Find out how you can start a career in Defence. Here we list potential job roles and some of the leading companies in that sector.

Job roles

The defence industry covers everything from land, sea and air capabilities to electronics and cyber security.

Trends and developments in the defence industry

There is always pressure on governments to make budget cuts, although recently the UK, mainland Europe and America have increased their defence budgets. Heightening political tensions understandably trigger a question of whether protection against a new or perceived threat is required. Cyber attacks on banks and other infrastructures also have larger implications for the defence industry.

The UK is the second largest global defence exporter after the US, which helps deliver the equipment and services our armed forces and security services need to safeguard national security. According to industry group ADS, the UK Defence Sector employs 147,00 people, including 6,000 apprentices.         

The Defence Sector is a lucrative employer of graduates with a change in relevant degree programmes that is reflecting the evolving nature of the industry and the use of technology with the roles. Pays an average salary of almost £45k for surveyed defence roles, almost 16% more than the national average' (Source Joint Economic Data Hub)

Employers range from global organisations to small local businesses, each with their own blueprint for jobs and career progression.  Jobs are in everything from cybersecurity, business development, engineering, technology, science, HR & management


  • Many defence firms are looking to bolster their research and development and technology departments
  • Businesses are increasingly looking to diversify their customer base, selling technologies into alternative markets such as Critical National Infrastructure, transport and oil and gas
  • Starting your defence graduate career with a private defence company can open up job opportunities all over the world.
  • While some graduate opportunities in this sector are most likely to be taken by engineering graduates, they are not limited to this degree programme. Defence companies have increasingly employed Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics graduates. Companies such as BAE systems and Airbus in particular have become much more flexible in accepting other related Science, Maths and Technology related degrees
  • All of these companies also employ graduates for business operations roles; finance, marketing, HR, procurement, account management

Is this sector right for me?

  • There are nationality restrictions in many parts of the defence industry, but if you are not a British national, there may still be options for you working on areas which are not a risk to national security.
  • Think about how much you would like to use science, engineering or computing skills in your employment.
  • Would you like a job which is fairly practical or more theoretical?
  •  Are you interested in developing new technologies using the most up to date research?
  • Do you have any ethical concerns about this sector? 

Skills Needed

  • Being part of the development of cutting edge and innovative technologies.
  • Solving complex problems.
  • The ability to demonstrate potential leadership skills
  • Excellent customer relationship skills
  • The ability to work across  interdisciplinary teams
  • A willingness to be mobile is helpful as there are opportunities to travel within the UK and internationally, whether that's daily travel between sites, a one- or two-day trip or relocation for a few months for a particular project.
  • Commercial acumen
  • Strongly motivated within the field of defence
  • Excellent grasp of basic numeracy and scientific principles (If you are applying for an Engineering, Science or IT based role.  Appreciation of engineering practices ((If you are applying for a Engineering, Science or IT based role )
  • Willing to adhere to legally binding confidentiality agreements such as The Official Secrets Act, 1989
  • Related sectors that you could also consider include the aerospace industry, telecommunications, energy, nuclear, IT, manufacturing, cyber security and intelligence.

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