How To Become An Air Force Officer In Australia?

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Students want to know how to become air force officers and fighter pilots in Australia.


Do you have strong leadership skills, a technical mindset, and a passion for defending the sky? If yes, a career as an Air Force Officer can be perfect for you.


Air Force Officers guard the nation against external aggression in the air. Commissioned by the government, these professionals are responsible for crisis management, supervising personnel while conducting drills, leading their subordinates, and managing the troops.


You can enter the RAAF as an Air Force Officer with or without tertiary qualification. However, you must pass aptitude tests, physical health assessments, and selection interviews. Shortlisted candidates must undergo Initial Officer Training to start working in this role.


This comprehensive blog discusses the profession and guides you on becoming an Air Force Officer or Fighter Pilot in Australia, including RAAF officer training, pilot requirements, how to get into the air force, and much more.



1. What is an Air Force Officer?


Air Force officers are highly trained professionals who command, train and inspire Air Force airmen and airwomen for wartime and peacetime tasks.


They work at the executive management levels within the Royal Australian Air Force, with officers specialising in several areas based on their training and qualifications.



2. Air Force Officer Skills For Success


  • Discipline

  • Able to follow strict schedules

  • Leadership skills

  • Good oral and verbal communication skills

  • Able to meet aptitude, medical requirements, and physical fitness

  • Responsible 

  • Comfortable working at heights

  • Ability to lead and inspire others

  • Willing to serve both within and outside Australia 

  • Strong decision-making skills

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Willingness to get relocated to different locations within the country 

  • Courageous to engage in life-threatening tasks to guard the nation



3. Air Force Officer Duties


The general day-to-day responsibilities of an Air Force Officer are: 


  • Defend the nation from domestic and foreign attacks

  • Protect civilians

  • Counterattack enemies of the state

  • Establish lines of control and delegate tasks to subordinate staff.

  • Establish operational and administrative procedures considering the operating environment of the organisation.

  • Control the collection of management information to supervise performance.

  • Prepare budgets, reports, and other management plans, approve the release of information, and deal with public relations activities.

  • Represent the organisation in dealings with the public and other organisations.

  • Control the use of the amenities and assets of the organisation.

  • Form policy decisions and accept responsibility for staff performance, operations, achievement of targets, and adherence to standards, procedures, and budgets.

  • Manage hundreds of personnel on the base camp

  • Develop high-level tactics and strategies

  • Carry food and vital supplies in case of calamities and emergencies.


Do the duties mentioned above give you an adrenaline rush? Keep reading to find out the Air Force officer training school requirements to enter this profession.



4. What Are The Air Force Requirements In Australia?


To become an Air Force Officer in Australia, you must meet the following qualifications:


  • You must be at least 17 years of age when you enter the Air Force.

  • You must be an Australian citizen to serve in the Australian Air Force. However, permanent residents are also eligible to apply for some positions.

  • Obtain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education in English, Mathematics, and three other broad subjects

  • Have a checkable background for the last ten years.

  • Pass aptitude tests, medical examinations, and selection interviews to join the RAAF

  • You must have a valid driver's licence to perform your duties, like a trade, machinery, or plant.

  • You must pass a physical fitness test and be reasonably healthy and fit.

  • You can apply for an Air Officer position with or without a degree. Non-degree holders can apply as a direct-entry officer cadets and complete a degree through the Australian Defence Force Academy. Alternatively, you can apply as a sponsored undergraduate or after completing a selected range of specialist degrees. 

  • To enter any Air Force Officer cadet position, you must complete the 17-week Initial Officer Course at RAAF Base East Sale, Gippsland, Victoria, followed by specialist training with the RAAF.



5. Steps To Become An Air Force Officer In Australia?


Anyone can apply for an Air Officer role. Whether you are a school leaver (completed Year 12), an undergraduate, a graduate, or a qualified professional and aspire to become an Air Force Officer, you must fulfil the education requirements of the role you are applying for.



Step 1: Complete Your HSC Education


The first step to becoming an Air Force officer is to gain your HSC/ACT Year 12 with passes in English, maths, and other broad subjects.



Step 2: Pass Assessments


Aspiring Air Force Officers must undertake and pass a series of aptitude tests, physical examinations, and background checks.



