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- Requires the ability to think quickly and make decisions under pressure, and to keep calm in difficult situations
- With extensive experience, work as a consultant for governments, environmental companies, NGOs, or the United Nations
- Will involve wearing a bomb suit or a heavy suit of body armour, and spending a lot of time on training exercises
Your job title will depend on the branch of the armed forces you join: in the British army you'll be known as an ammunition technician or an ammunition technical officer, in the Royal Air Force you'll be a weapons technician, and in the Royal Navy you could be either a mine warfare specialist or a mine clearance diver.
Disposal of explosive devices might only be part of your job:
- Identify, make safe or dispose of different kinds of explosive devices, including unexploded military ammunition like grenades, shells or depth charges in water, landmines, improvised explosive devices and makeshift explosives like pipe or car bombs and explosives used commercially, for example in quarrying, mining or demolition
- Work with the police to make sure dangerous areas have been evacuated
- Find, identify, defuse and destroy explosive devices
- Use remote control robots and metal detectors
- Make sure your colleagues are safe in dangerous areas
- Work in ammunition storage - looking after and maintaining munitions and weapons or loading missiles onto fighter aircraft
You'll usually start in one of the armed forces, and work in a warzone or civilian setting or training centre. Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding and be outdoors in all weathers.
Your salary will depend on your rank in the armed forces. Your working hours will depend on which armed forces you join and the particular job. When you're not on exercises or operations, a working day can be from 8am to 5pm. During exercises and operations you may work much longer and irregular hours, and be away from home for long periods of time.
You could serve in the UK or overseas in combat or ex-combat zones. You'll work in a variety of conditions, ranging from onboard a ship or a submarine to working in an ammunitions store or destroying terrorist bombs in a warzone or civilian setting. You'll wear a bomb suit or heavy suit of body armour. You'll spend a lot of time on training exercises.
For this work you'll need to be calm under pressure, have good problem-solving skills, excellent concentration, and a steady hand.
Most people get into this career by joining one of the armed forces. You'll need to be over 17 years of age, be a UK, Republic of Ireland or Commonwealth citizen, be at least 151.5cm tall, pass a medical check, and have a good level of fitness.
You would complete your basic military training then apply to specialise in bomb disposal. For example, you could join the army's Royal Logistics Corps as an infantry soldier.
After the initial training, you could move on to do further training as an ammunition technician. In the Royal Air Force, you could apply to become a weapons technician after successfully completing your aircrew or officer initial training. In the Royal Navy, you could train to be a mine warfare specialist, disposing of explosive devices using remote control submarines, or working as a mine clearance diver. Whichever route you choose, you're likely to need good GCSEs in English, maths and a science, or equivalent qualifications.
You would also have to pass selection and fitness tests to join.
You could also get started by doing an ordnance, munitions and explosives professional degree apprenticeship. One of the options is disposal work. You might do this with a defence equipment manufacturing company, demolition contractor or through the armed forces.
With experience, you could move up the ranks in the armed forces and on leaving active service, you could work as a private consultant for governments, environmental companies, non-governmental agencies, or organisations like the United Nations Mine Action Service, for example, on mine clearance programmes in ex-war zones.