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The application and selection process for the Forces makes sure that the right person is selected for the right job. Before you start the application, there are some details you should know:
To apply to the Forces, you must:
- Be a Canadian Citizen.
- Be 17 years of age, with parental consent, or older, except:
- Regular Officer Training Plan – Junior applications must be 16 or older.
- Reserve Force - Applicants may be 16 years of age if they are also enrolled as a full-time high school student.
- Have completed at least Grade 10 or Secondaire IV (in Quebec).
- Certain entry programs and occupations require higher levels of education.
If you are interested in joining the Reserves, your first step is to contact one of your local Reserve units to find out which positions are available and then apply online. Your local recruiting centre will process your application and ensure that you complete the required steps of the application process. Reserve applicants are required to pass a physical fitness test before being selected. All other steps of the application process are the same as for the Regular Force.
Once you have been evaluated and the application process is complete, your local Reserve unit decides to issue a job offer. Not everyone who applies for a job in the Reserves will get one. It all depends on job availability.
To apply to the Forces you must have passed Grade 10 or Secondaire IV (in Quebec). However, a number of the jobs available require high school diplomas, college certificates, or university degrees.
The Forces will consider applicants who have passed a General Education Development (GED) test. However, applicants from Quebec who have a GED must also have the necessary credits from Secondaire IV.
Adults who have not completed high school can submit an Attestation of Secondary School Equivalency, but it is not considered equivalent to a high school diploma.
If you have been home-schooled, you will need to provide proof from your home province’s educational authority that your marks have been assessed and meet their standards.
If you attended and graduated high-school, college or university in another country, you may need to have your education evaluated by the Alliance of Credential Evaluation Services of Canada to determine if it is equivalent to the education provided in Canada. The Forces will not pay for the cost of the evaluation.
If you have completed college or university, or have skilled work experience, you may qualify to have your military and occupational training reduced. In these cases, the Forces will complete a Prior Learning Assessment.
When you join the Regular Force, you are expected to sign up for a few years. The length of time depends on the need for your skills and the length of time you spend in training. The minimum is usually about 3 years; however, if you are applying through a paid education program, you will be required to serve longer.
During the application process, you will be assessed by medical professionals. A complete medical exam is necessary to determine if there are any medical restrictions that may limit career choices. Vision standards vary depending on the job. There are no minimum standards for dental health. More information on the Medical Exam is provided in Step 4.
On enrolment into the Regular Force, you must be of an age where there is enough time to complete any necessary training and your first term of service before the compulsory retirement age of 60.
Reservists must be able to complete 2 years of service for each year of training before reaching the compulsory retirement age of 60.
At the beginning of basic training, all new recruits are provided with the official dress-standards for military members. Here is an overview:
- Non-offensive visible tattoos, except tattoos on the face, are allowed.
- Aboriginal members may request to wear long hair or braids while on-duty, but only if there are no safety concerns.
- Women members are required to keep their hair short or long enough to keep tied back while on duty so it does not obstruct vision or become a danger.
- Women are allowed to wear earrings while on duty, but they must be small stud-style earrings. However, other visible body piercings are not allowed to be worn while in uniform.
- Women may wear make-up while in uniform, but it must be applied conservatively.
Once your online application has been forwarded to your local recruiting centre, they should be able to tell you why your application is delayed. The most common reasons are:
- Missing documents: all applicants must submit copies of their birth certificate, a piece of photo id, and school transcripts. If copies of these documents are not sent, your application cannot be processed.
- Reliability screening: the reliability screening and security check will take longer if you lived in another country or if you have a criminal record.*
- Credit history: financial problems can slow the enrolment process or, if there are related legal obligations that prevent you from deploying, may even disqualify you from the Forces. If you have any debts, you will be asked about your plans to repay them.
- Medical history: you may be asked to have your doctor fill out some additional forms. The completed forms need to be returned to the Forces medical staff as soon as possible.
*Note: All Canadian nationals living abroad who apply to the Regular Officer Training Plan should submit their application and associated paperwork in advance to allow for possible delays in communication and processing. The recommended submission date for candidates applying from outside of Canada is November 30.
Step one: Start your application
The first step in the application process is to complete the online profile. This profile is an online version of an application form.
*** If you are interested in joining the Reserves, your first step is to contact one of your local Reserve units to find out which positions are available. They will work with you to identify a job, fill in all the required application forms, and advise you through the process.
You have to create an GC Key account with the Government of Canada.
Several government departments use the GC Key to provide secure online services that require the protection of sensitive and personal information. If you have used the online application through Service Canada to access employment insurance benefits, for example, you may already have on GC Key.