Step 3: Choose The Air Force Officer Entry Pathway 


Shortlisted candidates can choose from any of the below pathways to pursue a career as an Air Officer in Australia.


  • General Officer Entry: This is for those who wish to enter Air Force without a degree. Your Air Force career will begin at an Air Force training base in Australia, such as the Officers' Training School, RAAF Base East Sale, in VIC.


  • Australian Defence Force Academy: This is for those who wish to enter the Air Force via the Australian Defence Force Academy. The pathway allows candidates to begin their career as an Air Force Officer while being paid to study for a recognised degree from the UNSW.


  • Graduate Entry: This pathway is for those who wish to pursue the profession of an Air Force Officer with an appropriate and recognised qualification in Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Engineering, Law, Business, or IT. The Air Force Academy will provide further training and post-graduate study opportunities to prepare to work in this role.


  • Undergraduate Entry: This is an ideal entry pathway for those studying for a relevant university degree and has finished at least one year of a three or 4-year course or two years of a five or 6-year degree. You may even receive a Defence University Sponsorship and a fee waiver when committing to an Air Force Officer role.


  • Graduate Medical Program: This pathway is ideal for those holding a suitable undergraduate degree who have completed the Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admission Test. You can join the Air Force via the Graduate Medical Program. Successful candidates will be sponsored as medical practitioners to serve as Medical officers in Air Force.


  • Reserve: You can apply to join the Air Force Reserve to serve part-time while gaining additional training and experience in your existing trade or profession. 



Step 4: Pass A Fitness Training


To join the Air Force, you must be physically and mentally fit.


All recruits must do a pre-entry fitness assessment comprising various exercises, obstacle courses, and circuits. Only the ones who succeed in tests and demonstrate a good fitness level are approved to enter the Air Force as Air Force Officers.



Step 5: Complete The Air Force Officer Training


You must attend Initial Officer Training at Air Force Officer Training School, RAAF Base East Sale, VIC. It is a 17 weeks program with a duration of 4 months. This training is mandatory regardless of the path you choose.


The training course familiarises you with military life to learn about Air Force attitudes and values. The course trains trainees in the following areas:


  • Communication techniques

  • Air Force operations

  • Leadership, teamwork, and management

  • Personal development

  • Air power and ground defence

  • Military law


After completing the training program, trainees will undertake specialist employment training in their category or directly head to work.



Step 6: Continue Your Learning


After completing the Initial Employment Training, Air Force requires Air Force Officers to undergo military and specialist training in their preferred work area. Depending on the type of training, it can vary in length and may be held interstate or abroad.



6. Work Condition Of An Air Force Officer


Being an Air Force Officer isn't a typical 9 to 6 office job. It involves working in the air or on the ground at Air Force bases and military offices.


The job type of an Air Force Officer (Pilot, Mission Aircrew, and Mission Controller) determines their work environment.


Fighter pilots work in the cockpit, manipulating aircraft flight controls. They also spend time having daily drills to master their skills, and some even work to train pilots and fellow employees.


Mission Aircrew works as part of the crew of an aircraft, whereas Mission Controllers, on the other hand, perform their duties from within the ground environment.


They may work either in the air or on the ground.



7. How Much Do The Australian Air Force Officers Get Paid?


Air Force Officers start earning before they are commissioned. 


On top of Air force officers' salaries, the Air Force also provides a comprehensive package that comprises generous superannuation and various allowances such as flying allowance, technical allowance, military service pay, etc.


Air Force Officers earn a competitive salary as they train. They are also entitled to bonuses for peacekeeping, overseas deployments, and other missions. Like any other job, their pay increases with skills acquired, rank, and duration of service.



8. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



What Are The Different Areas of Specialisation For Air Force Officers?


Experienced Air Force Officers may consider specialising in any of the below roles in the Australian Air Force:




What Benefits Do Air Force Officers Get?


A career as an Air Force Officer is exciting, lucrative, and rewarding. On top of the annual salary, you also enjoy several other benefits.


  • Make lifelong friendships across Australia and even overseas.

  • You can benefit from free memberships in gyms, courts, and swimming pools to stay fit and healthy. Furthermore, you can join Air Force clubs and teams to indulge in sports such as netball, rugby, sailing, fishing, water skiing, diving, and gliding.

