Unsure What Career Path To Take

J9R4W

Clanker
Hi all,

As the title says, I'm torn between applying for two different roles in the army and would appreciate any advice or info to help make a decision.

Some background about myself: I'm currently 27 and for the past 3-4 years it's been my sole aim to join the Royal Marines. I first applied to join in 2018 at 23 after finishing my degree, to join as an OR. Unfortunately I was made PMU and had to wait 3 years to re-apply due to an inhaler on my record. So I waited and did other things until re-applying in 2021 and was again made PMU due to 2 courses of oral steroids I took at age 8 and 12. I have appealed that decision and am waiting for a response.

In the meantime, a friend in the army advised applying to the army as they have slightly different medical screening and are not as strict as the RN/RM. This I found to be true as I initially passed the army triage medical, even after telling the nurse all the details which made me PMU with the navy.

The roles that I'm considering are either applying as an as an infantry officer (something not on my radar when I first applied to the RM) or to join the Royal Artillery (as an OR) and apply to become a special observer with 4/73 battery.

The Paras seem like an obvious alternative to the Royal Marines, but my gut just tells me the Paras aren't for me and the para role just doesn't appeal to me as much as the special observer role does. I like the idea of working in small, independent teams behind enemy lines - more similar in some sense to the commando role though obviously without the 'offensive actions' of conducting raids etc.

On the other hand, being an infantry officer also sounds appealing to and would probably lead to a better life after leaving the army - probably better career prospects? I still don't think I know enough about what life as an officer would be like so if anyone could recommend any books etc., on it that would be helpful. I have recently read 'Stand Up Straight' and 'The Junior Officers Reading Club'.

Thanks for any info/advice.

BTW: I may post a copy of this in the officers section if that's allowed?
 
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In the meantime, a friend in the army advised applying to the army as they have slightly different medical screening and are not as strict as the RN/RM. This I found to be true as I initially passed the army triage medical, even after telling the nurse all the details which made me PMU with the navy.

The roles that I'm considering are either applying as an as an infantry officer (something not on my radar when I first applied to the RM) or to join the Royal Artillery (as an OR) and apply to become a special observer with 4/73 battery.

The Paras seem like an obvious alternative to the Royal Marines, but my gut just tells me the Paras aren't for me and the para role just doesn't appeal to me as much as the special observer role does. I like the idea of working in small, independent teams behind enemy lines - more similar in some sense to the commando role though obviously without the 'offensive actions' of conducting raids etc.

On the other hand, being an infantry officer also sounds appealing to and would probably lead to a better life after leaving the army - probably better career prospects? I still don't think I know enough about what life as an officer would be like so if anyone could recommend any books etc., on it that would be helpful. I have recently read 'Stand Up Straight' and 'The Junior Officers Reading Club'.

I find the different medical screening experiences quite curious as I would have thought it would be an uniform tri-service process.

I'm also struggling to see how nowadays time spent in the armed forces would 'benefit' you once you return to civvy street. If anything prospective HR will (sub) consciously bias against some potential maniac who's done a stint in the RM/ infantry/ army. This is semi-tongue in cheek btw, there are most likely users on here who identified a subsequent niche civvy job whereby previous forces experience was of benefit.

Perhaps your degree and the character traits that allowed you to achieve it would lead you to a better life, or has this not been your experience to date?

Lastly, in my time at Catterick as a SuT I knew a bloke that failed RM officer training and transferred to the infantry and a bloke that was back squadded into my intake from the paras. Both individuals were awarded best recruit for their respective intakes. At battalion I knew a bloke that had transferred from RMAS to Catterick. Quite frankly his skill set was wasted in the infantry and I think an officer took pity on him and found him a niche Int role somewhere in battalion. No idea what became of him.

The point of the above I guess is to aim high, confident in the knowledge that if it's not for you you can generally fall back on something such as a stint in the army as an OR with the rest of us mere mortals.
 