With the GCKey you can start filling in the Forces online application form, which will take about 30 minutes.
If at anytime you have questions or concerns about your online application you can contact your local recruiting centre.
Step Two: Make an Appointment
Once your application has been received and verified, we will send you an email asking you to contact your local recruiting center to make an appointment to take the aptitude test.
In the email, we will also remind you to bring the following documents with you to your appointment:
Government Issued Photo Identification
Proof of your education (transcripts)
Personnel Screening, Consent and Authorization Form
Personal Data Verification Consent Form
If you are not able to provide all of these documents on the day of your test, we may not be able to continue to process your application.
Once you have contacted your local recruiting center and made an appointment, you will be sent a follow-up email confirming your scheduled appointment.
Step three: Aptitude Test
The aptitude test is used to determine which military occupations are best suited for you. The test is designed to assess your verbal, spatial and problem-solving skills.
You will be invited to complete this multiple-choice test by hand or on a computer. You are given 45 minutes to answer all of the questions: you will be given 4 answers for each question, but only one is correct. The test has 60 questions, broken down into three parts:
- Verbal skills (15 questions, 5 minute limit to finish)
- Spatial ability (15 questions, 10 minute limit to finish)
- Problem solving (30 questions, 30 minute limit to finish)
The aptitude test is a standardized test, designed to test and rank very specific abilities; part of it tests your ability to answer the questions under certain conditions. As a result, we cannot offer accommodations, such as letting you use a calculator, have additional time, or read questions aloud, as that would prevent us from gaining an accurate measurement of specific skills.
Preparing is Key
We have developed a practice test, modelled on the actual test, to help you prepare. It will offer you a sense of the type of questions you will face and how long it may take to complete. In addition, you may want to review mathematical problem solving skills like fractions, decimals and long division. Please note that calculators are not allowed. Also, we encourage you to visit a recruiting centre prior to your test to discuss other methods of preparation with a recruiter.
On the day of the test, do not forget to bring all of the documents listed in Step Two with you to your appointment. If you are not able to provide all of the documents, we cannot continue to process your application. Additionally, make sure you are well rested and get to the testing location on time. We suggest that you reschedule the test if you are not feeling well or if you are taking any medication that may affect your performance. You may also want to:
- Wear comfortable clothing.
- Listen carefully and, if you have any questions, ask before starting the test.
- Read all questions completely and carefully.
- Don’t spend too much time on one question. Pick the answer that seems right and keep going. If you have time left at the end, come back to it.
- Make sure the question you are answering is the same number as the one on the answer sheet.
Rewriting the test is only allowed in certain conditions. If you do not pass, you can request to rewrite the test after 3 months. You will only be allowed to write the test a third time if you provide proof that you are registered in a college or university program, and that you are passing courses without difficulty.
Step four: Medical exam
You will be expected to pass a medical exam. This exam makes sure you are physically ready for military training and service. The exam is performed by trained medical professionals and all information will be treated with confidentiality. The medical exam is a health questionnaire and a physical exam, followed by a review of your medical files.
The first part of the medical exam is a questionnaire on your medical history. You should be prepared to answer questions about past and current illness, medications including dosage, among other things.
The second part is the physical exam performed by qualified and licensed military medical staff or a civilian doctor. They will measure your height and weight, and then evaluate your vision, colour perception and hearing. If you would be more comfortable, you may ask for a third party or chaperone to be present during the exam.
To prepare for your physical, we suggest that you:
- do not smoke on the day of the exam
- do not drink caffeine the day of the exam
- limit exposure to loud noises for 48 hours
- wear your glasses, if you normally wear glasses or contacts:
- Soft contact lenses should be removed 24 hours before the exam
- Rigid Gas Permeable lenses should be removed 72 hours before the exam
- bring a pair of shorts & t-shirt to wear during the exam, but we do provide a disposable gown and shorts.
Medical File Review
After the medical exam, your medical records and history will be reviewed by military medical staff. This review helps to determine if there are any medical limitations that will affect your training and career.
You may be asked for additional exams or reports from your family doctor or a specialist. In this case, you will be given a form with instructions and questions for your doctor. You are responsible for having your doctor fill out the forms and return them to the recruiting centre as soon as possible so we can continue to move your application towards enrolment. If your doctor expects a fee to complete the forms, you are responsible for that cost.
