RN Career options


Hello guys - this is my first post here so try and be gentle! I'm looking at RN career options and was hoping to get some advice on what Branch I should join and at what level - first a bit about me:

I'm 25 and currently working as a freelance lighting technician and sound engineer in the entertainments industry. I got into this as a hobby at university for the student union and fell into the job as a freelance when I finished.

It involves some electrical work, wiring fault finding, assembling and lifting alu truss structures on chain hoists, climbing over these at height with PPE and programming lighting controllers. The audio side of it has a lot of cross-over too. I also do some fixing of moving lights, which have lots of fiddly step-motors and feedback systems and discharge lamp circuits to deal with, along with general work like unloading trucks and so forth during load in/out.

I finished my degree in Physics & Astronomy in 2005 and have decided that my current freelance career doesn't have much future - although rock n roll seemed appealing at first, the long hours, random work patterns and late nights aren't worth it for a job that offers very little career progression - I'm worried I'll be working the same crappy shows in ten years time with nothing new to show for it. I'm also somewhat concerned I'm going to die on the A1 by falling asleep at the wheel one of these days. =|

Career wise I've accepted a new industrial programming job today (I needed the change) and have a lot of physics type applications on the go, like Dstl and QinetiQ, but because I got a 2:2 and haven't done any real physics for 3 years may not get far with these. That's where the Navy consideration came in.

At first I was very interested in training to become an Engineering Officer, and was told initially by the AFCO that any degree would be fine for this. Since then, I've been told by a more experienced guy there that is not the case and my degree won't allow me to be an EO - it's not Engineering Council UK approved.

My options (from what I can see) seem to be either Logistics Officer, E(TM) or, if I can blag the IT content, E(IS). Logistics to me represents all that I hate about my current job (paperwork and admin) and I've never really wanted to be a teacher. I'm not sure if I'll be accepted as an E(IS) with a Physics degree. Other jobs are restricted due to my age (25yrs 4mths) or eyesight (S III).

This then got me thinking about engineering options as a rating - particularly weapons engineering and the AFCO guy suggested the AET. One thing I like about my current job is the opportunity I get to fix things, learn about new stuff and work with technology.

Enough waffling - what career path(s) would the members with experience suggest to me? If I applied to be a rating, what's the difference in work patterns/conditions between being an AET and Weapons Tech? What are the more subtle differences between them? (I know for example that one involves aircraft and the other does not.)

Is it really foolhardy for me not to apply for a commission just because I don't like the idea of logistics or teaching? I'm worried about being 'held back' in my career development if I join as a Rating because most seem to join at an earlier age and the work won't contribute towards things like attaining Chartered status, which I could do elsewhere in the right civilian job.

The Navy appeals to me because it offers something much more challenging than what I do right now, isn't going to be a stuffy desk job and I don't want to let my life slide idly by whilst I don't get anywhere or do anything significant - much of the work it does seems to be exciting (from an outsider's PoV) and somewhat important compared to setting up lights for a theatre day in day out. But is 25 too 'old' an age to join as a rating? Did anyone else join at such a late age or with other work experience?

Lastly, for those who know about training - I have a room full of the usual books, clothes and other stuff, as well as a car, but I read on the HMS Raleigh pages that you shouldn't bring much more than some pants and a toothbrush. If you're living on base, what do most recruits do with all this 'life baggage'? I appreciate that if the accommodation is shared I'm not going to be able to bring it all with me, just wondered what most people do and how limited the space is.

Sorry for the rambling nature of the post - I'm sure I've asked some important questions in there somewhere! Any advice, info or suggestions would be gratefully received!


I find it strange that you have a degree in Physics and that doesn't make you eligible for EO. Was the more experienced guy also at the AFCO?


Having talked to the ACLO earlier today, he initially also agreed with the other chap that it would not be appropriate. However, I mentioned that I had seen (on here) someone suggest it would be ok (in another thread) and to kill/confirm that rumour.

