A Career in Defence Services in India

Uniform intact, gun in place, ready to take on any mission: jump off from big heights, submerge in deep waters or guard the borders at the ground level, these are the tasks of our nation’s protectors.

A career in India and government job is concerned, and no mention of defence services, well that’s just next to impossible. One of the most valuable, prestigious, noble, and maximum revenue-generating job sectors it is. The mere mention of defence services holds so much weightage that the individuals employed at one of these posts are definitely filled with immense pride and honor and there is automatically an aura of respect around them.

Detailed guidance on what are the assorted defence services prevailing in India and how to go about making a career in any one of these sectors is mentioned in the latter part of this article.

Defence Services

Defence / defense services are actually the systematic assortment of the armed forces of our territory and they are typically classified based on the modes of conveyance i.e. land, air, and water, and they are named as the Indian Army, Indian Air Force, Indian Navy, and Indian Coast Guard respectively.

There are several jobs one can opt for in the defence services ranging from a lower rank to the higher ranks. Nonetheless, the benefits are entitled to the candidates right from the joining day of the individuals. Every job has a few pros and cons which must not be left uncovered. Hence, we shall discuss a few of them below.


  • Handsome salary
  • Honor and respect in the workplace
  • Social status
  • Additional allowances such as health, child education, house rent, travel etc.
  • Job security
  • Personal satisfaction


  • Rough training
  • Inflexible schedule
  • Challenging tasks at work
  • Family distances

These points must have given you a rough idea as to whether you want to be a part of this sector or not.

Now, to proceed further it is essential to understand the ranks and duties classification in the various defence sectors of our nation. Although only the prominent ones are mentioned below, one must not forget that there are a lot more posts other than these.

Career Classification in Indian Army

The Indian Army is one of the largest armies in the world with more than 1,129,900 active troops and 9,60,000 reserve troops. Its force comprises more than 80% of the country’s active defence personnel. It follows a regimental system.

For operations, it is divided into seven commands and occasionally they may need head tri-service commands such as the Strategic Forces Command, Integrated Defense Staff (IDS), and the Andaman and Nicobar Command. Just like any other sector of operations, the tasks in this field are managed by various individuals deployed at multiple levels categorized in areas.

The field formation in the army is something that helps in deciding where the officers operate and it proceeds from division, brigade, battalion, company, section, commands to crops respectively. Based on the field formation the job roles and positions in the Indian army are discussed below.

  1. Chief of Army Staff: This is the highest post in the Indian army and the officer who is appointed as COAS i.e. Chief of Army Staff must have served as a long-term general. The officer is also an advisor to the government of India in relation to the military operations and oversees almost the entire defense sector missions. He is a four-star ranked officer and hence the experience matters. The promotion to this post takes place gradually and after quite many years of service to the nation. The salary entitled to the topmost ranked officer in the Indian Army is Rs.2,50,000 per month.
  • General: A General is again a four-star ranked officer who holds the position of the highest administrator in the field operations. They are responsible for governing and regulating the personnel employed in the Indian army. This is the replica or so to say the similar post as a COAS and there is probably no different person appointed at this rank rather the Chief of Army Staff himself. The pay scale is also the same. 
  • Lieutenant General: The Lieutenant General is a three-star ranked officer who is responsible for conducting and supervising the meetings as well as significant appointments held at Army Commands and Headquarters. This is the second-highest job position after the General in which one can definitely be promoted after many years of service with genuine ambition. The lieutenant officer is paid Rs.2,24,000 per month.
  • Major General: A Major General is an officer who holds responsibilities more than a Brigadier and a little less than the Lieutenant General. The area of expertise of a major general lies in dealing with the authority working under his control as efficiently as possible. The salary entitled to the major general amounts to Rs.1,44,000-2,00,000 per month.
  • Brigadier: A brigadier is a senior ranked officer who is responsible for commanding a brigade of thousands of military personnel aka soldiers. Being a rank upholder after the colonel, the responsibilities don’t appear to be minor and hence require quite a few years of experience. A brigadier is entitled to a handsome salary of Rs.1,39,000 and above per month.
  • Colonel: A colonel is a senior ranked official who ranks in a similar position as that of the Navy Captain. He is responsible for managing the individuals working under him and directing them under every possible circumstance. The promotion takes place gradually. A colonel receives a whopping amount of Rs.1,30,000 and above.
  • Lieutenant Colonel: A lieutenant colonel is a commissioned officer in the Indian Army. He is accountable and in charge of the regulatory activities of the regiment or a battalion in the army. They lead and train the personal under them to ensure discipline in the missions to be undertaken. A lieutenant colonel earns a sum of Rs.1,21,000 and above every month.
  • Major: A major in the Indian Army holds as much respect as any other senior commissioned officer. Taking instructions from the lieutenant colonel, the major ensures that every soldier performs the duties in time and with precision. The continual process of training and development takes place under his guidance. A major earns around Rs.69,000 and above every single month.
  • Captain: A captain is the senior commissioned officer who regulates the company in the Indian Army which holds around 120 soldiers. In some cases, even a Platoon comes under the supervision of a captain which is an intermediate between a company and a section. A captain can earn anywhere above Rs.61,000 every month.
  1. Lieutenant: The lowest rank yet the renowned posts in the Indian Army is held by a Lieutenant. He is responsible for the commands in the Indian Army and is one of the senior commissioned officers. The pay scale of a lieutenant is above Rs.56,100 and above.

