Translating Roles to Civvy Speak

I sat down tonight thinking about how the Armed Forces can be quite good at producing names for roles that make no sense in the civilian world; mainly thinking about helping service leavers to translate their experiences well enough to secure the level of job that matches their abilities when leaving the forces.

Then I realised that the same can be said about CFAV positions. Would the average civilian who has not had exposure to the Armed Forces Community understand what “OC” or “Staff Officer” or “Adjutant” means or what the role might entail just by the title?

As an example, to me the “OC” position roughly translates to a “branch manager” position in Civvy Street. A “Training Officer” might be a “Curriculum Manager”

So how would you translate CFAV roles into wording that the average civilian recruiter (Talent Acquisition or HR) would understand?

CFAV - Scout leader with a military theme.


One that I use at induction evenings for new parents

Adjutant = Sqn office manager

TBF I just use Youth group leader when I mention my hobby to work colleagues.


The way things are going with core activities, I might have to delete aviation officer from my signature block… False advertising!

I often refer to it as a youth worker to other people who don’t understand Cadets.


I know some within RAFAC find it controversial, but we ARE youth workers.

The differences between us and official youth workers are quite minimal and mostly relate to casework.

The difference between a us and "official youth workers is that youth workers have qualifications in youth work, we have mandatory training in how to run away from a terrorist, not to loose government data and to know which fire extinguisher to use on a paper fire. I will say that the safeguarding training is much better than it used to be.

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I’m not sure we are workers though.
Volunteers? Youth leaders?

I’d not want to pass myself off as a social worker any more than a regular officer!


Community youth development would be a better description - youth workers are a related but very different field & way of dealing & developing things.

What we are also not is teachers or teaching assistants (unless we have those qualifications) so we need to listen more to those that work as a day job in those environments.

Best summary I use is that “RAFAC uses the structure, ethos, & culture of the RAF as an allegory to develop young people in leadership, confidence & good citizenship.”


I just tell people I’m one of the uniformed staff at the local Air Cadet squadron, and that I’m a Sergeant Instructor teaching aeronautical subjects to young people. They all get it: civvies aren’t THAT bad at understanding basic military terminology i.e. words like ‘Sergeant,’ ‘Officer’ or ‘Squadron.’ Such words are used on TV documentaries and to describe museum exhibits.

I don’t think of myself as some sort of youth outreach or support worker, or even particularly well-trained for that job: if I was I’d want the hourly rate for it. All I do is go into our cadet centre once a week, teach children some basic aeronautical theory or practical skills for a couple of hours, and that’s it.

We as a nation committed ourselves two years ago to an existential conflict with no end in sight against a nation which has very quickly adapted itself to wage total war - if the people of our country haven’t got at least an inkling that we need armed forces to defend ourselves by now, and that those forces need their own specialised rank system, equipment and culture in order to do that job properly, then I’m happy to explain further the meaning of military jargon until they get bored with it… and they do every time. :crazy_face: