Should I join RE geo & compete uni while in the army or try & complete degree before?

#1
Good day everyone. This is my first time posting. I certainly have been an avid reader of a number of posts that have been made on this forum. Really enjoy the banter and the sarcastic jabs. Comedy at its best. Anyways, my issue is this: I am a Jamaican currently applying to join the British army, but interestingly enough I am also in the process of completing my degree. However, I really want to be in the army and plus financially, it would see me being put on better footing. As such I am seriously considering the geo tech RE trade, Geo Surveyor and Des. Draughtsman E&M, in that order of preference. Also, to give a better understanding of where I stand academically, I am currently pursuing a degree which is completely unrelated to any of these areas but unfortunately also not very marketable in these tough economic times. Thus, my question is this: Do you think I should try and join the army and complete the degree via distance education and thereby essentially teach myself and just go and sit the exams when that time comes around as seeing that I would only have one more year of the degree program to complete, or would you recommend gritting my teeth and just trying to complete the degree and try another application to join after the degree has been completed? Also, in regards to my list of preferences of Trades, would you recommend I pursue them in that order of importance? Also, is the Geo Tech trade really quite as boring as I've read in various places? Are there good promotion possibilities to possibly commissioning? Do I have to wait to be recommended to commission or can I seek it on my own after a few years in the ranks? And finally, what pay band do all three trades I mentioned before fall in and do they fluctuate between high and low bands as I move through the ranks?

P.S. - My apologies for the long post but your advice would be most graciously appreciated as I am in desperate need of some objective and knowledge-based advice. Thanks a lot in advance.
 
#2
how long are you into the degree????
 
#3
I'm about to do my final exams for 2nd year...so I would have just one year left. I know, one year sounds small but I'm thinking, should I hold out and complete it here just so I can have the 'prestige' of saying I completed my degree before I joined the army or just complete via distance learning once I start my job in the army?

P.S. - I would complete final exams and then go into the army hopefully by the end of the year...as I hear the intake for especially geo. tech is rather quick and I am quite interested in starting in this job area. Also, even if I completed my degree I am certain I will never be using my degree as I am completely uninterested in the job area that it leads to which would essentially force me to do a Masters in the degree and then go into Academia as a lecturer which is not my cup of tea.
 
#4
Finish your degree first. There is no guarantee you will go 42, you could always change your mind through training (as I've seen many times before)

You only have a year left of your course and having it (even if you do go Geo) will only strengthen your options in the future after the Army.

Graduates also gain other advantages like fast-track promotion from 2Lt to Lt and a Lt's pay for that entire duration. Etc...
 
#5
But I DO plan on finishing it...just not before joining...I would complete it while in the army before I seek to commission...so my question is, seeing that I do plan on finishing it regardless, what advantage or major difference does it make it finish it before I enter instead of after, considering that as a Jamaican I cannot enter as an officer anyways even if I had completed the degree before due to citizenship restrictions regarding the army? I would like to hear from anyone what distinct advantage, whether it be moving through the ranks faster while being a soldier, etc. having my degree before entering could possibly offer me if my intention is to complete the degree nonetheless as soon as it is possible after having entered the army. I do agree with you completely in regards to it giving me options, slim as they may be considering that like I said, my degree area seriously is not too marketable right now due to economic crunch and lecturing really does not seem my calling, but still I plan on finishing it no matter what. Still, could anybody give some concrete pros and cons they believe I should consider in making the decision of finishing it before joining versus finishing it after joining. Again, its not an issue whether I will be completing it or not...I will be, its just a matter of when which I would like some responses on. Thanks.
 
