What does a bomb disposal technician do?
Bomb disposal is also known as explosive ordnance disposal (EOD). As a bomb disposal technician you would usually begin your career in one of the armed forces. You could work in a warzone or a civilian setting. On a job, you would identify, make safe or dispose of different kinds of dangerous explosive devices. These could include:
- unexploded military ammunition, like grenades, shells or depth charges in water
- improvised explosive devices, makeshift explosives like pipe or car bombs
Your job could vary depending on which of the armed forces you work in. You would typically:
- work with the police to make sure dangerous areas have been evacuated
- find and identify explosive devices using remote control robots or metal detectors
- operate remote control vehicles to defuse and destroy explosive devices
- communicate with other members of your team using a radio
- use explosives to destroy explosive devices
- defuse explosive devices by hand or using robots
- keep a look out in dangerous areas to make sure your colleagues are safe
Disposal of explosive devices might only be part of your job. You could also work in ammunitions storage facilities. Here, you would look after and maintain munitions and weapons or load missiles on to fighter aircraft. You may also be responsible for the maintenance of bomb disposal technology like the large ‘wheelbarrow’ and smaller ‘dragon runner’ remote controlled robots used for EOD.Your job title would depend on which branch of the armed forces you join. In the British army you could be known as an ammunition technician or an ammunition technical officer. In the Royal Air Force you would be a weapons technician, and in the Royal Navy you could be either a mine warfare specialist or a mine clearance diver.
What do I need to do to become a bomb disposal technician?
There are several ways to become a bomb disposal technician. Most technicians start their careers in the British army, but you can also train to do this job in the Royal Air Force or the Royal Navy. Some routes differ slightly, depending on whether you're an officer or not.
Whichever branch of the armed forces you apply to, you'll need to meet their eligibility criteria to join. This can vary from one branch to another.
In the army, EOD services are provided by regiments from the Royal Logistics Corps (RLC) and the Corps of the Royal Engineers. You would need to train initially as an army soldier or an army officer and then move into a relevant corps.
Royal Air Force
You could join the RAF as a weapons technician and with experience, volunteer for training in bomb disposal.
There are several ways to become a bomb disposal technician in the navy. You could work as a mine warfare specialist, disposing of explosive devices using remote control submarines, or get involved in hands-on bomb disposal by becoming a mine clearance diver. You could also enter the navy as a warfare officer and then specialise to become a mine warfare and clearance diving officer.
- You would learn more about bomb disposal on the job from more experienced work colleagues. You would also take part in practice exercises to learn about explosives, explosive devices and how to disarm or destroy them.
- You might be expected to work towards recognised qualifications such as the Defence EOD Operators Course or the High Threat Operators Course.
- You can work towards membership of a professional body like the Institute of Explosive Engineers (IExpE), which would reinforce your professional status and could improve your career prospects.
- To carry out humanitarian work, you can study towards International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) qualifications.
Where could I be working?
You could serve in the UK or overseas in combat or ex-combat zones. You would face a wide variety of conditions and situations. Working environments could range from on board a ship or a submarine to working in an ammunitions store or destroying terrorist bombs in a warzone or civilian setting.
You would also spend a lot of time on training exercises.