Career Classification in Indian Air Force

To safeguard Indian territory and national interests from all threats in conjunction with the other branches of the armed forces by defending Indian airspace. The IAF provides close air support to the Indian Army troops on the battlefield including airlifting. The IAF also operates the Integrated Space Cell along with the civilian Department of Space and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to utilize more effectively the country’s space-based resources for military purposes and to protect these assets.

The President of India is the Commander-in-chief of the Air Force. Chief of the Air Staff with the rank of Air Chief Marshal is the Commander of the IAF.

The Air force also has seven commands in which five commands are operational commands and two of them are functional. Based on these commands the posts are assigned. The operational commands include the northern, southern, eastern, western, and central air commands. On the other hand, the functional command includes Training Command and Maintenance Command.

The following are the distinguished posts in the Indian Air Force.

  1. Air Chief Marshal: An Air Chief Marshal is a four-star air force officer rank in the Indian Air Force. It is the highest functional rank in the Indian Air Force. He ranks above all the other three-star rank officers of the air marshal and below the five-star rank of marshal of the air force, which is largely a war-time or ceremonial rank. He oversees all the operational functions of the air defense sector of our nation. This prestigious job profile enables one to earn Rs.2,50,000 per month.
  • Air Marshal: An Air Marshal is a three-star senior ranked air officer in the Indian Air Force. It is the second-highest active rank in the Indian Air Force. This ranks above the two-star rank of air vice-marshal and below the four-star rank of Air Chief Marshal, which is held by the CAS. The per month salary of an air marshal amounts up to Rs.2,24,000.
  • Air Vice-Marshal: The air-vice marshal is a senior commissioned officer who ranks below the air marshal yet has greater responsibilities almost as much as the air marshal. The considerably important task to be performed by an air vice-marshal is to take place in air commands and headquarters as well as oversee the meetings and appointments. The air-vice marshal is entitled to a sum of Rs.1,44,000 and above.
  • Air Commodore: An air commodore is the senior commissioned officer who is responsible for carrying out the instructions of the air-vice marshal in an immensely detailed manner and without any complications. They are one-star officers and are entitled to a sum of Rs.1,39,000 and above.
  • Group Captain: The group captain commands the wings. Wings are intermediate between a command and a squadron. It generally consists of two or three IAF squadrons and helicopter units, along with a forward base support unit. The duties of a group captain call for a sum of Rs.1,30,000 and above per month.
  • Wing Commander: A wing commander is in charge of the field units and formations attached to static locations. All fighter squadrons are headed by a commanding officer with the rank of Wing commander. They are senior commissioned officers with considerably more responsibilities and for their operations, they are entitled to a sum of Rs.1,21,000 and above.
  • Squadron Leader: A squadron leader is responsible for managing the flights of copters which are subdivisions of squadrons. IAF has service branches for day-to-day operations. The operations are categorized as Flying Branch, Technical Branch (Engineering), Ground Branch and so in and so forth. A squadron leader earns somewhere near Rs.69,000 and above every month.
  • Flight Lieutenant: A flight lieutenant manages the flights and is the subordinate of the squadron leader. They carry out the instructions of the squadron leader in respect to the scheduling of the getaways and take-offs. They are also an integral part of the air force and form one-third of the air force personnel. Per month, the flight lieutenant receives a sum of Rs.61,000 and above.
  • Flying Officer: A flight officer is an individual who is the subordinate of a flight lieutenants and ranks the lowest in terms of air force senior commissioned officers. All their tasks revolve around flight management and they earn more than Rs.56,000 per month.

Career Classification in Indian Navy

The Indian Navy is the naval branch of the armed forces of India. The primary objective of the navy is to secure the nation’s maritime borders besides humanitarian missions, including disaster relief. The Indian Navy usually has a strength of 58,350 personnel and a large operational fleet comprising of two aircraft carriers, one amphibious transport dock, nine landing ship tanks, nine destroyers, one nuclear-powered attack submarines, fifteen frigates, fourteen conventionally-powered attack submarines, twenty-four corvettes, seven mine countermeasure vessels, thirty-two patrol vessels, four fleet tankers, and various auxiliary vessels.

