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Should I Join The Australian Navy?

Nikki Dale
Nikki Dale February 09, 2023
should i join the australian navy

The Australian Navy is part of the Australian Defence Force, and the opportunity to join the service is something that you might be interested in, whether you are a school leaver or an experienced professional.

Roles in the Australian Navy can vary from being a Sailor to working on Submarines, and there are opportunities for entry as an Officer or even getting a degree while you complete your training.

As a part of the Australian Navy, you will get the opportunity to travel the world, complete stimulating work, and meet so many new and interesting people - all while taking advantage of an excellent salary package and a range of other benefits.

What are the requirements to join the Australian Navy?

There are several different routes into the Australian Navy, but the basic requirements for entry are quite simple and straightforward.

  • Minimum Age: You can apply to join the Australian Navy when you are 16 years and six months old, but you need to be 17 before you start your training.

  • Maximum Age: When you join, you will commit to an Initial Minimum Period of Service (IMPS) - more on this later - and you must join in time to complete the IMPS prior to the Compulsory Retirement Age.

  • Citizenship: Applicants must be Australian Citizens for almost every role, although there are some opportunities for those that are permanent residents.

  • Criminal Background: You will need to have a checkable criminal background or have lived in Australia for at least 10 years.

  • Licences: You will need to have a driving licence, and any relevant licences that are needed for the trade you are in.

  • Education: Passed Year 10 English and Maths.

  • Health and Fitness: Reasonable level of fitness; required for outdoor activities.

  • Appearance: Hair, facial hair, and make-up are regulated, and things like tattoos and piercings are assessed for suitability on a case-to-case basis.


One of the most important requirements of joining the Australian Navy is the commitment that you have for the service. As part of the Australian Navy, your key purpose is to defend Australia, but you might also need to do things like help communities affected by natural disasters or help with search and rescue operations.

This is demonstrated in different ways. Firstly, no matter what role you have applied for, there will be an Initial Minimum Period of Service (IMPS) that you will be expected to complete when you sign up. This can range from two years to 10 years, depending on the role. There is a clause that allows exit early in the training process (within a couple of weeks of starting).

You need to be flexible in terms of moving and travel.

You will need to engage in training, not only for the role itself but for development. This can include naval, military, and trade skills, but also professional qualifications.

Finally, you need to be aware that the Australian Navy is an unrestricted service, and this means that you will be expected to work irregular hours and long shifts with no overtime or extra pay involved.

Benefits of joining the Australian Navy

should i join the australian navy

When you join the Australian Navy, there are so many benefits that come with the job - from building strong, lifelong friendships to travelling the world and gaining skills and knowledge.

Some of the other benefits of joining the Australian Navy include:

Educational opportunities

One of the biggest benefits of joining the Australian Navy is that there are different opportunities for training and education, getting knowledge and skills to benefit your whole career.

To begin with, the entry point that you take to join the Australian Navy will dictate what your initial training will look like.

  • General Sailor Training - This is a nine-week course that combines physical training, practical exercises, and classroom learning as well as a week-long deployment for sea familiarisation.

  • Officer Training - The New Entry Officers Course (NEOC) is a 19-week course that focuses on things like leadership, growth, challenge, and teamwork as well as basic sailor training.

Following this initial period of training, you will find other opportunities that will support you in your chosen field. This can include professional qualifications, trade-related development, and even the opportunity to earn a recognised degree qualification, as well as promotion courses.

Financial benefits

Alongside a great salary from the very beginning of your training, there are other benefits that can help support you during your career, saving money.

Alongside free medical and dental care, you will find a lot of support for your physical health and fitness, with free sports facilities including gyms and even special interest clubs and teams that you can join.

Another excellent financial benefit is that you can take advantage of subsidised accommodation. You can either live in special Navy housing, which is perfect for those in the early stages of their career. There is also support available with payments for housing outside of the Navy provision, so sailors can then choose their own homes, which is great for families.

You will be entitled to at least four weeks a year of leave, which grows as your length of service does. Those who have had ten years of service will be entitled to long service leave of three months.

Some other benefits include good maternity leave and flexible working arrangements.

Leadership training

Leadership training and promotion opportunities are open to all, whether you have entered the service as an officer or just as a General Sailor.

The specific training that you will undertake depends on the role you have - and the role you want - but it will include training days and courses that usually take place when ashore. You will be expected to complete the training and in some cases pass an assessment to demonstrate that you have the skills to be a leader.

The leadership potential of every candidate is assessed early in the recruitment process, and this is used throughout the sailors' careers to help them achieve their goals.

Career prospects

Whether you are a Sailor or a Direct Entry Officer, the career prospects within the Australian Navy are extensive. The rank system is part of this; there is a military designation that can be reached by every sailor, for example.

There are also prospects for getting involved in things like becoming a coach and helping to train new recruits, or you might want to become a specialist in something like diving or becoming a paratrooper.

Some people also become a Submariner, a specific designation within the Australian Navy.

Adventure and travel

This is a great part of life as part of the Australian Navy. The whole job is about sailing and travelling, and you never know where you will be posted next.

