Joining the Canadian Armed Forces

Being a member of the Canadian Forces means dedication and perserverance. See the steps as you shape yourself into a Canadian Armed Forces Member.

Entry Options

Regular force member

Join the Regular Force (Full-Time)

Members of the Regular Force serve full time protecting Canada and defending our sovereignty. They contribute to international peace and security, and work with the United States to defend North America. They are ready to respond at a moment’s notice to threats, natural disasters or humanitarian crises at home and around the world.
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Reserve force member

Join the Reserves (Part-Time)

Members of the Reserve Force serve part time in the CAF. Their main role is to support the Regular Force at home and abroad. Reservists typically serve one or more evenings a week and/or during weekends at locations close to home. Some Reservists may volunteer to be deployed on operations, if there are positions available.
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Forces member in a education dorm

Paid Education

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has a number of paid education programs for a first-class education that will prepare you for a challenging and rewarding career in Canada’s esteemed military. Graduates of our programs are leaders in their fields, working with cutting edge technology, developing military strategies and making a difference in their communities.
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Indigenous forces members discussing a task

Programs for Indigenous Peoples

Aboriginal Leadership Opportunities Year
A one-year educational program offered to Indigenous peoples through the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC)
Summer training programs
Summer training programs for Indigenous youth on military lifestyle and cultural awareness. Apply online.
Canadian Forces Aboriginal Entry Program
A special three-week program for Indigenous peoples who are considering a career in the CAF.
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Requirements and How to Join

Requirements to join the Canadian Armed Forces infographic Requirements to join the Canadian Armed Forces infographic
Step 1

Submit your application

You will create a secure account to fill out the application form and submit it electronically. You will then need to mail in a copy of your birth certificate, government issued photo ID, transcripts from your highest level of education, proof of trade qualifications and professional licenses, and any additional forms required for the trade or job you selected.
Step 2

Reliability screening

You will fill out reliability screening forms. This ensures you are trustworthy with sensitive information. The Canadian Forces will verify all the forms you submit so be completely honest when filling out the required forms.
Step 3

Aptitude test

You will take an aptitude test to determine which military occupations are the best fit for you. Preparation is key so make sure you are well rested, healthy, on time, and careful with your answers. You will be tested on verbal skills, spatial ability and problem solving. It will take approximately 60 minutes to complete a series of three Canadian Forces aptitude tests. The following practice aptitude test will provide you with an example of the style and structure of what you will experience when you write the real test at a Recruitment Centre near you.
Step 4

Medical exam

You will then take a two part medical exam: First there is a questionnaire on your medical history including specific information on your medication. Then the medical staff will conduct a physical exam to measure your height, weight, evaluate your vision, colour perception and hearing. The second step is a medical file review to determine any limitations that will affect your training and career.
Step 5

Interview

The next step is an interview with a military career counsellor; it is your official job interview and a very important step. The application process is very competitive and you will be asked questions about your work history, knowledge of the Canadian Forces, and understanding of the job you selected.
Step 6

Enrollment

If the Canadian Armed Forces offers you a job, you will have 10 days to make your decision. If you accept, you will receive joining instructions to explain the next phase including an enrollment ceremony and basic training.

Basic Training

Basic training will teach you the core skills and knowledge to succeed in a military environment. It may be the most demanding experience you have ever had and requires hard work and perseverance. Courses emphasize basic military skills, weapons handling, first aid and ethical values. Since physical fitness is an important part of military service, a large part of the course is spent on fitness training.
Length
10 weeks
Class Time
62%
Field Time
25%
Physical Training
13%

Where does Basic Training take Place?

For all full-time regular force candidates, basic training takes place at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.

Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec

All part-time candidates joining their local Primary Reserve unit will undergo similar basic training objectives. Reserve units will conduct their Basic Training either at the local reserve unit location or at a Canadian Armed Forces training centre. Locations vary depending on units. Talk to a Primary Reserve unit recruiter for more information on their Basic Training program.

Canadian Forces member during sunset

Daily routine

Your days start at 5 am. and ends at 10 pm. Each training day consists of physical training, marching, classes and practical sessions on a variety of military subjects. You will spend your evenings maintaining personal equipment and living quarters, and prepare for the next day’s activities.

Canadian Forces members firing guns as a part of field exercise

Field exercises

Field exercises focus on practical military skills such as weapons firing, map and compass use, and marches of various lengths in full combat gear. You may also set up your own accommodations and do your own cooking.

Canadian Forces member participating in an obstacle course

Obstacle course

Obstacle course training involves physical tasks like scaling two- and four-metre walls, climbing a four-metre net, and crossing a four-metre ditch while hanging from a set of monkey bars.

Canadian Forces member treading water

Swimming

The military swim standard is a key element of basic training. This test involves jumping into a pool wearing a life jacket and swimming 50 metres. You must also somersault into the water without a life jacket, tread water for two minutes and then swim 20 metres.