The prominent ranks of officers and sailors in the Indian navy from the highest to the lowest tier are enlisted below along with their pay scale.

  1. Chief of Naval Staff: The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), usually a four-star officer in the rank of admiral, commands the navy. The chief has command over all the three headquarters situated at Mumbai, Vishakhapatnam, and Kochi namely Western Naval Command, Eastern Naval Command, and Southern Naval Command respectively. He exercises control over the operational and administrative activities of the Indian Navy. A CNS earns a sum of Rs.2,50,000 per month.
  • Vice-Admiral: The vice-admiral is usually the officer, who is a senior naval flag officer and he has a command over various fleets and he assists the Chief of Naval Staff in managing control over the naval force. A vice-admiral earns a sum of Rs.1,82,200-Rs.2,24,100 per month.
  • Rear Admiral: The rear admiral is the officer who is the primary level admiral. They are responsible for carrying out the management and execution of the commands made by the vice admiral and supervise the commodores accordingly. They are usually referred to as the flag officers. A rear admiral earns a sum of Rs.1,44,200-Rs.2,18,200 per month.
  • Commodore: A commodore usually carries out the orders of the admirals and assists them in commanding a flotilla or squadron of ships. The commodores are superior to the captain of the ships and they are ranked as senior-level naval officers.A commodore usually earns somewhere between Rs.1,39,600-Rs.2,17,600 per month.
  • Captain: A captain as we all know is the officer who is in charge of a specific ship and controls and directs its movements. They are experienced individuals who have full authority over the ship. A captain in the Indian Navy earns a sum of Rs.1,30,600-Rs.2,15,900 per month.
  • Commander: A commander is an officer who actually commands the navy personnel and follows the instructions given by the captain regarding the ships and the tasks involved. The job status of a commander is equivalent to that of a lieutenant colonel in the Indian Army. A commander in the Indian navy can earn up to Rs.1,21,200-Rs.2,12,400 per month.
  • Lieutenant Commander: The lieutenant commander holds the position of a commissioned rank naval officer and he assists the commander in ensuring supervision and control over the activities. They are the officers responsible for commands over smaller ships or installations of a smaller shore. A lieutenant commander has an income generation of Rs.69,400-Rs.2,07,200 per month.
  • Lieutenant: A lieutenant is the officer in command of patrol boats, small crafts, inshore minesweepers and he manages the small frigates. They are usually the divisional training officers who provide guidance to the young aspirants in acquiring proficiency. A lieutenant earns a sum of Rs.61,300-Rs.1,93,900 per month.
  • Sub-Lieutenant: A sub-lieutenant assists a lieutenant in the related matters, activities, and duties as the officers can not be present at all locations all at once. They are the Class I gazette officers and they are also the individuals at the ground level in the officers ranks. A sub-lieutenant can generate Rs.56,100-Rs.1,77,500 per month.

Career Classification in Indian Coast Guard

Indian Coast Guard was formed on 18 August 1978 as a maritime force, to enforce maritime law, with jurisdiction over the territorial waters of India, including its exclusive economic zone. The Coast Guard functions closely with the Indian Navy, Department of Fisheries, Department of Revenue (Customs), and the Central and State police forces.

The coast guard has five region classifications i.e. western, eastern, southern, northeast, and northwest regions. Each of the regions has districts consisting of Coast Guard Stations, Air Stations, and Air Enclaves. This is where the duties are assigned.

The most prevalent of all the ranks or duties in the coast guard are given below.

  1. Director-General
  • Additional Director General
  • Inspector General
  • Deputy Inspector General
  • Commandant
  • Commandant (Junior)
  • Deputy Commandant
  • Assistant Commandant

This is involved in the defence services of our nation and is becoming a prominent part of the defence services operations and one can look up for more information on this to get a better understanding of the whole concept.

Eligibility Criteria

The prerequisites for defence services exams are not that extraordinary and they totally depend upon which exams it is that you wish to appear. The exams are conducted grade-wise and based upon the technicality of the various duties.

Educational Requirements

So let’s have a look at which exams you can appear after your higher secondary and until the word for females is not mentioned, the exams are strictly meant only for males.

After Higher Secondary (10+2)

To appear in the National Defence Academy Exams, which enables you to get a job in any disciple be it army, air force, or navy, the following needs to be considered.

  • For the army, the compulsory subject is mathematics
  • For air force or navy, science subjects i.e. physics, chemistry, biology or mathematics is compulsory
  • Minimum age of 16.5 years
  • Maximum age19.5 years
  • No limit to attempts for appearing exams and you can go on until you crack it. You can sit for these exams even if you have just enrolled in the 12th.

