SAC(T) Stewart Barlow: RAF Aircraft Technician

I’m 22 years old and I joined the RAF as an Aircraft Technician (Mechanical) after completing my GCSE’s.

I’d never had any doubts at school that engineering was what I wanted to do for a living. I just wanted to get on with it as soon as I could.

I realized that to make the most of a career in my chosen trade I needed to further my education. But I didn’t want to go to university. I was really interested in aircraft and I wanted to travel, so for me, an apprenticeship with the RAF seemed the perfect solution. And I have to say, that’s exactly what it’s been.

After all, I’ve received fantastic training, both in the classroom learning the theory and on the job getting lots of practical experience. I’m gaining the skills and qualifications I always wanted while being paid at the same time.

I work day to day on a fully operational aircraft squadron, diagnosing faults and rectifying them. My job is to keep the aircraft serviceable and flying. It’s rewarding knowing you are playing a part in making sure they are always ready for action.

I enjoy how practical and hands on the job is and I love the responsibility of making sure everything I do is to a high standard. I have also been lucky enough to travel all over the world.

That all sounds pretty perfect to me.

I have lots of friends who went to university, and while that might be right for them, I’m sure that I’m better off as a result of choosing an apprenticeship instead.

I don’t think I’d have been able to get a job doing what I wanted any other way. I have seen and achieved a lot more thanks to the RAF.

I have enjoyed my apprenticeship. It’s definitely been exciting, rewarding and challenging.

Could you be an apprentice for Defence?

The Ministry of Defence is the biggest provider of apprenticeships in the UK.

From carpentry to cyber security, there are hundreds of apprenticeship opportunities available in the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force.

But you don’t have to join the military to train on the job. Find out more about a whole range of civilian Ministry of Defence apprenticeships including engineering, IT and business management here.