  • Work on the latest technology on advanced military aircraft.

  • Enjoy a good work/life balance through flexible work arrangements - work from home, outside your standard work hours, or work from another location. You may even get approval from Air Force to work part-time to suit your existing situation. 

  • Accommodation at discounted rates

  • You and your family get free dental and medical assistance from qualified professionals.

  • Receive rental assistance or home loan subsidies if buying

  • Opportunities to travel and explore new places and communities across Australia and worldwide

  • Take four weeks of annual leave and additional incidental leave, like parental and deployments.

  • Outstanding leisure facilities including food, drink, games, and special events to relax and unwind yourself 

  • Engage in humanitarian activities and serve disaster-affected communities 

  • Upskill and reach your full potential by participating in varied personal and professional development opportunities organised by the Air Force



How Long Is RAAF Officer Training?


The length of RAAF officer training is 17 weeks (usually completed in 5 phases over two years by Reservists).


This four months training period is exciting and challenging, where you get to know the Military life, Air Force values and attitude, Airpower and ground defence, and job skills such as leadership, teamwork, communication, and management. 



What Is The Age Limit For Air Force?


To enter the Australian Defence Force Academy, you must be at least 17 years old.


There is no upper age to complete the Aviation Screening Program. However, you must be young enough for any required training before retirement. It generally means you will have to get appointed by 48.



What Education Do You Need To Become an Air Force Officer?


  • You must pass your Year 12 education in English, Mathematics, and other broad subjects. 

  • You can join the Air Force either with a degree or without a degree. 

    • If joining as a non-degree candidate, you must complete a recognised degree through the ADFA. 

    • Those who have completed one year of a three or 4-year recognised degree or two years of a 5–6-year degree course might apply as sponsored undergraduates.

    • You can also apply after completing a specialist degree in a field such as Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Law, Engineering, Business, or IT.

  • All eligible candidates must complete the 17-week Initial Officer Course followed by specialist training with the RAAF to enter any Air Force Officer cadet position.



What Are The Available Air Force Jobs In Australia?   



Qualified Air Force Officers can work in any of the below Air Force Officer jobs. They can be sent to training in several locations around Australia and then deployed anywhere across the nation or the world:


  • Mission Aircrew

  • Logistics Manager

  • Aeronautical Engineer

  • Public Affairs Officer

  • Air Traffic Controller

  • Air Intelligence Officer

  • Airfield Engineer

  • Learning and Development Manager

  • Armament Engineer

  • Chaplain

  • Mission Controller

  • Cyberspace Warfare Officer

  • Ground Defence Officer

  • Doctor

  • Environmental Health Manager

  • Human Resource Manager 

  • Indigenous Liaison Officer

  • Medical Scientist (Pathology) -Full-time and Part-time

  • Nurse

  • Security Police Officer

  • Psychologist

  • Radiographer

  • Dentist

  • Lawyer

  • Pharmacist



What Are The Areas of Specialisation For RAAF Officer Aviation Personnel?


RAAF Officer Aviation personnel specialise in the fields below after completing their Initial Employment Training.


  • Fast Jet Pilot

  • Remote Pilot 

  • Fixed Wing Pilot 

  • Weapons Systems Officer

  • Maritime Patrol and Response Officer 

  • Air Mobility Officer 

  • Air Battle Manager

  • Air Traffic Controller



How Hard Is It To Get Into The Australian Air Force?


The common question that most aspiring Air Force officers have is - Is it hard to become an officer in the Air Force? Yes, it is hard. To be eligible to join the RAAF, you must pass various aptitude tests, medical examinations, and selection interviews.


The training is not easy and requires 110% dedication and motivation, resiliency, extreme mental fortitude and a "Never Quit" attitude.


Applying for the Australian Defence Force Academy is competitive, and the dual application process takes around 12 months. To work as an Air Force Officer in ADFA, you need to follow a multi-step process:


  • Step 1: Begin the ADF application process. Select from a range of UNSW degrees that leads directly to an officer role in the Air Force.


  • Step 2: Check your eligibility for a job in the ADF


  • Step 3: Eligible candidates can fill out and submit their application along with supporting application documents online. 


