trade/service question (metalsmith)

Hi lads,

As the title suggests I'm a bit stuck. This may be a bit of a long on but I'd appreciate any detailed answers.

So my current situation is that I'm in New Zealand doing a bit of travelling (don't go, its boring as hell). 27 years old, and all I seem to do while I'm supposed to be enjoying the life of a backpacker is think of my future. I have narrowed it down to a few trades but all of them are a huge departure from the type of work I've done since leaving school, and while this is definately what I need, I really don't know what I'd actually enjoy the most.

I'm torn between the navy (good for travel, bad for being on a boat in close proximity to everyone for so long) and the REME. I really want a technical or craft trade but I'm dreading starting in one and realising its not for me. So for the navy I'm thinking engineering technician marine or weapons tech. For the REME, I'm thinking Metalsmith or Shipwright. I'm just after any first hand imput about any of the trades. I know the lifestyle in the navy and REME is oging to be totally different and thats up to my indecisive self to figure out but I'm really interested in any of the trades. Thinking which has the best transfer to civiliain life, as my military career would come to an end at some point and although I may well fancy a total departure from my trade by that point, it would be nice to know what I come away with should I decide to continue along the same lines.

I read somewhere on here that shipwright and metalsmiths are going to be combined which would make things interesting. But is it still considered a dead mans trade? And how long is the wait to get in if anyone knows? Other than that, any info on day to day duties, your personal take on it, suggestions etc would be super appreciated.

As an aside, I have a SPENT conviction of drink driving from almost 10 years ago, will this impact me in anyway?

Thank you muchly in advance.


Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I would seriously look at becoming an ET(WE) or ET(ME in the RN.

There is currently a big shortage of engineers in the RN, as such promotion is very swift. It is quite possible to become a Leading Hand after 2-3 years and PO after 5-6.

You get extra pay for being on a ship, even when you're alongside, financially the RN makes much more sense. If it is mega bucks you're after, you can always apply for submarines later on in your career (although I would never recommend volunteering from day 1, as you'll be stuck there for life).

Living on a ship isn't a bad thing, mess deck life is generally brilliant and if you can keep up with the banter, you will enjoy it. On the newer ships you're in comparitively spacious 6 man cabins. Shore bases are generally all en suite single man cabins these days.

I joined at 16, did 6 years full time (I'm now a reservist) and left the mob having been to 42 different countries.

I'm now a Systems Engineer in civvy street and I earn about the same as an RN Commander.

The opportunities are there. Grab them.

And if you're still not convinced read this:

Pull up a bollard - Memoirs of a Matelot. | Army Rumour Service
Cheers for that ravers! Very insightful. Gives me tons to read through. I'll probably get back to you with more questions after i've gone through it all.

Appreciate your time


Unfortunately I do not know enough about the metalsmith and shipwright trades to give you detailed advice.

I can tell you though, that promotion is relatively slow in these trades in comparison to the technical trades and by @Ravers advice, it seems you might be better off going down the Navy route?

Add to that, just about every single Navy bod we've had in our exchange posts over the years, with the exception of one, has been a thoroughly bloody good bloke (or woman); most of which had been well travelled.

No surpise to learn that in a few cases the Army guys we supplied them in return decided to transfer after tasting a bit of the life...
Having just spent the past 3-4 hours solid reading the story on that link ravers posted, he does a great job of selling the navy life! Good story teller too.

So ravers, I got about 7 pages in to the point where you finish your tale so don't worry about answering if the answer to my question is contained in the link you kindly posted but... What quals did you come away with? You mention you got work in a gun factory and you had the chance to take an energy assessment course as part of the resettlement, but being a weapons tech, what types of roles would that qualify you for in general in the civilian world? Also, how well do you need to do on the initial test to get in as a WE?


Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I left with about half of the units of a Foundation Degree in Engineering. If I'd stayed longer I would've completed the full degree.

