Career advice: AT or ATO?


First of all please allow me to apologise for posting yet another thread about ATs, however I'm after some sensible answers to a few questions I have.

I came back from Herrick 12 as a stab infanteer last year and I'm starting to seriously hate my civvie job (electrical/comms engineer) to the point where I'd consider putting myself through the horrors of being in the army full time to avoid sitting at a desk pissing around with microsoft office for 8 hours a day.

I'm now 25, so if I want to do something specific with my life it's probably time to do something about it rather than mooching around wondering what could have been. I've therefore been giving some serious thought to the army as a long term career prospect.

I've always had a slightly unwholesome interest in ammunition, especially things that go bang. I found a demolitions course to be one of the most satisfying things I've ever done and during my PDT I was absolutely fascinated by IEDs.

So, looking at the various jobs available in the army, given all the above, and that I have a degree in engineering, I've been looking at joining the RLC with a view to becoming an ATO.

As I'm sure is the case with most people thinking about this, my ultimate aim is to train as a high threat operator. Unfortunately, information about how to do this is scarce.

I've applied for an AOSB brief and have asked for a fam visit to the RLC, though as I understand it the opportunities to find out about being an ATO will be limited.

So, what I want to know is...

Can you become a high threat operator as an ATO? I thought this was reasonably common place, but now I have the impression this is done by senior ATs, with ATOs taking some kind of troop commander role. I basically want to eventually be the guy doing the long walk.

If you can do this as a soldier or officer, which way can I get there the fastest (also, as a secondary consideration, which will pay more?)

What options are available if I don't pass all the courses? I don't want to spend my whole career checking bullets.

Speaking to a careers advisor, he said that if I have a degree and am intelligent, I could progress very quickly as a soldier, though he was very keen to stress I should probably be looking at Sandhurst. Should I take any notice of him?

Anyway, I would be very appreciative of some advice and will no doubt have more questions to come...

Sorry for the long post.

Someone in the AT trade will probably come and describe the roles better than me, but as an officer you will eventually be paid more than a soldier and officers are also doing dangerous jobs (and unfortunately being injured and lost) in Afghanistan too. Now take your pick.

If you're up to it, become an officer. You may have less of a say where you actually go when you commission though if you're a bit shit.


Kit Reviewer
If you join as an AT you will have to be a minimum of Sgt to become an operator. I believe that as an officer you cannot join as an ATO, but have to serve for a certain amount of time or be at a certain point of your career before being able to apply for the ATO course. Someeone else will be able to help you with that though. probably worth speaking to someone at an ACIO for proper info.

Good luck though,

Don't do it, its **** and you won't have a job in a couple of years.

Emigrate to Canada, Australia or New Zealand and become an ATO/AT there!!
To become a HT ATO at the earliest opportunity it will take:

pass AOSB
1 year at RMAS
2 years as a Troopy in a Log Regt (no ammo stuff)
18 months on the ATO course
at least 1 year at 11 Regt
Then have a crack at the HT course (not many pas it first time, or get on the course so early). so 5.5 years quickest to be a HT Op.

As an AT,
Pass AT selection
Phase 1 14 weeks
Phase 2 8-12 Months
1 Year at ATSG
3ish years at 11 Regt - almost certainly getting a tour or two either as No2 Op and/or doing storage
3 more years at 11 Regt or maybe 6 or 9.

by which time you could be a Sgt, then pass Def EOD Op Course then the HT course.

So quickest is to be an Officer, but you wont always be doing AT stuff. If the fam visit is with RLC CRLO and for Potential Officers, then you will almost certainly have the opportunity to speak to an ATO, especially if you flag up your questions early.
The routes above are quite correct, the AT route will see you taking a slower route to High Threat but with more time doing detail on ammunition (takes longer to sink in). However the ATO route has the added risk that you may not get to spend your time in ammo/IEDD type roles. (It might be worth looking at the relative pass rates on theHigh Threat course for AT/ATO too)

Other routes not mentioned here are the DEOC course which is 16 weeks to qualify you as a JS Operator.
The RE/RAF/Navy routes where the suitably qualified EOD personnel from each service are now also allowed onto the High Threat course.

If you have the brains and the qualifications for it I'd recommend you attempt the ATO route first as it has better long term prospects, there is a lot of presumed (IEDD) knowledge early on for the ATOs to catch up on but those that have the smarts and put the effort in all achieve the grade.


War Hero
By the time you've been an ATO for a couple of years and left your legs in Afghanistan you'll be back doing your 8 hours a day in front of MS Office once you've done your rehab and had your special legs fitted.

Even if you don't get smashed then as an officer you'll spend the rest of your career in front of a computer - the only difference being is that army computers are considerably more **** that any computer you'll find in civvy street, with the exception of the ones left at the dump.

Why don't you pick up some teccy job in the developing world doing computer stuff? Loads of opportunities and good money.

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