The process for joining the Royal Navy (with benefits)

Updated 5 May 2023

A career in the armed forces may bring new experiences, help you fulfil a sense of duty and offer secure job opportunities. There are multiple branches of the British armed forces, such as the Royal Navy, Royal Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Marines. Learning about joining the Royal Navy may help you prepare for the recruitment process and increase your chances of selection and participation in their duties. In this article, we discuss the benefits of joining the Royal Navy, highlight career opportunities in the Royal Navy and explain how to join.

What is the Royal Navy?

The Royal Navy is an arm of the British special forces that deals with naval warfare activities. It can conduct operations on land, on the sea, under the sea and in the airspace above and around the sea. The Royal Navy has different services and branches to fulfil its diverse functions. There may be over 100 roles available in the Royal Navy.

Benefits of joining the Royal Navy

Here are some benefits of joining the Royal Navy:

  • Travel and adventure. The Royal Navy provides an opportunity for travel and adventure as it carries out operations worldwide. You may see incredible sights and take part in an annual two-week adventurous training program to learn new sports in new environments.

  • Offer humanitarian aid. Royal Navy personnel may also take part in humanitarian aid missions across the globe. They help people facing natural disasters, severe poverty and low access to supplies or power.

  • Serve your country. The Royal Navy also presents an opportunity to serve your country to protect its interests. For example, you may help neutralise threats, avoid conflicts or give humanitarian aid.

  • Support society. The Royal Navy may also participate in activities to support the domestic and international communities. For example, they may help safeguard the economy, establish international partnerships and participate in important missions.

  • Reliable financial compensation. The Royal Navy may offer its officers a reliable compensation package. It may include a competitive monthly salary, defence discount services, operational allowances, a non-contributory pension scheme and bonuses for joining certain roles.

  • Establish a strong social life. Navy officers may consider their jobs more like a way of life. The Royal Navy provides plenty of opportunities to socialise and form unique bonds in social events like mess dinners, runs ashore, flight deck barbecues or swimming together in the sea.

  • Scholarships to advance your education. The Royal Navy may offer you a scholarship to get the qualifications to become a Royal Navy officer. It also provides job security as it guarantees you a job after your studies.

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Career opportunities in the Royal Navy

There are two main entry positions for the Royal Navy. You may join as a rating or as an officer. Ratings make up the workforce of the Royal Navy and may use their skills to work as part of a professional team. There are about 60 different roles for ratings in the Royal Navy. Officers are usually in leadership and management roles. You may improve your chances of becoming an officer of the Royal Navy with a good educational background, such as a university degree. There are about 22 different roles for officers in the Royal Navy.

The Navy has two main parts which include the services and the branches. Understanding both categories may help you determine an ideal career path in the Royal Navy:


Services are the major categories of the Royal Navy. They may determine where you're physically present to exercise your duties as a Royal Navy rating or officer. The services integrate with the branches to fulfil their duties effectively. There are five primary services in the Royal Navy. They include:

Royal Fleet Auxiliary

It's the service that avails the navy with operational and logistical support. Members of this service may provide essentials like medical care, fuel and transporting kits worldwide. The Royal Fleet Auxiliary may also provide humanitarian aid, prevent conflicts or defend diplomacy.

Surface Fleet

The Surface Fleet carries out diverse functions to protect the country's interests. Their missions depend on the ocean they're in. The service uses equipment like destroyers, aircraft carriers, minesweepers and frigates.

Submarine Service

The Royal Submarine Service includes versatile personnel that may help each other perform different roles on expeditions that could last at least three months. They perform duties like tracking aircraft, supporting the royal fleet and monitoring ships from below the surface. The service includes attack vessels that safeguard the seas, provide covert surveillance and carry ballistic missiles.

Fleet Air Arm

The Fleet Air Arm provides airborne support to the Royal Navy to extend its global reach. They may participate in both humanitarian aid and combat missions. You may travel with the team on various missions or work at a Royal Naval Air Station.

Related: How long does it take to become a pilot? (With requirements)

Royal Marines

The Royal Marines are an elite fighting force that may carry out dangerous operations worldwide. They usually train to push their physical and mental limits. Once you join, you may work as a Marine Commando, The Royal Marines Band Service and The Royal Marines' Reserve. The reserves serve as commandos part-time, while the band service may perform for dignitaries, heads of state and royalty.


The Royal Navy has nine branches that operate across the five services. For example, you may serve as a medical officer in the Submarine Service or the Surface Fleet. Here are the nine branches of the Royal Navy:

  • Logistics: This branch coordinates the movement of people, weapons and other materials worldwide. You may require organisation skills and attention to detail to succeed in this branch.

  • Warfare: This branch manages all naval operations worldwide using state-of-the-art communications systems, surveillance systems and weapons. Serving in this branch requires military training and teamwork skills.

  • Engineering: This branch deals with building and maintaining naval weapons, equipment, ships, aircraft and submarines. It accommodates engineers of all disciplines and levels.

  • Aviation: Officers and ratings in aviation fly and support the aircraft from shore bases or at sea.

  • Medical: This branch focuses on maintaining the navy personnel the best physically and mentally. Medical practitioners may practise medicine anywhere globally and sometimes under challenging circumstances.

  • Chaplaincy: Members of the chaplaincy support other personnel of all ranks by acting as advisers, friends and confidantes.

  • Royal Naval Reserve: Personnel in this branch may balance between being a naval officer and home life. It provides an opportunity for adventure and learning new skills.

  • Royal Marines Reserve: Members of this branch may balance being a marine and your home life.

  • Royal Marines Band Service: This branch allows officers passionate about music to put their talents to good use. Members of this branch usually perform at formal state events.

How to join the Royal Navy

Here are some steps to help you join the navy:

1. Complete online registration and application

Fill out the online registration to join the Royal Navy. You may also fill out an application at the Armed Forces Careers Office. Filling out an application includes providing your background information and learning what it's like to work for the Royal Navy. Take your time to analyse the careers to determine a path that suits your interests.

2. Take the Royal Navy Recruiting Test

The Recruiting Test is a series of tests that help the Royal Navy determine your ability to perform in the career you choose. It has high accuracy in assessing your suitability for a particular role. Each role has a different pass mark for the test. You usually take the test at your local Armed Forces Careers Office. The test usually has a time limit and four different testing areas, including:

  • numerical comprehension

  • numerical reasoning

  • verbal reasoning

  • spatial reasoning

Related: Pre-employment tests: definitions, types and benefits

3. Take the Armed Forces Careers Office (AFCO) interview

After receiving the recruitment literature, you may attend a virtual or physical interview with your local AFCO. The interview analyses your reasons for joining the Royal Navy, qualifications, skills and experience. A recruitment advisor can advise you on the type of career that's more likely to suit you.

Related: A guide on how to ace an interview (with tips and examples)

4. Take the medical, eye and fitness exam

After the interview, potential recruits take and pass The Royal Navy Pre-joining Fitness Test (PJFT), an eye and medical test. The Royal Navy uses the test to analyse your general health and ability to meet the physical requirements. For example, the PJFT may require you to run 2.4 kilometres on a treadmill within a specific time limit. You may take the test at your local fitness centre or gym.

5. Complete the final stages of recruitment

The final stages may include more interviews and tests for specific roles. There are also reference and security checks at this stage. Give a reference who may provide a suitable and honest reference, like your previous employer or headteacher. After passing all the tests, you start your basic training at HMS Raleigh.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


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