Brown and Black Helicopter Flying

Careers in Defence

Think working in the defence industry is just about weapons and ammunition? That’s a myth we can bust right here! 

Although this does make up a large part of the defence industry, you might be surprised to hear that there are a diversity of roles. From engineering to finance, business support, marketing and much more.

About the Defence Industry

The defence industry covers everything from land, sea and air to cyber security, policy, electronics and infrastructure plus much more. Working in the industry will often see you working with cutting edge technology, in a varied role, where you’ll be learning something new everyday. 

The industry can be segmented into the armed forces (British Army, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force) and type including aircraft, protection and training equipment, weapons and ammunition, ground vehicles, rotorcraft, naval vessels and C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers (C4) Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR). 

In 2020, the government unveiled plans for the biggest investment in national defence in the last 30 years. This will enable the Ministry of Defence to invest in next-generation military capability, defending the UK from new and evolving threats and protecting the world’s most vulnerable while creating 10,000 jobs annually across the UK.


How to Get Into the Defence Industry

There are a wide variety of pathways you can take to get into the defence industry, from traditional routes such as going to university to an apprenticeship with the leading defence employers, the industry offers something for everyone. 

The route you choose to take will depend on the type of role you would like within the defence industry. For example, if you’re interested in working in a support role such as business, you might opt to study business as one of your A Levels and go onto do a degree in business management at university. However, if you’re looking for a hands-on role such as engineering, you might choose to study science at A Level and commit to a university degree in engineering upon completion. 

Let’s not forget that an apprenticeship is a viable route into the industry, you could be working for the likes of the MOD, DE&S, Dstl, MBDA, BAE Systems or in the Armed Forces. This employer list is by no mean exhaustive and there are other employers within the industry too! 

Apprenticeships in the defence industry vary but can include:

Civil Service Fast Track Apprenticeship Scheme: Business, finance, and project delivery

MOD Information Apprenticeships: IT, software, web and telecoms professionals, and information security

Defence Commercial Higher Apprenticeship Programme: Purchasing and contract management roles

Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), a bespoke trading entity of MOD: Engineering, finance, commercial 

Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), an executive agency of MOD: Engineering, laboratory technicians and business administration

UK Hydrographic Office, an executive agency of MOD: IT and business administration

The Armed Forces also offer a wide variety of apprenticeships. Check out the links below:


Royal Air Force

Royal Navy

During an apprenticeship, you’ll be able to gain on the job experience, while working toward a qualification and getting paid! You’ll also be the driving force behind solving real world challenges, contributing to mission critical projects and making a real difference to society.

Person Controlling Flight Simulator

Skills You Need

There are a number of skills that are integral to a successful career in defence. Don’t worry if you don’t possess these skills just now as you’ll gain and develop them during your training/apprenticeship. Some of these skills will be transferable from school/college as well as previous job you may have had and include:

  • Communication
  • Attention to detail
  • Team player
  • Problem solving
  • Decision making
  • Leadership
  • Work ethic
  • Flexibility / adaptability
  • Interpersonal skills

Search and Apply

There really are a wealth of opportunities within the defence industry. Many of these opportunities also lead to career progression.

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