To appear for the exam specifically for the army, one can choose the Technical Entry Scheme (TES). This is a bit technical and complicated exam to clear as it allows one to hold a higher position than the NDA exam candidates. The requirements are

  • Average of all subjects in 12th standard must come to 70%
  • Science with mathematics in 10+2 is compulsory
  • The minimum score in mathematics should be 50.
  • Minimum age of 16.5 years
  • Maximum age 19.5 years

After Graduation or Final year students

Once you have completed your graduation you become eligible for more complex exams for defence services which enables you to get even better posts. Let’s have a look at a few of them.

To appear in the Combined Defence Service Exams you need to fulfill the following criteria.

  • Graduation degree
  • No minimum aggregate score mentioned
  • Mathematics as a subject
  • Maximum age 24 and sometimes 26

If not CDS, you can go for the Air Force Common Admission Test which is specifically meant for the posts in the air force and even females can appear in this exam. Let’s look at the prerequisites

  • Minimum aggregate score in graduation and 10+2 must be 60%

Here comes the job post which enables you to get the highest of the posts without having to appear in any of the above-mentioned exams. The most important requirement for the University Entry Scheme is that you must be a B.Tech student. To know more you can find out about this scheme.

Note:  Not all schemes are meant for females and their choices are limited to only CDS, AFCAT, JAG, and NCC when it comes to employment in the defence services.

Physical Requirements

The physical requirements are laid down in measures of height, weight, and chest of the candidate which must be strictly adhered to in order to get selected. Let us get to know the physical conditions one by one.


  • Western Himalayan Region
    • 162cmsClerks and staff level
    • 163cmsTechnical & Nursing
    • 164cms General Duty & Tradesman
  • Eastern Himalayan Region
    • 160cms Clerks and staff level
    • 157cms Technical & Nursing
    • 160cms General Duty & Tradesman
  • Western Plains Region
    • 162cms Clerks and staff level
    • 170cms Technical & Nursing
    • 170cms General Duty & Tradesman
  • Eastern Plains Region
    • 162cms Clerks and staff level
    • 169cms Technical & Nursing
    • 169cms General Duty & Tradesman
  • Central Region
    • 162 Clerks and staff level
    • 167 Technical & Nursing
    • 168 General Duty & Tradesman
  • Southern Region
    • 162cms Clerks and staff level
    • 165cms Technical & Nursing
    • 166cms General Duty &Tradesman


  • Western Himalayan Region
    • 48kgs
  • Eastern Himalayan Region
    • 48kgs
  • Western Plains Region
    • 50kgs
  • Eastern Plains Region
    • 50kgs
  • Central Region
    • 50kgs
  • Southern Region
    • 50kgs


The minimum chest expansion required for all the regions mentioned above is the same and it must be 77cms.

Although the points mentioned above are more relevant to the Indian Army, it is noticed that the physical criteria for the Air Force and the Navy are alike and this criterion can be considered for any of the three disciples.

Training Cost

Although it is assumed that after the clearance of entrance exams the candidates are provided training and education in government establishments free of cost. However, this judgment is only half true and at least a 20% fee is charged by the institutions for providing education as well as training to the cadets. There might always be a little shift in the total amount charged each year. Nonetheless, a minimum expense of Rs.60,000-Rs.65,000 can be expected by the candidates for the various training programs in the government-funded institutions.

Various Courses

The candidates are offered a variety of courses after they are selected in the entrance exams in cases of higher secondary pass-out students. The naval and air force candidates are offered graduation in B.Tech & BE respectively and they can choose any field of study for specialization in their desired task. Based on the duties to be taken up in the future by the candidates, the training along with theoretical knowledge is discerned from the very beginning.

Training Institutions

The training institutions have a vital role to play in the development process of the candidate by providing a suitable environment for carrying out the practice. Moreover, the training institutions bring in healthy competition amongst the students so as to make them mentally strong. The most prominent training institutions for defence services in India are mentioned below.

  • National Defence Academy, Pune
  • Indian Military Academy, Dehradun
  • Army School of Physical Training, Pune
  • Officers Training Academy, Gaya
  • Indian National Defence University, Haryana
  • Army Air Defence College, Odisha
  • College of Combat/Army Aar College, Madhya Pradesh
  • Officers Training Academy, Chennai
  • Rashtriya Indian Military College, Dehradun

Career Scope

There are several opportunities for aspirants to propelling the defence sector of our nation and these services are going to last for as long as we prevail. The appropriate guidance and effort can bring about immense change in the way this field develops in the near future. The setbacks of women not getting posts to enroll themselves in these sectors have been surpassed and this has already led to a big positive change in empowering females. There are several distinct posts along with great packages and incentives for the individuals who are keen on getting the best career from himself/herself. The individuals in the Indian Defence Services are not only the members of the armed forces, but they are also the people who we think highly of. Therefore, if you possess the zeal to serve your nation as well as wish to lead a reputable life, you must choose to be a part of the defence services of India.

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