Qualified Systems Engineer Officer (RFA)

Fast track role A high priority role with an accelerated joining process.
Service:Royal Fleet Auxiliary
Hands on
A Royal Fleet Auxiliary Systems Engineer Officer at work.

The role at a glance

What you’ll do

As a Qualified Systems Engineer Officer in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), you’ll take overall responsibility for the vital electronics and communication systems that make every operation possible. The work you do will cover all areas of the ship. From the Bridge, to the Engine Room, you’ll lead a team in maintaining a broad range of complex systems, tackling a new challenge every day and gaining the experience you need to become a Chartered Engineer.

If you have questions, talk to us

The role

  • Work on everything from navigational aids, electronic and communication equipment, to PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) control and automation systems.
  • Collaborate with experts from the Marine Engineering, Deck and Logistics departments, exploring the different disciplines and developing skills that will stay with you throughout your career.
  • Act as mentor to the junior members of your team, and provide leadership to the senior rates who will rely on your advice and guidance as they tackle complex challenges every.
  • Without the ability to communicate with, and navigate to Royal Navy warships around the globe, we’d be unable to complete vital Replenishment at Sea operations.

What you’ll get

Skills for life

Qualifications you'll gain

  • A streamlined path to becoming a Chartered Engineer
  • MCA certification that is financially supported by the RFA

Skills you'll develop

  • An in-depth knowledge of Marine Engineering principles
  • The ability to lead and manage a highly skilled team


Career progression

You’ll start your training in the rank of Third Officer Systems Engineer. With some experience and further training, you could be promoted to Second, then First Officer. As Chief Officer, you’re one step away from becoming a Captain. At this rank you would head the RFA Systems Engineering Department. You’ll be chosen for promotion on merit, so if you work hard, you can quickly progress up the chain of command. As you move up the ranks youll have the opportunity to apply for shore posts which provide a wide range of career development opportunities including the management of technical projects, headquarters staff providing support to RFA ships. These would see you planning a key role in the running or development of the RFA.

What you'll need


  • Aged at least 17 years 6 months to apply, and 18 years to commence employment. There is no upper age limit
  • ENG1 medical certificate, unrestricted for worldwide sea service
  • Mandatory:
    MCA certified
    A minimum of an HNC (or equivalent) in Electrical/Electronic Engineering + At least 2 years relevant sea service.
    A minimum of an HND (or equivalent) in Electrical/Electronic Engineering + At least 2 years relevant industry experience.
  • Preferred:
    Degree or HND in Electrical/Electronic Engineering + an STCW AIII/6 ETO Certificate of Competency.
  • 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

  • An ability to thrive on responsibility and lead from the front
  • Confidence making key decisions in high-pressure situations
  • A problem solver, with a common sense approach, who can work well as part of a team
  • A passion for the latest technology
Check Eligibility

Starting your career

Joining process

  • Submit an application

    Once you’ve registered your interest, you will receive a link to the online application form

  • Confirm eligibility

    You will be asked to send us copies of your certification

  • Defence Aptitude Assessment (DAA)

You will be asked to attend an Armed Forces Careers Office close to your home where you will conduct the DAA. Prepare by using our practice test

  • Interview

    If you satisfy the certification criteria, you will be invited to a Suitability Interview in Portsmouth

  • RFA Admiralty Interview Board (AIB)

    If found suitable at the interview, invited to attend the RFA Admiralty Interview Board (AIB), HMS Sultan. This stage is unique to officers and takes place in two parts. A Pre Recorded Interview (PRI) is an online assessment which assesses your motivation to join the Royal Navy as an officer and your awareness of the Royal Navy. The Group Planning Exercise (GPE) is the second stage of the AIB and is an online competency based assessment which will take place on a separate day to the PRI. It will be conducted in a virtual group environment and you will be assessed on your contribution to the team based on your individual performance. On successful completion of this, attend Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) for 10 weeks.

Initial training

You’ll begin your career at BRNC in Dartmouth, developing your leadership, communication and teamwork skills. Your 10 weeks will provide an introduction to the Naval Service and you’ll get the chance to put your new skills into practice during exercises on the River Dart before participating in the passing out parade where your family and friends will have the opportunity to witness you completing the first element of your training.

After BRNC, you’ll continue your training at a Royal Navy establishment, where you’ll prepare for the complex and varied electrical systems you will be responsible for on board. Our training is accredited by the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) and forms part of the RFA’s streamlined route to Chartership.

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