J9R4W

Clanker
I find the different medical screening experiences quite curious as I would have thought it would be an uniform tri-service process.

I'm also struggling to see how nowadays time spent in the armed forces would 'benefit' you once you return to civvy street. If anything prospective HR will (sub) consciously bias against some potential maniac who's done a stint in the RM/ infantry/ army. This is semi-tongue in cheek btw, there are most likely users on here who identified a subsequent niche civvy job whereby previous forces experience was of benefit.

Perhaps your degree and the character traits that allowed you to achieve it would lead you to a better life, or has this not been your experience to date?

Lastly, in my time at Catterick as a SuT I knew a bloke that failed RM officer training and transferred to the infantry and a bloke that was back squadded into my intake from the paras. Both individuals were awarded best recruit for their respective intakes. At battalion I knew a bloke that had transferred from RMAS to Catterick. Quite frankly his skill set was wasted in the infantry and I think an officer took pity on him and found him a niche Int role somewhere in battalion. No idea what became of him.

The point of the above I guess is to aim high, confident in the knowledge that if it's not for you you can generally fall back on something such as a stint in the army as an OR with the rest of us mere mortals.

Thanks for your reply. What I mean by the comment that an officer career would likely lead to better job prospects post-service is that, to my knowledge, former officers tend to get into managerial/leadership roles in civilian companies and tend to do quite well, as they have a proven track record of leadership experience. I perviously worked in finance and knew a few blokes that did that.

My degree has helped me to find good jobs as I was lucky enough to go to a good uni, but I want an active and challenging career - not one behind a desk. I realised this as a student and applied for the RM whilst finishing my degree.

I fully agree that aiming high is the best decision, but to me being a special observer in 4/73 or being an infantry officer are equal desirable jobs. Essentially I'm torn as, on paper, the officer role is more 'desirable' in terms of lifestyle and future prospects etc., but what actively interests me is a hands-on career in a specialist role - such as a commando soldier with the RM, or a special observer in 4/73. But then again, would it be the best option in the long term? I don't know at the moment.
 
@J9R4W , I agree that a stint as an officer would allow you to 'evidence' your leadership and managerial qualities (I was a JNCO and used this experience to 'evidence' on CVs my own ability to manage/ lead people in various scenarios). Perhaps also those years serving as an officer allowed that individual access to a group of people who could allow them to network better for the inevitable transition back into civvy street.

I think sometimes its just as important doing something you feel you'll enjoy in the short term, even if that may be at the expense of potential in the long term. Retrospectively, in a sense I wasted almost 6 years in the infantry. Academically, it was beneath my abilities. However, I wanted to experience being an infantryman and going on exercise and deploying to Afghanistan in this specific role. The experiences have enriched me as a person, though perhaps at the expense of using my twenties to develop and pursue prospects better suited to civvy street.

Hopefully numerous folk on here with different opinions/ experiences to ourselves will chip in to better assist you in shaping your own decisions.
 
I'm also struggling to see how nowadays time spent in the armed forces would 'benefit' you once you return to civvy street. If anything prospective HR will (sub) consciously bias against some potential maniac who's done a stint in the RM/ infantry/ army. This is semi-tongue in cheek btw, there are most likely users on here who identified a subsequent niche civvy job whereby previous forces experience was of benefit.
For what it's worth, my employer (American, and pretty large) actively seeks service leavers and reservists, because of their leadership and teamworking abilities and general can-do attitude to most situations. This is accorss all areas, and not resticted to those with niche experience.
 

J9R4W

Clanker
@J9R4W , I agree that a stint as an officer would allow you to 'evidence' your leadership and managerial qualities (I was a JNCO and used this experience to 'evidence' on CVs my own ability to manage/ lead people in various scenarios). Perhaps also those years serving as an officer allowed that individual access to a group of people who could allow them to network better for the inevitable transition back into civvy street.

