I'm joining up soon as an engineer Rating, and was wondering, if I should ever decide I want to become an officer, would I still need to go out and get a degree, or would having been in the RN be enough?
You would apply via the Upper Yardman/Senior Upper Yardman schemes, Mike.
There are various criteria which you would have to fulfil, including the academic; the educational requirement for UY is 5 GCSEs at grades A*-C or their equivalent in non-overlapping subjects including Maths and English Language; the educational requirement for SUY is 4 GCSEs at grades A*-C in Maths, English Language and 2 other non-overlapping subjects.
The route to becoming an Engineer Officer would be different, however and the academics required more advanced.
I know of SUY's who have done this without a degree (apprentice based qualifications earned though), but that's after more than 15yrs in the mob. After asking one such what would be better, he strongly suggests doing the degree first and going for officer entry as a first choice; he believes the alternative is much harder.
Your contact talks a lot of sense. There is tough competition to get selected to Engineer Officer. You can be the best candidate and still not get selected because you might be in the wrong place and wrong job at the wrong time. Do your degree and join as an Officer - better still, with a bursary the Navy will pay for you to go through university.
I think they have just announced a Golden Hello for Engineer Officers, if you can achieve the educational standards for officer then that is the way to go. Once you're in as a rating if you go UY there's not guarantee you'll remain in your chosen branch. Competition for SUY, especially in the engineer branches is extremely difficult.