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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 (a graduate leadership programme which for 2019 entry has opportunities in 19 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
  • Driving licence can also be an asset

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 or leadership programme, such as Police Now, 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 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 August 2018.
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Recent blogs about Armed Forces & Uniformed Services

Civil Service Fast Stream: Advice for Assessment Centres

Blogged by Hugh Nicholson-Lailey on 16/01/2019.

Only two more days this term for our dedicated one-to-one advisory meetings for people preparing for the Civil Service fast stream, including assessment centre(s), presentations and interviews. Applicants will work with Oxford alum and long serving senior civil servant Richard Jackson, who also has considerable experience as a fast stream assessor and trainer.

These 45 minute sessions must be booked in advance through CareerConnect. Meetings are available on both Monday 21 January and Tuesday 29 January, with starting times offered between 09:30-14:00.

Please remember, these specialist session run in addition to the short discussions offered by the Oxford Careers Service, which can also be used to discuss the best way to prepare for all stages of an application to the Civil Service or any other organisation.

Public Sector and Civil Service Careers

Blogged by Hugh Nicholson-Lailey on 07/01/2019.

For everyone currently involved in Civil Service Fast Stream applications, we’re lucky enough to have three more dates for one-to-one advice on interview and assessment centre preparation with Richard Jackson, an Oxford alumnus with extensive experience as a senior civil servant, including working both as a fast stream assessor and trainer. Bookable sessions are now open on CareerConnect on 17, 21, and 29 January. These sessions run in addition to the short discussions offered with an Oxford careers adviser which can also be used to talk through preparing for all stages of applications.

Beyond the Fast Stream, we anticipate that a number of direct entry routes will be opened by specific Departments – advertised via Civil Service Jobs – and specialist streams during February and March, including summer internships and 1-2 year internships for graduating students. The specialist opportunities that we anticipate should include:

Be aware, application windows can be very brief – one was open for less than 1 week in 2018 – so do your research early, pre-prepare application content and be sure to register for email alerts, bookmark recruitment pages on follow social media accounts so that you don’t miss out.

We would also recommend making time to attend our International Careers Day at the Blavatnik School of Government (11:00-14:30, Saturday 19 January) to explore global opportunities, from postgraduate study to policy, and from international development to diplomacy.

Making a Difference – graduate schemes and careers with social impact

Blogged by Claire Chesworth on 11/10/2018.

Saturday 13 October, Exam Schools, 13:30-14:15

Are you looking for a graduate scheme that would allow you to make a significant social impact in your career? Then come along to this talk at the Oxford Careers Fair and hear from Oxford alumni in the public/charity sector who are working for organisations such as Think Ahead, Unlocked, and the National Graduate Development Programme.

Each speaker will give a short presentation about their work on a day-to-day basis, followed by a Q&A panel session.

Unlocked – Brand Manager positions available

Blogged by Claire Chesworth on 31/05/2018.

Unlocked run a unique two-year leadership development programme aimed at training graduates to become inspirational and supportive leaders in the UK prison service and inject new ideas, insights and energy into the rehabilitation of prisons.

They are currently looking for students to work as Brand Managers from September 2018 to March 2019 to help Unlocked raise awareness of what they do amongst university students. They offer flexible hours, the Living Wage, and the opportunity to develop various skills including communication, networking, and organising.

For further information, please visit http://unlockedgrads.org.uk/our-organisation/ (scroll down to Undergraduate Opportunities).

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Older posts can be found in our archive of past blogs.