Canadian Forces members walking over a hill

Physical training

Regular physical training sessions will prepare you for field exercises, 13-kilometre marches in full combat gear, and meeting the CAF minimum physical fitness standard.

Physical fitness evaluation

During the first week of basic training, you will take the FORCE Evaluation fitness test to assess your level of physical fitness. You must pass this test in order to continue with basic training.

If you do not meet all four of the fitness test objectives but can meet one or more, you may be able to take additional training as part of the Program to Return to Training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School. You will have a maximum of 90 days to meet all three of the test objectives.

If you are unsuccessful in meeting the four FORCE Evaluation fitness test objectives at the end of the 90 days, you will be released from the CAF. You may re-start the application process three to five years after your release date (depending on the circumstances of your release) by submitting a new application online or at one of our Canadian Forces Recruiting Centres.

The test includes four components:

  • sandbag lift
  • intermittent loaded shuttles
  • sandbag drag
  • 20-metre rushes

Take a look at these examples of the four components.

Physical fitness evaluation

Preparing for Basic Training

Before starting basic training, you should be able to:

  • run five kilometres
  • run 2.4 kilometres within an appropriate time (see )
  • complete push-ups with a full range of motion and sit-ups
  • complete a hand-grip test
  • tread water for at least two minutes and swim 20 metres without a life jacket

By the time you complete basic training, you will be able to:

  • complete a 13-kilometre march in full combat gear
  • complete push-up and sit-up tests
  • run up to six kilometres
  • complete swimming tests
  • scale walls and cross ditches

Getting ready to train

An excellent way to determine your fitness level is to undergo a fitness appraisal.

Talk to your doctor before starting a fitness routine or appraisal, particularly if you have a heart condition, feel chest pain, lose your balance or consciousness, have a bone or joint problem, or take drugs for a blood pressure or heart condition. Tell your doctor about the kinds of activities you want to do and follow his or her advice.

Getting ready to train

Physical fitness training

Your fitness program should start at a level that is right for you now. You can progress gradually as your strength and endurance improve.

When starting a workout session, consider the frequency, intensity, time and type of activity and your goals. In other words, follow the FITT principle:

  • Frequency is a balance between exercising often enough to challenge your body and resting enough to allow your body to recover from the workout.
  • Intensity is measured using your heart rate during aerobic activity and workload during muscular strength training. Gradually increase the intensity of your workouts to increase your overall endurance.
  • Time of your workout generally increases as you become more fit. However, if you exercise more than 60 minutes you may risk overtraining and injury.
  • Type refers to the kind of exercise you choose to achieve particular fitness goals; aerobic exercise for cardio fitness and resistance training for muscular strength.
Getting fit with FITT

Getting fit with FITT

As a rule of thumb, ease into your activities, gradually increase each element of FITT, and end each session with a cool-down. For example:

  • Begin with a 5- to 10-minute warm-up. Walking, biking or a slow jog will increase blood flow to the muscles and lightly increase your heart rate. Follow up with some light stretching of the muscles you will be using in your workout.
  • Improving your overall fitness is most effectively done through a combination of 20 to 60 minutes of aerobic and strength exercises. The two sample fitness sessions below are based on Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology guidelines.
  • A 5- to 10-minute cool-down helps return your body to its normal, pre-exercise condition. Suddenly stopping an intense workout can make you dizzy, nauseated or even faint. Walking, biking or a slow jog will gradually bring down your heart rate and relieve muscle soreness.

Aerobic fitness session

Frequency - Three to five times a week. Initially, exercising three times a week on non-consecutive days is best, gradually increasing your frequency to four to five times a week.

Intensity - 65 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate. To determine the intensity of your aerobic exercise, first calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Next, count the number of times your heart beats in 15 seconds and multiply by four to determine the average beats per minute. Divide the beats per minute by the maximum rate and multiply by 100. The resulting number is the percentage of intensity.

Time - 20 to 60 minutes. Your workout sessions should last about 20 minutes for the first few weeks. Gradually increase your time two to three minutes each week. The frequency and duration should not be increased in the same week; increase them one at a time.

Type - Any activity that raises your heart rate is a good activity. However, work towards running – a major part of basic training.

Muscular strength session

Frequency - Two to three times per week. Use all major muscle groups.

Intensity - The appropriate weight is what you can lift the required number of times and not more. The first set of exercises in a weight program is a warm-up set even though you have done a structured warm-up.

Time - 15 to 60 minutes. Your workout sessions should last about 15 minutes for the first few weeks. Gradually increase your time two to three minutes each week. The frequency and duration should not be increased in the same week; increase them one at a time.

Type - Resistance training can include both free weights and resistance machines.

Learn more about How to Join

Basic Military Qualifications

Basic Military Officer Qualifications