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Armed Forces & Uniformed Services | The Careers Service Armed Forces & Uniformed Services – Oxford University Careers Service
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About this sector

This briefing covers roles in the following organisations:

Types of job

The uniformed services have a  diverse range of roles available to graduates, including:

There are many different roles within these to cater for specialist skills, from Army musicians, intelligence linguists, liaison officers and military police roles.

There are also a large and diverse range of support roles available, from HR and marketing, to legal, IT and finance.

Related civilian roles include:

Entry points

Joining the armed forces

You can join the armed forces as a regular (full-time) or as a reservist (alongside another job).

Check the following points on the relevant careers website for the Army/Navy/RAF first:

  • That you meet the age requirements and meet the medical conditions and other restrictions for what you want to do
  • That you’ve have spoken with the Careers Centre for the Armed Forces at 35 St Giles to explore your options.

Once you’re feeling ready, you can apply – often in your last year of university or the year afterwards. The regular officer application process takes around 3-5 months for the Army, and can vary for other roles. There is clear support online for each stage, and the local Careers Centre  to support you too.

Joining the police

You can join the police as a police officer in the standard way, through the Direct Entry at Inspector programme or through schemes operating within individual police forces, such as Police Now (the Met’s graduate leadership programme which for 2018 entry has opportunities in 22 police forces). You could also first join the police as a community support officer, a special constable (a volunteer role), or as a police support volunteer (office based volunteering). You can only join through one police force at a time – start by going to the regional police force website.

You can listen to a podcast of Careers in the Public Sector where one of the speakers is an Oxford alumni who works for the police (recorded February 2016).

Joining the fire service

Each fire service in England sets its own criteria, so check the entry process with the local service you intend to work for. Most services have both ‘wholetime’ (full time) and ‘on-call’ (part time) roles.

Joining the ambulance services

To practice as a paramedic you need to complete a programme approved by the Health Care Professions Council in paramedic science. The course finder tool from NHS Careers can help you find a suitable course. You can often find a student paramedic position you can do during your course. Courses tend to be reasonably flexible, but last from 2 – 5 years depending on whether you study full or part time.

Skills and experience

Getting experience after university

With many uniformed services offering volunteer, reservist or similar roles, there are easy ways to gain work experience in the uniformed services if you have graduated and are already working.

Getting experience at Oxford

If you are a student, there are university student societies which are linked to the respective armed forces divisions. By joining one of these, you will gain a practical insight into the work, plus many extra-curricular experiences, and you’ll be paid to do this. Even if you’re not thinking of entering the forces as a career, the skills you gain by membership of an UOTC will generally help you with many of the roles and careers discussed here:

  • Leadership skills
  • Teamworking
  • Decision making
  • Handling risk and challenge
  • Fitness
  • Practical skills e.g. first aid
  • Planning
  • Analysis
  • Organisation

The Oxford societies are:

Relevant experience can also be gained by getting involved in volunteering in people-focussed activities, such as those offered through Oxford Hub.

Getting a job

When applying for a job, it’s worth familiarising yourself with the selection process as much as possible, as recruitment to uniformed services is often both detailed and lengthy, involving in person assessments (often over more than 1 day), as well as aptitude and physical fitness tests.

  • Check the  detail, including on areas around criminal records, citizenship, health and mental health issues and age limitations.
  • The organisation will provide full details of the tests/selection events involved – make sure you keep organised and read and respond to all emails promptly, as following commands is a key element!

Do consider, the range of jobs and industries which link with uniformed services, from roles at the Ministry of Defence, to civil aviation, intelligence and more. Entry into one of these may suit your interests too. These recruitment processes are selective, and having a good back up plan is a good idea!

Our Resources

Podcasts of Past Events

Careers in the Public Sector, February 2016 

This podcast allows you to hear from three speakers working in a variety of roles within the public sector, covering public policy (both international and national), the police force and social work (in this order). The podcast finishes with further discussion arising from questions taken from the audience.

This information was last updated on 21 November 2017.
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