The Australian Defence Force offers an incredible variety of roles, fulfilling both defence and peacetime services. Across the Navy, Army and Air Force, and public services within the Department of Defence, there’s a wealth of careers to explore.
Whether on base, land or at sea, no two days are the same as you’ll use your training and skills to support communities in need and work to ensure a safe and secure home for all. There are opportunities to suit every lifestyle and skillset:
- In the Navy, you’ll be a member of a supportive community, travelling the world and exploring new cultures.
- In the Army, you’ll take part in exercises in Australia and overseas, preparing you for your role at the forefront of response.
- In the Air Force, you could work with cutting edge aero technology, assisting with aeromedical evacuations anywhere in the world.
- In the Department of Defence, you could assist with anything from clerical administration to engineering, human resources to technology or naval shipbuilding!
Roles span anything from temporary contract workers to traditional employee contracts and long-term organisational functions. Employees in defence careers are heavily supported to continue with their professional development following initial training. Many secure nationally recognised qualifications alongside working full-time, setting them up for ongoing success and professional growth.
Coupled with professional growth, the Australian Government is investing $200 billion in Australia’s defence capability, making this a highly sustainable choice for long-term job security. As well as traditional careers in administration, combat and intelligence, areas of need and potential skill shortages include:
- Engineering (for ships, submarines and aircraft vehicles).
- Intelligence and Surveillance
- Information Technology and Cyber Security
- Technical Design and Construction
There’s lots of potential for growth and opportunity to build a long-term stable career. This includes paid degree pathway and early career entry through school-leaver and apprenticeship schemes.
Entry into the sector is as varied as the roles available, so no matter what academic pathway you choose to pursue, there’ll be an opportunity to get started with a career in the defence sector!
What You Could Do
Job roles in the defence sector sit under four main areas:
- Army Jobs
- Navy Jobs
- Airforce Jobs
- Department of Defence Jobs
Here’s a few examples of the types of roles you could pursue:
- Fitter Armament: Apply your fitter skills to inspecting, repairing and reconditioning military hardware such as pistols, machine guns, rifles, armoured vehicles, watercraft and diving gear.
- Army Officer: With world-class training, unlock your leadership potential as a strong manager and decision-maker with a job as an Army Officer.
- Artillery Operator: Join the team that set up, aim and fire the Army’s formidable heavyweight artillery in a career full of camaraderie.
- Maritime Warfare Officer: Take responsibility for the control, navigation, systems and maritime safety of an advanced Navy vessel, assuming responsibility for the ship during each watch you keep.
- Electronics Engineer Submariner: Lead a team that maintains advanced combat, self-defence, sensor, communications and intelligence systems, working in a challenging yet rewarding environment.
- Electronics Technician: Work at the leading edge of technology, maintaining advanced missile systems, navigation equipment, radar, surveillance equipment, communication networks and more.
Air Force Jobs:
- Load Master: Take charge of aircraft cargo loading, weight distribution, monitoring, and the safe delivery by runway or parachute of equipment, supplies, fuel, vehicles and personnel.
- Weapons Systems Operator: Operate some of the world’s most sophisticated airborne electronic and weapon systems, from a seat in one of the world’s fastest fighter aircraft, managing air combat or electronic warfare missions.
- Aeronautical Engineer: Maintain and manage aircraft structures, propulsion systems, ancillary equipment and related ground support systems, working at the leading edge of aircraft technology.
These job roles are just a taste of what’s on offer. Each segment of the industry will also include administrative or managerial functions that support the sector in vital ways.
Department of Defence Jobs:
- Project Manager: Planning and oversee projects within the department, from initial ideation through to completion. You’ll coordinate people and processes to deliver projects on time, within budget and with the desired outcomes aligned to objectives.
- Information and Records Officer: Take responsibility for creating, storage, retrieval and disposal of all recorded information about the department’s activities. Data can come in many formats, such as digital, photographic, film or paper.
- Work Health and Safety Officer: Take responsibility for ensuring the safe and compliant operation of the department. You’ll implement defined Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) strategies that identify hazards, assess risks to health and safety, and use state-of-the-art tools and techniques to avoid accidents and injuries.
Other job roles include within:
- The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD): The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) defends Australia from global threats and advances the national interest by providing foreign signals intelligence, cybersecurity and offensive cyber operations, as directed by the Australian Government.
- Naval Shipbuilding: The Australian government is currently developing a national naval shipbuilding enterprise and seeking candidates interested in various roles in this area, including engineering, logistics and project management.
STEM Roles: A Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM) workforce is critical for Defence and Australia’s ability to achieve the Government’s current and future challenges. Defence needs to continue to build a world-leading STEM-capable workforce of Australian Defence Force and Australian Public Service personnel.
Graduate Employment and Gender Split
Although a degree is not always essential for every career pathway in the defence industry, it’s worth knowing where a degree can take you within the industry.
The Department of Defence offers a highly competitive Graduate Program with four streams:
- Research and Innovation
- Policy and Corporate
Entry into the graduate program requires completing a three-year bachelor’s degree with most subjects considered across the four streams.
The gender split across the industry depends on the segment of the sector you work within. Reports indicate that the average division is:
According to recent statistics, the highest split of females to men is within the Airforce, with 22% according to recent statistics, with the lowest split in the Army with 14%.
The ADF regularly acknowledges that they need to do more work to improve this split and are continuously working to address the gender imbalance across their various industry sectors.
Salaries in the sector are competitive and range widely based on several factors. The defence force also bands salaries, so employees receive increases based on years of service, rank and professional qualifications.
- Recruit Basic Military Training: $49,302
- During Initial Training: $54,242 – $59,546
- Officer Training (No Degree): $41,732 – $47,296
- Officer Training (Degree): $47,296
- Defence Undergraduate Scheme: $44,030 – $60,704
Salaries can be pretty varied and determined by several factors, including:
- The segment of the industry you work within.
- Your job title and seniority.
- The amount of experience you have.
- Any specialist qualifications.
The defence industry has shown strong growth over the last five years. This is projected to continue as the Australian Government is investing a historic $270 billion through the 2020 Defence Strategic Update and Force Structure Plans.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the defence force has mobilised to support local government and communities, and employment in the sector has remained unchanged.
Reports indicate that around 80,000 people apply to join the defence force every year, with on average 8000 people securing jobs.
Qualifications and Entry Pathways
There are multiple ways to kick-start your career in this industry.
Some popular pathways include:
Where to Learn More
You can find out more about defence careers through their professional websites and career directories: