Armed forces technical officers are responsible for the maintenance and management of technical military equipment, including communications gear, weapons, ammunition, submarines, ships, jets, helicopters, tanks and other land vehicles.
These guys are also tasked with project management activities when it comes to upgrading existing equipment and the design and development of new systems.
Furthermore, these military technical support officers are responsible for making sure all weapons, equipment and state-of-the-art communications devices are functioning effectively in the heat of battle.
Essentially, armed forces technical officers are the dynamic problem-solvers that save lives and help the UK’s armed forces to be as effective as possible. These officers are in command of a team of specialist military technicians and engineers.
They are also responsible for leading training exercises, testing the fitness and endurance of their team and making sure that they are mentally and physically prepared to carry out technical duties in combat situations.
From time to time, technical officers may liaise with manufacturers during the design and development of military equipment. They will then test the various weapons, vehicles and devices during simulated combat situations in order to assess the battle readiness of the infrastructure, machinery, software, hardware and communications systems.
Salary & benefits
Starting salaries for graduate officers range between £25,000 and £28,500, increasing gradually between the start of service and the completion of basic officer training.
Experienced officers can earn between £48,000 and £100,000. Some specialist technical officers, such as bomb disposal experts, will also receive additional allowances.
Your working environment is likely to depend on your area of specialism. For instance, if you’re a technical officer in the Royal Navy, you may spend a significant amount of time working on a military vessel out at sea, while other technical officers for the RAF and the Army often work on military bases in the UK.
Understandably, you may be required to work in dangerous combat situations. Furthermore, you may be required to test weapons, communication devices and information systems in hostile weather conditions and unfavourable environments.
Given the nature of this profession, technical officers must be graduates with a strong academic background in a technical or scientific discipline.
Technical officers in the RAF and the Royal Navy are usually graduates with degrees in any engineering or scientific discipline, while the Army has specific requirements based on the corps where the officers are placed.
Technical officer roles with the Royal Corps of Signals are open to all scientific and engineering graduates, but candidates with degrees in computer science, electrical engineering, electronic engineering, software engineering and telecommunications are generally preferred.
Positions with the Corps of Royal Engineers are only open to graduates with a degree in civil, electrical or mechanical engineering.
The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) recruits graduates with degrees in maths, physics, computer science, software engineering, aeronautical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, electronic engineering, mechanical engineering or production engineering.
Training & progression
Initial officer training is provided by the academies of the respective armed forces at Sandhurst (Military), Cranwell (RAF) and Dartmouth (Navy).
Training for technical officers in the army takes 11 months, while training in the RAF tends to last around seven months. If you become a technical officer with the Royal Navy, the training period tends to involve seven months’ training on land and four months at sea.
Additional training for specialist technical skills is usually provided during your first posting and at regular intervals thereafter. Some technical officers may even take up advanced postgraduate qualifications and training at the Defence College of Management & Technology at Shrivenham.
As you progress in your military career, you will move into senior command and managerial positions within the armed forces. Alternatively, you may even be seconded to work with international organisations such as NATO.
The professional and technical skills you will gain as an armed forces technical officer will be useful when it comes to taking up technical and managerial positions in both the public and private sectors upon completion of your military service.