Communications Apprentice (RFA)

Service:Royal Fleet Auxiliary

The role at a glance

What you’ll do

As Communications Apprentice, it’s your job to guarantee the transmission and receipt of messages that are pivotal to our Replenishment at Sea operations. It’s a civilian role, but one that contributes to protecting our nation’s interests. From the moment you join you’ll gain hands-on experience with some of our most sophisticated equipment, learning how to use everything from message handling systems to satellite links, and embarking on a truly exhilarating career. 

If you have questions, talk to us

The role

  • Take your place within a professional ship’s company, working alongside senior officers from all branches to transmit and receive crucial information. You might be requesting essential supplies one day, and giving Royal Navy ships your estimated time of arrival the next.
  • Use complex equipment to help the ship perform its essential role. That means working with everything from high-speed data, to the Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS).
  • Learn about ICT and telecoms, and gain recognised qualifications in both subjects as part of your apprenticeship.
  • Outside of the Ops Room, you’ll have crucial duties to perform as part of the ship’s company, including firefighting, first aid, and being a member of the damage control team.

What you’ll get

Skills for life

Qualifications you'll gain

  • Gain a Level 2 BTEC Diploma in Communications
  • Gain a Level 1 BTEC Diploma in Functional Skills Maths, English and ICT

Skills you'll develop

  • An in-depth knowledge of state-of-the-art communications systems
  • Reliability and accuracy when transmitting vital messages


Career progression

On completion of your Apprenticeship, you may be offered a full Company Service Contract as a Communications Rating

What you'll need


  • You’ll need to be aged 16, there's no upper age limit
  • Entry requirements GCSE Maths and English Language at Grade 4/C or above (or equivalent)
  • 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. Note: Residency restrictions may apply

Skills and interests

  • A passion for the latest technology
  • Great at working as part of a team
  • First-class communication
  • A sense of adventure
Check Eligibility

Starting your career

Joining process

  • 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 Collingwood where you will begin your initial training
  • Interview - If you are successful at interview, you will be offered a contract

Initial training

As an apprentice you’ll combine real work with on and off the job training. You’ll complete 17 weeks training at HMS Collingwood in Fareham, including your MCA basic safety training, before embarking on your first phase of sea training. After this, you take leave, then return to HMS Collingwood for a further 16 weeks then your second sea phase.

There's also a swimming test, so if you can't swim, make sure you learn by the time you join us.