I am currently doing day release to top these up to a BEng.

I also got a handful of other bits and pieces including an NVQ L3 in Performing Engineering Operations and my L5 C&G Diploma which I did for resettlement.

On top of this I've also got a ton of random seamanship and firefighting certificates and what not.

This along with the experience I got in the RN was enough to get my foot in the door in the civvy engineering world, but I had to work my arse off to get further up the food chain.

I'm currently doing the APMP through the reserves (for free). This is an internationally recognised Project Management qualification that costs about £1500-£2000 to do in civvy street.

On top of these you can qualify for learning credits which are worth £1000 towards educational courses. I have 3 which I've never bothered to use.

If you're motivated and want to crack on and learn in your own time, the opportunity exists to properly rape the mob for tons of qualifications. However it is very easy to become distracted by pissing up and the sporting opportunities etc. I wish I'd spent more time learning, but I was having way too much fun to worry about that shit when I was a teenager.

In terms of employment opportunities when you get out, WEs don't just mess about with guns, we do all the comms kit, radar and other associated bits and pieces. It's probably more accurate to call an ET(WE) an "electro-mechanical technician."

The world is your oyster really, oil rigs, energy industry, factories, merchant navy etc. Unless you're a complete fuckwit, you will find well paid work outside the RN. There is a national shortage of skilled engineers, take advantage of this. The main thing you'll get out of the RN (aside from quals and training) is experience, organisational and leadership skills. These are the things you need to be capitalising on when promoting yourself to civvy employers.

Finally, I believe ET(WE) is one of the branches with the highest score required in the psychometric test. ME is slightly less (but still higher than most) from what I understand. You need to be reasonably switched on. If you have GCSEs and / or A Levels, possibilities exist for for fast track promotion and degree schemes etc.

@Ninja_Stoker is the man to talk to about this.
I think that's answered everything I needed to know. Cheers for being so in depth. Think I just have to get home and apply now. Will be stuck in NZ another few months but going home early next year. Would you recommend getting a practice book for the entry test? Been years since I've done anything remotely academic, I reckon I'll need to brush up.


Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
BBC GCSE Bitesize website. Revise basic GCSE maths and English. It's pretty basic stuff to be honest. Long multiplication and division, working out percentages etc.

Most people struggle with time. There are a ton of practice tests on the Internet. Just get used to answering those sort of questions and doing it quickly. It's really not a big deal.

The biggest stumbling block at present seems to be the medical. They're incredibly picky at the moment and people fail for things as mundane and stupid as too much earwax (I shit you not).

You also have to smash in a 2.4km run on a treadmill. You get about 12 mins to do it. Unless you're obese you shouldn't struggle here, but it's worth getting your phyz weighed off early so that it's one less thing to worry about at Raleigh.

Start running.


Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
No worries, best of luck. Keep us all posted on your progress.
another few questions for you Ravers if you don't mind?

What sort of job, or what was the title of the job you got straight out the mob? Clearly its going to vary based on what quals you leave with but im feeling a bit old now and likely won't even get in till 28 (as long as I'm not deemed to have too much ear wax), if i come out in my mid to late 30's I'm just wondering what sort of job I might get straight off the bat.

Secondly, this might be hard for you to answer. But my main goal long term is to settle down in Australia. I lived there for 2 years and loved it. Just superior to the UK in every way. Although I've conceded I'll pretty much be 'old' by the time I get there, I'm hoping to come away from the RN with enough skills to either emigrate, or get a sponsored job. Hence me wondering what sort of work you started with once you left.

Lastly, along the lines of the second question - do you know anything of transfers between the RN and royal Australian navy? Know anyone who's done it and what the process is? I've checked their unilateral recruitment page and at moment they want electronic techs (which sounds like ET(WE) from the description on the website) at able seaman and leading hand rates.

Had another read through your stories for the laugh too. Are you going to make a book or what haha? Its great!
Cheers again

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