Job type

RAF non-commissioned aircrew

£26k - £40k

Typical salary

37 – 45

Hours per week

Royal Air Force (RAF) non-commissioned aircrew fly patrols over UK airspace and take part in NATO operations.

More info

  • Carry out air patrols over UK airspace and take part in NATO operations
  • You'll need leadership qualities, and excellent spoken and written communication skills
  • You could progress to flight sergeant, then to master aircrew


As RAF non-commissioned aircrew you'll specialise in a particular role, like:

  • Acoustics operator - using radar and sonar to search for and monitor submarine and surface shipping movements, loading aircraft, including weapons, supplies, parachutists, and troops
  • Helicopter winch operator for search-and-rescue operations
  • Electronic warfare systems operator - tracking movements on land, sea and in the air, relaying information to commanders about the position of units, and working on early warning defence systems
  • Linguist - monitoring electronic surveillance equipment, translating radio and telecommunications traffic, and taking part in search-and-rescue operations


Your hours will depend on the operation or exercise you're working on. You may be posted to RAF bases anywhere in the UK or overseas. You'll need to be prepared to go into combat zones at any time, where you'll be working in difficult, dangerous and sometimes life-threatening situations. Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

You'll need

This role would be ideal for someone with excellent leadership qualities, excellent spoken and written communication skills, the ability to react and think quickly under pressure, the ability to give and take orders, teamworking skills, and a practical approach to solving problems.

You'll need to be a citizen of the UK, Republic of Ireland or the Commonwealth, pass a medical check, pass a fitness test, pass security checks and pass enhanced background checks for this role.

You can apply directly to join the RAF if you have at least 5 GCSEs grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) including English and maths, and a science for some roles and over 17.5 years old - upper age limit varies depending on the role. For some roles like weapons system operator linguist, you'll need to be fluent in at least 2 languages. If your initial application is accepted, you'll be invited to talk to someone at your local armed forces careers office about what you want to do, and take an aptitude test. If you successfully complete the initial stage, you'll be invited to attend further interviews and assessments, which include fitness and medical tests.

You could also apply to join the RAF through an HM forces serviceperson intermediate apprenticeship. You'll need to apply directly to the RAF to discuss which is the best apprenticeship route for you. This will depend on your qualifications and which service role you're interested in.

You can join the RAF Reserve to get some experience of what life is like in the air force and to learn new skills at the same time. You'll need to be between 18 and 54, commit to at least 27 days a year, and attend a 2-week training camp each year. If you're between 13 and 18 years old, you can join the Air Cadets. You'll visit RAF bases and develop some of the key skills that the RAF will be looking for in their recruitment selection process should you go on to apply.


With experience and further training, you could progress to flight sergeant, then to master aircrew. You could also apply to become a commissioned RAF officer. You could go into a wide range of careers once you leave the RAF, depending on your skills, training and qualifications. The Career Transition Partnership, Quest and Troops to Teachers have more information on careers outside the armed forces.