Careers in Defence

Careers in Defence
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Australian Security Intelligence Organisation
ASIO became a household name in the early 2000s. It’s an intelligence organisation – our equivalent, we suppose, of the CIA. It’s interested in terrorism, espionage and sabotage. ASIO specifically hires IT specialists, as well as specialists from other fields including linguistics and engineering.

ASIO is a highly secretive organisation. They discourage you from even telling people you’ve applied to work for them. As such, we don’t have much information to share with you, other than that if you succeed in your application you’ll need a Top Secret clearance, and to move to Canberr, one of the few planned cities in the world, as ASIO’s website enticingly puts it – and keep your bloody trap shut.

Defence Signals Directorate
The DSD is an agency you’re less likely to be familiar with than ASIO. They’re tied into the ADF and promote themselves as working in the ‘slim space between the difficult and impossible’. Enough with the babble that makes them sound bad arse. The DSD is an intelligence organisation that intercepts and analyses information and provides information security to Australian government agencies. The roles they recruit for sound much like what ASIO looks for – linguists, IT specialists, etc. They’re a bit more open than ASIO in what they’re actually looking for. In terms of IT security roles, they’re looking for people who are qualified and experienced in software and hardware engineering, networks, computer science, maths and intelligence analysis.

The DSD is currently promoting the ‘Altitude’ graduate program, which aims to give graduates a well-rounded introduction to the agency and what it does – if you’re successful in your application to be part of the program (applications for the 2012 intake close mid-April this year, which is days after this magazine appears in newsagencies) you’ll receive experience and training in various areas of the DSD, not just IT.

As with ASIO, DSD expects you to have a security clearance and relocate to one of the few planned cities in the world. And, of course, you’ll need to present yourself as someone who won’t hit the pub or the Atomic forums and blab about the agency’s secrets.

Elsewhere in the Department of Defence
Careers are to be made elsewhere in the Department of Defence, including the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, which is basically a research agency; the Defence Intelligence Organisation, which analyses intelligence; the Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation, which gathers ‘geospatial intelligence’ and gives it to the people who do whatever needs to be done about the stuff that DIGO finds; and the Chief Information Officer Group. Information about the different branches of the Department of Defence and the career opportunities therein can be found through the Department’s careers page (

Who are these jobs for?
Perhaps it’s obvious, but we feel it’s worth saying: defence jobs aren’t for everyone. In the case of the ADF, you might look at the minimum fitness standards and other entry requirements and think they’re perfectly reasonable. That doesn’t mean you have the capacity to succeed in the Defence Force or that the Defence Force will feel that you have what it takes. We’ve no personal experience soldiering, but we’d imagine it to be a hard job. The recruitment material is obviously designed to entice but it doesn’t lie about the challenges an ADF career offers. These challenges may or may not appeal to you.

ASIO and the Department of Defence pay graduates well but have high standards. Depending on which part of the Department of Defence you want to work for, you’ll likely have to relocate to Canberra. ASIO and the Department of Defence are very, very, very serious when they insist on secrecy and security. If you’re considering applying for a job at one of the intelligence agencies, think long and hard about your character – if you find it hard to not brag about all the cool stuff you’ve seen and done, a career in intelligence gathering and analysis really isn’t for you. 

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