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Careers / Royal Navy Reserves
Life in the reserves
Careers / Royal Navy Reserves

Life in the reserves

Travel, adventure, friendship, challenges. The Royal Naval Reserve offers you more than you’ll find in civilian life.

Want to know more about the Royal Navy Reserve?

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What you'll do

Whether you’re serving on Naval warships in foreign waters or contributing to humanitarian aid missions, serving with the Royal Naval Reserve is an opportunity like no other. You’ll learn and develop new skills to put into practice at sea and at home.

You’ll go to places you’ve never been, experience things you wouldn’t anywhere else, and develop new skills you don’t even know you have yet.

“I only joined four years ago but I’ve already experienced so much. 

As a Reservist, I get to do things that are so different to my civilian job.”

Meet the Reserves

Time commitment

You generally need to commit 24 days each year to achieve your annual commitment, which can be made up of weekends and evenings. 

You’ll join the General Warfare branch unless you have another specialisation, which means there’s a good chance you’ll deploy with a ship’s crew. Good communications with employers and the understanding of mutual benefits often generates a great relationship between reservists and employers.

12 days of operational training
  • 12 days will be Continuous Training (CT) in an operational capacity, where you’ll attend a training course to accelerate development, or get to take part in an overseas NATO exercise. This could be on land or at sea.

  • Ideally we’d like you to do this in a single 12-day block. However, we understand that your work or other circumstances may sometimes make this difficult. So, if necessary, you could do your CT in two one-week blocks.
12 days of support administration
  • 12 days will be made up of Non-Continuous Training (NCT), including training weekends and midweek training nights each year, for which you will be paid.

  • Here you’ll bolster your basic training with defence drills and adventure activities to ensure your fitness is at a constant optimum.

  • Each two-hour period is the same as a quarter day’s training, so doing four periods will give you a day of NCT.

  • As well as training nights, you’ll complete at least three training weekends each year, and it is quite likely that these will take place elsewhere in the UK.
Working around your career

The Ministry of Defence maintains close contact with employers so they understand what it means for you to be a member of HM Forces.

When you join the Royal Naval Reserve, you must tell your employer or give the Ministry of Defence (MOD) permission to inform them for you.

We recommend you refer your employer to the Defence Relationship Management website.


Whatever your ambitions, you’ll be given the training and support that you need.

Travel, adventure, friendship, challenges, knowing you’re doing something really worthwhile – the Royal Naval Reserve offers you more than you’ll find in civilian life. The same goes for the training you’ll receive, which starts the day you join and continues right through your time with us.

Through your military training you can gain:

  • Career related qualifications
  • Courses accredited up to Masters level
  • Leadership and other skills

Qualifications are available through:

  • Chartered Management Institute
  • Institute of Leadership & Management
  • City and Guilds

Understanding deployment

As a Reservist, you are part of the Royal Navy’s total strength. That means you could be called to active service and put your skills into practice.

The role of the Royal Navy has never been more central to global military operations. It’s for this reason that you’re more likely than ever to put your new skills into practice in active service. In fact, it’s a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if'.

As a reservist, you’re part of the Royal Navy’s trained strength. That means responding to the needs of the service, as and when you’re needed to help protecting our nation’s interests – at home and abroad. The deployments you go on might be in response to a conflict, or to provide support where there is a humanitarian crisis.

What happens when you’re called to service?
You’ll be notified of your mobilisation as soon as possible, and you’ll get all the advice and support you need to make arrangements at home. Typically, your deployment will last six months, during which time you will serve alongside your full-time colleagues.
Protecting your civilian job

While you’re away your position in civilian employment will be protected, and you’ll earn the same salary as your regular rank equivalent. However, if you earn more than that amount as a civilian, we’ll supplement your pay so you’re not out of pocket.

If you’re in full-time education

We encourage students to develop their professional skills within the RNR. If you would like to take advantage of this this opportunity when at university or college, you will be exempt from deployment for the entire time you’re in full time education.

What support is available?
When you do receive a call-out notice, there is plenty of support available to help you and your family. You can also direct your employer to Sabre where there are resources to help them. They can even gain an understanding of how they can support your service.

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Find your place in the Royal Navy. Make friends for life, learn new skills and experience the world.

Not ready to apply?

Register your interest today and we’ll be in touch to help you find your fit.

Royal Navy Reserves stand on guard during a parade

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