When you are at sea, you will be working set shifts, and when you are on duty you will be ‘on watch’ completing set duties with your crewmates as required.

Of course, when you are off watch you can play video games, catch up with your favourite shows, and the view from your window will change every day.

You won’t be at sea all the time, of course. Some of your work will be completed ashore, and it might be at your home port or somewhere abroad - either way, your workday will be structured similarly to the typical civilian day, but when you aren't at work you will have the opportunity to catch up with family and friends (if you are at home), or you can take advantage of the excellent social and entertainment facilities.

Sense of purpose

Defending Australia is the main purpose of joining the Australian Navy - and this should be your sense of purpose when you are getting started on your journey.

The Australian Navy can be a tough place to work, with the risk of being sent to an active warzone and actually having to engage an enemy. You might be sent to support a community who has been devastated by some sort of natural disaster or other life-changing event. You might even be sent to look for a missing person or help with other search and rescue operations.

Purpose allows for you as a Sailor or even as an Officer to be able to perform your duties and cooperate with your team in following orders.

What you need to consider before joining the Australian Navy

Becoming part of the Australian Defence Service and the Australian Navy in particular means adhering to the standards that are needed.

As an example, you will be legally bound to follow all lawful commands, working as a team with high levels of cooperation and trust because of the inherent risk to life.

Other things to consider are the changes to your lifestyle. This is not a 9-5 career where you get paid for the hours you do. Instead, you are expected to work long hours that are erratic and irregular - and you won’t get paid more for it. Sailors and officers are salaried, so the pay is set no matter how many hours you work.

You don't have any control over things like where you will be posted - and for how long. You can be deployed anywhere around the world, which means that it is likely that you will have to spend a lot of time away from your family and friends. You’ll have little privacy, especially at sea, and the level of discipline needs to be maintained at all times.

The last thing to consider is that you can’t just quit when you have had enough - you must stick to the IMPS set for the role that you have signed up for.

How to join the Australian Navy

should i join the australian navy

Joining the Australian Navy is a straightforward process, with specific steps that have to be completed. These are:

Apply Online

Roles in the Australian Navy are advertised online, and to apply you will need to provide certain details, including:

  • Personal details

  • Academic achievements

  • Job preferences (if you have any)

If your details match requirements, you will be invited to set up an account on the Candidate Hub, which is the place where all the details of your application will be stored.

There will be a Supplementary Application Form to be filled out at the Candidate Hub, and you will be sent a link to complete the Job Opportunities Assessment (JOA).


This is an online aptitude test that consists of a combination of numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, and abstract reasoning questions. There are 51 questions to complete in just 20 minutes.

If you are successful at this stage, you will be invited to the next stage.

Attend Virtual YOU Session

The Your Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) is where you will have a discussion with a Careers Coach to look into the possible roles in the services that you might be interested in, and the ones that are suggested as being suitable from the results of the JOA.

You will also be asked to complete a Medical History Questionnaire.

Attend Assessment Session

In this session you will undertake some in-person assessments, as follows:

  • Medical Assessment - a head-to-toe examination, a discussion of your pre-existing medical conditions, and a fitness test.

  • Psychological Interview - this discusses things like your educational and personal history to see how well you are going to cope with the military environment, and whether your values are compatible with the Australian Navy.

  • Defence Interview - here you will be able to talk about why you want to join, while the interviewer will ask questions to assess your suitability.

If you are successful here, a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check is completed.

Attend Officer Selection Board

If you have chosen an Officer role, you’ll need to complete an extra stage in the process. Here you will need to take part in different activities, including a written exercise, an oral presentation, a practical exercise, an interview with a panel and a group exercise.

If you are successful, you will be ranked as part of the intake with a national order of merit.

Fitness Test

There are certain exercises that you have to complete as part of the fitness test. The number of reps and speeds etc are all based on your age and gender. The exercises are:

  • Sit ups (feet held)

  • Cardio - choice of 2.4km run, 5km walk, 500m swim, or a shuttle run.

There are other prerequisites depending on the role.

Attend Enlistment/Appointment Day

This is the final part of the process. On this day some final administration will take place, like a medical and criminal check, but you will also have your Enlistment or Appointment Ceremony before you head off to your Initial Military Training

How much does the Australian Navy pay?

According to documents provided by the Australian Navy in 2021, the initial pay for a recruit in basic training is around $50,000. The top pay for Officer ranks is more than $135,000.

The Navy states that the salaries for trade and technical positions are comparable to those in a similar civilian role.

It is worth mentioning that although there is no overtime pay, there are allowances of between $9,000 and $19,000 for being posted to a seagoing ship, a submarine, or even a helicopter flight.

Conclusion: It’s up to you

The Australian Navy is open to almost all Australian citizens - and this means that it is a relevant and available career choice - but to be successful you need to have the right commitment and belief in the purpose of the ADS.

Joining the service is really a personal choice, and you want to make sure that you know exactly what you are getting into so that you don't end up regretting your decision and being tied into the role for at least two years.

However, for those with the right mentality, the Australian Navy is a place for supportive learning and development, with a focus on trade and technical education - and an exciting way to travel the world.

Nikki Dale February 09, 2023

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