#6
But I DO plan on finishing it...just not before joining...I would complete it while in the army before I seek to commission...so my question is, seeing that I do plan on finishing it regardless, what advantage or major difference does it make it finish it before I enter instead of after, considering that as a Jamaican I cannot enter as an officer anyways even if I had completed the degree before due to citizenship restrictions regarding the army? I would like to hear from anyone what distinct advantage, whether it be moving through the ranks faster while being a soldier, etc. having my degree before entering could possibly offer me if my intention is to complete the degree nonetheless as soon as it is possible after having entered the army. I do agree with you completely in regards to it giving me options, slim as they may be considering that like I said, my degree area seriously is not too marketable right now due to economic crunch and lecturing really does not seem my calling, but still I plan on finishing it no matter what. Still, could anybody give some concrete pros and cons they believe I should consider in making the decision of finishing it before joining versus finishing it after joining. Again, its not an issue whether I will be completing it or not...I will be, its just a matter of when which I would like come responses on. Thanks.
Hi Nik

If you only have a year left to complete your degree, I would be tempted to complete my degree but start the Army application process now.

Reading between the lines, on the attached website, the recruitiment process will probably take the best part of the year anyway.

Overseas Applications

In addition, you may find it hard to fit in the study for a technical trade and your degree at the same time.

Good luck with your exams and for your future!

Jack
 
#7
I would finish your degree because it is very difficult to squeeze in studying whilst in your first couple of years of service simply because of the amount of training courses you have to do. For Geo you do basic training, Cbt Engr training, C + E driver training and then your geo training!

You may also find that your degree can only be completed full time or part time. Again, due to the unpredictable nature of the Army you can not say for sure you will be able to make it to class every week. I'm currently in the final year of a distance learning degree so can speak from first hand experience. Doing a degree whilst in the Army is far from easy. You need to find the time to study which can be very difficult. I am not trying to put you off joining the Army, I just think by holding off a year, by which time waiting times for joining up may have reduced, would be a better option.

Out of interest, why did you study for a degree which has no use and leads you down a career path that you don't want to do?
 
#8
Hey Jack, I am strongly considering what you have brought up hence my dilemma. But here is where it gets tricky: I have already started the process and am just waiting for the come-forward letter which hopefully should be received in the next few weeks. As such, upon receiving the come-forward letter, once in the UK, I am expected to remain in the UK throughout to complete ADSC and await my basic start date. Plus, airline tickets from Jamaica to the UK are nowhere near cheap, due to how devalued the Jamaican dollar is versus the US dollar and GBP which are what the tickets are priced in online. As such, if I was to return to Jamaica, it would take some time to work up the funding again to buy another ticket to go back to the UK. Thus, if I come forward, I'm coming forward to pass the test, wait and go right in. Only after having completed both phase 1 and phase 2 training do I think I would have enough money to buy a ticket to go back to Jamaica and return to the UK. And the other little money I would have would be to sustain me while I'm in the UK. As to the issue of studying for a technical trade and a degree at the same time, I would complete the phase 2 training before I complete the degree as completing it would not be essential to my progress in the trade area but more so for when I am eligible to request to commission. As such I would seek to complete the degree as soon as I complete phase 2. What do you think?
 
#9
Actually, I ended up in the degree program as a back up plan as the degree program I had initially qualified for was way too expensive for me to afford. As such I was planning to try and use this current degree to hopefully find a job and then save enough to go and pursue the degree I had initially wanted to and transfer to that career path once I completed the degree. But the more I'm doing this degree and meeting persons who have completed the degree, all of them are migrating as Jamaica practically sees no use for that degree area for the most part unfortunately, unless its academia. Believe me, I understand that completing the degree would be nowhere near easy, but I don't necessarily need easy, I just need possible. Because when I juxtapose it against staying just to complete the degree which I could complete while being in the army I can't help but feel like joining would essentially lead me to be doing the proverbial 'killing two birds with one stone'. Also, as to how I would complete the degree, have already done my bit of research on UK universities and spoken with my local university and they assure me that my credits could be transfered to a UK university and I could complete the degree via distance learning according to the UK universities I have researched. And these universities do indeed accept credit transfers from the local university I am attending. As to what the geo tech training entails, I am aware of it and thus would only seek to complete the degree after having completed all of that. I am very aware that trying to complete it at the same time as doing any of that would be truly setting myself up to fail. As to the distance learning, in truth I sorta feel like I'm doing distance learning already anyways as the course lecturers here just don't give notes, etc. so I have to be teaching myself everything as what I hear in the lectures are FAR from adequate to even complete the simplest of assignments given. So I am in no way put off by the work expected in completing a degree via distance learning. Still, any other pros and cons are gladly requested or correction to the viewpoints I have put forward as well.

