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Army Air Force Navy

Bioscience Officer

OFFICER | Full Time

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As a member of the military, Bioscience Officers prevent and reduce health threats to Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and improve their operational performance. They develop practical procedures, standards, equipment and strategies that protect CAF members and resources, respect the environment, and increase effectiveness. 

Bioscience Officers are specialists in the human dimension of military operations, environmental processes and occupational health and safety, as well as the roles, capabilities and needs of CAF members. Their purpose is to optimize human interaction with military systems through the interpretation and application of current scientific standards and practices in the following fields: 

Applied research and development, which includes:

  • Study of human response to environmental stress;
  • Development, testing and evaluation of protective clothing and equipment;
  • Analysis of the human-machine interface and system design;
  • Human-factors analysis of accidents;
  • Exploitation of technology to improve health, safety and human capability; and
  • Occupational hygiene support, which involves health-hazard and risk assessments of CAF workplaces and equipment.

High-risk training for CAF members so they can function effectively and safely when faced with environmental, occupational and operational health threats, which involves:

  • Threat-specific countermeasures;
  • Use of protective equipment; and
  • Operational medical training.

Work environment

Bioscience Officers typically work in Canadian Forces Health Services Headquarters, CAF research establishments, or training units.They may be assigned to a Health Hazard Assessment Team or the Canadian Forces School of Survival and Aeromedical Training. They may be posted to support the operations of the Army, Royal Canadian Navy or Royal Canadian Air Force, in Canada or around the world.

If you chose a career in the Regular Force, upon completion of all required training, you will be assigned to your first base. While there is some flexibility with regards to postings (relocations), accommodations can’t always be made, and therefore, you can likely expect to move at some point in your career. However, if you decide to join the Primary Reserve Force, you will do so through a specific Reserve unit. Outside of training, your chosen Reserve unit will be your workplace on a part time basis, and you will not be obligated to relocate to a different base. As part of the Primary Reserve Force, you typically work one night per week and some weekends as a minimum with possibilities of full-time employment.

Career Overview




LIEUTENANT-NAVY JOANNA KRIESE: I’m Lieutenant Navy Joanna Kriese from Victoria, B.C., a Bioscience Officer currently posted to the National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa.

Bioscience Officers are military specialists with a focus on occupational and environmental health and on safe and effective human interactions with military systems and equipment. They take a science-based approach to the prevention, identification and reduction of health hazards to Canadian Armed Forces personnel and to improving their operational performance while ensuring their safety.

LIEUTENANT-NAVY JOANNA KRIESE: So a Bioscience Officer defends members of the Canadian Armed Forces against health threats, and they do that in a variety of ways. One is looking at ergonomic issues, in terms of equipment and vehicles; another is looking at contamination in air, soil and water; and lastly, the effects of a low-oxygen, high-gravity environment on pilots.

Their role is unique and varied. For example, they apply scientifically validated research and development principles to study human response to environmental stress; develop, test and evaluate protective clothing and equipment; analyze human-machine interfaces and systems design; perform human factors analysis of aircraft accidents; exploit technology to improve health, safety and human capabilities; and provide occupational hygiene support to our troops by conducting health risk assessments of Canadian Armed Forces workplaces in garrison and on deployed locations. 

LIEUTENANT-NAVY JOANNA KRIESE: I’m a team leader for the deployable health hazards assessment team – I’m part of a high-readiness unit that’s ready to deploy at a moment’s notice to go overseas, or in Canada, or on a ship or on a flight line, to take samples and analyze those for health threats.

Bioscience Officers operate in environments and situations that most people never get to see. 

They’re also involved in training Forces members to function safely under the most extreme circumstances and in the most hostile environments. It’s a great way to use science in an applied manner.

LIEUTENANT-NAVY JOANNA KRIESE: In some ways, this job can be an adventure. You could be running around behind infantry under simulated fire, you could be working in a state-of-the-art motion-capture mock-up of a helicopter – or you could be on a helicopter itself, collecting your data and doing your research in a very hands-on, active way.

LIEUTENANT-NAVY JOANNA KRIESE: The benefits of being a bioscientist in the military rather than working a similar civilian occupation is the ability to do things that you would never get to do as a civilian. For example, we go to ships, flight lines, deploy overseas – it’s all about the experiences that we get as we run our own experiments.

On completion of their military training, Bioscience Officers are posted to the Canadian Forces Health Services Headquarters or a Canadian Armed Forces research establishment or training unit, where they will participate in an on-the-job preceptorship under the supervision of a senior Bioscience Officer. That can last for up to 15 months, after which they are considered operational and able to function independently.

LIEUTENANT-NAVY JOANNA KRIESE: At the beginning of our careers, when we join the Bioscience Officer trade, we’re given training and education and a chance to practise all three of those specializations. Later on in our careers, we’re given the opportunity to specialize, and that usually involves getting a paid graduate degree at an institution either in Canada or abroad.

LIEUTENANT-NAVY JOANNA KRIESE: There’s no other occupation quite like this. If you like to have hands-on, applied science experiences, you’re adventurous, you’d like to be out there working with the troops to improve their health, make their lives safer and better, if you’d like to work in service to your country, and you would like to design your own experiments independently or work with top defence researchers in their field, I would highly recommend joining the Bioscience trade.

Related Civilian Occupations

  • Industrial Hygienist
  • Ergonomist
  • Medical Intelligence Analyst
  • Human Factors Specialist
  • Science Manager


After enrolment, Bioscience Officers attend Basic Military Officer Qualification training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 12 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the Forces, basic weapons handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in training exercises involving force protection, field training, navigation and leadership. A rigorous physical fitness program is also a vital part of basic training. Basic Military Officer Qualification training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.


Learn more about Basic Training here.

Bioscience Officers must complete the Common Health Services Officer (CHSO) course which is an eight-day e-learning course available on the Defence Learning Network (DLN). The CHSO course introduces Bioscience Officers to Canadian Armed Forces policies and procedures as well as HR management of military members and civilian personnel.

Bioscience Officers work for up to 18 months under the supervision of a senior Bioscience Officer in a preceptor program. This program includes a variety of military and civilian courses, as well as work experience to bring the Bioscience Officer to an operational and independent level of performance as quickly as possible.

Bioscience Officers may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses, professional conferences, and on-the-job training, including:

  • Military Leadership;
  • Instructional Techniques; and
  • Project Management and Administration.

As they progress in their career, Bioscience Officers who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced training. Available courses include:

  • Graduate studies in Occupational Health;
  • Graduate studies in Human Factors; and
  • Aerospace Physiology.

Entry plans

The required education for this position is a bachelor’s degree with honours from an accredited university in Canada. Applicants must also meet minimum requirements for acceptance into a graduate program in Human Factors, or Industrial Hygiene. The CAF will decide if your academic program matches the training criteria for this job and may place you directly into an on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic training and military occupation training are required before being assigned.

Preference is given to applicants with degrees in the human sciences, such as human biology, human factors engineering, ergonomics, occupational hygiene, human physiology, or biochemistry. The CAF may also consider applicants who have completed suitable courses in the human sciences if they also hold an engineering degree in a relevant discipline, such as Industrial, Environmental or Chemical Engineering.

For further information, please contact a Canadian Forces Health Services Recruiter: