Moving into Defence from an Adjacent Industry

By Kinexus on 08 November 2018

Moving¬ Into Defence From An Adjacent Industry

The Defence Industry has traditionally been notoriously difficult to break into.

Some of the red tape involved is justified, the rest is up for discussion another day.

Companies are facing the stark possibility that the current size of the workforce will struggle to meet the demands of industry. This has led to an increased opportunity for people from adjacent industries to make a move to the Defence Industry – unheard of a few years ago.

The sectors primed to crossover include:

  • Transport – automotive, rail, and aerospace

  • Utilities – water, power, gas, electricity

  • Mining

  • Medical devices

If you are thinking of making the transition into Defence Industry, there are a few things to consider first.


Australian citizenship is the minimum requirement to be eligible for a security clearance. There are exceptions, but these are few and far between. Whilst not all Defence Industry roles require a security clearance, the vast majority do.


If you’ve never worked in the Defence Industry and don’t have a security clearance you may be better positioned to look at permanent positions.

Gaining a security clearance takes time. In some cases, six or more months. In a permanent role, the time before a security clearance is granted can be spent familiarising with the organisation, understanding the market, going through the necessary inductions and training programs.

Due to the expectation that a contractor hits the ground running, contracting isn’t likely an option as a first transition. It’s difficult to hit the ground running if you’re sitting around for months waiting for your security clearance to come through.


When considering your first salary in the Defence Industry, make sure to have the end goal in mind.

You MAY need to compromise on salary should you wish to break into the industry.

While many of your skills are transferable, being a field engineer on a mine site is very different to working on a ship or mobility vehicle. Companies are willing to invest in developing people with aligned experience, but there needs to be some give and take.


There will be people who have made the transition before you, and they would have faced the same barriers to entry you will. To help you in your transition, reach out to your network. Get into their heads and ask questions about how they managed their transition


For more support throughout the process, align yourself with a recruitment company or companies who specialise in the Defence Sector. They will be able to give you advice on skillsets in demand and how your skills may best translate into the industry. Reach out to me for a confidential chat.

Things will not happen overnight but the time to start making things happen is now.

Be prepared to hear “I’m sorry, but you don’t have any prior Defence Industry experience“.

I wouldn’t have written this a few years ago, but to deliver on its commitments, the Defence Industry must, and is adopting and embracing the (very) prevalent skillsets in the market coming from other industries.

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