P.S. - Plant Life, mind if I ask what corp/regiment you are in and which university you are pursuing your distance learning degree with?
 
#10
You cannot do any of the jobs mentioned due to them being SC jobs and you WILL NOT have the required residency for Security Cleared jobs if you haven't been in the UK for 4 years minimum.

Finish the degree anyway, I have known a lad who failed the GEO Assessment board even though he had a degree in Geography so even though people might have the education they still might not be what the RE are looking for.
 
#11
You cannot do any of the jobs mentioned due to them being SC jobs and you WILL NOT have the required residency for Security Cleared jobs if you haven't been in the UK for 4 years minimum.
What? You're joking right? Mind providing a link to where I can read that information for myself?

I know that I won't be able to do anything from the Royal Signals or Intelligence Corp but where did you see that about those Geo jobs? Please provide link to where I can read it.
 
#12
Nevertheless, Nik, your posts are the most cogent and clearly written that I have seen on ARRSE for a long time so, go for it. I know that there are rules and regs applied to joining, but the Corps or Royal Engineers has ways and means of getting the people it needs into the places it needs them. So start your applications now alongside your studies and GO FOR IT. Don't take no or maybe for answers, but push hard. Keep us informed please.
 
#13
Thanks a lot eodmatt. That really means a lot. However, the post by THE_IRON truly has me concerned to say the least. I really would like to join the army this year as I really do believe that I could complete the degree and still effectively complete and live up to my obligations with the army. Still, if I will not even be considered due to Security Clearance issues then I am truly unsettled. However, in having made my application, I was requested to send a police report which was taken from our national security database which showed that I have never committed or have been convicted of a crime, misdemeanor, etc. before and as such would this be enough security clearance for them? Once again, please provide a link to the page so I can read the information on this issue for myself please? Also, eodmatt, do you have any advice or anybody you could point me to so as to get further information? That would be most greatly appreciated if you did.
 
#14
Ok either you can trust me on the fact that anyone going for a SC job (GEO is SC) are not permitted to join as an Overseas applicant (which you are) without the required Residency if you don't believe me in this fact so be it.

Regarding your application and your degree the process itself will take a good 3-6 months plus minimum from you coming over to UK even if you have started your application with the overseas cell. Even if you pass at ADSC with a good A grade you could be waiting a long time before being allocated in this current climate so expect to renew your VISA on a couple of occassions minimum (ive had applicants who are on there 3rd + Visa extention which the applicant pays for out own pocket)
Even if you had the required residency it would take a further 3-6 months to get loaded on a GEO assessment board so even if you were the best candidate possible look at 12-18 months minimum.

As said my advice finish the degree.......speak to overseas cell regarding Residency (which is set in stone by RG) then make sure you read through the countless stickies in the joining up forumn especially the Recruiters advice one..........most of your questions have been answered in there.......take or leave my advice its up to you.
 
#15
Ok. Thanks for the advice THE_IRON. Gonna do some reading and ask about the Security Clearance issue in regards to Geo. Not that I do not believe you but I like having things in official writing so that if needs be I can hold somebody to it if things are actually different than it says on paper. So, gonna ask for some official word in writing to be sent to me on the issue. As to the matter of the waiting period...wow....never realized it was that long a wait. But my question is, why is there such a massive waiting list and yet on the army website it is being massively advertised as being one of the areas with the greatest need for individuals right now? Anybody care to comment on this discrepancy for me please?
 
