Going into Uniform

I have been a CI for approx 18 month, so a fair chunk of my time in lockdown, however gamely I have recently started my application into uniform, and at my first interview I was asked a question that kind of stumped me. That was ‘what will change if you go into uniform service?’ now beside the going into uniform and additional responsibilities that brings I was lost for an answer. I am hoping some of this will become clearer now we are back to f2f, but I thought I would ask and see what others thought? Thanks
PS not an ex cadet so no experience that side to drawer on!

Firstly welcome to the forum and best of luck with the move into uniform.

Personally the biggest change is the way you are viewed by Cadets, other staff and people outside the organisation including parents. It’s understood that taking on a uniform role is an extra commitment and involves additional training.

It places you squarely within our command structure and it does make it easier to get things done sometimes, whether it is putting through the inevitable paperwork or finding staff to help with activities.

And it clarifies your ‘career’ path within the organisation. Of course we don’t do this for promotion but being in uniform suggests you plan to stick around and would therefore progress into a Sqn exec or a Sector or Wg sme role (not that you can’t do these as a CI but again, it gives you that added clout).

There is the pay too… perhaps not the ideal answer in an interview but I got a chuckle out of my OASC board when I said I could use my VA to take Mrs Scout out for dinner, to pay her back for the weekends lost due to Cadet-y stuff!

I’m sure others here will be able to offer more. Are you thinking of SNCO or Commission?


Thanks you for your answer, it is along the same thoughts as I was having, but seemed almost too obvious a lot of it (although you have given me a couple of little additional nuggets to add into my thoughts). Commission is what has been suggested for me and the way I want to go, but currently have gaps in knowledge I need to work on before proceeding, the other major being one being, getting it a bit clearer in my own mind the differance between SNCO and Commission staff in a way I can talk about

First of all good luck!

I would echo the above. The biggest change is how your relationship with the cadets will become a lot more formal.

As a CI you are already a role model, but when you put the uniform on regardless as to NCO or Commission, you have those extras - for example you can’t be grumbling about the state of a cadets uniform if you look a shambles yourself… And that can take some organising if you have a tight work to cadet turn around.

There does tend to be a little bit more expectation that you’ll contribute more to sector and wing events… As a CI you can be pretty territorial if you choose, but as a uniform you’ll be expected to look at the bigger picture and support the wing.

Just an initial first few thoughts.

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The traditional answer is officers plan and NCOs do. But that is less clear cut than it was, and the RAF is certainly putting more emphasis on NCOs taking on more responsibility.

In my SME area it’s about a 50:50 split and in all honesty it makes little odds who’s commissioned and who is an NCO.

That said as an officer you will or at least should have more input into the direction your unit or area is going.

TBH, there were no changes from my side when I went into uniform. I was treated with respect as a CI by both cadets and uniformed staff. Big changes in when you become an adult sgt.

The difference I would suggest between the two in the eyes of the interviewer is:

SNCO: more instructional role, main role of drill and discipline

Officer: more of a planner and organiser of activities.

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I would add to all of the above a hefty “in theory”. Because we all know units with only 1 officer, or only 1 NCO, where that individual will be expected to do it all as the only uniformed representative.

While that shouldn’t happen to a newbie, it’s not beyond the realm of possibilities.

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I would use this type of answer in the interview to show that you understand what difference there is supposed to be, even though we know that the reality is a lot less clear.