Joining the British Army - overview

There are a few basic requirements that everyone who joins the army must have, although these differ slightly depending on whether you join as an officer or a soldier, and whether you join the Regular or Territorial Army.

Regular Army - joining as an officer

Age: 18-26 years old.

Qualifications:

  • 35 ALIS points (34 for SCEs) from 7 GCSE/SCE subjects, with a minimum grade C/2 in English Language, Maths and either a Science or a foreign language.
  • 180 UCAS Tariff points from at least two A level passes grades A-E or SCE Higher grades A-D.

Physical fitness: Your GP has to fill out a medical questionnaire and you will have to pass a full Army medical examination.

Gender: Both male and female (Please note, the Household Cavalry, the Royal Armoured Corps and the Infantry are male only).

Regular Army - joining as a soldier

Age: 16-32 years (parental consent is required if you are under 16 years old).

Qualifications: No formal qualifications are required except for some technical jobs.

Physical fitness: Your GP has to fill out a medical questionnaire and you will have to pass a full Army medical examination.

Gender: Male and female (Please note that Infantry and some other units are male only).

Territorial Army - joining as an officer

Age: 17 years and 9 months - 34 years old and 11 months

Minimum qualifications:

  • 35 ALIS points (34 for SCEs) from 7 GCSE/SCE subjects, with a minimum grade C/2 in English language, maths and either a science or a foreign language.
  • 180 UCAS Tariff points from at least two A level passes grades A-E or SCE Higher grades A-D.

Physical fitness: Your GP has to fill out a medical questionnaire and you will have to pass a full Army medical examination.

Gender: Male and female. (Please note that the Infantry is male only).

Territorial Army - joining as a soldier

Age: 17 years-42 years and 11 months.

Minimum qualifications: No formal qualifications are required except for some technical jobs.

Physical fitness: Your GP has to fill out a medical questionnaire and you will have to pass a full Army medical examination.

Gender: Male and female (Please note that the Infantry and some other units are male only).

Regular or Territorial?

  • Joining the army as a Regular means you will be a full-time officer or soldier. You will be entitled to a pension, free healthcare and money towards your food and rent. If your unit is selected to go on a tour of duty, you will be overseas for a 6 month period.
  • If you want to combine your life as a civilian with Army training, then joining as a Territorial may be more suitable. You will be paid to meet up with your unit in your spare time and complete training days with them. However, there is a chance your unit will be chosen to serve in an overseas operation.

How long do I have to join for?

  • For those joining under the age of 18, your contract will last until the day before your 22nd birthday.
  • For those over 18, your contract term will be 4 years and 3 months.
  • If you'd like to serve longer, then you can stay for up to a maximum of 22 years.

I’m not old enough to join – is there anything I can do?

If you are keen on joining the Army, but are not yet 16 years old, don't worry - there are other ways you can get involved.

How?

1.) Become an Army cadet

If you're between 12 and 18 years old, you can join as a member of the Cadet force.

This will give you the chance to take part in lots of sports, expeditions and other outdoor adventures.

Learn how to handle weapons and survive in the wild, as well as gain extra qualifications and work toward a Duke of Edinburgh award if you wish. Find your local Cadet detachment here.

2.) Register with Camouflage

If you're 14 to 16 years old, sign up to Camouflage to get the lowdown on Army life and find out what it's like to be a soldier in the Army.

The Camouflage website provides lots of useful articles, behind the scenes videos and news of events and opportunities you can get involved with. If you're interested, you can sign up to Camouflage here.

How do I join the army?

If you meet all of the basic requirements outlined above, there are some further conditions that you also need to be aware of. These involve:

  • Nationality and residence - although the British army accepts applicants from overseas, you may have to have lived in the UK for a certain period of time to be eligible to join the Army.
  • Criminal convictions - being honest about any previous convictions will give you the best chance of making a fresh start in the Army.
  • Medical conditions - the mental and physical demands of the Army means there are certain illnesses and medical conditions that unfortunately can stop people from joining.

The links above take you to the official British Army website, where you can find out more about these conditions of the joining process.

If you have decided that joining the army could be the future for you, there are 5 main steps involved in the recruitment process.