Reserve Physical Fitness Test
Forces members are required to maintain a minimum fitness level, which is assessed every year. If you are applying to the Reserves, you must pass the fitness test as part of the application process. The test is given by a trained professional evaluator. There is a consent form for the test, so if you are 17 years-old, you will receive the form by mail, have it signed by a parent or guardian, and bring it with you to the test.
Step five: Interview
Once the results from your aptitude test and medical exam have been finalized, you will be invited for an interview with a military career counsellor. This is the official job interview and is a very important part of the process of joining the military.
The application process, especially for certain jobs, is very competitive. The better prepared you are for the interview, the better you will do, and the more likely you will get into the military, in the job you want. You will be asked questions about your work history, your education, your knowledge of the Forces, and your understanding of the job you selected.
To prepare for the interview, we suggest that you:
- Research the jobs you have listed on your application.
- List the reasons you chose those jobs.
- Review your resume and be prepared to talk about your work history.
- Summarize your education and any other activities you have been involved in.
- Read the section “Life in the CF” and “Basic Training.”
- Prepare answers to the following common questions:
- Where does basic training take place? For how long?
- Where does the occupational training take place for the jobs you are interested in?
- How long will you be in training before you are completely qualified?
- What is the role of your preferred job in the Forces?
- Where might you serve?
- What do you like about the jobs you listed on the application?
- What are the negative elements of the jobs you listed on the application?
- Put some thought into what you will wear and how you want to present yourself.
- Give yourself time to arrive 10 to 15 minutes early so you can relax before the interview.
Step six: Reliability Screening
From the start of training, members of the military have access to sensitive information and equipment. As an applicant to the Forces, you must pass reliability and security screening to ensure that you can be trusted in your job and with Forces equipment. The Department of National Defence will verify:
- Personal information
- Education qualifications
- Professional credentials
- Criminal record
- Credit history
- Employment history
You need to:
- Completely and honestly fill out the following forms:
- Provide the contact information for 4 references. These people cannot be related to you and must have known you for at least five years, or since you were 16, whichever comes first. Please ensure that you have their permission to use them as references.
- Tell us about any legal obligations, such as probation, etc
- Tell us about any personal debts you have and your plans to repay them.
If fingerprints are required for the Criminal record check, all the arrangements will be made by the Recruiting Centre.
If you have ever lived outside Canada or have an immediate family member who currently lives outside Canada: You will be asked to fill out the “Pre-Enrolment Security Clearance Pre-Assessment Questionnaire”. You should be prepared to provide adequate, verifiable information for the last 10 years. This information is used to determine if a Security Clearance Pre-Assessment is required, especially if you:
- have dual citizenship
- if you lived, worked, studied or travelled outside of Canada in the last 10 years for a total of at least 180 days
- if you have a child, parent, step-parent, spouse, in-laws, brother or sister (half & step) living outside of Canada
If a Clearance Pre-Assessment is required, it can take between 6 to 18 months to complete.
Protecting your personal information
Personal information of applicants is treated as sensitive information. The information you provide as part of the application process, as well as the identity of the sources, is protected under the Government of Canada’s Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.
Step seven: Enrolment
If you are selected, you will receive a job offer from the Forces, an enrolment date and a start date for basic training. You have 10 days to either accept or refuse the offer.
Once you accept the offer, you will receive Joining Instructions that will explain the next steps: the Enrolment Ceremony, final paperwork, travel arrangements and basic training start date.
There may be a waiting period before your enrolment; do not leave school or quit your current job until you have firm dates for training.
At the Enrolment Ceremony you will be officially sworn in as a member of the Forces. The ceremony acknowledges the commitment you have made to Canada and to protecting and serving Canadians. You will be welcomed into the Forces family, so you are welcome to invite family and friends to attend.
Your basic training course will start anywhere from 5 to 30 days later.
Once the recruiting centre has finished processing your application for the Reserves, the results will be sent back to your local Reserve unit. They will decide, based on the jobs they have available and the entire candidate pool, if they will offer you a job. Not everyone who applied for a job in the Reserves will get a job offer.
If you accept the job offer, you will be given an enrolment date and start date for basic training. You will complete any additional paperwork before the Enrolment Ceremony. At the Enrolment Ceremony you will be officially sworn in as a new member of your Reserve unit. The ceremony welcomes you into the Forces family and acknowledges the commitment you have made to Canada. You are welcome to invite your family and friends to attend.
All online employment applications are managed by the Canadian Forces Virtual Recruiting Centre until files are complete and ready to be considered for processing. For now, keep the original forms and documents with you and submit copies of them to the Canadian Forces Virtual Recruiting Centre. Do not submit or bring your forms and documents elsewhere.