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Ratings Joining Advice - 25 Year Old Grad

Hi,

I've been interested in joining the Navy since I was around 16, although life kept getting in the way and I know if I don't go for it, it will be a huge regret.

I left school at 16 to do a mechanical engineering apprenticeship, followed by completing a mechanical engineering degree shortly after. Due to turning 26 this year, it really seems if I don't join shortly the financial/life commitments would make it more difficult to join, and therefore probably won't happen.

My dilemma is at this stage in my life, joining as an officer really doesn't appeal to me, as it seems they're far more of a managerial role than engineering based. I would much rather be actually working on the equipment than managing the people that do, as that is why I became an engineer.

The AFCO near me advised I either bite the bullet and try out for an officer role or the UGAS scheme. As they thought I'd stand a very good chance of being selected, due to my level of experience and qualifications. Though this seemed backwards to me as potentially I'd be studying for an apprenticeship and degree I already have just from a different University. Also, while I'd love the chance to work on the nuclear submarines, I agree with a lot of the advice on here and I'd much rather join the surface fleet and have the option later on to work on the boats rather than committing from day one - having never seen one.

I've read a lot of the questions previously asked on here, but none seem to cover how to join with previous experience and an engineering degree as rating within the engineering roles.

I am more than happy to join as a Marine Technician Rating, as the money wouldn't bother me so much, my fear is my expectations of what I'd be doing and what I'd actually be doing are wildly different. For example, this role requires no qualifications therefore there much be considerable training given prior to actually working on any of the ships equipment, so is it possible to be accelerated through that training or is it a fixed timeline from starting at the bottom to working you way up?

I appreciate your help.

Cheers,
 

slim

War Hero
Listen to your Uncle Wrecker.
However if you are looking at getting your hands dirty then the lower deck is for you.
However life as an officer is a lot more comfortable.
One consolation as a Rating is that you will find the engineering part of the course easier than most so will have more time for other things.
It used to be possible to join as a direct entry Petty Officer if that is still an option go for it.
Up to you enjoy your life in the RN
 

Zoidberg

War Hero
I'd highly recommend you go for officer. Being a rating is alright but as mentioned, you'll likely get very bored very quickly and should you decide to go for a commission afterwards the hoops to jump through get much more numerous.

As far as managing people goes, the higher up you get the more important that becomes. I'd argue that most people management is done by the POs and CPOs rather than the officers.
 

pompeyexpat

War Hero
I'd suggest, providing you're not adverse to serving in a submarine - and why would you be, it's great - that you look at the UGAS scheme. I fully get where your coming from; though I approached this in a different way, binning a mechanical engineering apprenticeship at 18 to join the RN as a mechanic - and now nearly 30 years later being an Engineer Officer. And you're right, it is a managerial role rather than a hands-on one. But even with the possibility of being fast-tracked, as an ETME (or ETMESM) I think your knowledge and experience would lead you to being very bored, very quickly. It wouldn't guarantee you rapid advancement either.

The UGAS scheme however will, and will give you the option to sit the AIB and move into the Officer Cadre if you wish (and you pass the AIB). It doesn't commit you to that though - if after 8 years you are happy in your role as a Senior Rate you can stay there.
 

Waspie

War Hero
I served on 771 Naval Air squadron with a Naval Aircraft Mechanic that was more qualified than the Station Engineer Officer. (Cdr Grade). He was as happy as Larry. It was what he wanted. He had no aspirations to become an officer. He had spent most of his career until joining the RN as a Aircraft Engineer at Hurn Airport.
So I guess what I'm saying is; if you don't wish to become an officer, Don't. You may get the opportunity to change your mind once your in but that may become a more difficult climb!!
 

Zoidberg

War Hero
I'd suggest, providing you're not adverse to serving in a submarine - and why would you be, it's great - that you look at the UGAS scheme.

What would be the value in him applying for UGAS? He already has an engineering degree and I can't see any value in the RN paying for a second one.
 

Zoidberg

War Hero
I served on 771 Naval Air squadron with a Naval Aircraft Mechanic that was more qualified than the Station Engineer Officer. (Cdr Grade). He was as happy as Larry. It was what he wanted. He had no aspirations to become an officer. He had spent most of his career until joining the RN as a Aircraft Engineer at Hurn Airport.
So I guess what I'm saying is; if you don't wish to become an officer, Don't. You may get the opportunity to change your mind once your in but that may become a more difficult climb!!

These people still exist but they are absolutely the exception as opposed to the rule.
 

Perry

Lantern Swinger
I left as a WOMEA having joined as an ME, having seen it, done it and got the tee shirt, in your shoes I would join as an occifer. You will be bored rigid as a trainee otherwise and soon regret joining.
 

pompeyexpat

War Hero
What would be the value in him applying for UGAS? He already has an engineering degree and I can't see any value in the RN paying for a second one.

As I said; he’s likely, given his experience and qualification, to find himself very bored as an ET. I well understand the work carried out at that level having been a mechanic, artificer, and officer.

So I thought my point was clear, under the UGAS scheme he would find himself as a Senior Rate much sooner, by which point he may also have decided he wouldn’t mind transitioning to officer. Of course that route is open to him without going down the UGAS path clearly, I did it, but not in 8 years and not guaranteed.

I would suggest if he did choose to stay beyond the 8 year point, as either a Senior Rate or an officer, he would skip the year at University.

Your logic would be flawed anyway unless the OP joined as an officer; having served an apprenticeship he’ll already have got the qualifications (and more) that his career as a rating would bring - why would the RN pay for him to do it again?