He rang the AIB and got back to me straight away saying that they would consider my degree on a 'case by case basis' and that I would need to write to the AIB with details of modules studied, etc, to allow them to make a judgement on my suitability. The ACLO also alluded to the idea that I would improve my chances considerably if I expressed an interest in submarine work...
Physics and Astronony...... surely flying above the clouds at night should be more appealing or living in Finnmark during the (very, very) cold winter months and sitting outside in a deckchair star spotting? ;)


Most professional telescopes are based in pretty exotic locations: The reality of being an astronomer however is staring at your laptop screen trying to draw straight lines through graphs all the time! The technicians get to do all the fun on-site work!


One thing I like about my current job is the opportunity I get to fix things, learn about new stuff and work with technology.
I may be corrected on this, but even if your degree is considered for a EO, as an EO you generally don't get 'hands on' all that much.
Although at SEMC you learn all about the technology etc, when you get your first posting you are more of a manager than an engineer.


Lantern Swinger
I'll have a go at answering a few of the questions you have, and respond to some of your other concerns. All of this is from my point of view of course, though a while ago I was in a fairly similar situation to yourself, graduated a few years previously, got bored with shit office job, decided on joining the navy, etc.

Dipping out on a commission because you don't like the idea of the job you'd be doing: I'd say job satisfaction comes first in things like this, while as an officer you'll get a cooler hat and more money, is it worth it if you hate your job? I'd personally say no, though that's just me, I'm a rating and I love my job.

Differences between AET and ETWE: As an ETWE (my source branch, coincidentally) after leaving Raleigh you'll do your phase2A training at HMS Collingwood for a few months, on completion of that you'll join a ship and go to sea, that's pretty much the rest of your career there. Promotion can be very quick if you've got the smarts, but sea time is the order of the day.
As an AET things are somewhat different, you'll go to HMS Sultan post Raleigh to undertake your phase2A training, again for a few months, at this point you'll choose what kind of aircraft you would like to specialise in. Following your choice of specialisation you'll join a squadron and live at an air station. When the squadron (or flight) deploys, you'll go with it, but you'll only ever be a visitor on a ship, home will be your air station. This of course has advantages and disadvantages.

I joined at 24, and was by no means the oldest in my entry, 25 is certainly not too old to join, and even if you serve the full 18 year term you'll only be 43 when you're done.

As far as your stuff goes, you're going to need somewhere to keep it while you're at Raleigh/Collingwood and while you're on ship, there's not really any room for it. This is especially true for phase 1 training, you personal space in your locker measures about 1' x 1.5' x 1.5', you'll have very little need for civilian clothing while you're there though, I think there's 3 (perhaps less) times where you'll be able to get out of uniform, the rest of the time you'll be required to wear the finest pussers pimp threads.

Hope that was of some help, it's a really great life if you've got a suitable mindset for it, though understandably it's not for everyone.


Firstly, I would like to thank you muchly on some very concise answers to some not very concise questions!

Although initially I was drawn to research the Navy jobs by the salaries offered to Engineering Officers, the more I've looked into it the more I feel that if I could get a commission, even in Engineering, I would be bored. It strikes me as being too much of a desk job. Preparing rotas and managing staff has never excited me too much.

I have previously been offered a full-time job in a company I freelance for, as their lighting department warehouse/project supervisor. It would have offered some potential but I flatly turned it down and remained a freelance tech because I've seen how the office in this company works and feel I would be tearing my hair out in frustration at both boss and clients - boss due to the lack of trust and freedom to manage projects on my own initiative and clients because they're all clueless technically and leave everything to the last minute (to whom the boss will then never say 'no' to). Also I would have been working many more hours for a tiny increase in earnings. I have been a lot happier simply turning up to site/warehouse and working gigs/fixing things.