#16
Hey Jack, I am strongly considering what you have brought up hence my dilemma. But here is where it gets tricky: I have already started the process and am just waiting for the come-forward letter which hopefully should be received in the next few weeks. As such, upon receiving the come-forward letter, once in the UK, I am expected to remain in the UK throughout to complete ADSC and await my basic start date. Plus, airline tickets from Jamaica to the UK are nowhere near cheap, due to how devalued the Jamaican dollar is versus the US dollar and GBP which are what the tickets are priced in online. As such, if I was to return to Jamaica, it would take some time to work up the funding again to buy another ticket to go back to the UK. Thus, if I come forward, I'm coming forward to pass the test, wait and go right in. Only after having completed both phase 1 and phase 2 training do I think I would have enough money to buy a ticket to go back to Jamaica and return to the UK. And the other little money I would have would be to sustain me while I'm in the UK. As to the issue of studying for a technical trade and a degree at the same time, I would complete the phase 2 training before I complete the degree as completing it would not be essential to my progress in the trade area but more so for when I am eligible to request to commission. As such I would seek to complete the degree as soon as I complete phase 2. What do you think?
Nik

You sound like a very motivated and bright bloke!

I am not sure how to best advise you (as you need someone with more knowledge than me) , other than to suggest, as other posters have, that you get all advice in writing and get confirmation of the security clearance requirements of the Geotech job..

Assuming the advice you have been given is correct, and the residency issue in insurmountable, I suggest that you considered asking foum members to recommend a trade that requires a bit of brain power but does not require a security clearance (Another RE trade,RAMC or REME?) or to recommend a less demanding trade that will give you time to study.

I would also, upon receipt of your "come forward" letter write and explain:
A) You have a year left to finish your degree.
B) That you need an indication of probable timelines if you do go to the UK as I presume that you will not be able to work while you await your joining date and will need to budget accordingly.
C) Explain that going to UK will entail the temporary abandonment of your studies because of the financial pressures that you detail.

I am sure that you will get sound advice.

Like I said, it sounds like a fairly complex problem and you need someone who knows more about the system than me!

Best of luck mate and sincere best wishes.

Jack

PS I also hate to suggest it, but have you considered the RN or RAF or even the yanks? I have come across a few Carribean lads in the US Air Force who had joined to pay for Uni.
 
#17
Nik

You sound like a very motivated and bright bloke!

I am not sure how to best advise you (as you need someone with more knowledge than me) , other than to suggest, as other posters have, that you get all advice in writing and get confirmation of the security clearance requirements of the Geotech job..

Assuming the advice you have been given is correct, and the residency issue in insurmountable, I suggest that you considered asking foum members to recommend a trade that requires a bit of brain power but does not require a security clearance (Another RE trade,RAMC or REME?) or to recommend a less demanding trade that will give you time to study.

I would also, upon receipt of your "come forward" letter write and explain:
A) You have a year left to finish your degree.
B) That you need an indication of probable timelines if you do go to the UK as I presume that you will not be able to work while you await your joining date and will need to budget accordingly.
C) Explain that going to UK will entail the temporary abandonment of your studies because of the financial pressures that you detail.

I am sure that you will get sound advice.

Like I said, it sounds like a fairly complex problem and you need someone who knows more about the system than me!

Best of luck mate and sincere best wishes.

Jack

PS I also hate to suggest it, but have you considered the RN or RAF or even the yanks? I have come across a few Carribean lads in the US Air Force who had joined to pay for Uni.

