About the Job

The efficiency of the Australian Army Catering Corps has a direct influence on the morale and well being of the combat soldier. Catering soldiers prepare, cook and serve meals both in field kitchens and Army establishments, to meet the dietary needs of the soldier.

High standards are essential and members of the Corps take a great deal of pride in the preparation of foods according to nutritional, dietary and cultural needs.

Main Job Functions:

As a full-time Army Chef you prepare and cook complete meals consisting of soups, entrees, main courses, sweets, cakes, pastry and yeast products.

The preparation of all types of meals being predominantly bulk cookery is conducted in either a commercial kitchen or field environment. On occasions, cooking for functions also occurs.  

Chefs may advance through the ranks to positions of responsibility such as shift, kitchen and catering supervisors.

Main job functions at higher ranks include menu planning, ordering and stock control of food, rostering staff, conducting on the job training and workplace assessment; and providing technical catering advice.

Key Information

Preparing for Your Recruitment Process

This document provides information that will assist applicants for roles in the Navy, Army and Air Force, including details about the recruitment process, how to prepare yourself for assessment, and what to expect if you are successful in joining the Australian Defence Force.


National Qualifications

After six years you'll not only have Army trade proficiency but also excellent long-term employment prospects. Your trade training is fully accredited with exportability of that trade qualification into the civil community providing a broader scope for your future employment.

Salary & Allowances

In the Army you'll get paid a good salary from day one regardless of your age, experience or qualifications; and your pay increases as you progress through training.

In addition to base pay you'll receive a variety of allowances, extra pay for relevant qualifications – plus 16.4% superannuation, a far higher rate than you're likely to find in the civilian world.

For more details download our Salary Scales.

Read our Conditions of Service.


An ARA Chef can be employed in units in Darwin, Townsville, Brisbane and Sydney. There are also minimal employment opportunities in smaller military areas such as Adelaide and Perth.



Applicants must be between 17 and 57 years of age (inclusive) on day of enlistment.

Education & Experience

Completion of Australian Year 10 education (or equivalent) with passes in English and Mathematics.

Medical & Fitness

To be enlisted or appointed, you must be medically and physically fit for entry to your chosen occupation. This is partially assessed from the completion of an extensive questionnaire covering your medical history, followed by a physical examination.

You will also be required to successfully pass a physical fitness test before appointment.

For further details on medical and physical fitness standards refer to Physical Fitness Standards for Entry into the ADF and Medical Process for Entry into the ADF.

Period of Service

You will be enlisted for an Initial Minimum Period of Service (IMPS) of two years. Subsequent periods of service may be offered subject to the requirements of the ADF and your suitability for further service. You may request discharge at any time provided you do not have an outstanding IMPS obligation.

Your Careers Coach can advise on how IMPS will relate to your chosen occupation.


The application process to join the Australian Defence Force requires you to complete a series of aptitude tests which may include verbal, spatial and numerical ability and a general maths test. Some jobs may also require you to complete additional testing at a later date.

Psychology support staff will explain what is involved with each test.

The aptitude tests provide information about your suitability for the Defence Force and for particular jobs. Defence Force Recruiting can then help you identify jobs that best match your abilities.

Further information on the aptitude testing requirements can be found here.


Only Australian Citizens are permitted to serve in the ADF.

If you are a permanent resident of Australia, the ADF may consider a temporary deferral of the citizenship requirement if the position for which you are applying cannot be filled by an applicant who meets all the citizenship requirements, and then only in exceptional circumstances. You will be required to obtain Australian Citizenship as early as possible following enlistment or appointment.

Find out more in our Citizenship page or ask your local Defence Force Recruiting Centre.

Security Requirements

The Department of Defence requires ADF employees to have security clearances appropriate to their employment.

A process of background checks, collection of relevant information and, as required, interviews, enables the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency to make an informed assessment of an applicant's suitability for a security clearance.

The minimum security clearance level required is Negative Vetting Level 1, and current policy requires applicants to have a checkable background for the previous 10 years. Required information includes:

  • Residence
  • Employment
  • Education
  • Credit

Australian Citizenship is a requirement for a security clearance and a clearance will only be granted to a non-citizen in exceptional circumstances.

NOTE: The security clearance is critical to an applicants successful progression through the Army training system. If an applicant is unable to obtain the required security clearance in time, they will not be allowed to continue their training and may need to be re-allocated to another employment category. As such, it is strongly recommended that all applicants obtain the required documentation as soon as possible to provide the best opportunity to be employed in their preferred employment category.


Military Training

All General Entry recruits into the Australian Regular Army are required to complete the Recruit Course.

Total Duration: 80 days.

Location: Kapooka, Wagga Wagga, NSW.

Recruit training is the same for male and female entrants. During the 80 day Army Recruit Course you will be required to take part in physical training, weapon handling and shooting, first aid, drill and field craft. The training is deliberately challenging and has been designed to prepare you to be a soldier in today's Army. Recruits gain a sense of achievement, purpose and confidence during basic training, and on completion of the course feel justifiably proud of what they have achieved.

Further information is also available at the Army Recruit Training Centre website.

During Military (Initial Recruit) Training and (Initial) Employment Training, members may be required to pay a contribution towards meals, accommodation and utilities.

Employment Training

ADF Initial Cooks Course: 19 weeks

Following Recruit Training, you will undertake the ADF Initial Cook Course at the ADF School of Catering (ADFSC), HMAS Cerberus, Westernport Victoria.

The contracted training provider in partnership with ADFSC delivers the training. ADF chefs will be signed up as apprentices by State Training Services, NSW.

The ADF Initial Cook Course provides both practical and theoretical instruction in all aspects of cookery and kitchen activities. Subjects covered include kitchen safety, hygiene, knife handling, care and maintenance of equipment, methods of cookery and presentation, implementation of food safety, plan and control menu based catering. All subjects are delivered by the contracted training provider. Upon completion of the course, trainees are awarded Certificate III in Hospitality (Commercial Cookery).

Army Initial Field Catering Course: 10 days, not including weekends.

Note: Course duration may vary depending on public holidays and other Army requirements.

On completion of your TAFE training, you will undertake Army specific training on catering in the field.

After 36 months workplace experience and with completion of the ARA Competency and Workplace Proficiency Task Book you will be eligible for apprenticeship completion. Further attendance on advanced trade courses will prepare you for promotion.

Subject to completion of 3 years service in the mustering and all training, including successful completion of the ADF Cooks Competency Logbook, a member is awarded Cook trade papers.