British Army FAQs

Got questions or concerns about joining the British Army? Check out our FAQ below to find your answers.

1) What is the minimum/maximum age for joining the British Army?

There are more than 100 different jobs in the army.

The basic entry age requirements depend on whether or not you are entering the regular army, or Territorial Army, as an officer or soldier.

If regular army, officers can join aged 18 to 26 years and soldiers can join between 16 and 32 years and 11 months.

If joining the Territorial Army, officers or soldiers can join between 16 and 32 years and 11 months.

In all cases parental consent is a requirement if under the age of 18.

2) How long can I stay in the Army?

The initial length of your army contract is a fixed 4 years.

For those who wish to stay in the Army for longer, bonuses exist so you can stay as long as you would like.

If staying, once you have been in the Army for 4 to 8 years, you are eligible for lump sum bonus payments.

3) I’m under 18 years old – can I leave the Army if I don’t enjoy it?

If you are within the first 6 months of your contract, and have been in the Army for more than 28 days, you can leave at any time by giving 14 days notice.

4) I’m over 18 years old – can I leave the Army if I don’t enjoy it?

If within 3 months of your Army contract, and have been in the Army for more than 28 days, you can leave after giving 14 days notice.

If still doing your basic training, you can leave with the permission of your commanding officer.

5) Do I have to be 18 before I can be sent to a war zone?

Current legislation prohibits anyone under the age of 18 to engage in a hostile situation as expected in a war zone.

16 and 17 year olds can join the Army but cannot be sent to a war zone.

6) How dangerous is it?

The Army can send you to the front line where danger is a hazard of the job.

Bear in mind, that no matter the danger, the Army offer training and support as well as the needed supplies when you are sent within close proximity of the enemy.

7) What benefits am I entitled to if I join the Army?

Apart from many rewards and a decent rate of pay as compared to most jobs, there are further financial benefits including a pension scheme, free sport facilities, and subsidised accommodation.

For your health, there are medical and dentist care subsidies. You can also receive cut prices on travel.

There is a minimum of 38 days annual leave.

When away from base for more than 7 days, recruits receive a daily allowance that varies based on how unpleasant your conditions if on operations.

8) I’m a woman – can I still apply for any Army job?

Both men and women in the eyes of the Army have an equal role to play.

Women have an extensive range of jobs to consider on the same pay and offering the same training and promotion opportunities as for men.

For expecting Army mums, there is a good maternity package.

Check with the local Army office on other units exclusively for males.

9) Do I have to kill people?

If over the age of 18 and sent to a combat zone at the front line, you may need to kill someone as part of your army deployment.

This is of course necessary when protecting yourself or your colleagues as a soldier.

The need to use lethal force as a soldier when in a combat zone is likely if the mission requires it.

10) How much will I get paid?

Pay varies with rank and if you are a regular officer or soldier.

As a regular officer without a degree, starting salaries are from £15,824 during training up to £24,615 when promoted to Second Lieutenant.

Graduates start training at £24,615 rising to £29,587 thereafter.

Regular soldiers receive a starting salary of £267 each week during Phase 1 training. This rises to £17,515 but depends on the Army role undertaken.

Specialist roles can get an extra £19 a day. As an officer staying in the Army for 5 years, you could be promoted to Captain and a salary of £37,916.

Soldiers promoted to the rank of Sergeant within 5 years can earn up to £32,756.

11) I have a medical condition/problem – can I still join the Army?

There is a selection of medical conditions which will prevent you from joining the Army.

Due to the physically demanding tasks within army life, a full medical examination accompanies the application process.

Check the full list at the British Army website.

12) Will a mental health problem prevent me from joining?

Certain mental health ailments will prevent your enlistment in the British Army.

The psychiatric tests during the medical tests will establish if you have a medical condition such as Schizophrenia, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, alcohol or drug dependence and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

13) I have a wife/partner and children – can I still join?

Yes, if you wish to join the Army and already have dependent children or are married, it is not grounds for refusal.

There are also no restrictions on the size of your family.

14) How much time will I have to spend away from home?

Time spent away from home depends on your role.

Soldiers can be deployed for 6 months or more.

While at the base, you can visit your family at weekends. You should be prepared for long periods away from home.

15) I used to be in the Army – can I rejoin?

As a former officer or soldier, you can rejoin the Army.

Experience is valued highly and pending your age, previous experience and former rank, rejoining the Army is very welcomed.

There are entry requirements, the same as current soldiers.

If you previously served as a Regular, rejoining as a Territorial may be possible.

With specialist skills to offer on rejoining, you may receive a bonus.

As before, a medical examination is required to assess your physical and mental health. Expect to do the physical and mental tests again.

16) I have a criminal conviction – will this prevent me from joining?

The Army recognises that new recruits may have past criminal convictions.

You just need to be as honest about your past records as you can rather than hiding the conviction.

If you hide your criminal record, you could face prosecution later.

Your conviction may be ‘spent’ or elapsed after a rehabilitation period. This depends on the nature of the offence.

17) Do soldiers/officers enjoy their job?

Both soldiers and officers are given the training and resources needed.

This way, you do your job well and your desire to succeed maintains your enjoyment of the job.

Soldiers away on deployment tend to report enjoyable experiences even if at times a tough one.

18) What happens if I disagree with an order?

Discipline is part of the core values within the Army. You should speak with your commanding officer directly if wishing to disagree with a given order.

The Army expects selfless soldiers prioritising their unit and the Army ahead of themselves.

Be clear on why you intend to disagree with a direct order.

19) I’m a woman/homosexual/black/from an ethnic minority – will I still be treated well in the Army?

All soldiers and officers are considered equal; this is core to the beliefs of the Army code of conduct.

There is a zero tolerance policy on racism, bullying, sexism and all forms of harassment from taking advantage of a junior to directly offensive attacks.

20) What are the most common complaints about Army life?

Most soldiers enjoy their contracts in the Army. That said, gripes on army life do occur.

The heavy work periods and long durations away from family are amongst the top complaints.

Some say it has been difficult to complain when needed, others are only offended by annual leave being affected by operations.

21) Can the Army help me get some qualifications?

Both soldiers and officers get the opportunity to gain qualifications while in the Army.

Previous education is not important; qualifications are open to you regardless of your current education.

Study NVQs or GCSEs and later do your postgraduate qualifications. These are part of the Army subsidised resources.

Additionally, you can start an apprenticeship and learn a trade as well as gaining a recognised vocational qualification.

22) What kind of accommodation will I be living in?

Single living accommodation is for single male and female soldiers or officers, and those who will not be accompanied by family.

Service families married or divorced with children receive accommodation within 10 miles of their duty station.

Recruits stay in multi-occupancy style barrack rooms during training.

Other soldiers tend to be given en-suite single rooms. Existing householders can choose to stay in their home.

23) I’m worried about being bullied.

Everyone in the Army tends to look out for each other. Working as a team is a core requirement.

There is zero tolerance for bad treatment of each other.

24) Am I likely to get shell-shock or a long-term stress disorder?

Shell-shock and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are known possible disabling medical conditions affecting servicemen in the Army.

The Army is equipped to deal with the condition and you can request an assessment if concerned about your mental health.

25) What are the ranks in the British Army?

The lowest rank is Officer Cadet, held by those undergoing initial training. The highest is General (or 4 star), and hold the most senior positions in the Army. Find out more about other ranks at the British Army website.