How to become a Navy Officer

Navy officers manage, lead, train and take responsibility for maintaining the team spirit and safety of the Navy's non-commissioned officers and sailors in both peacetime and wartime.

Personal requirements of a Navy Officer

  • Able to lead and motivate others
  • Prepared to accept responsibility
  • Meet aptitude, physical fitness and medical requirements
  • Australian citizenship

Education & Training for a Navy Officer

To become a Navy officer you usually have to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education with passes in English and three other tertiary-accredited subjects. To join the Navy you will need to successfully complete a series of aptitude tests, medical assessments and selection interviews. If you are successful there are four different education and training pathways for Navy officers: you may apply to join the Navy as a non-degree, direct-entry officer cadet; you may complete a degree through the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA); you may apply as a sponsored undergraduate; or you may apply after completing a selected range of specialist degrees. Entry to all non-degree officer cadet positions requires completion of the New Entry Officer Course at the Royal Australian Naval College (RANC), HMAS Creswell at Jervis Bay, NSW. This is followed by specialist training with the Navy. Entry to ADFA usually requires you to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education with an appropriate score in prerequisite subjects relevant to your chosen study. All ADFA students are required to complete a 3-year course of academic study at the Academy, incorporating the Academic Military Education and Training (AMET) program. Sponsored undergraduates are full-time university students who are currently studying for a degree relevant to the Navy at a recognised tertiary institution. They can apply for sponsored undergraduate entry into the Navy, having completed at least one to two years of their degree, depending on its duration. Following completion of their specialised degree, they must then complete the New Entry Officer Course at the Royal Australian Naval College before becoming officers in their specialised field. People who already have specialised degrees may apply for direct entry into the Navy as Graduate Officers. These applicants are then also required to complete the New Entry Officer Course before becoming officers in their specialised field. Different specialised occupations have different entry requirements. For full details on this option, contact your nearest Defence Force Recruiting Centre.

Additional Information

To enter ADFA, you must be at least 17 years of age and have satisfied entry requirements for a relevant degree at the University of New South Wales or equivalent. Applications usually close in September of the year prior to entry. Some specialisations may have additional age restrictions. Check the Australian Defence Force website for full details. Students who apply to ADFA during Year 11 may be eligible for the ADFA Education Award. The Education Award is presented annually to Year 12 students in recognition of outstanding achievement shown during the ADFA recruiting process.

Duties & Tasks of a Navy Officer

Navy officers mainly work in the seamanship, aviation, supply and engineering fields, as well as in various support specialisations. A Navy officer may specialise as:

  • Aerospace Engineer - maintain Navy helicopters and associated systems, specialising in either Aeronautics or Aircraft Electronics.
  • Maritime Aviation Warfare Officer - perform a range of tasks, such as navigation, tactical communication and operating weapons on board Navy helicopters.
  • Navy Pilot - fly Navy helicopters from the Navy Air Station in NSW or from vessels at sea.
  • Navy Dentist (Dental Officer) - assess, diagnose and treat dental conditions and maintain the oral health of Navy personnel.
  • Navy Lawyer (Legal Officer) - practice military and discipline law, civil and administrative law, and international and operations law in order to assist boards of enquiry; appear before court martials; and provide legal aid to Navy personnel.
  • Marine Engineer Officer - manages and maintain the structure, machinery and mechanical and electrical systems of Navy ships and submarines.
  • Navy Doctor (Medical Officer) - provide healthcare to Navy personnel in Navy hospitals, on board ships and in emergency situations.
  • Nursing Officer - are responsible for the medical needs of all personnel and may become involved in specialist areas like perioperative or emergency care.
  • Maritime Warfare Officer - are responsible for the control and safety of Navy ships and submarines at sea. With further training, they can specialise in navigation and warfare.
  • Maritime Logistics Officer - manage logistic support functions required by both vessels and Navy personnel, including replenishment, catering, financial accounting and business operations.
  • Training Systems Specialist - are responsible for developing and monitoring the design, quality control and delivery of training in the Navy.
  • Electronic Engineer (Weapons Electrical Engineering Officer) - are responsible for the maintenance and functioning of the ships weapons, communication and navigation systems on Navy ships and submarines, performing duties such as providing technical training to sailors and maintaining shore installations

Employment Opportunities for a Navy Officer

Recruitment into the Australian Defence Force is conducted on an Australia-wide basis all year round.

Future growth:


Employment by state:


NSW NSW 52.9%

NT NT 2.4%

QLD QLD 14.4%

SA SA 8.8%

TAS TAS 4.9%

VIC VIC 9.5%

WA WA 7.2%

Hours worked:



Average unemployment

Gender split:

Male 89.3%

Female 10.7%

Education level:

Age brackets:

15-19 - 0%

20-24 - 0%

25-34 - 1.4%

35-44 - 24.3%

45-54 - 54.1%

55-59 - 17.4%

60-64 - 2.7%

65 and Over - 0%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

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