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Graduate Career Change to RN - Advice Needed



How are you all doing? I am completely new to this website so, before I go on, please don't bite my head off if I say/ask something obvious or miss some unknown rumration forum etiquette.... just a newbie. If some help/advice could be given regarding my current interest and advice on my current situation then I would be extremely grateful. Otherwise there are a set of questions that I would really like answered. Take your pick! Many thanks.

Interest: I am looking to join the Royal Navy in the next few years as either a Pilot (either FJ or rotary) or Warfare Officer.

Situation: Male. British citizen. 21 years old. Currently working for a world-leading/famous Construction/Architecture firm in Manhattan. Just graduated with 2.i from a top Oxbridge college this year. Have been interested in joining the RAF or RN since I was 14 but never gone further than the Initial Presentation. Was pushed into a degree but having serious second thoughts about joining RN.


1) Am I in out of my depth? i.e. Would I be considered too far into another career to be considered seriously for these 2 roles in the RN?
2) Pros and cons to both Pilot and Warfare Officer?
3) Day-to-Day lives to both?
4) What are the promotion/career opportunities in both? How soon can one expect to command a ship as a Warfare Officer and what specialised branches can one go into when a WO?
5) Supposing one leaves the RN, what are job prospects like for both roles and in what fields after the RN?

I don't mind how many of the questions you answer as long as it is advice and answered in good nature.

Thanks for your time.



Book Reviewer
You placed your queries in the wrong forum vincent, change it to Diamond Lils. All your questions will be answered.


Book Reviewer
trelawney126 said:
witsend said:
You placed your queries in the wrong forum vincent, change it to Diamond Lils. All your questions will be answered.
Wicked! :lol:

He comes across as an intelligent young chap, who is looking for answers. Just the wrong forum.


Ok. If you can't help me with professional issues then perhaps you can let me know which sub-category/forum is likely to offer me useful and appropriate advice?



Book Reviewer
vincent_4 said:
Ok. If you can't help me with professional issues then perhaps you can let me know which sub-category/forum is likely to offer me useful and appropriate advice?


Diamond Lils.
Don't go to Diamond Lil's, the nasty boys are being mean. If you have a read through some of the older threads in this forum, you'll find the answers to most of your questions. On completion come back and ask some supplementary questions if you feel the need.

We're not being deliberately obtuse, we get a lot of these questions and answering them every week does get a little boring (hence the DL's comment!).

You're 21 years old and you've been out of university since July. You've got about another 5 years before you're too old to join as an officer. As for being too far into another career, that's not actually anyone's business but yours. If you decide you want another career then you go for it.

I honestly think you're worrying too much about it, life is very different to school and uni, there are no longer expectations or rules as to how you have to behave.

As to specialisations, have a look through some of the old threads, there are pros and cons to both X and P. Pilot will see you ashore much more frequently, unless you go Lynx - but there again, ashore could well be Afghanistan.

I don't know much about "top" Oxbridge colleges, I only went to Pembroke, and the Norrington doesn't cut much ice in the fleet... If you're a hugely intellectual Balliol or Mertonite then you may get bored by warfare, it's more about common sense than brainpower.

As to careers afterwards, if you're a pilot then you could stay a pilot - although that's increasingly competitive.

I'm ex-warfare, and warfaries from my term at BRNC (2002), warfare officers have since gone into:

teaching, corporate strategy, management consultancy, leadership coaching, the law, chartered surveying, the infantry(!), the church.....

But none of these are sideways entry, if you leave after 5 years or so then you're looking at retraining and starting at the bottom again somewhere else (I initially took a 50% pay cut).

Not a bad way to spend your early 20s if you're single, no responsibilities, etc....


Hey Vincent,

I really advise you go on the RN website as it would answer all your questions. With regards to question 1, the answer is no. Also, as an officer you would have had management duties from an early stage, I guess this would bode well with future employers so the prospects would initially seem promising.

I was the same as you, I have also been interested in joining the RAF/RN to be a pilot from an early age, but kind of got pushed into doing a degree (mainly by my dad as he didn't want me to take the same career path as him)! By the way, if it's the FJ route you are hoping to take, then I would start to think about applying asap.
As mentioned above at 21 you certainly are not too far into another carreer. I think you need to think long and hard to choose between aircrew and warfare, as the choice will govern your future career path. Of course in my opinion there is nothing that can beet warfare S/M but some might suggest I am biased.

I will leave the stuff in the middle because I am not really current on that.

As for what you do when you leave that is very much up to you, I have carried out many management roles in industry, travelled the world, been involved in some pretty interesting projects, and never been unemployed. Some of my entry have done better than me some worse, some have had free board and lodgings in places like Dartmoor and the IOW and thus not been able to attend re-union dinners as often ast they might like. What you make of your life in and out of the service is very mucgh your choice.

One word of advice give the crabs a wide berth, they tend to be self centered hard skinned and skuttle of sideways at the first sign of trouble. In a blue suit you will work and play with some of the best this country can produce what ever specialisation you choose.


Many thanks for the replies.

It's good to know that I am not too young. I had it in my head that Warfare is something that falls under the 'join early' category. Likewise with Pilot. If I was to apply then it wouldn't be until the age of 23.

Kinross, I apoligise if I came across at all pompous with simply stating my academic level. The Officer entry requirements are partially academic; I simply wanted to give adequate information regarding my background. I understand that many of the degrees offered, especially at the older Universities, are often not directly applicable, but there is no required/preferred degree for Warfare Officer or even Pilot correct? Likewise, there is no prejudice on someone wanting to become Pilot on the back of an Arts degree?
Also, could you please tell me a bit more about what your job in Warfare entailed and how easy promotion came to you? Of course it depends on personal performance but as a Graduate from a good university did you find it was a level-playing field once everyone was together?

