If you're good at organising people and equipment and enjoy leading a group a job in army logistics/support could be the right career for you

As a logistics/support officer in the armed forces, you'll be responsible for the management and efficiency of the logistics, support and administrative functions.

In the Army, you may be known as a staff and personnel support (SPS) officer, part of the Adjutant General's Corps (AGC), or you may be a specialist officer in the Royal Logistics Corps (RLC). Either way, you'll be trained in supply, distribution or commodities (e.g. ammunition or petroleum).

The role is also known as a logistics or supply officer in both the:

In each setting, your purpose is to enable each service to carry out its allotted role in peace and war.

Responsibilities

Your tasks will include supervising and planning the work of individuals and teams who deliver of a range of specific services and functions including:

  • human resources/personnel, training and development, pay and benefits;
  • IT and information management;
  • administration and secretarial;
  • infrastructure and project management;
  • accountancy;
  • security;
  • stores and supplies.

In the context of the infrastructure and services of a base, typical activities include:

  • commanding a platoon of highly-trained specialist service personnel;
  • assessing priorities, plans, and maintenance routines as well as liaising with external agencies;
  • ensuring that army personnel are motivated and trained to high standards;
  • investigating the causes of administrative problems;
  • supervising administrative routines including records, budgets and accounts;
  • taking responsibility for the morale, welfare and training of subordinates;
  • managing resources to achieve complex tasks within budget.

Additionally, in field operations, your activities might include:

  • registering prisoners and/or refugees;
  • registering and notifying of death and injury;
  • undertaking security and patrol duties.

Salary

  • The starting salary for graduate officer cadets in all three armed services (Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst; Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth and the Royal Air Force College, Cranwell) is £25,727.
  • After successful completion of initial officer training (IOT), salaries increase to £30,923 across all armed forces.
  • Salaries are rank related, and you should expect to earn more while progressing through various ranks and seniorities.

Income data from the The Ministry of Defence 'Pay16 The Armed Forces Pay Model'. Figures are intended as a guide only.

The armed forces also offer benefits such as an excellent pension scheme, private health and dental care and subsidised accommodation.

Working hours

Depending on your role, you may need to work shifts. When on operations, officers work long hours in a challenging and often stressful and dangerous environment.

There are opportunities for part-time work and sabbatical leave.

What to expect

  • A logistics/support role is mainly office based. However, this depends on the exact type of role. When on operations, you may be asked to work outdoors and participate in training.
  • Opportunities for female graduates in logistics and support are good and increasing, with all posts equally open to women and men.
  • Many officers work in the UK in bases and stations, but there are opportunities for periods abroad or for naval supply officers on board ship.
  • Job rotation and relocation can be expected every two to three years. The extent of relocation, travel and family separation will depend on the service and posting, but the support services, as well as social and recreational facilities, are good.
  • As a logistics/support officer, you will be given a high-level of responsibility early on, which can be stressful. This will include management responsibility but also a considerable extension of your professional experience in a specialist field.

Qualifications

All three armed services recruit graduates as officers and provide initial officer training and a continuation of technical and professional training.

Graduates in any subject will be considered, since suitability for service life is more important than degree subject. However, a high level of numeracy is expected, and GCSE, or Scottish Standard Grade, maths and English language (grade A to C) are essential.

The following degree subjects may increase your chances:

  • business-related studies;
  • business with languages;
  • information technology (IT).

The acceptability of higher education qualifications other than a degree varies between forces, depending on both the subject studied and the specialist area that you want to follow. In general, all three forces will consider applicants with a minimum of 180 UCAS points (not including general studies) for officer training.

Professional qualifications and experience may be acceptable as an alternative to a degree, and all three services have specialist branches, for example:

  • chaplaincy;
  • dental;
  • legal;
  • medical;
  • nursing.

Pre-entry postgraduate qualifications are not generally needed, but membership of an appropriate professional institution may be helpful. For example, seniority is offered to qualified solicitors or barristers joining the Legal Services Branch of the AGC.