I think sometimes its just as important doing something you feel you'll enjoy in the short term, even if that may be at the expense of potential in the long term. Retrospectively, in a sense I wasted almost 6 years in the infantry. Academically, it was beneath my abilities. However, I wanted to experience being an infantryman and going on exercise and deploying to Afghanistan in this specific role. The experiences have enriched me as a person, though perhaps at the expense of using my twenties to develop and pursue prospects better suited to civvy street.

Hopefully numerous folk on here with different opinions/ experiences to ourselves will chip in to better assist you in shaping your own decisions.

Thanks for the insight. I'd be the first person in my family to join the forces since WW1 so there's not many people I can speak to for info about a career in the military. Cheers.
 

Home Guard

On ROPS
On ROPs
Join as an Officer & supervise the work, join as a soldier & do the work.
What is your degree in as that might lead you to a corps or regiment?
 

J9R4W

Clanker
Join as an Officer & supervise the work, join as a soldier & do the work.
What is your degree in as that might lead you to a corps or regiment?
I know that I want to go for an infantry regiment if applying as an officer. Possibly apply for the Para's or Rifles (based on where I am in the UK).

I suppose the dilemma that I need to sort out is wether to go down the officer route or an elite/specialist role as an OR soldier.
 
I think it's wise to have a grand plan in mind as a general outlook - however, if the last few years have taught us anything, change and uncertainty are the only reliable constants.

Smart people will always make the most of any situation they're in and it would be a brave person to call what will be happening in ten years time - I'd be looking at whatever you want to do right now that will be enjoyable and interesting while being financially paid/secure.
 
There is quite a difference in role between an infantry Officer and the special observer battery. Additionally, if you failed selection you may find yourself as a line gun bunny lugging shells in a fashion you find unfulfilling. Id suggest go for RMAS if you believe you are suitable. From there you will be exposed to a variety of opportunities before you select a corps/Regt. You will also be able to apply for a variety of specialist units as a junior officer if you wish/meet the grade. The opinions that suggest go with what you will enjoy - I concur with. Plenty of time for misery when you are old.
 

J9R4W

Clanker
Thanks for the advice

AsterixTG

Rikki_Tikki_Tavi

I do find I'm more innately interested in a specialist role than a leadership/supervisor role. Though at 27 due to having to wait out the medical issues I feel like I'm overdue in sorting my life out and settling into a career. Cheers.
 
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Home Guard

On ROPS
On ROPs
The degree you have MIGHT help you get in to a regiment or corps easier than a line infantry regiment.
Unless its in creative writing/critical thinking then its the AGC(ETS)
 

J9R4W

Clanker
The degree you have MIGHT help you get in to a regiment or corps easier than a line infantry regiment.
Unless its in creative writing/critical thinking then its the AGC(ETS)
Not quite sure what you mean; I'm only interested in going for an infantry role as an officer. I would not want to serve in any sort of support/non-combat role.
 

Glad_its_all_over

ADC
Book Reviewer
Not quite sure what you mean; I'm only interested in going for an infantry role as an officer. I would not want to serve in any sort of support/non-combat role.
<shrug Your call, of course. I'm still waiting for any mention of leading soldiers as motivation for being an infantry officer.
 

Home Guard

On ROPS
On ROPs
Not quite sure what you mean; I'm only interested in going for an infantry role as an officer. I would not want to serve in any sort of support/non-combat role.
Well the Army might see your degree as a way in to certain regiment/corps X?
But if you want Infantry that's up to you but you might limit your chances of a commission?

Up to you, but if you get offered RE/REME but turned it down that could go against you.
Depends what is over subscribed at the time, I know someone who had a MEng who only wanted the paras, refused everything, went in the 2nd term? at RMAS got turned down for Para's and left Sandhurst, total waster.
 

J9R4W

Clanker
Well the Army might see your degree as a way in to certain regiment/corps X?
But if you want Infantry that's up to you but you might limit your chances of a commission?

