Options for a 33 year old...

Discussion in 'Joining Up - Royal Navy Recruiting' started by Nile1798, Sep 1, 2016.

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  1. Before I get blasted - I know there are other guys who have posted the 'old man/too old' type threads but here are my questions (which I haven't been able to ascertain the answer to on the forum so far):

    I'm 32 (about to turn 33 in a week), a male, in decent fitness, currently a lawyer (boo hiss/w*nker etc). Undergraduate degree from Oxford but only scraped a 'C' at GCSE Math - seems quite a crucial one with the hindsight of fifteen odd years!

    I always considered joining the Navy - both Grandfathers served full terms: including one on Repulse who was transferred off just before Force Z sailed for Singapore. I received some pretty abysmal advice from the RN recruitment officer when I was 16 that basically 'if you're rubbish at Math and Science we're not that interested'. Looking back, I'm not actually bad at either of those subjects but I did go to a crap comp where the teaching was useless.

    After a lot of soul searching - lawyer puns welcome! - I really cant' sit on a chair in an office any longer. I'm therefore considering either a switch career to the RFA or the RN. Due to a bit of misguided pride I'd prefer it to be the RN but it seems that the RFA would be better for an old git.

    So queries:

    1.) Happy to apply to the RN as a Rating - from this forum though there are stories floating round that it takes up to 2years to get to Raleigh, is that true?!! What's the time frame to actually join the fleet i.e. best guess from zero to sea? Thinking Warfare.

    2.) If I joined as a Rating (let's say by the time I'm 34 - looks optimistic - what are the chances of getting promoted - is there a 'glass ceiling' i.e. minimum time it takes to move up the ranks.

    3.) Chances of an age waiver to become an Officer (depending on how the Psycho Babble Tests go). Again, happy to join as a rating - met a load out in Tortola and seemed like a fun bunch!?

    3.) If RFA - any views on quality of life in the RFA v RN - on paper: 4 months on / 3 months off, directly transferable Merchant Navy Skills and a bar on board all seem pretty solid reasons to join the RFA...

    4.) Any sailors out there who have made the switch either way from RFA to RN or RN to RFA and have any views?

    Last relevant fact is I am married. She knows I hate what I currently do so she'd support a lengthy 'retraining period' if it was something that had even a spark of interest in it which I know the RN would.

    Cheers all
  2. Purple_twiglet

    Purple_twiglet War Hero Moderator

    Three big questions for you:

    1. Are you happy with concept of living as the most junior person going, and getting all the most menial jobs, when the majority of people in your chain of command will be younger than you?

    2. Do you want to be a Rating, or are you holding your nose and doing it in order to be an Officer? Two very different roles and require different mentality.

    3. Do you really want the pay cut that a ratings salary gives you, and can your financial outgoings sustain the huge and long term hit?

    I'd suggest you might want to look at the RNR, give that a go and see how it makes you feel, rather than leaving work and finding you hate the RN?
  3. Purple_twiglet

    Cheers for getting back to me. In a nutshell:

    1. No, I don't really mind - it sort of suits my work ethos - I did everything from work in KFC through to being a City lawyer and one thing it taught me is that there's no such thing as a menial job - even scrubbing toilets has its purpose - health on board a ship etc. if however someone said "you should go to BRNC and get a commission" then I'd go for that but if you are going to lead then you should lead from the ground up - just my view.

    2.) I want a job I can feel proud of. Having worked eight years now to pay off student debt I can certainly say that isn't being a lawyer. I was recently crew on a boat sailing across the Atlantic and what mattered most was being outside and being active 24/7. My understanding of the RN is that you're always learning and always moving. As long as that holds true it holds appeal for me.

    3.) Ha, ha, yes, it will be a brutal pay-cut!!! Especially as I currently live in the Caribbean! In one sense it's a waste of a lot of time and effort to switch to something completely new but in another sense its helped me focus on the fact that I need an active lifestyle and a clear purpose. Living for the weekend takes its toll! Luckily I've finally cleared all debt as of last year and we've now even got some savings to bring back to the UK so it's a question of now or never...

    I take the point on the RNR but I'm not really a half way house kind of person. I either need to jump in now with both feet and full throttle energy or bin it and accept it wasn't meant to be....

    Cheers anyway.
  4. If you have the qualifications needed to enter the RN as an officer then do it.
    Problem with educated sailors on the lower deck is that it can sometimes be difficult being ordered around by some of the officers who are mentally inferior to you but cannot accept it. I believe that this type of officer may be dying out but would not hold my breath
  5. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator


    For an Oxbridge graduate, that's one hell of a dissertation around some easily answered queries. It is refreshing to see another graduate that isn't disdainful with the concept of joining as a rating, an increasingly more common concept... particularly as Advanced Apprentices start on nearly £6,000 per year more than Engineering, Warfare, Logistic and Royal Marine Officers.