RoverDen, did you contend the parents and eventually join the RAF/RN? I am actually not too fussed at this moment in time whether I fly Rotary, Fixed Wing or FJ. You said I should be making a move asap if I want to fly FJ, is this the case for all the aircraft types?

Are board and lodgings free whilst on board as well or does one pay for this? If so, what percentage of your income is it for an Officer?

On the whole, thanks a lot for all your comments. Keep them coming.


You don't need a vocational degree, or even an applicable one as you correctly surmise- I'm an historian.

Next, it doesn't matter what university you come in from because you're put in divisions which contain 18 school leavers and, whilst you're expected to be more mature, you're not expected to be any better at any of the subjects than them- BRNC to that extent is directly comparing apples with oranges and not accounting for differences. If the playing field was any more level there wouldn't be any grass.

Promotion is automatic up to Lieutenant on time served. 1 year at BRNC +2 in the fleet as a graduate = Lieutenant.

Beyond that it is entirely merit based - although despite repeated claims to the contrary this isn't entirely objective and does rely on how well you get on with your senior officers (although, in a confined space - a ship at sea - erhaps that requirement is not quite as subjective as you might think).

Given limited requirements for officers in each rank above, you're looking at several years of time served before you get promoted to Lt Cdr- even if you're clearly the next Nelson, they're not ging to make any exceptions for you and it is quitelikely that by the time you get on the signal, you're going to be on it with other from you're intake.

The job isn't entirely/very academic it depends on which subjects you're good at. Warfare demands mental arithmetic and leadership ability, one is far below what you may have done at uni and te other won't have been taught there.

The challenges of warfare are often as much about carrying on when you are bored out of your mind as anything else. When at sea, you will spend 1 4 hour watch out of every 3 standing on the bridge responsible for the safe passage of the ship. You get a buzz out of the level of responsibility, but that has to be weighed against the routine of having to take a fix every 6 minutes and plot it on the chart, and the fact that for anything otherthan the most basic manoeuvre you have to contact the captain and get his approval - which remains the case whether you have been an Officer of the Watch for 4 months or 4 years.

In defence watches you will do 6 hours out of every 12 on the bridge, continuous for perhaps several months.

Balanced against that, however, are the leadership responsibilities and divisional work that you will have to do - helping people "under" you advance in their career and dealing with family problems (basically welfare). Ignore the safety of the ship and your duties as OOW, this is your primary responsibility on board and it is an honour to do it - although you may find yourself getting exasperated when someone in your div turns up at the airport to join the ship and manages to not have their passport....

you'll get to work with some of the best people in the world, and some of the snaggiest, and see some amazing places, but it is primarily a hands on action role which doesn't require a great deal of brain power. Not for nothing are junior warfare officers (at sea for their first ten years) known as window lickers!



Yes I have applied to the RN and hope to be a pilot like yourself. After having spent one year in an office job for my university placement, I realised that I wanted something more i.e. not sit behind the same desk everyday, hence why the Navy seemed the obvious choice. Although my parents are now cool with it, I would have applied even if they didn't want me to as I am a big boy now :)

The fast jet training pipeline is longer than rotary, hence why you are more likely to go FJ the younger you are. If you leave applying to the RAF till next year, you will be considered too old, their cutoff is 23 (you need to be in initial officer training at this point though). The Navy's cutoff is 26, I wouldn't leave it till last minute however. I have a mate who applied to the RAF to become a pilot at 22 years and 4months of age, he was rejected as they told him he'd be too old by the time he got to IOT. It's absurd to think that at 22 you can be considered too old for a job :eek:

Don't quote me on this, but I think it wouldn't make a difference if you got a 1st class degree from Cambridge, or a 3rd class from Teesside for example, regardless of degree discipline (so there would be no prejudice). The guy who got a 3rd could be a much better leader than the guy who got a first for example, hence he may get into the Navy and the other doesn't. Don't forget, you don't even need to degree in the first place to become an officer - good A Levels are enough. In civvy street the degree could become more important though.

As I said, check out the RN website, or if you can, give the careers advisers a ring. Also check out these forums regularly, it's packed with loads of useful information.

Best of luck, RoverDen.


That's good news. Does that mean one can apply to both Navy and RAF simultaneously as Pilot? Or is it not worth it as the likelihood is if you don't cut it for one, you won't cut it for the other?

Many thanks for the responses.


Lantern Swinger
Yes, it can be done. You will only sit FATs once.

I'm aware of one lad whose 120 P FATs score did not get him onto the Navy, but was enough for the RAF.


War Hero
airborne_artist said:
Yes, it can be done. You will only sit FATs once.

I'm aware of one lad whose 120 P FATs score did not get him onto the Navy, but was enough for the RAF.

Onto the Navy eh? Ooooooh er.


War Hero
sgtpepperband said:
2_deck_dash said:
...Onto the Navy eh? Ooooooh er.

You're a fine one to pick somebody up for their spelling... :oops:

If you were to check the times of when I picked up fcuknuckle here for his grammatical error and when he picked me up for omitting a letter 'l' from the word umbrella, you will clearly see that my post above is merely a pedantic reply to said fcuknuckle, posted very soon after he had kindly decided to point out my terrible mistake.


Book Reviewer
Maxi_77 said:
One word of advice give the crabs a wide berth

Actually at the moment, I'd say seriously consider a career in the RAF first, they are playing a very good political game, will certainly get more out of the impending Strategic Defence Review than the RN and their manning system looks after their peoples personal interests and career aspiration far better than the RNs.

All three Services are in pretty dire straights but I have to say I think we're in the bigger mess by far!
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