The armed forces are the cornerstone of a country's defence system and nobody is more central to the action than an infantry soldier. Less Dad's Army and more Band of Brothers, the army is incredibly well respected in the UK.
However, there's a lot more to being an infantry soldier than just chucking on some camouflage gear and heading to a war zone.
So, what will I be doing?
As an infantry soldier you will be part of the army’s front-line team, and you're likely to get involved in everything from peacekeeping and disaster relief to full-scale war. Once you’ve undergone your training, there are a huge range of options for newly qualified infantry soldiers:
- Anti tank missile operator
Combat assault engineer
- Combat air controller
- Combat team medic
- IT systems operator
- Intelligence cell operator
- Infantry driver
- Infantry musician
- Mortar operator
- Prison officer
- Special forces signaller
- Weapons specialist adviser
- Welfare worker
And this is really just the tip of a really big iceberg (think Titanic!).
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The nitty gritty
As a member of the infantry there is a very clear system of ranks and everyone can move up through them.
Private: At this level, you get a good rate of pay, free healthcare and subsidised food and board. You’re part of a team that’s required to deliver operational success so you focus on using your skills. Each promotion brings extra pay and soon you can sit a course that qualifies you to promote up the ranks.
Lance Corporal: Now you’ve been promoted, you get more responsibility. You take charge of a four-man fire team. It’s up to you to make sure they work as an effective unit and that everyone has the skills they need. You’re also the second-in-command of an eight-man unit called a section.
Corporal: The next step is to go on a course to develop leadership skills so you can take charge of your own section. This is made up of two fire teams. With help from your Lance Corporal you keep your section trained-up and ready for action and deal with any training, operational and personnel issues.
Money, money, money
As a member of the army, your pay goes up as you gain experience and get promoted – you could get up to three pay rises each year. And with subsidised food, travel and accommodation, the money you earn will go much further. The main reward package is known as the X Factor, which is an adjustment to your pay that makes sure you’re getting a fair deal. It compares your army job to a similar civilian job and weighs up the extra challenges you face as a soldier, such as time away from your family and working under pressure. It also considers the perks of army life, such as job security and 38 days’ paid leave every year. This means soldiers take home an extra 14% compared to the closest civilian job.
In addition, when away from your base for longer than 7 days, then you’ll be entitled to a daily allowance of up to £28.24 with a further £18.16 if you have to work in unpleasant conditions. If you are deployed on operations, you'll receive a further daily allowance of £29.02.
Regular soldiers receive over £267 a week in Phase 1 training, and this rises to at least £17,265 a year depending on which army job you do. Some roles get specialist pay, which can be worth at least an extra £19 per day. Your salary will increase annually as your career continues, regardless of promotion and extra responsibilities. Within five years you could reach the rank of Sergeant and earn up to £32,756.
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The good points...
Army training is an amazing grounding for the future, and it's provided free of charge (no university tuition fees, then!).
The army trains you at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick (ITC(C)). You will be expected to complete a Combat Infantryman's course (28 weeks), which combines your initial training and your infantry training (Phase 1 & 2). Here you’ll learn essential soldiering skills like how to survive in different environments and you will build stamina and fitness. You will be taught how to fire the infantry weapons, how to administer first aid, how to map read in all conditions and many other skills of the trade.
Junior entry infantry soldiers (aged 16-17) receive basic training at the Army Foundation College Harrogate, and then you complete your Infantry training at ITC(C) on a 10-week course. Once you have finished your infantry training you will then complete a further 2 weeks to gain a B or C drivers licence.
Once you’ve completed the initial training process you will be ready to join your regiment and take part in all manner of operations worldwide. From here you will be able to learn other skills that will help move you forward in your army career. Qualifications you can achieve include:
- Variety of driving licences
- Public Services Apprenticeships in security, communications, engineering, carry and deliver goods, and storage and warehousing
- NVQ Level 2 Public Service
- ILM Team Leading Award
- BTEC Level 2 Certificate in Relief Operations Skills
...and the bad
The obvious negative of becoming an infantry soldier is you go to war. This is an incredibly dangerous job and you never know when international conflict will see you being whisked away to the heart of a war zone to put your life on the line. Then there's the separation from family and friends - many relationships suffer with long periods of being kept apart.
Is there study involved?
No formal qualifications are required, but you should enjoy:
- Taking risks and feeling the adrenaline
- Outdoor activities
- Working outside
- Target or game shooting
- Driving vehicles
Need additional qualifications? Find a course at our Learning Zone
OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?
There's a lot to consider before signing up for the Army. For starters, you should also be interested or have experience in:
- Ammunition and explosives handling
- Vehicle or equipment mechanic
- Driving large vehicles
- Driving small vehicles