Up to you, but if you get offered RE/REME but turned it down that could go against you.
Depends what is over subscribed at the time, I know someone who had a MEng who only wanted the paras, refused everything, went in the 2nd term? at RMAS got turned down for Para's and left Sandhurst, total waster.
I see what you're saying, that makes sense. I spoke to the officer in charge of officer recruitment for my area and he said that as long as you meet the standard then there will be opportunities to join an infantry regiment. He sounded pretty certain of that, but I suppose he's also trying to get candidates to apply as well.

I'm completely set on an infantry role, to the point where if I was offered only a place in a support regiment I would basically be devastated. As mentioned in my first post, it's been my dream to join the RM (as an OR) for a number of years now and if I could choose any job in the world it'd be that, though unfortunately the medical might not go my way - where as the army medical has passed me fit at triage stage. The way I see it is it's either try for infantry officer, or try for a specialist/elite soldiering role e.g., with 4/73 Battery. Both would offering really rewarding and challenging careers but obviously in very different ways and atm I just can't decide which is for me.

Thanks for the info though I appreciate the advice and insight.
 
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J9R4W

Clanker
<shrug Your call, of course. I'm still waiting for any mention of leading soldiers as motivation for being an infantry officer.
Doesn't that go without saying? For me going for a specialist/elite soldiering role or being an infantry officer are both highly desirable and challenging careers, but in different ways. My dilemma right now is deciding what role to try for.
 

Glad_its_all_over

ADC
Book Reviewer
Doesn't that go without saying? For me going for a specialist/elite soldiering role or being an infantry officer are both highly desirable and challenging careers, but in different ways. My dilemma right now is deciding what role to try for.
Apples and oranges. Special observer is a highly specialist niche role which has a pretty long and arduous glide path to enter and gives, no doubt, loads of job satisfaction doing a Special Thing with other Special People. Even as a non-Gunner, I suspect there are all manner of other highly satisfying jobs - as well as some utterly bone ones - in the Royal Regiment, but they're all 'manual labour' for at least the first few years.

Officer, whether infantry or otherwise, is an entirely different proposition. Ater an initial bulge of time spent with soldiers early on, the chances to do crunchy stuff in the field decline as the dreary cycle of staff and extra-regimental employment starts to bite. I gather, though, that time spent in command - whether platoon, company or battalion - is incredibly rewarding and if leading some of the most disrespectful, sarcastic, dishonest, hilarious, aggressive and generally ne'er-do-well soldiers in the world appeals (note here, the description applies pretty much to all soldiery, not just in the infantry), then crack on.
 
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Bobby_Bert

Old-Salt
Hi @J9R4W ,

I must warn you that you are up against a tight time-line, because the upper age limit for entry to Sandhurst is below 30 years on the first day of the Commissioning Course.

It would certainly not be impossible to achieve that, but it would require a considerable degree of focus on the application and no delays in the process – whether those be documentary, medical, or either of the two separate stages of selection through the Army Officer Selection Board at Westbury.

Quite apart from the Sandhurst upper age limit, the Infantry, also look increasingly carefully before accepting officer cadets from Sandhurst who are within a year or two of age 30 – because of the physical and leadership demands of the work of a junior commissioned officer. Some of the other Arms & Corps can sometimes afford to be less discriminatory.

Although it is very sensible to research various roles at this stage please note that officer cadets in junior term have the opportunity to learn more about the different Corps and Arms that make up the British Army, allowing them to make an informed decision when they come to decide which one they wish to commission into at the end of their time at RMAS. This, of course, is subject to Regimental Selection Boards in term two.

You may find it useful to attend the RMAS insight day (online) on 12 April 22. You will have the opportunity to hear from serving Army officers, Officer Cadets and Army careers staff, all of whom will be on hand to answer your questions during and after the presentation. The presentation will deliver an indepth look at life at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and will give you a chance to voice any questions you may have.

More here ; Army Officer Insight Events
 
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