Canadian Forces Personnel - Commissioned Officer

Commissioned officers plan, organize, lead and manage operations and training activities in the Canadian Forces.

Also Known As:Air Force Personnel, Armed Forces Personnel, Commissioned Officer, Logistics Manager, Military Personnel, Navy Personnel, Nurse, Pilot
NOC Number(s):0643
Minimum Education:Education/training requirements vary
Employment Outlook:Job openings generated due to employment turnover. Occupational outlook currently unavailable.
Interests:D M s

Related Videos:

Artillery, Combat Engineer

Duties | Working Conditions | Personal Characteristics | Education | Employment | Salary | Other Information | Related Occupations | Related School Subjects | Related Field of Study


Commissioned officers perform some or all of the following duties:

  • plan, organize and command the activities of military combat units and crews on ships and aircraft
  • develop and implement military procedures and policies
  • direct subordinates in training, and co-ordinate and direct the activities of the units under their command
  • assume responsibility for the welfare, morale and discipline of their units
  • review unit performance, prepare reports and provide briefings for superiors
  • command and lead units as part of United Nations' or North Aatlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) peace-keeping or peace-making forces.

Commissioned officers are classified in the following groups:

Aerospace Control
Aerospace Engineering
Air Field Engineering
Air Combat Systems Officer
Combat Engineering
Communications and Electronics Engineering
Electrical and Mechanical Engineering
Naval Combat Systems Engineering
Health Care Administration
Maritime Engineering
Maritime Surface and Sub-surface
Military Police
Personnel Selection
Public Affairs
Social Work
Training Development

Working Conditions

Commissioned officers must adhere to Canadian Forces dress regulations and wear uniforms when on duty. Other working conditions vary a great deal. Commissioned officers may be posted anywhere in Canada or overseas, and are subject to transfer. Some assignments involve exposure to dangerous situations.

Personal Characteristics

Commissioned officers need the following characteristics:

  • leadership ability
  • team skills
  • physical fitness
  • self-discipline, perseverance and initiative
  • the ability to conform to rules
  • maturity and good judgment
  • good communication skills.

They should enjoy co-ordinating information to command activities, implementing miltary policies and procedures, and supervising subordinates.

Educational Requirements

There are several entry plans for commissioned officers in the Canadian Forces. For each plan, candidates must:

  • be Canadian citizens
  • meet age requirements and basic medical and physical standards
  • have no outstanding obligations to the judicial system
  • be willing to relocate.

Entry is competitive and not all entry plans are open at all times. Candidates for specific classifications are recruited only when there is a forecasted need for personnel in those classifications. When openings are forecast, applications on file are reviewed and candidates selected.

There are five entry plans:

1. Regular Officer Training Plan (ROTP)

  • This entry plan is for candidates who want to obtain a degree at a military college or civilian university, subsidized by the Canadian Forces.
  • Applicants must be at least 16 years of age and completing a course of study leading to an advanced high school diploma with English Language Arts 30-1 (or French 30) and Pure Math 30. Math 31 is recommended. Applicants for science and engineering programs must have Physics 30, Chemistry 30 and Math 31. Applicants for the preparatory year must be in a program of study leading to the completion of Grade 11 in an advanced high school curriculum.
  • There is a mandatory period of service of up to five years after graduation. Seven years is standard for pilots.

2. Reserve Entry Training Plan (RETP)

  • This entry plan is for candidates who want to obtain a degree at a military college at their own expense. RETP cadets are not paid during the academic year but are employed in the summer. Scholarships, bursaries and cadetships are available.
  • The entry requirements are the same as those for ROTP.
  • There is no mandatory period of service in the regular forces.

3. Direct Entry Officer (DEO)

  • This entry plan is for candidates who already hold an appropriate university degree for the classification they wish to enter.
  • After wings graduation, there is a seven year mandatory period of service for Pilot and four years for Air Combat Systems Officer.

4. Medical Officer Training Plan (MOTP)

  • This entry plan is designed to subsidize candidates who have been accepted without condition in any of the last three years of medicine at a Canadian university or are in their first or second year of internship and are within 57 months of obtaining a license to practice medicine.
  • There is a three year period of mandatory service, after a license to practice is obtained, for those whose training was subsidized for 46 months or less (four years for those subsidized longer).

5. Dental Officer Training Plan (DOTP)

  • This entry plan is designed to subsidize candidates who have been accepted without condition into any of the last four years of dentistry at a Canadian university.
  • The period of mandatory service varies depending upon how long the candidate's training was subsidized.

All officers must successfully complete a basic training course which is conducted for most classifications at Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruitment School in St. Jean, Quebec. Unless they are fluently bilingual at the time of enrolment, most officers receive instruction in their second official language in the period between basic officer training and initial classification training.

Employment and Advancement

Commissioned officers are employed by the Canadian Forces. Competition for officer training positions is keen.

Promotions are based on time in rank, performance and the availability of positions. After completing the required term of service, officers may transfer their skills to related civilian occupations.


While officers are in training, their entry plans determine how much they are paid. ROTP officers earn $1,400 a month while in university.

After training, there are separate rates of pay for general officers and specialist officers. The following are 2010 sample pay ranges for general service officers.

  • Second Lieutenant: $51,000 to $54,000 a year
  • Lieutenant: $55,000 to $58,000 a year
  • Captain: $69,000 to $89,000 a year

Medical, dental, legal and pilot officers have higher pay scales than general service officers.

Benefits include environmental allowances which depend on postings, annual holidays, clothing upkeep allowance, pension plan, free medical and dental coverage, and education allowance.

In 2009, Albertans in the Commissioned Officers, Armed Forces occupational group earned an average wage of $45.27 an hour (2009 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey). More recent data is not available.

Section revised February 2012

Other Sources of Information

Canadian Forces Recruiting website:

Royal Military College (Kingston, Ontario) website:

Related Occupational Profiles
Aerospace Engineer
Air Traffic Controller
Airline Pilot
Canadian Forces Personnel - Non Commissioned
Electrical Engineer
Helicopter Pilot
Human Resources Professional
Public Relations Representative
Registered Nurse
Social Worker

Related High School Subjects
Business, Administration, Finance and Information Technology (Management and Marketing); English Language Arts; Health, Recreation and Human Services (Human and Social Services; and Legal Studies); Languages (other than English); Mathematics; Science (Biology; Chemistry; and Physics); and Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation (Logistics)

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
Aviation; Health Care and Medical Sciences; Human Ecology, Fashion and Food Sciences; and Sciences

Produced October 2010
Top of Profile

For more information on career planning, occupations and educational programs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website at, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

The information contained in this profile was current as of the dates shown. Salaries, employment outlook and educational programs may change. Please check the information before making any career decisions.

Government of Alberta, Human Services