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A Mature Change of Career

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  • A Mature Change of Career

    Greetings all,

    I have recently decided that I want to change my career in life - Recently looking at the RFA Cadetships and have a couple of questions. First a little background on me:

    I am 31 Years old, and have just finished 5 years of University as a Mature student, where i gained a Degree in Philosophy, and an MA in Bioethics and Medical Law. Why? Well i found the subjects interesting, and my original plan was to finish and go back to my old life of teaching English abroad (TEFL). Ideally in South Korea - 3 guesses why that is currently not going to happen.

    When i was 18 I was very tempted on joining the Royal Marines as an officer, but other things came my way and I ended up travelling for about 8 years doing a variety of fun things in life. Then realised i was too old to go in the armed forces as an officer. I had a look at the RN as a potential officer, but it seems that I have missed out on the opportunity as joining as an officer by about 3-4 months. While i was looking into that, I have been looking at the RFA (which I admittedly knew virtually nothing about until a few days ago!) Anyway, I think i like the lifestyle of a career in the RFA, but I would like to join as an Officer.

    Currently the only options open are Cadet Deck Officer, Cadet Systems Engineer Officer, Cadet Marine Engineer Officer. Having been through university, and realised that while my subjects are certainly interesting, it was not the most practical, and given the chance to do it all again I would have done some kind of engineering. Admittedly, my current level of engineering knowledge is virtually zero (though I have always enjoyed pulling things apart and fixing them ad hoc, e.g. radios, CPUs, toys, guitars etc.) - so quite honestly, I would revel in the chance to retrain in an engineering subject.

    I regularly train in Taekwondo (close to my blackbelt!), do MMA and Judo on and off, have spates of heavy weight training, etc. While i have a bit of a beer paunch, I am confident that with a couple of weeks of cardio I could easily have my level of fitness up to scratch, so I am confident in that area at least.

    So my questions:

    Looking at the entry conditions, I have 9 GCSEs @ C grade including Maths/Science (Dual). No A Levels or UCAS points. But I have proved i'm quite intelligent as I gained the above degrees at a top 10 uni in the UK. Good enough, or would I be forced to take some GCSEs to 'prove my maths/Science' again?

    I know there is no upper age limit, but as I am 31 (nearly 32) would I be wildly misplaced in going for a cadetship?

    How long does the cadetship last? I've read two different forums with conflicting information - one said 1 year, the other 3 years.

    What time of year are the influxes? I'm currently tied into a (really boring) job until October-ish.

    More out of curiosity but as I also have about 10 years of on/off Management experience (i used to run language schools) are there any other routes which I would be able to take to go directly in as an officer and not go in as cadet first?

    I appreciate anyone who takes the time to read this, and also to answer my questions! I do have more, but lets start here.

    Thanks again

  • #2
    Hi there,

    Cadets much older then you have made the transition from other careers, and have been successful. Of course it puts you much further down the line if you decide to go towards Chief Engineer, but if its something you really want to do, then you should definately apply.
    Appreciate one thing that your diverse background may actually count against you, certainly if I was to look at your CV as an employer, my question would be, why this career, why now, and why haven't you stayed in the other employment backgrounds that you are qualified in. I'm not trying to put you off, I'm trying to say that you need to prepared for this. The applications for Officer cadetships in recent years have become highly competitive, numbers banded about on the forum have been in the region of 1000 applicants per position (I can't say if this is true).

    The normal HND or Foundation Degree cadetship is approximately 3 years, but you may qualify for the BSc route at Plymouth which I believe is slightly shorter (someone else can advise on that).
    In takes seem to be September, January and April at the moment into colleges in Southampton, South Shields, Fleetwood and Glasgow primarily.

    On the comment of going in directly as an Officer, this isn't possible in and Engineering or Deck discipline with your background, the reason being is that you will be taking responsibility for the lives of many crewmembers of varying nationalities and experiences who will be relying on your knowledge, experience and safety awarness to guide them through the job. The Merchant Navy is very hands in many respects as a Junior and occasionally Senior Officer.

    Good luck.


    • #3
      YM's post answers very well from a general Merchant Navy cadetship perspective, but not the RFA specific stance of the OP.

      1) The RFA has been very picky about precise subject/grade matches of late. Several members of this board and other acquaintances have had applications rejected by the RFA because despite lots of relevant experience, they did not meet the strict academic criteria laid down in the recruitment brochures.

      2) Loads of old farts being accepted for cadetships now. Age Discrimination Act applies (perhaps voluntarily, given MoD's usual exemptions).

      3) 3 years.

      4) The RFA has two cadet intakes per year, in May and September, tied to BRNC term dates.

      5) You could ask about joining as a purser (Supply Officer), but probably need more relevant experience or qualifications than those mentioned, and they probably aren't recruiting pursers at present anyway.

      AIUI all RFA cadets are now being sent to Fleetwood.


      • #4
        Originally posted by YoungMariner View Post
        Hi there,

        The normal HND or Foundation Degree cadetship is approximately 3 years, but you may qualify for the BSc route at Plymouth which I believe is slightly shorter (someone else can advise on that).
        As far as I know, the BSc is a four year course.