Joining as AC but not sure AFCO have been honest about the role

Misspiggy

Newbie
I'm due to join as an AC, I've got my starting date but am having doubts. I've been told that the information given to me by my AFCO is wrong.
If there's anyone on here who is an AC, or who knows about the role, please could you tell me what I'm likely to be doing, will I go to sea, what does the average day entail, how difficult is promotion etc.
I'm getting so many different tales and don't know what to do.
Thank you.
 

Alfacharlie

War Hero
I used to be an AC. However, when I joined it was sideways entry (I joined as an AW), so not sure on direct entry as they turned up as I left.
To be honest, it’s a great job at sea (as a LH). You get left alone as you’re pretty much the only one who knows your job. You can loaf alongside in foreign ports, just walk about with a clip board and air chart and everybody will leave you be.
The course isn’t the easiest though, but RAF Shawbury is a crack, no one has a clue who you are etc.
I left 11 years ago, but a pal of mine and still in branch (MLP) used to be frequent on here, a mod too I believe. Maybe he’ll see this and give an up to date version. If not, I’ll help all I can.
 

Misspiggy

Newbie
I used to be an AC. However, when I joined it was sideways entry (I joined as an AW), so not sure on direct entry as they turned up as I left.
To be honest, it’s a great job at sea (as a LH). You get left alone as you’re pretty much the only one who knows your job. You can loaf alongside in foreign ports, just walk about with a clip board and air chart and everybody will leave you be.
The course isn’t the easiest though, but RAF Shawbury is a crack, no one has a clue who you are etc.
I left 11 years ago, but a pal of mine and still in branch (MLP) used to be frequent on here, a mod too I believe. Maybe he’ll see this and give an up to date version. If not, I’ll help all I can.
Thank you.
I've recently been told that if I go to sea I'll be "sitting in a dark room for 8 hours a day staring at a screen".... That's not what is told by AFCO, and doesn't sound great!
If you or your mate could tell me a bit more, I'd be grateful. Will I be just staring at a screen?, am I likely to get the opportunity to serve abroad and at sea?, is there a reasonable chance of promotion? When I leave, are the skills transferable to become a civvies ATC?
 

soleil

War Hero
I'm due to join as an AC, I've got my starting date but am having doubts. I've been told that the information given to me by my AFCO is wrong.
Can you say more about in what respect the information you have been given might be wrong, MP? What impression were you given by the AFCO? What did they say?

 

Misspiggy

Newbie
AC wasn't my first choice in joining, but I was convinced by them that it would have great career prospects when I became a civvie. They gave the impression that I'd be based on one of the two aircraft carriers and that they were specifically recruiting for this. They said I'd be able to apply to become an ATC after 2 years.
 

Alfacharlie

War Hero
You will be sat in the operations room staring at a radar screen, as this is the job. Also, yes, sometimes for long periods. You will do a lot of sea time after training. You may get one of the new carriers, but you’ll probably end up on one the frigates/destroyers. Promotion was good when I was in, not sure now, but I wouldn’t think it was too bad.
There is a fair amount of responsibility with the job when you reach leading rate. You are responsible for briefing the captain etc on the flying prior to the sorties. This involves you gathering information on airspace etc about an hour before the air crew and engineers even get up, so they can be long days. But, you will get used to it.
The skills never used to be civilian recognise.Especially prior to P.O level as you are employed in a tactical role (sub/surface warfare), not much need in civvy street for this. Once at PO level, you can undertake JATCC, which will get you to working in the towers in ATC. However, this wasn’t recognised in civvy street as everyone would do this course then bang notice in to work in Heathrow etc for more dough!
Hope this helps. Anything else , ask away.
 
Hmm...

Direct Entry AC isn't doing well - which is the RN's fault, not the individual.

Most struggle with the tactical side, because they have no Ops room experience.

The rest is as AlfaCharlie describes.

If you can survive past your first sea assignment , I'd suggest it's a great branch to be a part of.
 

Alfacharlie

War Hero
As Alfred says, the tactical side is a lot to get your head round. When it was sideways entry most successful applicants were of a ops room background.
Also, it’s a job you can or can’t do, controlling wise. Doesn’t matter on how intelligent or how many degrees you have, you can either do it or can’t.
Im thicker than a whale omelette by the way.
 
Yup - and that two/three year background was essential. We’re now expecting DE ACs to pick it up in less than 3 months. And we (the RN) have done this to ourselves.
 

crash_evans

Lantern Swinger
If you have a search through my posts I explain about the wastage in PH2 training and your options. As has been discussed above it mostly comes down to tactical control or if the individual can be a LH in 18 months. Most can’t and as has been said, that’s the RN’s fault. I believe moves are afoot to change the training pipeline. I have asked the RNSAC to send me the latest and I haven’t had anything back yet.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Alfacharlie

War Hero
Also AC grading course isn’t to be taken lightly. Well, never used to be. On completion of this, you’ll know what you want.
Or you fail and your destiny is decided by RNSAC.
Good luck.
 
I'm due to join as an AC, I've got my starting date but am having doubts...

Blah blah

... don't know what to do.
Still undecided?

One option you may wish to consider is for you to contact your AFCO asap to defer your starting date because:

1. That will give you sufficient time to seriously re-examine both the reality of the AC role & to weigh that up against your original choice. (This begs the Q - How thoroughly did you research your original role in the first place?)

2. No harm in being absolutely sure of what & for how long you are committing yourself for.

3. Removing yourself from your current place/start date could well offer the opportunity for A N Other thrusting AC wannabee from the list of those pepped-up, eager and oven-ready to go for it.

