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Training and sponsorship
Work and pay
Civil partners and families
- I've got asthma. Can I join the RAF?
- Certain medical conditions rule out RAF service. Applications will be rejected if you suffer or have suffered from asthma in the last four years. However, if you have been diagnosed previously as suffering from asthma but have remained symptom-free for a continuous four-year period, you may be considered for RAF ground service but not aircrew.
- Are NVQs accepted as qualifications?
- Our jobs have a variety of qualification requirements. Some, such as Dental Technician, specify NVQs and in many of our jobs you can earn NVQs after joining.
- How long does the selection process takes?
- Because we have to test all candidates, and because we want you to be quite sure that it’s what you want to do, it can take between 5 and 18 months to complete every stage of the process, depending on which job you’re applying for.
- How long do I have to commit for?
- Once you’ve completed your initial training, you sign up for a minimum length of service. This will vary depending on your chosen job, but normally it’s between six and twelve years. This might seem a bit daunting at first. But in practice, many people stay in their chosen civilian jobs for the same amount of time as people who work in the RAF. In return, you get job security and a chance to train and progress in your chosen career – that could mean doing a whole variety of different jobs.
- Can I join if I need glasses or contact lenses?
- The need for glasses or contact lenses may preclude selection for some branches. The standards for aircrew are high, particularly for pilot duties.
- Do I need to be super-fit to join the RAF?
- Our recruit training can help you become fitter than you ever dreamed. But if you’re already used to regular exercise, you’ll find it easier. The RAF requires all recruits to be medically fit to serve worldwide. New entrants undergo intensive training that is both physically and mentally challenging. Consequently they must be fit and free from medical conditions or pre-existing injury.
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Training and sponsorship
- What qualifications can I earn while in the RAF?
- Depending on your job, you could train for anything from an NVQ to a Masters degree.
- Will the training I get from the RAF help me find a civilian job when I leave?
- Our personnel train for all kinds of civilian recognised qualifications – and get paid while they study.
- Will the RAF sponsor my education?
- There are a limited number of of bursaries for sixth-form students and sponsorships for university undergraduates.
- Will I have to work my way up through the ranks?
- You can do if you want to, but if you join the RAF as an airman/airwoman, you don’t have to reach the top of the non-commissioned officer career before you can apply to train as an officer – you can apply at any time if you have the necessary academic qualifications.
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Work and Pay
- What jobs are there for women?
- Our first woman fast-jet pilot qualified back in 1991 and all RAF roles are open to women, with the sole exceptions of RAF Regiment Officer and RAF Regiment Gunner. The RAF Regiment carry out roles similar to front-line infantry and in common with the Army (who recently conducted a two year review of this issue), women are still not recruited for roles that can involve fighting the enemy face-to-face. This position may be reviewed again in the future.
- Will I have to work long hours?
- Most people do work normal office hours, most of the time. But having said that, we’re not nine-to-fivers. We take on whatever tasks are asked of us. On an exercise, a NATO detachment or a humanitarian relief mission, that could mean working round the clock. Some specific duties may require long watches or shifts. At other times, however, life follows normal work patterns.
- Are there any kinds of pay bonuses?
- Yes. We offer a highly competitive overall package. We can give you the latest information on pay scales, bonuses, pensions and benefits when you visit an Armed Forces Careers Office.
- Do RAF jobs pay less than civilian graduate jobs?
- The RAF offers a highly competitive package of pay, bonuses and benefits, including generous annual leave of 6 weeks. For many officer jobs, graduates may be offered enhanced promotion and starting pay of £24,500 or more.
- How much time off will I have?
- The majority of RAF staff have their evenings off after work, plus weekends and six weeks’ paid holiday a year. And if you work shifts, you’ll have the equivalent time off. When youâ??re on detachment overseas you may work longer hours. In Cyprus, working hours start early to avoid the afternoon heat.
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- As a Jew, when can I wear my yarmulke?
- Whenever you aren’t wearing protective headgear.
- As a Muslim man, can I wear a beard?
- Muslim men are permitted to wear short, neatly trimmed beards. However, for occupational or operational reasons, where a hazard clearly exists, Muslim men may be required to modify or remove facial hair to such an extent as to enable the correct wearing of breathing apparatus, oxygen masks or respirators. Notwithstanding this, Muslim men will not be required to shave their beards in order to perform Nuclear, Biological and Chemical training drills.
- As a Sikh, will I be able to wear a turban?
- In the Armed Forces Sikhs are permitted to wear the five Ks; male Sikhs can also wear a turban. However, some trades require specialist headgear to be worn, especially under operational circumstances. Male Sikh personnel can normally wear a patka under specialist headgear; however, this is not possible under a flying helmet, which must be closely fitted to the contours of the head. Aircrew with long hair, male and female, may be required to have their hair cut short in order to achieve a satisfactory fit of a flying helmet.
- Do I have to go to church?
- No. There are no compulsory services or church parades. You can observe your own faith. And you don’t have to attend church if you want to talk to the Chaplain.
- Can I follow my religion's dietary requirements?
- The RAF aims to cater for all special dietary requirements. Halal and kosher meals are available, even as packed rations on operations and exercises. Fasting is usually allowed, although some physically demanding operational situations may make it risky.
- Will my race or religion count against me?
- No. We are an equal opportunities employer. No eligible candidate will be excluded on the basis of their race or religion.
- Can I adapt the uniform to suit the standards of my religion?
- Yes, unless it gets in the way of specialist equipment that you might have to wear to do your job safely. For example, flying helmets do not function properly unless they are closely fitted to the contours of the head. Muslim women can wear uniform trousers instead of a skirt.
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Civil partners and Families
- What childcare facilities are there on the base?
- Many bases have crèches which are good value and convenient. The Help, Information and Volunteer Exchange (HIVE), found on most bases, can provide a list of registered childminders.
- Won't my partner find it hard to meet other like-minded people?
- If you’re the partner of someone in the RAF and need the low-down on local amenities, or just want to meet new people â?? the Help, Information and Volunteer Exchange (HIVE) is the place. HIVE staff are trained organisers. HIVEs are often next to the local coffee shop. You can meet other families and send emails.
- Will I be able to spend time with my children?
- Most people in the RAF work hours that let them spend evenings and weekends with their children.
- Can I take my family with me when I'm posted abroad?
- Most personnel will have the opportunity to take their dependent family with them on an overseas posting, at some time in their career. This could include your wife or husband, and children of course, but not your parents.
- Will I have to spend months away from my partner?
- The RAF always tries to let married couples and couples in a Civil Partnership who are both in the RAF, work at the same, or nearest, base. If you’re on an overseas posting, we’ll do our best to support your partner until you come home. If your partner is not in the RAF they may be able to accompany you.
- I'm married, will we qualify for Service Families Accomodation?
- You qualify for Service Families Accommodation if you are married and will be living together at an RAF base for at least six months.
- I'm gay and in a Civil Partnership, will we qualify for Service Families Accomodation?
- You qualify for Service Families Accommodation if you are in a Civil Partnership and will be living together at an RAF base for at least six months.
- Can Service Families Accomodation be adapted to suit special needs?
- Yes, but there may already be an appropriate property.
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