The tech jobs have split me a bit. I think I would prefer the extra technical challenge of working on aerospace gear but one of the draws of the Navy is the fact you go to sea - being an AET seems to suggest most of your time is spent ashore. Helicopters are cool, but if I wanted to be on land fixing them all day I'd have joined the RAF I guess.

In terms of keeping my stuff somewhere, my options are to dump it at my parent's house, my friend's house or continue with renting my own property and leave it there. The last option seems both expensive and insecure, so the first two options may be better. After training, does the accom get to a stage where you can bring most of your stuff with you (even if you are deployed off base at that time)?

I do feel very drawn to the Navy lifestyle the more I find out about it - I also start to wonder if my whole time at university was a waste of time (and certainly cash) if I joined! I don't feel very enthused about managing people in an environment I'm not familiar with though, which puts me off applying to the AIB straight away to be honest.

All I need to do now is weigh up this job with some totally different ones and try to decide what I want to do - I've applied for nuclear power stations, security research, industrial programming and military service and finding a way to select which will satisfy me the most seems to be a black art to be honest! They all have conflicting advantages and disadvantages and I do feel that by applying as widely as I could to begin with I've now generated for myself a massive headfuck trying to decide what would be best to do. The last thing I want is to be thinking is "If only I went for......"

Still - that's for me to ponder. I'll probably just act on impulse for the sake of getting the decision over with and end up working somewhere because of that. So much for reason!


War Hero
I think you have answered you own question regarding jobs with the "If only I went for......" at the end. To be honest - looking from the outside in - I think you would get more from the Navy. You can be a Civ later!

Surely you time at university was not a waste of time if it gave you life experience.

From experience, junior ranks have more fun! :thumright:

"If only I went for......" sums me up at 35. Don't want to regret not going for the Navy a couple of years down the line.
SheffGruff said:
The ACLO also alluded to the idea that I would improve my chances considerably if I expressed an interest in submarine work...

Take it they are looking for people to join as Submariners rather than General Service?


War Hero
chrism_scotland said:
SheffGruff said:
The ACLO also alluded to the idea that I would improve my chances considerably if I expressed an interest in submarine work...

Take it they are looking for people to join as Submariners rather than General Service?

It's hardly a state secret that it is difficult to recruit good quality people across the board mainly because there's few applicants that meet the academic, intellectual or physical standards required to join certain elements of the Armed Forces.

The shortfall categories such as Submariners (all trades), Logistician trades and the high Recruiting Test scoring trades of Communications Technician or Air Engineering Technicians or the high physical demands of Royal Marines Commandos often mean that many people do not consider it as a job option. It is naturally the case that people are made aware of these options if they fulfill the academic, intellect or physical criteria, but don't realise it.

In short, you'd be a bit hacked-off if you joined in one trade but were unaware you were suitable for a whole lot more that may suit you better had you known from the outset.


Bluntly, over submarines, the ACLO is sounding desperate. It seemed all the more so when he was suggesting that he didn't want to push me into it (which, really, is exactly what he's doing and I know it - he is just trying to make me feel like I have ownership over the decision). Because I have a less than ideal academic qualification for Engineer Officer he has been suggesting that I could use the willingness to work on submarines as a bargaining tool with the AIB.

I can't really blame him if there is a shortage - however I pointed out that I don't really believe I'm the sort of person that could spend three months underwater in a tube without going mad and climbing the walls (my wording slightly more diplomatic than that). He agreed that was what many people would expect but offered to put me onto an acquaint course to look at what life on a submarine is like - he is really putting in a lot of effort to try and pursuade me over this. Maybe when I'm a bit older and more settled down I may suit it, particularly with my nuclear knowledge, but for now I'm far too restless and don't want to spend my younger years looking at Faslane or a wall.

I am tempted more and more to drop my application for officer entry and to work as a tech - its more closely related to my current work type and I think you're right, it would be more fun. I could always apply to officer later on if I need the money or want to manage people. For now, I'm starting a new job as an Industrial Logic Programmer which I'll do for now just to get me out of working gigs and as a backup job.