Earn extra money by joining the TA
Filed under: News
Joining the Territorial Army (TA) has long been a way for everyday civilians to enjoy a taste of army life and earn some extra money.
With the TA about to undergo a huge expansion, now could be a good time to volunteer – for Queen, country, and a little extra cash.
This is of real interest to me, as I'm an army brat. Both of my parents were in the Army and I grew up on military bases in Germany. I often miss the Armed Forces community, so maybe this is a way to earn some extra money, improve my fitness and make life-long friends.
So could the TA (or 'Terrified Amateurs' as I've heard some regulars call them) be the answer?
What can you earn?
It seems likely that few people join the TA just for the money, but let's take a look at that first.
Territorial soldiers get paid for each quarter day of training they take part in and the pay scale is based on that of a regular soldier at a similar rank.
New recruits get £35.04 for a full day, but once you're through basic training you get £43.54 a day. If you're a graduate officer cadet it's as high as £62.07 a day, but all these are just starting points. As you gain experience and earn promotion, it can rise.
On top of that, as long as you meet your minimum training commitment (between 19 and 27 days a year) you also earn an annual tax-free bounty. This starts off as £424 but rises. After five years, you'll receive a bounty of £1,674 – again, tax-free.
In the event that you are deployed to a warzone, you'd receive the same pay and bonus as a regular soldier.
Other reasons to join
There must be easier part-time jobs, so why else might you join the TA? Well, on one online forum, 'Running Free' explains: "Joining the TA has got to be the best thing I have done in my life so far.
"In the TA you get to do so many things, some that you probably couldn't do in your civilian life - and get paid for it. I'm in the Infantry and with this you probably get the most varied and exciting training compared with, let's say, if you joined the Signals.
"As well as your weekend training (not every weekend), each year you get to go on annual two-week training camp abroad."
He then lists off the places he's been, including Cyprus, Gibralter and Corsica. I can't help but wonder when Afghanistan might pop up on that list, but so far 'Running Free' has had a great time.
On average, a TA soldier gets £9,000-worth of training a year, so it's often quite appealing to employers. There's some guidance on balancing TA and work commitments here.
How fit should you be?
I don't know about you but I go fairly easy on myself in the gym. In fact, that's part of the TA's appeal - providing such a great motivation to stay in shape.
While some forums suggest that you don't have to be that fit, a quick visit to the ARmy Rumour Service (the splendidly-acronymed AARSE), shows that your fellow recruits might hold you in some contempt if you couldn't at least do the basics.
It states: "If you need bribing to train for the most basic of skills required of a soldier, you do not deserve to wear the uniform. You volunteer to serve, you understand that fitness is a basic requirement."
But then, the Army recruitment page states: "You don't need to be super fit to join the Army; all you need is the right attitude and determination to get there."
So unless you're really out of shape, and as long as you are willing to put in the work, don't feel you need to become a body builder before applying.
What can you do?
There are so many different roles in the Army itself and some of these are replicated in the TA. You might want to look for a role that uses your existing skills (for example if you're a nurse) or you might prefer to simply join your nearest unit and learn new skills.
You can find out more by contacting your local Armed Forces Careers Office, or calling 0845 600 8080. If you visit the website, there's also a live chat option.
Would you have to go to war?
Of course, it's all fun and games until someone has to go to war. With the UK engaged in an ongoing mission in Afghanistan, on top of its usual commitments, how likely are you to be called up to serve in a conflict zone?
According to AARSE, not very likely - unless you want to. It reports that all mobilisations since 2005 have been voluntary.
The point of the TA is to have a trained, ready fighting force to support the regular soldiers. By joining, you've indicated that you're prepared to take part in active service.
However, unless an extremely serious conflict arose, it seems likely that the Army will continue to invite volunteers to serve abroad. Just don't rely on that remaining the case.
Would I join?
I can really see the appeal in signing up to the TA. I'd like to feel I was making a contribution to the nation's safety and I'm never averse to some extra cash.
But I also tend to vomit when faced with strenuous exercise. Many of my friends and family are in the army, and they are all considerably tougher than me.
Despite that, I would be very tempted to apply to the Media Operations Group, a specialist TA force that reports on conflict zones, where my current work experience might actually be useful.
And yet... while my son is so young, I'd have to think very seriously about a part-time job that took me away from him for potentially months at a time.
Putting money to one side
While the TA looks like an amazing experience and something that sorely tempts me, I couldn't join. Perhaps once my baby is a little older I will consider it again.
I also can't recommend it as a money-making scheme. The brave men and women in our TA have signed up knowing that they might be called on to fight in a war, perhaps even to be sent to Afghanistan. Just like our regular armed forces, they could be deployed away from their families for months at a time.
So don't view the TA as simply a money-making opportunity - the potential sacrifices are just too great.
However, if you want to serve your country, get physically fit and make new friends then the Territorials are expanding and there's never been a better time to apply.
Are you in the TA? Do you think the money's good? Is anyone you know a member? Would you consider joining? Share your thoughts and experiences with other readers in the comments below.
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