STEM Cadetship

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics) cadets can bring their unique skills and experience to make a mark in a world of opportunity at Defence. No matter the specialisation, a STEM cadet’s contribution leaves an imprint at Defence that is uniquely theirs. 

The Defence STEM Cadetship Program offers cadets a head start in their careers. Cadets can play a part in keeping Australia safe and secure while completing their tertiary studies.

The Program is an entry-level employment pathway for high-performing undergraduate students currently studying a relevant STEM degree.

Cadets will get real-world, practical and high-quality work experience in an area relevant to their studies. Cadets are supervised and trained by Australia’s brightest and most innovative specialists at the forefront of international defence capability and research. They also get access to cutting-edge technology and capability, unlike any other organisation.

Defence also provides some financial support for a cadet’s tertiary studies, including reimbursement of university course fees (upon successful completion of the relevant STEM units each semester in the program) and a bursary payment of $3,000 per Cadetship year. 

The STEM Cadetship experience

STEM cadets will:

  • work across Defence to provide scientific advice and/or develop technologies relevant to university studies
  • provide scientific and technical support to current defence operations and military capability platforms
  • explore future technologies for defence and national security applications
  • develop new defence and national security capabilities including:
    • intelligence
    • reconnaissance
    • surveillance
    • communication
    • weapon platform
    • cyber security
    • ballistic
    • aircraft
    • guidance
    • war fighter 
    • mechatronic technologies.
  • enhance existing capabilities by increasing performance and safety and reducing the cost of ownership of Defence assets
  • support collaborative relationships with government agencies to strengthen national security
  • assist and engage with industry to better support Defence capability needs.

The Defence STEM Cadetship Program offers positions in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Newcastle, Perth and Sydney. Defence will provide relocation assistance for the duration of work placements if required. This includes all travel costs and accommodation.


Competitive salary and benefits

STEM cadets will receive the following benefits.

  • Ongoing (part-time) APS employment with Defence.
  • A minimum of 60 paid work placement days per cadetship year. A cadetship year is the 12-month period after starting the Cadetship Program.
  • A minimum annual salary of $54,232 pro rata plus 15.4% superannuation. Based on the completion of 60 work placement days, this equates to a minimum salary of $12,475 per annum (increasing to $56,401 pro rata and $12,974 per annum based on 60 work placement days upon the Fair Work Commission approval of the Defence Enterprise Collective Agreement – 2024).
  • Reimbursement of STEM degree compulsory university fees (i.e. course fees and SSAF) upon successful completion of the relevant STEM units each semester.
  • Reimbursement for the cost of required books/resources up to a maximum of $1,000 (GST inclusive) per cadetship year.
  • A $3,000 bursary payment per cadetship year.
  • The option to progress to a full-time ongoing APS Level 4 (or Science and Technology Level 3-4), or a place in the Defence Graduate Program after successful completion of the program.

Flexible work arrangements

Cadets’ agreed work days are flexible and negotiated with their work area. This is based on the cadet’s individual and the work area’s requirements. The pattern of hours can also be adjusted to suit their university study. Cadets will have 12 months to complete their minimum 60 work placement days. Cadets are paid based on the hours worked only.

Kick-start a career in Defence

Cadets don’t need to wait until the final year of their degree to start looking for a job. Once they successfully complete the Defence STEM Cadetship Program, they have the option to transition into the Defence Graduate Program as an APS 4. These cadets won’t need to apply again or go through a separate assessment process.

Eligibility requirements

The STEM Cadetship Program is open to Australian undergraduate university students who have:

  • Australian citizenship
  • completed a minimum of 12 months full-time tertiary study in a relevant STEM degree discipline at the time of application
  • 12 months full-time tertiary study (equivalent to 8 units per year) remaining at the time of the cadetship program commencement
  • achieved a credit average (GPA ≥ 5 on a 7-point scale)
  • undertaken tertiary studies (including Honours/Masters) between the end of Semester 2, 2024 and the end of Semester 2, 2026.

Note: Applicants who select the Defence Science and Technology Group as a preferred work area will need to be enrolled in a relevant STEM undergraduate degree with Honours/Masters, or be eligible and agree to undertake an Honours/Masters degree if required.

Security clearance

Defence requires successful candidates to be able to obtain some level of security clearance. This may include a variety of background checks. The process is explained in detail on the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA) website.

Application process

Defence recruits staff based on merit. This means that the best person for the job is selected from a range of applicants.

The recruitment team will:

  1. use tools and techniques (such as written applications, interviews and/or work sample tests) to collect evidence
  2. compare and weigh up the skills, experience and abilities of each applicant
  3. make a merit-based decision.

How to apply

To apply for the STEM cadetship, applicants need to complete the following actions.

  • Read the eligibility requirements and download the job information pack. 
  • Complete an online application  and attach a current resume/CV.

Resumes/CVs must showcase skills and experience relevant to the Defence STEM Cadetship discipline. Applicants will need to select a preferred work group in the application form.

Candidates who advance to the next stage will be invited to online emotional and behavioural testing and attend a virtual assessment centre.

The Recruitment team will then develop merit pools and successful candidates will be offered a STEM Cadetship role.

All offers will be made before December 2024. Defence will call successful candidates to check if they’re still interested in the position. With verbal confirmation from the candidate, Defence will send a formal written letter of offer.

All unsuccessful candidates will be notified via email shortly after.