Hey Jack, Thanks a lot for the advice. I shall be taking everything you said very seriously. Thereby, are you aware of any trades that do not need SC and which would be a bit of brain work so that I don't get bored easily? Also, I have thought about the RN and RAF but they are just not my cup of tea as my mentor who inspired me was an RAC Major. Indeed, he had an amazing time in the army and so I would like nothing more than to walk in his footsteps in regards to joining the army. Also, he has noted to me that the RAF and the RN have quite a peculiar culture, as does the army, but indeed the army culture seems more appealing to me. Also, could you advise me as to the RE, REME and RAMC trades that do not need SC, or if it is easier, could you please inform me of the trades within those corps that DO need SC so I can know which trades I will have to steer clear of for now. In regards to joining the US army, as a Jamaican I cannot join their army from Jamaica as I am not a US citizen nor am I resident of the US. Also, in truth, I have no sense of preference towards the US army as I am a history lover and indeed the British army's history appeals to me more than anything else as they are indeed the greatest fighting force on earth. The British army is about legacy and tradition, as so many great men have come through the British army and even after their deaths, their contribution and legacy still lives on. That is what I hope to possibly achieve someday. For as is often noted, 'All men are destined to live for only a certain period of time, but their legacy and the contributions to the world have the potential to live forever.' In truth it is within this incredible, history rich institution that I would love to have my legacy remembered and developed through. Anyways, really hope I can receive a response soon re: the trade areas actually open to me in the aforementioned Corps. All the best.

P.S. - Anyone who could possibly give some advice as to the Corps or trade area they believe I would do well is more than welcomed to leave a comment as well. Thanks in advance.
 
#18
Hey Jack, Thanks a lot for the advice. I shall be taking everything you said very seriously. Thereby, are you aware of any trades that do not need SC and which would be a bit of brain work so that I don't get bored easily? Also, I have thought about the RN and RAF but they are just not my cup of tea as my mentor who inspired me was an RAC Major. Indeed, he had an amazing time in the army and so I would like nothing more than to walk in his footsteps in regards to joining the army. Also, he has noted to me that the RAF and the RN have quite a peculiar culture, as does the army, but indeed the army culture seems more appealing to me. Also, could you advise me as to the RE, REME and RAMC trades that do not need SC, or if it is easier, could you please inform me of the trades within those corps that DO need SC so I can know which trades I will have to steer clear of for now. In regards to joining the US army, as a Jamaican I cannot join their army from Jamaica as I am not a US citizen nor am I resident of the US. Also, in truth, I have no sense of preference towards the US army as I am a history lover and indeed the British army's history appeals to me more than anything else as they are indeed the greatest fighting force on earth. The British army is about legacy and tradition, as so many great men have come through the British army and even after their deaths, their contribution and legacy still lives on. That is what I hope to possibly achieve someday. For as is often noted, 'All men are destined to live for only a certain period of time, but their legacy and the contributions to the world have the potential to live forever.' In truth it is within this incredible, history rich institution that I would love to have my legacy remembered and developed through. Anyways, really hope I can receive a response soon re: the trade areas actually open to me in the aforementioned Corps. All the best.

P.S. - Anyone who could possibly give some advice as to the Corps or trade area they believe I would do well is more than welcomed to leave a comment as well. Thanks in advance.
As I said, I am not the best person to advise you and suggest that you start another thread.
 
#19
Nikolai - there is a very old (late 80's) joke recruitment poster, detailing two soldiers stuck in a muddy hole in the middle of nowhere, tired, cold, wet, hungry. The punch line is "that's the reality. if you want to hear the bullshit, visit your local Army Career Recruiting Office". And that sums it up. There is the bullshit that the MOD "markets" about the Forces, and the reality that hits you once you signed.

Finish your degree. Yep, the grass is greener on the other side, and the concept of being in the Army (for whatever reasons), plus the financial appeal, might be very green compared to your current situation. But then there is the reality. Will you be able to "hack" Basic Training - can you take 12 weeks of bullshit and being run ragged. Do you like the people you are with. Will you get the Geo trade designation. If you do, will you pass the training. Once in, will you like the posting.

If you DONT, then you will be in your very own personal definition of hell. Stuck in a country away from home, in a regimented system that you don't like, possibly without the career you wanted. And with absolutely nothing. No trade, no degree. And all the time thinking "why didn't I finish my degree, it was only another year". (Right now, you are perhaps thinking " its another whole year").

