How long could I stay in the army?

If soldiers get through training then they stay in the army for an average of about 8 years. That’s a lot longer than most people in other jobs.

One of the reasons for the long average career in the army is that after the first few months soldiers have to stay in the army for at least four years and you might have to stay for at least six. Another reason is that training is designed to ‘weed out’ people who don’t fit in. That means that the army is left with people who do fit in and want to stay.

In fact, the army can sack you if it wants to (you don’t have the rights that other workers have), but you can usually keep your job for a long time as long as:

  • You get through training.
  • You stay out of trouble.
  • You get promoted often enough.

After 12 years, the army decides whether it wants to keep you on. If it does, then you get another 12 years if you want it.

Eventually, if you do want to leave after a few years then you have to give a year’s notice first. That can make it hard to time when you leave with getting another job lined up (as you would usually try to do in other jobs). But there is a bit of flexibility towards the end of the year’s notice, and you can get some help from the army with your job search.