Becoming an Officer


What could a future in the RAF look like for you?

We talk about our panellists' future plans and ambitions, and hear about continuous training and Chartership opportunities within the RAF.

Initial Officer Training (IOT) at Royal Air Force College (RAFC) Cranwell is the gateway to becoming an officer in the RAF. Training is conducted over 6 months and includes:

  1. Leadership & Teamwork.
  2. Written & Verbal Communications.
  3. Airpower Studies.
  4. Physical and Mental Development.

IOT is designed to prepare you for life as a leader. It is a 24 week course comprising three, 8-week terms.

The Course is delivered by experienced and highly trained RAF personnel who will challenge you intellectually, mentally and physically but cadets are often surprised by the coaching and mentoring ethos of the department which aims to train you through rather than select you out. The Course aims to prepare you effectively for your specialist training, regardless of branch.

Those who have been selected to undertake IOT must be physically fit and mentally prepared for the challenge if they wish to succeed. Once graduated, you will have also earned the opportunity for a Level 5 Diploma from both the Institute of Leadership and Management and the Chartered Management Institute plus gain valuable credits towards a further education qualification.

Upon successful completion of the Course, a prestigious graduation parade is conducted in front of College Hall Officers’ Mess where the officer cadets finally march up the steps to be commissioned as officers. The graduating officers are then deemed suitably qualified to undertake their next phase of training in their chosen specialisation.

Being An Officer

Being a commissioned officer in the RAF is a considerable undertaking which comes with great responsibility, and the rewards can be equally great. As an officer, there is a wide variety of branches and specialisations to choose from, which offer many challenges and opportunities for development.

For some, the prospect of being an Engineering Officer on a front line squadron with aircraft like the Typhoon or F-35 and the responsibility of whether they are airworthy, as well as managing and leading a large team of technicians, is very exciting. Others may find the opportunity, as an Aerospace Battle Manager, to control aircraft and secure Britain’s skies from the back of an E3-D Sentry aircraft, just as exhilarating. IOT is just the start to an exciting career and it is where all officers begin- where personnel from all branches and specialisations are mixed together to form teams to develop together and learn from one another.

Officers are expected and required to be utterly trustworthy, diligent and conscientious and to demonstrate the highest standards and levels of integrity. Very soon after training, officers could be required to lead and manage personnel who could be older than themselves, or have many more years of experience; therefore officers must demonstrate consistently high levels of personal and professional standards.

Leadership Attributes

A commissioned officer is required to display the 9 common leadership attributes (below) of the RAF. Other members of the team will look to the officers for leadership, inspiration and standards. IOT prepares potential officers for such demanding responsibility and as such, IOT is the first step towards becoming an effective and credible leader. The training is graduated and progressive and continues throughout an officer’s career long after they have graduated from IOT.

  1. IOT is the first step towards becoming a leader.

    Warfighter courageous.
  2. Emotionally intelligent.
  3. Willing to take risks.
  4. Flexible and responsive.
  5. Able to handle ambiguity.
  6. Technologically competent.
  7. Able to lead tomorrow’s recruit.
  8. Mentally agile and physically robust.
  9. Politically and globally astute - air power minded.

Graduation And Beyond

For the officer cadets who are successful, a major milestone on their officer career path is Graduation Day. This formally marks the occasion they transition into a Commissioned Officer in the Royal Air Force. Each course chooses their own theme for the Graduation Ball held that night in College Hall Officers’ Mess.

One of the highlights for many is at midnight when everybody gathers in the central Rotunda of College Hall when the names of the graduating officers are read out by the youngest person on the Squadron. Many months of hard work culminate in a very special moment with friends old and new.

Whilst this is a momentous occasion to be shared with friends and family and should be celebrated, this is a stepping stone to the next stage of training. Throughout an officer’s career, there are opportunities for professional courses and for personal development. Being a commissioned RAF officer is more than a job, it is a lifestyle. The RAF wants individuals to challenge their boundaries and perceptions, try new activities and expand their horizons; this makes for more effective officers and better leaders.

Friendships and bonds are forged which last a lifetime.


What may initially appear to be a formidable task, IOT is the first step to a rewarding and fulfilling career. The training is progressive with opportunities for reinforcement, coaching and mentoring throughout to allow the applicants to realise their potential. Along the way, friendships and bonds are forged which last a lifetime and new experiences are shared; personal boundaries are pushed and enduring memories are made. On graduation day, every recruit should feel a great sense of achievement.

A career as an officer offers excellent pay and pension benefits, options for higher education and qualifications plus an expansive opportunity for challenging and varied jobs around the military.

The RAF is actively seeking people who want to do more with their lives, who want to progress and develop throughout their career and enjoy the benefits of a wide range of opportunities. Applying to be an officer is applying to be part of one of the world’s most respected organisations and having the ability to make a difference and have a positive impact on those around them.

IOT may push recruits’ perceived limits further than anything they have done before, but they are part of a team and surrounded by experienced staff that will guide and support them throughout the process. OASC has seen the potential within every individual whom they select to progress onto IOT. A good attitude and an unwavering commitment is what is required from every recruit to give them the greatest chance of success. Completing IOT is the gateway to a fulfilling career full of challenges and achievement surrounded by like minded people. IOT is not the end of the journey, it is the beginning.

There has never been a better time to become a member of the RAF family. Apply today.

A Modern Force: The RAF recognises the value of a person’s ability no matter their ethnicity, social background, religion or belief, gender identity, sexual orientation or marital status/civil partnership.

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