About the Job

Direct powerful artillery fire and air actions onto enemy positions using state-of-the-art equipment.

What you’ll do

As an Artillery Observer, you'll use high-tech equipment to identify, locate and communicate threats to the Army’s combat teams. You'll learn how to identify and engage enemy targets in partnership with Australian and Coalition joint fire assets. This means you’ll see the effects of artillery up close, both in simulated and real environments.

Key tasks include:

  • Locate enemy targets using advanced surveillance equipment including thermal and laser range finders
  • Work closely with Artillery Systems Operators and Artillery operators to call in Artillery and mortar fire
  • Communicate with and coordinate action from Ground Forces including Infantry, Armoured, Combat Engineers
  • Coordinate fire support from Artillery & mortars, attack helicopters, Air Force fighter jets and naval surface fire ships
  • Observe the effects of Artillery rounds called in and calculate required adjustments

When deployed, you’ll be positioned on the front line with Infantry Soldiers or at an observation post.

Training and Progression

No prior experience is required to become an Artillery Observer. You’ll receive world-class military training to prepare you for every aspect of the job. Upon completion of your Initial Employment Training (IET), your first posting is likely to be one of the large Combat Battalions.

During training, you’ll learn to operate state-of-the-art battlefield surveillance equipment and advanced communication systems including:

  • Thermal surveillance systems
  • Night vision binoculars
  • Digital Terminal Control Systems (DTCS)
  • Laser ranger finders, target designators and pointers
  • Ground surveillance radars
  • Full motion video from airborne surveillance platforms

You’ll develop skills in navigation systems, communications and advanced first aid. Gain experience through operating in a variety of locations as well as participating in regular field trips and exercises to hone your skills.

There are ongoing opportunities for career progression. Artillery Observers can obtain three specialist qualifications and can even upskill to control aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Based on performance, there’s also the ability to work with Commandos and Special Forces in a support cell.

Additional Information

This is a hands-on role where trusting and respecting your team is key. You’ll leverage your existing spatial awareness and interpersonal skills, and grow in confidence as you develop. You’ll also enjoy other benefits of being in the Army such as keeping fit through physical training, experiencing travel and adventure, and doing it all with friends you’ll keep for life.

If you’re seeking a challenge outside of the everyday, this role is for you.

In-Service Information
This role is known as Forward Observer within the Army.
Employment Category Number (ECN): 255
Employment Category: Combat

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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.

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 your salary 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.


Artillery Observers are employed in large Combat Battalions and regularly have opportunities to travel, domestically and internationally.

Primary posting locations include:

  • Brisbane, QLD
  • Townsville, QLD
  • Darwin, NT

There may be opportunities to post to other locations based on service need, career development needs and individual preferences.

You may also have the opportunity to deploy overseas on operations during your career.



Applicants must be at least 17 years of age and able to complete the Initial Minimum Period of Service before reaching Compulsory Retirement Age (60).

Applicants will not be allowed to enter the ADF until they achieve a minimum of 17 years of age, however they may be able to initiate the application process from 16 years and six months of age.

Education & Experience

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

If you have not achieved the appropriate passes for this role, an education assessment can be conducted to determine your eligibility. Employment history and other qualifications will be considered. Speak to your ADF Careers Centre representative to discuss options.

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 assessment 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

Females will be enlisted for an Initial Minimum Period of Service (IMPS) of 2 years.

Males will be enlisted for an Initial Minimum Period of Service (IMPS) of 4 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 Job Opportunities Assessment (JOA) is completed as part of the application process to join the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Some jobs may also require you to complete a further evaluation at a later date.

The JOA is used by Defence to establish suitability for ADF entry, and then identify jobs that best match your abilities.

Further information about the JOA can be found in the Guide to the Job Opportunities Assessment for the ADF.

To get a feel for the types of questions that are used in the Job Opportunities Assessment and how they will look on your screen some examples can be found in the Job Opportunities Assessment Example Questions.


To serve in the ADF you must be an Australian Citizen.

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 ADF Careers 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

As a General Entry recruit, you’ll be required to complete the Recruit Course.

Army Recruit Course
Duration: Approximately 12 weeks.
Location: Kapooka, Wagga Wagga, NSW.

During training, you will take part in physical training, weapon handling and shooting, first aid, drill and field craft. You'll be challenged both mentally and physically.

Although it can be demanding, most 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. The priority of our instructors is to help you succeed.

For more information, visit Soldier Training at Kapooka.

Employment Training

After graduating from recruit training, you'll start learning the skills of your trade or profession under the guidance of world-class Army instructors.

Basic Combat Communications Course
Duration: Approximately 1 week.
Location: School of Artillery, Puckapunyal, VIC.

You will learn to set up, operate and maintain communications equipment and radios including basic high frequency combat communication equipment.

Royal Australian Artillery Common Induction Training
Duration: Approximately 3 weeks.
Location: School of Artillery, Puckapunyal, VIC.

You will learn Artillery procedures and how to use small arms weapons systems and other combative equipment.

Specialist Combat Communications Course
Duration: Approximately 5 weeks.
Location: School of Artillery, Puckapunyal, VIC.

You will learn to enable team communication in the field using high frequency radios, satellite communications and modern data transfer equipment.

Joint Fires Teams Course
Duration: Approximately 7 weeks.
Location: School of Artillery, Puckapunyal, VIC.

You will learn battlespace manoeuvre techniques and target location, identification, and engagement procedures. You will also learn to use advanced small arms weapon systems and digital and analogue communication systems.

Once you’ve finished your Initial Employment Training, you’ll be assigned to an Army unit and your career as a soldier will begin.

Throughout your career, you will also have the opportunity to develop your skills with specialist training.