You might not think your degree is relevant to anything. BUT a degree is a degree. Many positions in civvy street demand a degree just to get through the initial HR CV sort - no degree, CV in the bin. Then they look at relevance...

The chances of completing a degree before you get to a unit (completed all training) are zilch. You simply do not have the time, let alone energy, in training. Once in a Unit, quite apart from Operational tempo and training/exercise commitments, there are other 'distractions' - such as the naafi and nightclubs. DONT underestimate the appeal of wanting to 'fit it' with your muckers!

An OU demands a minimum of 15hrs study per week. Doesn't sound a lot, until you realise that that is two days, or 3hrs/day - 7pm to 10pm EVERY night. An OU's appeal to a civvy employer is not the degree, but the sheer time management and dedication involved in gaining it. And it still needs a two weeks study course each summer - the Army might grant extra leave, but otherwise thats 2weeks out of your entitlement. Easy to say "I can do that" now, but its a different matter when you've just come back from NI/Balklands/Iraq/Afghan and really like the idea of a week in Ibizia with the lads. Or going home.

I was really fortunate when I left, and with one exception never needed a degree. But despite years of solid technical and management experience (IT, telecomms, Project Management), I'm hitting brick walls in HR because I do not have a degree...

The Army will always recruit - its not going anywhere, and has no need of a "plan B". You, on the other hand, only have one shot at life. Finish your degree, and look at joining AFTER wards, with the qualification under your belt.
 
#20
Nikolai - there is a very old (late 80's) joke recruitment poster, detailing two soldiers stuck in a muddy hole in the middle of nowhere, tired, cold, wet, hungry. The punch line is "that's the reality. if you want to hear the bullshit, visit your local Army Career Recruiting Office". And that sums it up. There is the bullshit that the MOD "markets" about the Forces, and the reality that hits you once you signed.

Finish your degree. Yep, the grass is greener on the other side, and the concept of being in the Army (for whatever reasons), plus the financial appeal, might be very green compared to your current situation. But then there is the reality. Will you be able to "hack" Basic Training - can you take 12 weeks of bullshit and being run ragged. Do you like the people you are with. Will you get the Geo trade designation. If you do, will you pass the training. Once in, will you like the posting.

If you DONT, then you will be in your very own personal definition of hell. Stuck in a country away from home, in a regimented system that you don't like, possibly without the career you wanted. And with absolutely nothing. No trade, no degree. And all the time thinking "why didn't I finish my degree, it was only another year". (Right now, you are perhaps thinking " its another whole year").

You might not think your degree is relevant to anything. BUT a degree is a degree. Many positions in civvy street demand a degree just to get through the initial HR CV sort - no degree, CV in the bin. Then they look at relevance...

The chances of completing a degree before you get to a unit (completed all training) are zilch. You simply do not have the time, let alone energy, in training. Once in a Unit, quite apart from Operational tempo and training/exercise commitments, there are other 'distractions' - such as the naafi and nightclubs. DONT underestimate the appeal of wanting to 'fit it' with your muckers!

An OU demands a minimum of 15hrs study per week. Doesn't sound a lot, until you realise that that is two days, or 3hrs/day - 7pm to 10pm EVERY night. An OU's appeal to a civvy employer is not the degree, but the sheer time management and dedication involved in gaining it. And it still needs a two weeks study course each summer - the Army might grant extra leave, but otherwise thats 2weeks out of your entitlement. Easy to say "I can do that" now, but its a different matter when you've just come back from NI/Balklands/Iraq/Afghan and really like the idea of a week in Ibizia with the lads. Or going home.

I was really fortunate when I left, and with one exception never needed a degree. But despite years of solid technical and management experience (IT, telecomms, Project Management), I'm hitting brick walls in HR because I do not have a degree...

The Army will always recruit - its not going anywhere, and has no need of a "plan B". You, on the other hand, only have one shot at life. Finish your degree, and look at joining AFTER wards, with the qualification under your belt.
Y'know what, Nik? There is some very sound advice here. The army will still be there in a years time too.
 

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