Generally, you must be a UK, Commonwealth or Irish citizen and have been resident in the UK or Ireland for five years prior to entry to the armed forces, but some exceptions and restrictions apply. For most branches of the armed forces there are medical, physical fitness and eyesight requirements as well as age limits.

Competition can be fierce for certain roles. All three services offer student bursaries or sponsorship, but amounts vary according to the subject you are studying and the needs of the service. University service units also pay students who join and attend training.

Up-to-date information on bursaries, entry requirements, vacation training and familiarisation visits to service units is available from university liaison officers (ULOs) and local armed forces careers offices. You can also find this information on the websites of the:

  • Army;
  • RAF;
  • Royal Navy.

Skills

You will need to show:

  • leadership skills;
  • the ability to work effectively as a member of a team;
  • organisational skills;
  • discipline;
  • an interest in current affairs;
  • commitment to a career within the armed forces;
  • service knowledge;
  • the ability to take initiative and work under pressure.

Work experience

Pre-entry experience is not necessary, but some training can be helpful with:

Employers

There are four armed forces employers, namely the:

  • Army;
  • Royal Air Force (RAF);
  • Royal Marines;
  • Royal Navy.

The armed forces are an arm of the government, which defines their purpose. At the present time, the purposes of the armed forces are given as follows:

  • to defend the United Kingdom and its interests;
  • to assist in keeping the peace around the world;
  • to deliver emergency humanitarian relief.

Much of the time, the armed services achieve these aims through membership of alliances, particularly the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), but unilateral responsibilities (for example the Falklands Conflict), may mean that they act alone and thus need to be equipped and trained for all aspects of modern warfare.

Britain's membership of the United Nations (UN) and its permanent place at the Security Council may also necessitate the use of armed force in defence of international security (as in Afghanistan), or in support of humanitarian and peacekeeping initiatives (as in Bosnia or after the Asian tsunami).

The services have an important diplomatic function in representing Britain overseas with goodwill visits and in training other countries' armed forces, both in the UK and abroad. There is also action in support of the civil power (as in Northern Ireland).

Many opportunities exist for officers upon retirement from the armed forces because of the management and professional training, as well as the experience they gain, during their period of service.

Look for job vacancies at:

Professional development

All three armed services recruit graduates as officers and provide initial officer training followed by specialist, professional or technical training. Continuing professional development (CPD) and training are features of a service career and provide opportunities to gain qualifications and accreditation with civilian professional bodies.

If you are successful at the army selection board you will go on to the officer training course, which lasts for 44 weeks and includes physical training, military training and exercises, adventurous training and participation in a range of sporting activities at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Academically, you will be taught about:

  • army organisation;
  • defence issues;
  • current affairs;
  • management skills.

A similar pathway is followed by graduate officer recruits to the:

  • RAF;
  • Royal Navy.

Training in these services lasts for 30 weeks and recruits enter the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth or the Royal Air Force, respectively.

Some officers, after several years' experience, will be selected to attend extended command and staff-training courses at the Joint Services Command and Staff College, part of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom at Shrivenham, in preparation for senior and top management appointments.

Career prospects

After initial officer training with either the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth or the RAF you will be posted to your chosen regiment or corps, to a ship for fleet training, or to a squadron or station, where you will undertake specialist training to enable you to gain the detailed skills and particular knowledge that you will need before assuming your first command.

Career officers are selected for a sequence of command and staff courses and further professional courses, which may include postgraduate study at the College of Management and Technology, a college of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, or other universities or colleges, depending on your specialist area.

The normal route in all three forces is to achieve command of your own unit (for example, in the Army a unit of about 550 to 750 soldiers) by the age of 40.

Further promotion is normally into increasingly senior staff posts. Advancement involves increased responsibility and may lead to a command and staff training course at the Joint Services Command and Staff College at Shrivenham, as preparation for a senior command or managerial appointment.