If you browse a lot of Australian-based tech and games websites, including atomic’s own website, you’ve probably noticed the prevalence of advertisements promoting careers in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Defence Signals Directorate (DSD). A significant portion of the demographic that accesses these websites is exactly what – in terms of age, interest and skills – the Department of Defence and ASIO are looking for.
They’re always recruiting, too. The Department of Defence, which is responsible for the ADF and DSD (and other areas in which an individual, highly skilled in some technical field, may be interested in seeking employment), and ASIO are on the lookout for applicants from all manner of backgrounds. There are graduate jobs and positions aimed at those with experience elsewhere, either in the public sector or the private sector. There is part-time work, particularly in the ADF with its Reserve branch. There’s also opportunity to further your training. The Department of Defence and ASIO are open about wanting to improve the skills of their employees. Some of the training is bound to be highly specific to the work, of course, but the more general qualifications can be carried over to jobs elsewhere if and when you decide to move into the private sector.
Defence in Australia
Defence jobs are not limited only to the army, navy or air force. It all depends on what you’re interested in and what you’re qualified to do, of course, but there are numerous government departments and agencies who recruit those interested in using computers to hold off the hordes of pillagers and evildoers and miscreants and such.
The Australian Defence Force
The Australian Defence Force encompasses the air force, army and navy. Each branch of the ADF recruits for positions doubtlessly of interest to those with a background in or interest in technology, particularly technology relating to communications and mapping. They also recruit for a wider assortment of positions than we can list here, ranging from cooks to pilots to soldiers. Graduates from university courses may have some advantages in getting certain jobs and may find some parts of their training shortened, but you can join the Defence Force fresh out of secondary school and receive all necessary training through the ADF. There are, however, dedicated graduate positions. Accelerated office training is available to applicants who’ve come from select backgrounds including medicine and engineering.
In addition to the on-the-job training, the Defence Force both has its own university, the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra (which is tied into University of New South Wales), and a sponsorship program that essentially pays you to study. There are all manner of restrictions and hoops to jump through, of course. They’ll only pay you to study engineering and medicine. Even then, they expect you to pay for the first year of your studies by yourself – obviously they’re only going to bother with people committed to whatever they’re studying. You also put yourself into a situation where you have a host of commitments to the ADF, both while and after you complete your studies. It’s not possible to scam a (mostly) free degree out of them and then run off to join the private sector. In the case of the ADF’s own Academy, graduating from the degree means not only satisfying the academic requirements of your course, but fulfilling various military requirements. If it turns out you’re a capable student but a crappy soldier, you won’t graduate.
If you’re still a student, either at school or in a tertiary institute, or working somewhere else and wanting to see if the Defence Force is for you, the ADF runs three programs that may be of interest. Secondary-school-aged readers can look into the cadets program, which is run through some schools. Those in their final year of secondary schooling should look into the recently introduced ‘gap year’ program. And, of course, there are the reserves.
Whether you join the defence force intending to be a rifleman or a communications operator, you’ll have to complete the basic training course. The Defence Force expects you to have a ‘reasonable level of fitness’. If this is a problem for you at the moment and you’re thinking of joining the Defence Force when you, say, finish school at the end of 2011, you better start working on it now. You won’t be the only applicant with concerns about this issue – the ADF has put together a website that details the fitness requirements and outlines an achievable fitness plan (www.defencejobs.gov.au/lifestyleoffitness).