In January 1981, Buratai attended the Nigerian Defence Academy Kaduna as a member of the 29 Regular Combatant Course.
On completion of his Officer Cadet training, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 17 December 1983 into the Infantry Corps of the Nigerian Army. Buratai has a degree in History from University of Maiduguri and a degree in Philosophy from Bangladesh University of Professionals, Dhaka.
He served in 26 Amphibious Battalion Elele, Port Harcourt, Military Observer at the United Nations Verification Mission II in Angola; later 26 Guards Battalion, Lagos; Lagos Garrison Command Camp.
Upon promotion to the rank of Major General, he was appointed Commandant, Nigerian Army School of Infantry, Jaji; thereafter he was appointed Director of Procurement DHQ before being appointed Force Commander of the newly reconstituted Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTNF) under the auspices of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Benin Republic, an appointment he held till he became Chief of Army Staff on 13 July 2015.