Frequently Asked Questions
Joining the Forces
- Who is eligible to join the Forces?
To join the Forces, you must:
- Be a Canadian citizen
- Be 17 years of age (with parental or guardian consent) or older, except:
- Regular Officer Training Plan – Junior applicants, who must be 16 years of age or older; or
- Primary Reserve applicants, who must be 16 years of age (while maintaining full-time student status) or older.
- Make sure you meet the minimum education requirements for your desired occupation – visit Browse Jobs to explore jobs in the Forces and their education requirements.
- I have a General Educational Development (GED) Certificate or High School Equivalency Certificate. Am I eligible to join the Forces?
Yes. A GED or a High School Equivalency Certificate does meet the basic eligibility requirements for the Forces. However, they will not be considered an equivalency for occupations in the Forces that require higher education. Contact your local recruiting centre to discuss your situation with a recruiter.
- I have completed some/all of my education overseas. Do the Forces recognize education credentials from countries other than Canada?
Yes. However, you are responsible for providing proof that your credentials meet the requirements of the Forces. There are a number of organizations in Canada that will assess foreign secondary and post-secondary credentials to verify equivalencies. Visit the Alliance of Credential Evaluation Services of Canada to find accredited organizations that offer this service. You are responsible for all associated costs.
- Why do Officers need university degrees?
Officers in the Forces are required to think critically, develop innovative solutions to problems and use their intellectual abilities to analyze, plan and make decisions. A university degree is a very good indicator that an applicant has the intellectual skills that Officers need on the job.
- I have a criminal record. Am I eligible to join the Forces?
Yes. If you have a conviction under the Criminal Code of Canada or the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, you may still apply to the Forces, as long as you have served your sentence and no longer have any legal obligations.
- Are Forces members allowed to have tattoos and/or piercings?
Yes. Forces members can have non-offensive tattoos anywhere on the body except for the face, head and ears. Offensive tattoos (anything pornographic, racist, containing vulgar language/design, etc.) are not acceptable in the Forces. Forces members are not allowed to wear any piercings while in uniform or in the work environment, except for women’s stud earrings.
- How do I choose a job in the Forces?
We recommend that you only choose a job after carefully researching your options, taking into account your personal skills, abilities and interests. Visit Browse Jobs to explore occupations in the Forces. Recruiters can also help you find suitable occupations.
How long do I have to serve?
When you enrol in the Regular Force, you are expected to sign on for a few years of service. Terms of service start at three years, but can be longer depending on the type and amount of training you will need for your occupation. If you join the Forces through a Paid Education program, you will be required to serve two months for every month of paid education.
If you want to continue your career in the Forces beyond your initial contract, you may be offered further terms of service.
How difficult is basic training?
Basic training is quite demanding and not everyone passes the course. Working hard to properly prepare beforehand and putting in your best effort while at basic training will help you succeed. Visit Training to learn more about basic training.
What happens after basic training?
After completing basic training, Non-Commissioned Members (NCMs) will be sent on further training that is specific to their environment (Land, Sea, Air):
- NCMs in the Army will attend the 4-week Basic Military Qualification – Land Course at one of several centres across the country before continuing on to occupation training.
- NCMs in the Navy will attend the 5-week Fleet School in Esquimalt or Halifax before continuing on to occupation training.
- NCMs in the Air Force usually go directly to occupation training.
Officers will be sent to either second language training or occupation training.
Life the Forces
My spouse/partner is already in the Forces. If I join, will we be posted together?
Married couples who are both serving in the Forces are typically posted together to the same location. However, the Forces is occasionally unable to accommodate spouses in cases where there are distinct differences in occupations or elements (e.g. posting an Air Weapons Specialist with his/her Infantry spouse) or because of operational requirements, such as overseas deployments.
What are regular working hours in the Forces?
Most members in the Regular Force work normal eight-hour days, with evenings and weekends free. However, there are exceptions, depending on the job or operational requirements and an expectation that some periods of work will routinely extend beyond eight hours.
Do Forces members get benefits?
Yes. Regular Force members have health and dental benefits through the Public Service Medical and Dental plans. In addition to health and dental benefits, Forces members are also provided with paid vacation days, a generous pension, excellent maternity and parental leave, and access to support programs such as sports and fitness programs. Visit Career Options to discover all the advantages of a career in the Forces.
Do I get to choose where I am posted?
Your first posting will be given to you based on where you are needed most. However, after completing your initial posting, you can request to be posted to your preferred locations. The Forces will try to accommodate your choices, but this is not always possible due to operational requirements.
If you would like to stay in your area, consider joining the Reserve Force. Reservists in the Forces train and serve in their local areas and are not required to move. Visit Career Options to find out more about serving part-time as a Reservist in the Forces.
If I join the Forces, will I be sent on deployment overseas?
All members of the Regular Force must be prepared to take part in a deployment at some point in their career. Whether or not you are selected for deployment depends on a number of factors, including the type of mission, your occupation, the unit that you are posted to, and the need for your skills onsite.
Certain careers may be required to deploy more often than others, such as Combat specialists.
Are Forces members required to live on base?
No. Forces members are not required to live on base. Most members choose to rent or buy their own accommodations in the community. Visit Life in the Forces to read more about the Forces lifestyle.
Can I change my occupation once I’m already in the Forces?
Yes. It is sometimes possible to change your occupation, but it depends on the operational requirements of the Forces.
Part-Time in the Forces
If I join the Reserve Force, how long do I have to serve?
Service in the Reserve Force is completely voluntary and does not involve a set Term of Service. Visit Career Options to find out more about serving part-time as a Reservist in the Forces.
Do members in the Reserve Force have to go on deployment?
No. Members of the Reserves Force are not required to go on a deployment. However, Reservists have the option to volunteer for deployments if they would like to take part in overseas operations and if there is a need for their skills. Visit Career Options to find out more about serving part-time as a Reservist in the Forces.
What are the working hours for Reservists?
Members in the Reserve Force typically work, at minimum, one night per week and one weekend every month. Contact your local Reserve unit for more information.
Do members in the Reserve Force get benefits?
Yes. Members in the Reserve Force receive a reasonable benefits package. Visit Career Options to find out more about serving part-time as a Reservist in the Forces.
Do you have additional questions?
Find a recruiter, Recruiting Centre, event, or Reserve unit in your area.
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