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The Royal Australian Air Force has a huge job to do including keeping the nation's air defence capabilities operational, providing a search and rescue function and assisting in times of national emergency. If you are already a degree qualified professional, and looking for a job that offers satisfaction, excitement and a challenge and the opportunity to utilise and further develop your management and leadership skills, then you may wish to consider a career as an Officer (Graduate Only) in the Air Force.

Degree qualified officers normally start their careers at one rank higher than non-graduate officers.


The Air Force sponsors suitable applicants to undertake tertiary studies at a civilian university in an Australian State or Territory after successful completion of their first full year of study.

Successful applicants are usually appointed to the rank of Officer Cadet and paid at that rank while studying full-time, with increments granted on successful completion of each year of study. However, the granting of a higher rank will be dependent upon the degree course studied and the year of study on entry.

Undergraduates are members of the Permanent Air Force and as such, all normal entitlements are available to you including access to Service Residences, living in on-base accommodation, removal benefits and Rental Allowance, under the same guidelines which apply to all Air Force members. Entitlements vary according to your family structure, availability and type of accommodation on base, and the proximity of this accommodation to your university.

You are entitled to necessary medical, dental, hospital, optical, physiotherapy and ancillary treatment without charge.

You will be issued free uniforms, clothing and accessories at the scale applicable to officers performing part-time duty. Upon graduation and commencement of full-time duty, you will receive additional issues to outfit yourself to the normal scale of issue. Undergraduates are not entitled to free exchanges of uniforms.

The Air Force will authorise payment of all compulsory fees for the year in which sponsorship commences and continuing for the duration of the approved course of study.

A student receiving benefits from the Australian Government as a full-time student will have these benefits withdrawn from the date Air Force sponsorship begins. Books and equipment already provided may be retained.

Subject to approval, you will also be reimbursed the costs of prescribed textbooks and equipment essential to your course of study.

The Air Force will also pay tertiary institution fees and Student Contribution Charges for as long as the student remains in the Service. An obligation to serve in the Air Force for a period of one year for each year of sponsorship, plus one additional year, is required before sponsorship is finally approved. This means that a three-year degree sponsorship will attract a four-year return of service obligation on completion of degree studies.

Note: Sponsorship is not available to applicants who are already in receipt of sponsorship via schemes such as the rural and medical bonded positions.

Full-Fee Paying Students

The Air Force will accept applications from full-fee paying students for undergraduate sponsorship. Full-fee paying university students will be reimbursed the equivalent amount of HELP entitlement for that degree stream. The refund will be the highest amount specified in the government-approved, student contribution range for each degree stream as displayed at

Failure during Degree Studies

If you fail an examination and are unable to progress to the next academic year or graduate, your appointment may be terminated (recovery of costs including fees, salary and books would usually be initiated in these cases). Approval may be given for the student to repeat the year at Air Force expense, provided that the failure was not due to a lack of application on the part of the student.


Undergraduates may be granted trainee leave during semester breaks. For the remainder of the year they must be involved in formal academic studies or be employed on such duties and courses as determined by RAAF College.

Specialist Reserve

The Royal Australian Air Force Specialist Reserve (Air Force SR) is comprised of volunteer members who are highly motivated towards the Air Force and their Reserve commitment. The role of the Specialist Reserve is to provide on an on-call basis, selected professional services that are not otherwise retained permanently in the Air Force. 

Entry into the Air Force SR is by selection to fill available vacancies. Officer entry into all elements of the Air Force Reserve is by competitive selection, and is on the same basis as for entry into the PAF.

Attendance Commitment

Air Force SR members are to perform a minimum of seven days Reserve service in each financial year but may perform considerably more than this on a voluntary basis as tasks and opportunities arise. The minimum seven days service is primarily used to maintain Individual Readiness compliancy which is a requirement for any specialty training and deployment.

The maximum number of days of Reserve service within a financial year for members of the Air Force SR is 150. Members may only be paid for those days that have been approved by their respective sponsoring authority. 

Annual Activities

Air Force SR members are expected to maintain a required standard of health, fitness and military preparedness, which will be assessed on an annual basis. This will include the requirement for Air Force SR members to maintain proficiency in weapons handling.


Air Force SR personnel are governed by exactly the same discipline code as members of the Permanent Air Force. Applicants should carefully consider their adaptability requirements such as the wearing of uniforms, saluting, drill and the requirement to display a high standard of dress and bearing.


Members of the Air Force SR are entitled to a free issue of uniform upon appointment. Each issued item has a life expectancy and the item may be exchanged for a new one after this time. The Chief of Air Force (CAF) has determined that during any prescribed form of service, Air Force SR members are on duty and must wear uniform.

Medical and Dental

Members of the Air Force SR are only entitled to emergency medical and dental treatment while on duty.

Further information on part-time ADF careers can be found by accessing the Defence Reserves Support Council website.

The Council promotes the benefits of Reserve service by establishing partnerships with the community and employers.