Age & Gender

You can join the ADF at 17, but start your application earlier if you wish. There are no gender restrictions in the Navy, Army or Air Force.

Age range

To apply for a job in the Navy, Army or Air Force you must be at least 16 years and 6 months old, though you can start thinking about a career in the ADF much earlier (see below).

The maximum age for recruitment varies greatly by role, and you'll find details in each job description on this website. As a general rule you can join the ADF if you are between three and six years away from the Compulsory Retiring Age for a specific role.

17-year olds in the ADF

At this age you are a 'minor' so special conditions apply. Your application must be voluntary, approved in writing by both your parents or your legal guardians, and accompanied by an original or certified copy of your full birth certificate.

The ADF abides by the spirit and intent of the Optional Protocol on the Rights of the Child on Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. That means we will take all feasible measures to ensure that minors do not participate in hostilities, however there will be times when they may have to.

Info for those under 17
  • If you wish to receive information about the careers available in the ADF, please register your details with ADF Careers.
  • The Defence Work Experience Program (DWEP). If you are over 15 years of age the DWEP is a national program that provides high school and tertiary students aged 15 years and older the opportunity to gain exposure to a range of jobs available within the Australian Defence Force and/or the Department of Defence. For more information click here.
  • ADF Cadets. If you are over 12 years and 6 months of age, you can join our youth development program – the Australian Defence Force Cadets. In the Cadets, you’ll develop leadership, team-building and survival skills while having great fun.