4. Those in the training pipelines who seek to try to swap roles later for whatever reason are very very rarely successful - Some have been known to have to leave the Service and then had to join the Queue all over again as a new applicant.



Same same as - "Marry Join up in haste - repent at leisure".
 

crash_evans

Lantern Swinger
Still undecided?

One option you may wish to consider is for you to contact your AFCO asap to defer your starting date because:

1. That will give you sufficient time to seriously re-examine both the reality of the AC role & to weigh that up against your original choice. (This begs the Q - How thoroughly did you research your original role in the first place?)

2. No harm in being absolutely sure of what & for how long you are committing yourself for.

3. Removing yourself from your current place/start date could well offer the opportunity for A N Other thrusting AC wannabee from the list of those pepped-up, eager and oven-ready to go for it.

4. Those in the training pipelines who seek to try to swap roles later for whatever reason are very very rarely successful - Some have been known to have to leave the Service and then had to join the Queue all over again as a new applicant.



Same same as - "Marry Join up in haste - repent at leisure".
Point 4 is becoming quite tiresome at CWD. I often point them to the S3049 that says you are signing up to your branch of preference and that you have zero recourse.


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Alfacharlie

War Hero
Good luck to MP anyhow, I don’t even think it’s a branch dilemma (for him/her/both etc) more of a career choice. As I said, not all rainbows.
Let us know how or what you choose.
 
I'm due to join as an AC, I've got my starting date but am having doubts. I've been told that the information given to me by my AFCO is wrong.
If there's anyone on here who is an AC, or who knows about the role, please could you tell me what I'm likely to be doing, will I go to sea, what does the average day entail, how difficult is promotion etc.
I'm getting so many different tales and don't know what to do.
Thank you.

If you are really unsure you need to see your CA at the AFCO soonest.

I was an AC and I am still in touch with a lot of people at RNSAC.

As a junior AC your first draft is very unlikely to be onboard one of the Aircraft Carriers as you will need to build experience and controlling hours. Most likely you will be based onboard a frigate/destroyer embedded with a small ships flight.
ACs control the ships helicopter and visiting Aircraft in different environments, be in tactical or procedural. You will be taught from the beginning and potentially will be a LH within 18months.
Being and AC in the RN does not guarantee you a job in "civvy street" as a controller as there is an agreement between NATS and the MOD over this otherwise all controllers would have jumped ship by now. You would go through the section process for NATS the same as any other applicant, I know ex-RN who have gone on to pass and go through training with NATs and some that haven't.
Yes you will be operating aircraft from within an "ops rooms" which is "dark" and you will be infront of a radar screen but you will also have a serious amount of responsibility that comes with that role.

There is an AC mentor who can be contact throughout your application process so I would suggest speaking to your AFCo about this and they mentor will be more than happy to discuss the ins and outs of the role.

I don't thin the AFCO are at fault here but more your interpretation of what you have been told. Good Luck it is honestly a great role.
 

Ninja_Stoker

War Hero
Moderator
To be fair, it's in no-one's interest to join a branch you are not fairly sure about. Equally, for many (myself included) the job is seldom what the individual expects prior to entry.

As a careers adviser, unless things have changed radically over the last year, I can assure you the AFCO are not put under pressure to put people into shortage category roles, nor do they benefit from knocking square pegs into round holes as the training wastage returns reflect on their output statistics if anyone quits whilst in training. Waste of time, money and effort all-round.

Some individuals are put-off by waiting times to join over-subscribed branches and mistakenly believe they can join quicker and transfer soon after joining, thereby by-passing the waiting times. Often they will ask what else is available and opt for a role to which they aren't remotely interested in.

From my Naval career perspective I often complained my AFCO didn't tell me about all the roles available, particularly when I later became aware of more niche roles which were unknown to me. From an employer's perspective, the roles available are for the applicant to decide by conducting the research (such as asking on this website and through official sources). A decent careers adviser will advise you of alternative roles to which you maybe interested and suitable, but perhaps hadn't thought about. It's not a con, just an advisory aspect of the role.

One thing I would caution is that as with any job, you'll always get the disaffected individual serving who is usually the most vocal - people who are happy with their lot seldom shout about it. To that end, beware of people with many years service experience who are far removed from the training pipeline and unaware of the changes since they joined, particularly if they haven't advanced themselves on the promotion ladder for more than a decade & have a chip on both shoulders. Equally, the official information available online and in careers publications is produced by the relevant branch, so if that information is vague, inaccurate or incorrect, then it is a reflection of the administrative element of the branch you intend joining...let that be your guide.

To round-off, the amount of information imparted by your careers adviser can be overwhelming in detail & complexity and to that end, you'll always hear people moaning about "the AFCO never told me about this". Truth is, people are told about the menial or less savoury aspects of the role but often only retain the bits that appeal to them. The fact is that everyone has do do their bit, be it marching about at Buckingham Palace on parade or cleaning the bogs at sea at 02:00 in a gale force 8 in the Bay of Biscay.

Bottom line: It's a job, not an entertainment agency - choose wisely.
 

Misspiggy

Newbie
Ninja Stoker, thank you for your reply. It's very helpful and positive.
Since I posted I've been having a serious think about things and have been in touch with AFCO. They're going to put me in touch with an AC mentor. I did perhaps look at the role through rose tinted specs and for that have only myself to blame.
I needed straight talking advice and I've been given that on here from you guys. Thank you.
 

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