  • Step 4: Once you do this, you will have to attend an Assessment Session with the ADF that comprises a medical examination, a psychological interview, and an ADF interview.


  • Step 5: After passing the Assessment Session, the Officer Selection Board will assess your teamwork, leadership, and other skills needed for the job.


  • Step 6: Those who complete the above assessments and skill evaluation will be issued a Letter of Offer.


  • Step 7: Upon acceptance of the offer, you must undertake a Pre-entry Fitness Assessment and pass the test in the four weeks that lead up to your appointment with the ADF. 



How Long Does It Take To Become an Officer In The Air Force?


It depends on the entry pathway you choose.


  • Some Air Force Officers begin their careers with a degree course at the ADFA, gaining military and academic knowledge. 

  • Others join with or without a university degree (4 years of a full-time recognised degree in Medicine, Law, Dentistry, Nursing, Engineering, Business, or IT) and undertake 17 weeks of Initial Officer Training. 

  • Undergraduates from a recognised Australian university can also join ADFA while studying and have their remaining course fees paid.


After completing a 4-year degree, graduates may enrol in Officer Training School in the Air Force, which lasts 9 to 17 weeks. Once trained, you are ready to join the Air Force.



How To Join The Australian Air Force as a Pilot?


RAAF OACs can choose from any of the two pathways to get into the Australian Air Force:


  • The Pilot Pathway 

  • The Mission Pathway


Those who choose the Pilot Pathway must complete the pilot training course: Pilot Basic Course. It is a 24 weeks course delivering knowledge, attitude, skills, and experience to trainees to advance to more specific training. Some of the areas covered in the training include:


  • General Flying

  • Night Flying

  • Instrument Flying

  • Medium Level Navigation.



Follow-on Courses


After completing the Pilot Basic Course, graduates continue with the following courses:


  • Rotary Wing Pilot Training

  • Further single-pilot fixed-wing training

  • Remote Pilot Training



Do Air Force Officers Pick Their Job?


All those applying for an Air Force Officer position must go through the Officer Aviation Candidate selection process conducted by Defence Force Recruiting.


The applicant's assessments areas include:


  • Education

  • Citizenship

  • Spatial Awareness

  • General Cognitive Ability

  • Written and Oral Communication

  • Motivation and knowledge of roles and training

  • Medical/Psychological Suitability

  • Organisational Fit

  • Leadership Potential


Those meeting the above requirements must attend the Aviation Screening Program at RAAF Base East Sale. 


The Aviation Candidate Management Centre is responsible for making employment decisions for appointments to all RAAF Officer Aviation Candidates.


The distribution panel assesses successful candidates based on their Preference for Service, Suitability, Standing, and Demand to make the distribution.


The first Preference of Service will be a primary consideration when making the initial offer. However, other Services may make different offers. Applicants can accept the job offer or stay in the distribution pool until they receive a first preference offer.


The maximum time an applicant can remain in the pool is one year, after which they are deemed 'uncompetitive'.



Is Being an Air Force Officer Worth It?


Being an Air Force officer can be a rewarding experience, but it carries heavy responsibilities. Working at the forefront of the nation, and protecting civilians from outsider attacks, makes the profession worthwhile.


To succeed in this role, you must be willing to take and delegate orders and possess strong leadership abilities to handle a commission.



What is an Air Force Officer Training School Like?


Aspiring Air Force Officers undergo extensive training at Air Force Officer Training School that tests "Officer Recruits" mentally and physically while developing leadership skills. The training equips them with the necessary resources and tools to become fair and effective leaders.


The OTS training is conducted in the below critical areas via lectures, directed discussions, field leadership tasks, classroom exercises, and after-hours training activities to prepare future officers for assignments.


  • Professional Knowledge

  • Leadership Studies

  • Military Studies

  • Communication Skills

  • Field Leadership



9. Conclusion


Being an Air Force Officer is an excellent way to transform from a resourceful and determined individual into a talented leader and manager. 


This diverse and exciting profession gives you a perfect opportunity to serve the nation while earning competitive salaries, excellent opportunities for advancement, and a distinctive lifestyle.


If you want to serve the nation, the above steps will help you achieve your goals.


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