The RAF is recruiting - and offers training to high-flying candidates in a wide range of field

For most of us, heading into a war zone might be a good enough reason to avoid a career; for Laura Hodson, it was an incentive."Going to Afghanistan was one of the main reasons I wanted to be in the RAF in the first place," says the 30-year-old RAF Reserves flight lieutenant and A&E nurse.

Hodson's job involves treating personnel overseas and ensuring their safe return back to the UK. "I really wanted to experience the pressure of working in an aeromedical evacuation role in the field," she says

For those who will be applying to join the RAF's 52,000-strong workforce this year, it's a recession-busting career move. As whole sectors suffer at the hands of the downturn, the RAF has just launched a recruitment campaign encouraging people to join up.

And, while the Government is urging us to re-train, some RAF careers allow you to gain recognised qualifications for free. All officers graduate from the RAF College Cranwell with a Level 5 Diploma from the Institute of Leadership and Management and many airmen and airwomen can earn NVQs from just completing their professional training.

The jobs crisis has made it more crucial than ever to have a back-up skill and being an RAF reserve officer can be a way to keep skills up to date. But you don't have to be a pilot. Approximately 77 per cent of the RAF's workforce is made up of ground personnel. Careers in the RAF range from airmen and women (including medical support, aircraft maintenance, administration and catering), to officers and non-commissioned aircrew.

The RAF encourages staff to continue their professional development throughout their careers, says Group Captain Gordon Bruce, the head of recruiting. "A lot of RAF training earns you civilian qualifications so, if you choose to leave, employers will be able to recognise the skills you can offer."

But there are other reasons to join, he emphasises, including the opportunity to travel the world, and a competitive salary.

Hodson first got involved with the force while studying nursing at university, and was a member of the University Air Squadron. When one of her friends became a pilot, he suggested training as an aeromedical evacuation nurse, so she joined the RAF Reserves on graduating.

Airmen, airwomen and non-commissioned aircrew do nine weeks' military training at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire. Officers do 30 weeks' officer training at RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire. If you join as a professionally qualified officer (such as a doctor), your initial course of around three months at RAF Cranwell will include military training as well as fitness elements.

Hodson's own preparation consisted of basic recruit training and a Junior Management Leadership Course (JMLC). She has also independently completed a postgraduate diploma in tropical nursing at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which, she says, came in very handy during her deployment to Afghanistan in 2007.

Despite her willingness to go, Hodson says her time in Afghanistan was harder than she imagined. "We had to do a massive airlift operation from Kandahar," she explains. "We had 18 patients in total, two of whom were in a critical condition. They were all suffering from gunshot and shrapnel wounds. We needed to get them on to a C17 and get them back to the UK."

She says it was a far cry from her life in the NHS; it was hot, noisy and sometimes they had to work with limited equipment. "But it was an all-round brilliant experience," she says.

The RAF is not for everyone, though. "It can be a very stressful job," she says. "Sometimes you can be working really long hours with no sleep but there isn't anything like the feeling of knowing you're saving lives and helping the troops to do their job."

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning: The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Sport
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier leaguePlus all the build-up to Man City vs Chelsea and Everton vs Palace
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Polly Borgen at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012
peopleThe Emmy award-winner starred in Cape Fear, the Sopranos and Desperate House Wives
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

KS2 Teaching Supply Wakefield

£140 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Primary Teachers Needed for Supply in Wakefield

£140 - £160 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1&2 Supply Te...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam