Royal Navy officers serve on board ships and submarines, managing the day-to-day operations.

What does a Royal navy officer do?

Royal Navy officers are senior managers in the Royal Navy, working on board ships and submarines. They work in all types of situations from combat exercises at sea to humanitarian operations.

As an officer, you would be responsible for the welfare and management of those serving in your squadron or unit. You would also have a specialist role such as:

  • warfare officer – controlling weapons and defence systems, and assisting with navigation
  • fleet air arm officer – as part of ground support, making sure the ship’s aircraft are ready to fly when needed, or as a Navy pilot flying aircraft and helicopters, or as an observer, who are the fleet air arm's airborne combat systems officers
  • engineering officer – overseeing the maintenance of a vessel's engines, weapon delivery systems, detection sensors and communications equipment
  • logistics officer – managing the control and delivery of supplies and equipment
  • medical or nursing officer – providing medical care to staff and their families on ships, submarines and ashore.

What do I need to do to become a Royal navy officer?

To start Royal Navy officer training, generally you'll need:

  • to be at least age 17 (upper age limits vary according to role)
  • to be at least 151.5cm tall
  • to be a British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen
  • to be in good health and physically fit
  • a minimum of five GCSEs (A-C), including English and maths
  • a minimum of two A levels.

If you have a degree you can apply through the Direct Graduate Entry route.

For some officer roles you need specific qualifications, for example:

  • as an air engineering officer, you'll need an engineering degree
  • to join the medical support services as a doctor, you need to have (or be working towards) an approved degree in medicine and registration with the General Medical Council to be a chaplain you must be ordained, recommended by your church and have around three or more years’ experience
When you apply, you will be put through a series of selection tests, a medical examination an interview.

Related skills

  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Physical fitness

Academic route

  • A minimum of five GCSEs (A-C), including English and maths and a minimum of two A levels.

Desirable qualifications

  • If you have a degree you can apply through the Direct Graduate Entry route.

Where to find out more

Royal Navy Careers 

Royal Navy – eligibility 

Royal Navy – life as an officer

Where could I be working?

You must be prepared to move within the UK and overseas. Whilst serving at sea, you may be away from home for several months at a time, sometimes working in dangerous situations. 

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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