Based on a reasonable (30yrs so far) amount of experience, and having worked in the areas I was talking about, I thought I might be able to offer some constructive advice.
 
Thank you for the responses.

Being a graduate engineer Phase 2 ET(ME) training will be like going back to the start and really basic (and boring) for you, however you can be fast tracked, have a look through these threads:

Thanks Wrecker, this is what I was looking for although looking at some of the other responses there is a good chance this wouldn't happen and potentially I could end up being stuck studying for qualifications I've had for almost 10 years now.

Listen to your Uncle Wrecker.
However if you are looking at getting your hands dirty then the lower deck is for you.
However life as an officer is a lot more comfortable.
One consolation as a Rating is that you will find the engineering part of the course easier than most so will have more time for other things.
It used to be possible to join as a direct entry Petty Officer if that is still an option go for it.
Up to you enjoy your life in the RN
Thanks Slim, I believe the Petty Officer direct entry was cancelled around 12-18 months ago, as I'm sure I haven't seen it on the Navy's website recently. A lot of what you said justifies my fears, as I want the course to be challenging and further my engineering knowledge rather than be able to glide through over topics I've already studied.

I'd highly recommend you go for officer. Being a rating is alright but as mentioned, you'll likely get very bored very quickly and should you decide to go for a commission afterwards the hoops to jump through get much more numerous.

As far as managing people goes, the higher up you get the more important that becomes. I'd argue that most people management is done by the POs and CPOs rather than the officers.
Thanks Zoidberg, this is very similar to what the AFCO said unless as others have mentioned I did the UGAS scheme and therefore had the option to do AIB at the end. The worry I do have about joining straight as an officer is the idea I am getting further away from I am actually passionate about, which is engineering.
I'd suggest, providing you're not adverse to serving in a submarine - and why would you be, it's great - that you look at the UGAS scheme. I fully get where your coming from; though I approached this in a different way, binning a mechanical engineering apprenticeship at 18 to join the RN as a mechanic - and now nearly 30 years later being an Engineer Officer. And you're right, it is a managerial role rather than a hands-on one. But even with the possibility of being fast-tracked, as an ETME (or ETMESM) I think your knowledge and experience would lead you to being very bored, very quickly. It wouldn't guarantee you rapid advancement either.

The UGAS scheme however will, and will give you the option to sit the AIB and move into the Officer Cadre if you wish (and you pass the AIB). It doesn't commit you to that though - if after 8 years you are happy in your role as a Senior Rate you can stay there.
Thanks Pompeyexpat, that is really good advice. As in the original post, I'm not adverse to servicing in submarine, as the idea of maintaining a nuclear reactor coupled with weapon systems/life support systems etc. would be fascinating. UGAS does seem like my only option really, though it is a shame they no longer do it for the surface fleet as I would certainly be more comfortable starting there then making a more informed decision on which way to go.

Does anyone know the wait times regarding UGAS? I believe the AFCO mentioned it could be as early as September this year if I applied straight away (and was successful).

Cheers, I appreciate all your input.
 

Zoidberg

War Hero
Thanks Zoidberg, this is very similar to what the AFCO said unless as others have mentioned I did the UGAS scheme and therefore had the option to do AIB at the end. The worry I do have about joining straight as an officer is the idea I am getting further away from I am actually passionate about, which is engineering.

Again, the further you go up the chain, the less away from the hands on aspect you go. It's a decision only you can make and usually that progression away is a natural progression based on qualifications, experience and just a general desire to stop getting into cramped spaces and hurt yourself as you get older. Plus the money when you get promoted is always nice.

I can't speak for submarines, but in my world POs don't do that much engineering anyway. It's a lot of co-ordinating maintenance and the occasional fault diagnosis. It's comparatively rare to see a PO out on the tools.
 

WreckerL

War Hero
Super Moderator
I can't speak for submarines, but in my world POs don't do that much engineering anyway. It's a lot of co-ordinating maintenance and the occasional fault diagnosis. It's comparatively rare to see a PO out on the tools.
On a boat we don't have the numbers so CPOs and POs are very much hands on in the ME world.
 

Zoidberg

War Hero
They do indeed. I was one.

I was a Chief for 17 years, no ambition beyond that because even as a Charge Chief I would have had to put my tools down and drive a desk.
Not for me :)
Same reason a PO i once knew spent 20 years as a PO. I also remember a chief who would not sit in the AMCO and used to chin off the WCPO duties to the M1 and get his overalls on.
 

WreckerL

War Hero
Super Moderator
They do indeed. I was one.

I was a Chief for 17 years, no ambition beyond that because even as a Charge Chief I would have had to put my tools down and drive a desk.
Not for me :)
Same reason I never went charge, just to blackcat I picked my buttons up in 1986 and happily stayed at that rate until I went outside in 2007, and I wasn't the only one, in fact one bloke I know who's still serving has been a CPO WEA for over 30 years. I can name at least 6 others who had their buttons longer than me!
 

Taztiff

War Hero
I can't speak for submarines, but in my world POs don't do that much engineering anyway. It's a lot of co-ordinating maintenance and the occasional fault diagnosis. It's comparatively rare to see a PO out on the tools.
How things change.
When they brought OMs in, the WE Dept went to being Senior Rate only (excepting WEO and DWEO) with all the lads taken away to do dabber duties.
Luckily as a Chief on Seawolf I had the back aft Tracker maintainer PO straight of Mechs course to carry my toolbox for me!! :D ;)
 
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