This is a guide to becoming a Royal Navy Officer. I recommend reading it if you are interested in joining the Royal Navy and need advice on the requirements and training needed.
Table of Contents
- Who is an officer?
- The type of courses you'll do
- The time commitment
- How to be accepted into naval college
Who is an officer?
Officers, unlike other ranks, are from the educated middle class - many have attended Oxford or Cambridge university before joining the armed forces (apparently some also attended Harvard or Yale) so attend lectures alongside their military training at Naval College Greenwich. Royal Navy officers are also required to pass a number of exams at the end of their training.
The type of courses you'll do
You don't need any particular course to become an officer - just a good general education is enough. A few words about your career prospects will help, but a career as an officer in the Royal Navy isn't for everyone and you should think very carefully before deciding whether or not it's the right choice for you.
After leaving school, you'll spend some time at sea doing one of the following four ratings: Seaman/airman (leading rate), able seaman, petty officer or chief petty officer (master chief).
To be accepted into Naval College you must have at least twelve months service at sea as petty officer, otherwise you will be posted to a shore establishment and given further training.
The time commitment
You can expect to serve for up to twenty four years (or thirty six if you become a medical officer). Most postings after training last around three years. You will spend six weeks at sea followed by four weeks ashore then back to the ship for around three weeks. The current basic salary is £2,047 per annum (£1,097 per month) with an additional £873 per annum, full board and lodging allowance. Depending on your rank and length of service you will also receive a government pension.
How to be accepted into naval college
The first stage is to join the reserve officer training scheme (ROTP). This is for students who have just left school or are at college or university. You will spend around twenty weeks at sea with a tutor during which time you will study one month of each week and attend lectures and written tests. You'll also do shore service including working in the mess. If you pass your exams in the final six weeks, you will be promoted to acting rating (which means a pay rise, promotion notice and an ability to wear uniform) and will then go through the full training at Greenwich Naval College.
If ROTP doesn't appeal, you can enlist at a later age as a junior entry officer. This means you only get commissioned once you have completed the training at Greenwich and visit Cambridge University to study for your degree.
Or alternatively - if you are an unemployed graduate - the Navy runs schemes with other police forces, fire forces and the St John's Ambulance Brigade which allow you to apply for these positions and be trained on the job. One such scheme is called 'The Cheif' and involves six weeks' basic training followed by six months at sea as a rating before going to Greenwich for Officer Training.
Applying for a commission in the Royal Navy is not easy as public image and job security are major concerns. If you are accepted, however, the rewards are great. You get to travel, meet new people every few months and see new places, all the while being part of something very special.
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