    1. Yes, ET(WE), WS(HM) and Aircraft Handler have about a two year wait to join. Most other rating Warfare branches, except Diver, are about 6 months bang to flash.

    2. Good prospects. No glass ceiling for rating promotion.

    3. Worth an ask for shortage branches such as TMO & Engineer.

    Second 3. And 4. Horses for courses. RFA is much smaller but has wider age and medical parameters. I always felt the RFA seemed to have fewer/shorter foreign visits when compared to RN, but perhaps some of our RFA members who've done both can advise better.
  6. Many thanks Ninja. Spot on. That's a 'wood through the trees' set of answers that I like and apologies for the thesis.

    Whilst I like the RN website there's only so much you can get from repeated paragraphs about 'Career Prospects'/'Continual learning'.

    You got my main thrust: if I join now, accept I'll get paid bugger all at the start and be rinsed for being old whilst receiving orders from guys ten years my junior, can I nevertheless thrive in the RN, and see how far I can push it up the ranks based entirely on whether or not I'm good at it.

    • Like Like x 1
  7. Seadog

    Seadog War Hero Moderator

    Do you know any serving officers Slim? Observed any of them at work?

    Mods who may or may not be serving don't count.

    Nile 1798, there are plenty of RFA/RN comparison posts from both knowledgable and full of shit persuasions on the site.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Seadog

    Seadog War Hero Moderator

    A positive age differential is not a criteria for command. Competence, character and communication are.

    General Lamb said that last bit.

    Thirty three? Just a youngster. If you join the RFA you'll be stirring the Christmas Pudding and ringing the bell on New Year for years. Everyone is ancient.
    • Like Like x 2
  9. Ha, ha, Seadog, I like that attitude! I met some guys from the RFA a few weeks back at a bar on island: they weren't young and I'm not sure they'd pass the RN fitness test but they were a great bunch and really enjoyed what they did.

    My heart is still with giving the RN a go though so I think that's what I'm going to do...

  10. Go officer if you can, the last thing they need is a qualified lower deck lawyer?
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Too old Sumo... I doubt I'd get a waiver but will see what they say!
  12. Ninja may be able to shed some light on age requirements
  13. From experience, older joiners are an absolute joy to have in my division. Their work ethic is excellent, they mentor and drive their younger peers, they buy right into C2Drill and fly through the ranks.

    Joining late is no handicap at all. The only thing you may find difficult is living in very close quarters to 18 year olds who have never been away from home and party like a rockstar every night without the faculties to do it well.

    However, if you get the opportunity to join as an Officer, do not turn that down. There is no downside v rating if it is indeed an option.

    Finally, don't listen to Slim regarding the 'mentally inferior officer ordering you around' rubbish. The only mentally inferior people ordering you around will be senior rates. It's how we roll.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 2, 2016
    • Like Like x 3
  14. Cheers Montigny! That is really appreciated. I was in the Cadets when I was younger and have a distinct recollection of the 'party atmosphere' 17/18 yr olds can create - and the trouble! One guy wouldn't stop playing Another Level 'Freak Me' for an entire week at full blast. Terrible tune then and now. Still in my head though... (Showing my age as well!)

    But anyway, that's the sort of positive answer, from experience, that I was hoping for. Will just sign up, sit the RT and then see what happens. Either way it is something I will definitely regret if I don't go for it now (pre-kids/mortgage etc.)
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Coincidentally, along with 'Sweet Caroline', 'Freak me' is my go-to Karaoke number if available. It's awful, which is the point.

    Again, good luck and let us know how you get on.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. It matches your singing?

  17. Hello Seadog
    The answer to your question is of course NO!
    However I cannot believe that in the 31 years since I left the RN the officer corp has lost ALL officers who enjoyed belittling those on the lower deck.
    I have already admitted to noticing a huge change in the structure a few years ago when I was fortunate enough to enjoy a day at sea with HMS Manchester. It was certainly a change for the better.
    I do not have a thing about occifers, in fact if you read my posts I always advise those who are educationally qualified to try the officer route first.
  18. Kin hell Slim yo
    Kin hell Slim you could be this OPs great great great great great great great great sea dad, maybe a few greats short.:D:D:p:rolleyes:
    • Like Like x 1
  19. I like the cut of your Jib Sumo.
    I do realise that todays RN is completely different to the one in which I served, smaller more efficient and much of the class discrimination has disappeared (thank goodness)
  20. What would Tugg have made of it?

    A question of degree.

    My Sp..t Ar..d 2 Ringer Boss has only got a Douglas Hurd from John Moores--I've got a bleedin Geoff Hurst from Southampton Solent. Mind you I wouldn't mind givin' 'er one.

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