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
  • For qualified roles you will need to have the ENG1 medical certificate, unrestricted for worldwide sea service
  • For trainees after successful interview you will be sent for the ENG1 examination, the AD will issue you with a certificate of fitness. This can certify you as:
    - Fit without restrictions (unrestricted) generally for a period of two years
    - Fit with restrictions (e.g. limiting your work to certain jobs or locations)
    - Temporarily or permanently unfit

Merchant Navy Medical Standards

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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Assistant Chef (RFA)

Use your cookery skills to make an increasingly important contribution to a truly global effort.

The role at a glance
  • Age: 16 - 99
  • Education: No qualifications
  • Salary: £26,000 Your minimum starting salary after training
  • Holiday: 21 days of paid leave for every month served on board ship
  • Progression: World-class comprehensive training programme
  • Benefits: Free food and accommodation when you’re on deployment
Find out more

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.

The role at a glance
  • Age: 16 - 99
  • Education: GCSEs
  • Salary: £14,794 starting salary during training
  • Holiday: 7 days of paid leave for every month served on board ship
  • Benefits: World-class comprehensive training programme
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.

The role at a glance
  • Age: 16 - 99
  • Education: GCSEs
  • Salary: £14,794 starting salary during training
  • Holiday: 7 days of paid leave for every month served on board ship
  • Benefits: Potential to travel around the world
Find out more

Cadet Systems Engineer (RFA)

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

The role at a glance
  • Age: 16 - 99
  • Education: GCSEs
  • Salary: £15,836 starting salary during training
  • Holiday: 7 days of paid leave for every month served on board ship
  • Benefits: Potential to travel around the world
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.

The role at a glance
  • Age: 16 - 99
  • Education: No qualifications
  • Salary: £14,794 Your minimum starting salary
  • Holiday: 7 days of paid leave for every month served on board ship
  • Progression: NVQs gain a Professional Cookery Diploma
  • Benefits: Free food and accommodation when you’re on deployment
Find out more

Communications Apprentice (RFA)

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

The role at a glance
  • Age: 16 - 99
  • Education: GCSEs
  • Salary: £14,794 your minimum salary during training
  • Holiday: 7 days of paid leave for every month served on board ship
  • Progression: BTEC gain a Level 2 BTEC Diploma in Communications
  • Benefits: Pension membership of a Civil Service Pension Scheme
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.

The role at a glance
  • Age: 16 - 99
  • Education: MCA Certified
  • Salary: £34,000 your minimum starting salary as a Third Officer
  • Holiday: 21 days of paid leave for every month served on board ship
  • Progression: £86,000 potential to earn over this amount as a Captain
  • Benefits: World-class comprehensive training programme
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.

The role at a glance
  • Age: 16 - 99
  • Education: No qualifications
  • Salary: £14,794 your minimum starting salary
  • Holiday: 7 days of paid leave for every month served on board ship
  • Progression: NVQ gain an Engineering Diploma
  • Benefits: Free food and accommodation when you’re on deployment
Find out more

Leading Hand Helicopter Controller (RFA)

Be the critical link between our rotary aircraft operating across ships and shore bases, all over the world.

The role at a glance
  • Age: 16 - 99
  • Education: GCSEs
  • Salary: £31,700 your minimum starting salary
  • Holiday: 21 days of paid leave for every month served on board ship
  • Progression: World-class comprehensive training programme
  • Benefits: Potential to travel around the world
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.

The role at a glance
  • Age: 16 - 99
  • Education: GCSEs
  • Salary: £30,881 your minimum starting salary
  • Holiday: 21 days of paid leave for every month served on board ship
  • Progression: World-class training and development
  • Benefits: Potential to travel around the world
Find out more

Logistics Supply Officer (Trainee) (RFA)

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

The role at a glance
  • Age: 16 - 99
  • Education: Degree
  • Salary: £25,000 your minimum starting salary as a Logistics Supply Officer Trainee
  • Holiday: 21 days of paid leave for every month served on board ship
  • Progression: Opportunity to earn over £62,000 at a Chief Officer
  • Benefits: Pension membership of a Civil Service Pension scheme
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.

The role at a glance
  • Age: 16 - 99
  • Education: MCA Certified
  • Salary: £34,000 your minimum starting salary as a Third Officer
  • Holiday: 21 days of paid leave for every month served on board ship
  • Progression: £80,500 potential to earn over this amount as a Captain
  • Benefits: Pension membership of a Civil Service Pension scheme
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.

The role at a glance
  • Age: 16 - 99
  • Education: Degree
  • Salary: £34,000 earn more than this amount from day one
  • Holiday: 21 days of paid leave for every month served on board ship
  • Benefits: Potential to travel around the world
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.

The role at a glance
  • Age: 16 - 99
  • Salary: £26,000 earn more than this amount from day one
  • Holiday: 21 days of paid leave for every month served on board ship
  • Progression: NVQ gain a Level 3 Engineering Diploma
  • Benefits: Free and accommodation when you're on deployment
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.

The role at a glance
  • Age: 16 - 99
  • Education: MCA Certified
  • Salary: £26,625 your minimum salary
  • Holiday: 21 days of paid leave for every month served on board ship
  • Progression: World-class training and development
  • Benefits: Potential to travel around the world
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.

The role at a glance
  • Age: 16 - 99
  • Education: MCA Certified
  • Salary: £26,963 your minimum salary
  • Holiday: 21 days of paid leave for every month served on board ship
  • Progression: World-class training and development
  • Benefits: Pension membership of a Civil Service Pension Scheme
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.

The role at a glance
  • Age: 16 - 99
  • Education: No qualifications
  • Salary: £14,794 your minimum salary during training
  • Holiday: 7 days of paid leave for every month served on board ship
  • Progression: MCA gain qualifications accredited by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency
  • Benefits: Potential to travel around the world
Find out more

Steward (RFA)

Use your first-class organisational skills to maintain the highest possible standards at all times.

The role at a glance
  • Age: 16 - 99
  • Education: No qualifications
  • Salary: £26,000 your minimum starting salary
  • Holiday: 21 days of paid leave for every month served on board ship
  • Progression: World-class comprehensive training programme
  • Benefits: Potential to travel around the world
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.

The role at a glance
  • Age: 16 - 99
  • Education: No qualifications
  • Salary: £14,794 your minimum starting salary
  • Holiday: 7 days of paid leave for every month served on board ship
  • Progression: NVQ gain a Hospitality Diploma
  • Benefits: Potential to travel around the world
Find out more

Systems Engineer Officer (RFA)

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

The role at a glance
  • Age: 16 - 99
  • Education: MCA Certified
  • Salary: £34,000 your minimum starting salary as a Third Officer
  • Holiday: 21 days of paid leave for every month served on board ship
  • Progression: £63,500 potential to earn over this amount as a Chief Officer
  • Benefits: Potential to travel around the world
Find out more