at the careers office did say the exact same thing!

If that ends up being the biggest challenge, at 36, ill be happy. There could very well be new entrants there half my age....


Lantern Swinger
Mate I'm also 36 and have done 19 years. There'll undoubtably be people well under half your age in your new entry class. As long as you're not bothered by that, you'll be fine. Expect to be class leader though, and the instructors will expect more from youd
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