Soldier Careers

In most roles, you'll join your unit as a Private. This might have a different name, depending on the Corps you join, e.g. Sapper in the Royal Engineers or Gunner in the Royal Artillery.

There are many Army roles that are only open to soldiers who are already serving, for example, Snipers, Army Divers and Army Physical Training Instructors.

officer careers

Your initial commission is for 12 years, but you may choose to leave during training or after at least 3 years' commissioned service. You can typically expect to reach the rank of Captain after three years' commissioned service.

There are some roles, which see you join at a more senior rank. These are usually professionally qualified roles, such as medical roles or lawyers.

soldier ranks


Private rank slide When you start your Army training, you'll be a Recruit. Once you've finished your Phase 1 training, you'll start your Army career as a Private. Your title may be different depending on which Corps you join.


Lance Corporal rank slide Promotion to Lance Corporal may follow after you've finished your Phase 2 training or after about 3 years as a Private. Lance Corporals generally supervise small teams of up to 4 soldiers. You'll also have the chance to specialise and go on specialist military training.


corporal After 6-8 years, and depending on your leadership ability, you'll be promoted to Corporal. You'll have the chance to gain more trade and instructor qualifications. You'll command more soldiers than you did as a Lance Corporal and may be in control of equipment like tanks and guns.


Sergeant rank slideOnce you've served for around 12 years, you may be promoted to the rank of Sergeant. A senior role, usually involving managing and administrating a platoon or troop of about 30 soldiers. You'll also be working closely with junior officers who command this.


Staff Sergeant rank slide A Staff Sergeant is sometimes known as a Colour Sergeant, and is a senior role where you'll rely on both your resource and people management skills. You will usually be the troop or platoon second in command responsible for around 30 soldiers, assisting the junior officer in command.


WO2 rank slide Also known as a Company or Squadron Sergeant Major. In this role, your job is to focus on the training, welfare and discipline of a company, squadron or battery of up to 120 soldiers. You'll be the senior adviser to the Major in charge of your subunit. You might also be chosen to commission as an officer.


WO1 rank slide Or Regimental Sergeant Major. This is the most senior soldier rank in the Army and you are one of the Commanding Officer’s technical advisers. You'll have served for about 18 years and the role also involves the leadership, discipline and welfare responsibilities of up to 650 people.

officer ranks


Second Lieutenant Your first rank after Sandhurst. It's held for 1 year, during which time you'll complete special-to-arm training relevant to your Regiment or Corps. Afterwards you'll be responsible for leading up to 30 soldiers in a platoon or troop, both in training and on operations.


Lieutenant rank slide Lieutenant is a rank typically held for up to 2 years. You'll command a platoon or troop of around 30 soldiers, but with experience come increased responsibilities. You'll also have the opportunity to gain specialised skills outside your unit.


Captain rank slide As a Captain, you'll normally be made second in command of a sub-unit of between 50 - 120 soldiers. You'll play an important role in the planning and decision-making process, with tactical responsibility for operations on the ground as well as equipment maintenance, logistic support and providing the right people to the right place at the right time.


Major rank slide Once you've been in the Army for between 8 and 10 years, you could promote to Major. You'll be given command of a sub-unit of about 120 soldiers and officers. You'll look after their training and welfare, leading them on operations.


Lieutenant Colonel rank slide At this rank, you'll normally command a unit of up to 650 soldiers. You'll be responsible for the overall operational effectiveness of your unit - this includes military capability, welfare and discipline.


Rank Slide Colonel Most Colonels work as staff officers, but a few have command appointments. They are key advisers to the very senior officers on the staff and in operational commands.


1 Star rank slide Also known as a 1 star General, Brigadiers in the Army will command a wide range of formations and also fill senior appointments on the Army Staff.


2 Star rank slide Also known as a 2 star General, Major Generals command divisions of the Army. They will hold very senior positions in the Ministry of Defence and other in other headquarters, both in the UK and abroad.


3 Star Rank SlideAlso known as a 3 star general,  Lieutenant Generals command Corps, and other equivalent commands in the UK and overseas. They work at the very highest levels of the Ministry of Defence.


4 Star rank slideAlso known as a 4 star General, this is the most senior rank in the British Army, and you will find that people at this rank include the Chief of Defence Staff and the Chief of the General Staff.