Each month we take a look at one of the 650 career pathways featured within Indigo. This month, we explore the role of an army soldier.

Lieutenant Colonel Curley Dylan shares his insights with this video career profile from the Indigo Careers module.

So what is an army soldier?

The army is responsible for defending the UK and its allies across the world, as well as taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.

You will be involved in regular training exercises to ensure you maintain a high level of fitness and military skills so that you are ready for combat at any time.

You will also choose to train and work within one of many different trades. You may be posted to dangerous areas and inhospitable environments at any time, whether for peacekeeping and aid missions or to engage in warfare.


Some soldiers work normal office hours, whilst others are expected to undertake shifts that encompass night and weekend work.


You could be stationed in the UK or overseas, and must be prepared for life in a number of environments including deserts, mountains and war torn cities.

Type of work

An army soldier must wear a uniform.

Things to consider

Risk of injury/accident
You will be in dangerous situations as a matter of course. 

Meet range of people
You will be working within a close knit team, supporting their work both in training and out on operations. 

Unsocial hours or on call
You are continually on call, and could be sent anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice. 

Varied work
You will be meeting new challenges each day and adapting to unusual and inhospitable situations, which will ensure the work never gets dull. 

Most people have GCSEs in core subjects and you will need further professional training

There are no formal qualifications for entry as a soldier, although some technical jobs require certain GCSEs/National 5s. You must be aged between 16 years and 32 years and 11 months on the day you enlist, as well as meet the army nationality and residency requirements. Applicants under 18 must have parental consent. You need to be aged 18 or over to join the Army Reserve.

As part of the recruitment process you will be required to spend 2 days at an assessment centre. As part of your assessment you will take a physical assessment, a medical and a number of tests and team exercises.

Upon acceptance you will begin phase 1 of training. If you are under 17 years and 5 months old this will be either a 20- or 40-week course at Harrogate. If you are older you will do a 14-week package at either Pirbright or Winchester. After initial training you go on to do phases 2 and 3 in particular trades, such as aviation and engineering. This can take between a few months and a year. Adult infantry soldiers, after initial training, go to the Infantry Training Centre to complete a 24-week Combat Infantryman’s Course (CIC).

Salary progression
Soldiers can expect to receive £14,931 per year during initial training. This rises to a minimum of £18,488 per year once you are qualified as a private. Some roles receive additional specialist pay, such as parachutists.

If you move up the ranks to sergeant, you can expect to earn up to £33,490. All staff receive an annual salary increase, regardless of promotion or additional responsibilities. There is also a scheme which offers additional pay for spending longer than 10 days away from your base. In addition to a basic salary, you will receive subsidised accommodation and food, medical and dental care, discounted rail fares and subsidised nursery facilities.

Top Tip

You will sign up for an open engagement lasting 22 years, but you can leave after serving 4 years. You must give 12 months’ notice prior to leaving. All soldiers start as a private, though the title may vary depending on which regiment they join, and are awarded promotion according to their increasing levels of skill and commitment.

Click here to explore the full library of over 650 career profiles, including multimedia content and LMI data for students to interpret and discuss.