How to join the RFA

Life at sea with the RFA takes a set of unique personal qualities. Whether you’re just starting out or have experience working in another merchant shipping company, there are opportunities for you, providing you have the determination, ambition and ability to work as part of a team. And as a civilian organisation, our eligibility criteria are different to the Royal Navy, so if you’ve served in the past you could still join our fleet and continue your career.

Eligibility

In general, the eligibility criteria for the RFA is as follows, however there are variations depending on the role and branch you’re applying to.

  • You need to be aged 16 to 99
  • Applicants must be British, Irish or Commonwealth citizens. However, a number of career paths have nationality restrictions. Dual nationality will be considered providing the first nationality is British and certain residency criteria are met
  • You’ll need to have the ENG1 medical certificate, unrestricted for worldwide sea service

If you have questions, talk to us

The joining process

Officers and Cadets

  • Apply – Fill in an online application form
  • Eligibility – We will request copies of certification to ascertain your suitability for the role
  • Psychometric test – You will be asked to attend an Armed Forces Careers Office close to your home where you will conduct a psychometric test. Prepare by using our practice test
  • Interview – On successful completion of the test you will be invited to Portsmouth for a Suitability Interview that will confirm that you’re ready for the Admiralty Interview Board (AIB).
  • AIB – You will then be invited to attend the AIB, where you will undertake one and a half days of physical and mental assessments. You can get more information on what’s involved and how you can prepare here
  • Training – If successful, you will be offered a place at British Royal Naval College (BRNC) Dartmouth where you will begin your initial training

Qualified Ratings

  • Apply – Fill in an online application form
  • Eligibility – We will request copies of certification to ascertain your suitability for the role
  • Sift – Your application will go forward for sift by a Subject Matter Expert (SME) who will check that you have the knowledge and potential to succeed in your chosen role
  • Psychometric test – You will be asked to attend an Armed Forces Careers Office close to your home where you will conduct a psychometric test. Prepare by using our practice test
  • Interview – Once you’ve made it through the sifting process, you will be invited to attend an interview, where we will ascertain your suitability for life in the RFA. See how you can prepare here
  • Training – If successful, you will be offered a place at HMS Phoenix where you will begin your initial training

Apprentices

  • Apply – Fill in an online application form
  • Eligibility – We will request copies of certification to ascertain your suitability for the role
  • Psychometric test – You will be asked to attend an Armed Forces Careers Office close to your home where you will conduct a psychometric test. Prepare by doing our practise test here.
  • Sift – Your application will go forward for sift by a Subject Matter Expert (SME) who will check that you have the knowledge and potential to succeed in your chosen role
  • Training – If successful, you will be offered a place at HMS Sultan, HMS Raleigh, or HMS Collingwood, depending on your apprenticeship where you will begin your initial training

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Cadet Deck Officer (RFA)

You’ll gain all the seamanship and leadership skills you need to provide logistical and operational support to the Royal Navy.

What you'll need:
  • Leadership potential and a sense of adventure
What you'll get:
  • Travel and world-class seamanship training 
Find out more

Cadet Marine Engineer Officer (RFA)

Learn how our ships work, providing the power that keeps them moving. Without you, vital operations would grind to a halt.

What you'll need:
  • Leadership potential and problem-solving ability
What you'll get:
  • Travel, training and a world-class engineering career
Find out more

Cadet Systems Engineer Officer (RFA)

Learn all there is to know about the complex electronic and communication systems on board our most advanced ships.

What you'll need:
  • Leadership potential and problem-solving ability
What you'll get:
  • Travel, training and a world-class engineering career
Find out more

Chef Apprentice (RFA)

You’ll provide your crewmates with the fuel they need to get the job done, as you learn everything about high-volume cooking.

What you'll need:
  • A passion for food and a sense of adventure
What you'll get:
  • Travel, world-class training and an apprenticeship like no other
Find out more

Communications Apprentice (RFA)

Using highly sophisticated equipment, it’ll be your job to guarantee the safe communication of operationally-vital information.

What you'll need:
  • A passion for technology and a sense of adventure
What you'll get:
  • Travel, world-class training and an apprenticeship like no other
Find out more

Deck Officer (RFA)

From fuel to food, you’ll be central to the operations that provide essential supplies to the Royal Navy, all over the world.

What you'll need:
  • Existing qualifications, leadership skills and problem-solving ability
What you'll get:
  • Travel, training and a world-class seamanship career
Find out more

Engineer Apprentice (RFA)

Learn how our ships work, providing the power that keeps them moving. Without you, vital operations would grind to a halt.

What you'll need:
  • A passion for technology and working as part of a team
 
What you'll get:
  • Travel, training and an apprenticeship like no other
Find out more

Leading Hand Supply Chain (RFA)

You’ll directly contribute to the operational effectiveness of the Royal Navy, providing essential supplies, all over the world.

What you'll need:
  • Excellent numeracy and problem-solving ability
What you'll get:
  • Travel, training and a world-class career
Find out more

Logistics Supply Officer (RFA)

It’s your job to make sure your crewmates get fed, paid and equipped, so morale remains high and missions stay on track.

What you'll need:
  • Leadership skills, multi-tasking and problem-solving ability
What you'll get:
  • Travel, training and a world-class career
Find out more

Marine Engineer Officer (RFA)

You’ll provide the ship’s power that delivers vital logistical and operational support to the Royal Navy, all over the world.

What you'll need:
  • Merchant Navy certificates of competency
What you'll get:
  • Travel, training and an engineering career like no other
Find out more

Medical Technician (RFA)

With first-class care, you’ll be responsible for the wellbeing of your crewmates, in challenging situations all over the world.

What you'll need:
  • To be an NMC Registered Nurse or HPC Registered Paramedic 
What you'll get:
  • Travel, training and a medical career like no other
Find out more

Motorman Grade 1 (RFA)

You’ll be part of the specialist team that keeps the ship’s mechanical systems running smoothly, so the Navy fleet can do its job.

What you'll need:
  • Merchant Navy experience and a passion for engineering
What you'll get:
  • Travel, training and an engineering career like no other
Find out more

Seaman Grade 1AT (RFA)

You’ll be central to the Replenishment at Sea operations that keep the Royal Navy’s warships moving, all over the world.

What you'll need:
  • Existing seamanship qualifications
What you'll get:
  • Travel, training and a Merchant Navy career like no other
Find out more

Seaman Grade 1 (RFA)

You’ll be central to the Replenishment at Sea operations that keep the Royal Navy’s warships moving, all over the world.

What you'll need:
  • Existing seamanship qualifications
 
What you'll get:
  • Travel, training and a Merchant Navy career like no other
Find out more

Seamanship Apprentice (RFA)

You’ll develop all the skills you need for a successful career at sea, where your role is crucial to the efficiency of the Royal Navy.

What you'll need:
  • A passion for life at sea and a sense of adventure
What you'll get:
  • Travel, world-class training and an apprenticeship like no other
Find out more

Steward Apprentice (RFA)

From Bahrain to the Bahamas, you’ll be on course for a first-class career in hospitality that will take you all over the world.

What you'll need:
  • A passion for hospitality and a sense of adventure
What you'll get:
  • Travel, world-class training and an apprenticeship like no other
Find out more

Systems Engineer Officer (RFA)

You’ll have overall responsibility for the vital electronics and communication systems that make every operation possible.

What you'll need:
  • Existing engineering and seamanship qualifications
What you'll get:
  • Travel, training and an engineering career like no other
Find out more