Starting your career is a big decision. It’s important to have a realistic and full picture of any career before you pursue it (or hastily dismiss it!) – but especially if, in the case of the Army, there are misconceptions or outdated stereotypes about what it involves.
You could be forgiven for thinking that all Army roles are very physical and it’s all about fighting wars. Or maybe you have questions about joining the Army as a woman. That’s why TARGETjobs has teamed up with the Army to dispel some of the most common myths and give you a better idea of the different directions a career with the Army could take you in.
Myth one: all Army roles are physical and on the front line
The truth: the Army offers so much more than you think.
Most people think being in the Army means serving on the front line. This is an option, but it’s not the only one.
Nurse. Engineer. Musician. Vet. Electrician. These are just some of the roles you can pursue a career in with the Army. Whether you want to be a radiographer or fancy yourself a chef, after passing initial training you can learn the skills and earn the qualifications needed to thrive in a role you choose. There are over 100 diverse roles available to pursue, while still getting to experience the same adventures as an infantry soldier.
Myth two: the Army isn’t a career for women
The truth: women belong in the Army.
The British Army was founded 361 years ago in 1660. It’s safe to say that, since then, times have changed. What was once an organisation only accessible to men has become one open to women. In 2020, the Army was named as one of The Times’ Top 50 Employers for Women.
Women are welcomed and encouraged in any and every role the Army offers, and the Army makes sure that everyone is supported and rewarded throughout their careers. It’s made big changes over the years to become a modern and inclusive place to work.
It’s normal to have questions if you’re a woman thinking about joining the Army. Responses to some of the most frequently asked questions can be found on the Army's website – from passing the fitness test, to accommodation arrangements and having a family.
Myth three: the Army is all about fighting wars
The truth: the Army is active in peace time as well as conflicts.
The Army is driven to make the world a safer, better place. Today’s Army is a modern, highly skilled force that tackles all kinds of missions. It is actively engaged in operational duties across the globe, including peacekeeping, providing humanitarian aid, enforcing anti-terrorism measures and helping to combat the international drugs trade.
Protecting the nation and its dependent territories will always be the Army’s first role and, if required, it will fight the nation’s enemies with absolute commitment. However, a standing Army provides depth. As well as conducting complex war fighting, it is the same highly trained solider who helps support the NHS and police, deals with floods, hurricanes and virus outbreaks worldwide, supports the fight against poaching in Africa and trains partner forces abroad.
Myth four: you’ll need superhuman strength and speed to pass the fitness tests
The truth: the Army’s fitness tests are very achievable and you’ll get the training to help you complete them.
Everyone who joins the Army will need to take a fitness test, but the requirements vary for different roles. Don’t worry too much about size or strength. The Army knows that everyone has something to give, whether that’s physical strength, leadership, problem solving or being a great motivator. And it makes sure that everyone gets the help and training they need to pass. If it takes you a little bit longer to get there, that’s fine – but you will be supported.
If you want to make a head start, the 100% ArmyFit app can help you prepare. The app is great for helping you develop your overall fitness levels; it has been designed by Army physical training instructors to help you build strength and stamina without risking injury.
Myth five: you can’t start a family in the Army
The truth: the Army is very supportive of you starting a family.
Juggling children and any career can be hard work, but the Army is supportive and prides itself on being one extended family. Families will usually be offered subsidised family homes and the Army has flexible working and flexible service options for those who wish to take them, including shared parental leave. As a woman in the Army, you’ll be well looked after throughout your pregnancy, with access to medical care and a maternity package.
Being in the Army does not mean you cannot see your family and friends. You’ll have plenty of free time. Day-to-day life normally involves working Monday to Friday, 8.30 am to 5.00 pm. You’ll finish work and spend your evenings however you like. Most of the time, you’re able to go away at the weekend if you want to – as long as you’re back in time for work on Monday. When you’re on exercises or operations, you’ll be away from routine life. Operations can last up to six months and you’ll be given plenty of notice. You’ll be able to stay in contact with loved ones, for example via telephone or video calls.
Myth six: the Army isn’t a ‘proper’ or ‘clear’ career path like other jobs are
The truth: a career in the Army offers the same, if not more, progression and benefits as other careers.
You’ll be given plenty of training to help you develop professionally and personally, including travel and Adventurous Training. You could find yourself walking in Wales, skiing in the Alps or exploring Belize. If you like playing sport, there is a huge range of Army sports on offer for you to take part in, including archery, ice hockey, judo and volleyball.
You’ll also have a clear career path to follow. As you rise through the ranks, you’ll be recognised for your hard work and you’ll get a pay rise too. An officer can expect to reach the rank of Captain within around three years and Major within another five to eight years. From there, there’s nothing stopping you from progressing further up the ranks, with General being the most senior rank in the Army.
Just like other top graduate employers, the Army provides a generous benefits package, including free medical and dental care, 30 days’ annual leave plus bank holidays, subsidised food and accommodation, free gym and sports facilities and automatic enrolment on the Army’s pension scheme.
Myth seven: Army veterans or service leavers can’t get jobs in ‘the real world’
The truth: the Army sets you up with skills for life and you can go on to a range of careers.
A career in the Army will help you to develop unrivalled experience and excellent personal qualities. You’ll gain a huge range of skills – discipline, teamwork, leadership, resilience, flexibility and problem solving to name just a few.
All these skills are hugely valuable and transferrable to a range of civilian careers, including at large corporate firms. Many organisations recognise the value that ex-military personnel can bring to the table and actively seek to recruit service leavers and veterans.
Employers that run their own military transition and recruitment schemes include: BAE Systems, Barclays, Barratt Developments, BT, Deloitte, DHL, FDM Group, Fujitsu, J.P. Morgan, KMPG, Network Rail, NHS – Step Into Health, and Persimmon.
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