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Armed Forces, Emergency and Security Services


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The British Army 

The British Army is one of the armed forces that defend Britain and its allies, both in this country and overseas. It takes part in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and United Nations (UN) operations wherever required in the world. Many overseas operations are implemented for peacekeeping and humanitarian purposes.

The army is made up of a number of regiments and corps, and designated jobs fall into one of seven categories:

  • combat
  • engineering
  • logistics and supplies
  • intelligence, IT and communications
  • human resources, administration and finance
  • medical
  • music and ceremonial.

 Army officer jobs within these regiments and corps are broken down into four areas:

  • Combat Arms - fighting regiments such as the Infantry
  • Combat Support Arms - providing the Combat Arms with direct support on the battlefield in areas such as artillery and engineering
  • Combat Service Support Arms - helping every part of the Army to function effectively, including areas such as human resources and medical services
  • Professionally qualified officers (PQOs), who are qualified officers prior to joining the Army including, for example, doctors, nurses, solicitors and ministers.

Army soldiers usually have a particular trade or job – ranging from chef to vehicle mechanic - but also carry out a wide range of duties, including taking part in military exercises and operations.

Army Officers lead and manage teams of soldiers. They are responsible for carrying out effective operations and for overseeing the training, discipline and welfare and the career development of the soldiers under their command. As well as these general duties, some officers have a profession in the Army. They include nurses, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, veterinary surgeons, barristers, solicitors, and chaplains.

The Royal Air Force

The Royal Air Force (RAF) has a responsibility to defend airspace and works alongside the other armed forces as a fighting and peace keeping force.

Roles include Airmen and women and officers:

Airmen and women use their specialist skills in around 50 ground support roles. They also take part in military operations, exercises and training.

Officers are the managers and leaders of the RAF and they take responsibility for the welfare of the airmen and airwomen under their command

Jobs in the RAF are in specialist areas:

  • Engineering and technical
  • Force protection
  • Medical and medical support.
  • Personnel support
  • Air operations support
  • Communications and intelligence.
  • Logistics

Officers usually specialise in one of the following roles:

  • Pilots
  • Weapons systems officers
  • Engineer officers
  • RAF Police officers
  • RAF Regiment officers
  • Dental officers
  • Medical officers
  • Medical support officers
  • Medical support officers (physiotherapists)
  • Nursing officers
  • Personnel support officers
  • Chaplains.
  • Legal officers
  • Physical education officers
  • Training officers
  • Air traffic control officers
  • Aerospace battle managers
  • Flight operations officers.
  • Intelligence officers
  • Logistics officers

The Royal Navy

The Royal Navy has a responsibility to defend UK fishing grounds and oilfields, provide the UK nuclear deterrent and works alongside the other armed forces as a fighting and peace keeping force. It operates ships of different sizes including aircraft carriers, patrol boats and submarines as well as ship-borne aircraft.

Royal Navy ratings operate technology, carry out repairs and put operations into practice.

There are many different roles in different specialist branches, including:

  • Warfare
  • Engineering
  • Logistics
  • Medical
  • Fleet Air Arm

Officers manage, lead and are responsible for the welfare of the people in their division. They usually specialise in one of the following roles:

  • Aircrew officer pilots
  • Observers (aircrew officers - navigation and weapons systems)
  • Warfare officers.
  • Air traffic control officers
  • Engineer officers
  • Logistics officers
  • Training management officers
  • Medical officers
  • Dental officers.
  • Nursing officers
  • Chaplains

Ambulance Crew

Ambulance staff provide emergency and non-emergency care for ill and vulnerable patients, and transport them to and from their homes, hospitals and other medical facilities.

The main types of ambulance crew are:

  • Paramedics are the most highly trained ambulance staff.
  • Emergency care assistants (ECAs) help paramedics or ambulance technicians to give patients the urgent care they need.
  • Ambulance care assistants (ACAs) carry out non-emergency journeys.

Paramedics are usually teamed with an emergency care assistant whose role is to assist them. 

Paramedics and ECAs respond to medical emergencies, and are usually the first senior healthcare professional on the scene. They may find themselves dealing with the aftermath of any situation. They use their skills and high-tech medical equipment to assess, start to treat and stabilise patients before transporting them to hospital or referring them to alternative services, such as minor injury clinics, social services, and GP surgeries. They drive the ambulance or response unit and have to make sure that the ambulance and its equipment are working and maintained.

Fire and Rescue

Firefighters and firefighting managers deal with emergency situations but also increasingly do prevention work too with the public and businesses trying to prevent accidents and fires happening. 

As part of their emergency work they control fires, deal with chemical spills and road traffic collisions. Their work may also include providing help to casualties or people trapped in buildings or vehicles. They also have to inspect, clean and maintain their equipment and fire engines.

Firefighters may work full time (known as whole-time) or be on call as retained firefighters. Retained firefighters usually combine their work in the fire and rescue service with another, main job.


Police officers work to reduce crime and disorder and make communities safer. They respond to call for help and attend incidents and emergencies as well as investigating and preventing crime. They are also responsible for arresting and detaining crime suspects and to help bring offenders to justice.

Some officers are assigned to traffic control roles. Some forces have mounted police, river patrols and underwater search teams. British Transport Police officers patrol stations and trains.

Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) also work on the frontline of their local force providing a visible presence on the street and tackling for example anti-social and nuisance behaviour, detaining someone until a police officer arrives or providing support at large public gatherings such as sports events or public demonstrations.

Prison Service

Prison Officers keep people who have been remanded or sentenced by the courts securely in prison. Their job is also to build positive relationships with prisoners as part of offender management to help them to not re-offend when they are released.

They would usually supervise prisoners, carry out searches and security checks, escort prisoners as needed and look out for situations where they are at risk to themselves or others, whilst respecting their rights, dignity and property.

Private Security Services

Close protection officers (CPOs) - also known as bodyguards or personal protection officers - protect their clients from deliberate attack, accidents or unwanted attention. They are responsible for assessing security measures and providing discreet surveillance. CPOs are often contracted to work for people in the public eye.

Some CPOs may train to be chauffeurs, specialising in defensive and evasive driving.  

Security Officers

Security officers - also known as security guards -  make sure that the buildings, outside areas, valuables and people they protect are safe and secure. Actual tasks vary widely depending on their role . Some security officers may work with guard dogs, for example, while others may escort money or valuables in a security van.

Security officers may monitor, check, keep records and, if needed, search people coming into or leaving a building as well as walk around a site, possibly at night; checking security, looking out for problems, and responding to fire and security alarms. They may also monitor closed-circuit television (CCTV) screens in the control room of a building, store or car park.

Want to know more?

The information in this jobs section is a summary of what’s involved in each of the jobs and only a few jobs are highlighted to give a snapshot of this sector.

You can also use the Next Step Job Profiles website at to find out about 100s of jobs and careers, including the ones listed above and many, many more!