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Public Sector & Defence careers

Defence Services

What does the MoD do?

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is the central government department that oversees the UK’s defence strategy. The strategic direction that the department provides and its dedication to the development of military equipment and technology are essential for keeping the UK safe and secure. 

The MoD is also supported by a range of specialist agencies, which play a vital role in providing the UK’s armed forces with the right capability, resources and strategic guidance to carry out necessary defence operations in locations across the world.

We’re here to discuss the civilian career opportunities in this area, so if you’re looking to find out more about careers with the armed forces, check out the Armed Forces subsector now!

What do MoD employees do?

Each and every civil servant that works for the MoD is integral to the development and implementation of strategies that deal with emerging threats and volatile situations.

The policy making and operational support that these MoD personnel provide influences the deployment of armed forces, the distribution of resources and financial investment in the development of new military technology.

Furthermore, these strategies aim to improve the efficacy of military action and the provision of first-class training for defence personnel.

The MoD is also responsible for building and maintaining relationships with allied forces in different countries. The aim is to integrate the power of different armed forces in order to maximise and optimise their combined capability. By adopting a collaborative approach, these coalition forces can deal with shared threats more effectively.

Collaboration with other UK government departments is also important, as the MoD aims to play an integral role in the provision of other domestic services, such as healthcare and environmental protection.

Working in this area is not just about research, analysis and policy making though; a huge range of career opportunities are available for people wishing to work for the MoD or one of its agencies.

What does it take to get into defence?

People from all academic backgrounds are eligible for careers in this area, with administrative staff, military scientists, lawyers, financial advisors, photographers, catering staff and I.T. technicians all playing their part. Indeed, operational delivery is just as important as advising the ministers who make the high-level policy decisions.

Whatever route you choose to pursue within the defence services arena, you will be required to meet the civil service’s national and residency requirements.

You may also have to undergo extensive security clearance checks before you can start working. Everyone must undergo the Baseline Standard (BS) check; however, some people may also require a full Security Clearance (SC) or Developed Vetting (DV) check.

This higher level of security clearance can take around eight weeks to be processed by the Developed Vetting Agency (DVA). However, the level of security clearance you require entirely depends on the specific role you are offered and the level of access you will have to sensitive information.

What options do I have within the MoD?

It would be impossible to list the entire range of civilian roles that you can pursue within the MoD in this article, such is the size and scope of the organisation. Opportunities range from administrators, secretaries, research analysts, HR executives, linguists and librarians, to military scientists, engineers, estate managers, software developers, project managers and catering staff.

You can join the MoD straight out of school. The majority of these roles focus on lower level administrative and marketing positions or roles that focus on procurement, processing invoices or payroll. For instance, you could be working as a PA to a senior member of staff; you could be supporting the procurement department in their acquisition of military equipment; or you could be organising the payroll for MoD staff within the HR department.

Another non-uni entry route is via an official apprenticeship scheme. The MoD gives school leavers the chance to join craft and technician advanced apprenticeships and thus develop their career in a variety of practical positions.

Alternatively, if you’re looking to break into the MoD off the back of an undergraduate degree, you can start working for the MoD via the Civil Service Fast Stream graduate programme. If you enter at this level, you will be working as a research analyst to help develop policies, getting involved with operational delivery and the implementation of defence initiatives or working on the corporate service side of things in HR, finance or marketing departments.

The MoD’s Defence Engineering & Science Group also offers its own two-year graduate development scheme for talented engineering and science grads, as well as summer vacation schemes and sandwich placement year opportunities.

Science and engineering graduates can also develop their defence services career with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). This government agency employs a large number of talented grads each year on their two-year graduate development programme to help them in their quest to constantly develop and improve the military technologies used by the MoD and the armed forces.

Careers with this organisation are all about conducting scientific and technical research and developing solutions to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the UK’s weapon systems and military equipment. Much like the Defence Engineering & Science Group, the Dstl also offers sandwich placements and vacation schemes to university students.

Engineers and scientists can also develop their career within the Defence Support Group (DSG), which provides vital maintenance and technical support to the UK’s armed forces and helps them to upgrade and repair their equipment, vehicles and machinery.

Alternatively, if spatial sciences and cartography is more your thing, you could work for the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) and produce nautical charts, maps and other resources for the Royal Navy.

For more information on the specific kind of science and engineering careers available within the defence services arena, check out the Military Sciences and Defence Engineering subsectors now!