Careers in the RCN

New naval recruits sign up for training in one of many sea trades and are shown the ropes. As part of crew aboard one of the fleet’s patrol frigates, support vessels, destroyers, coastal defence vessels and submarines, you will learn what it is to be a sailor. Become privy to the sailor’s own sea language and the centuries-old traditions that have made seafarers proud to call the Navy home. Sail with your crew on operations and exercises that can take you down the coastline or across the world.

You will train in real-life situations with sailors from across the country and even around the world. In the Canadian Navy, from the moment you are recruited, bonds of friendship will be forged that often last a lifetime. You will be part of a naval community where members find a warm welcome and familiar faces across the country.

Whether it’s the ranks of Ordinary Seaman, Able Seaman, Leading Seaman and Master Seaman, or as an officer, opportunity abounds. A Navy career is more than sailing, it is a tradition, and endless career possibilities, an exciting path, and an adventure—that pays you! If you enjoy working as part of a team, and using your mental and physical strengths in an exciting, fast-paced setting, then the Navy is a course worth sailing.

Explore the different ways you can serve in the Royal Canadian Navy including full time or part time as an officer or as a non-commissioned member.

Careers in the Naval Reserve

Naval Reservists are individuals engaged in their civilian lives while pursuing a military career. They work evenings and weekends, and during the summer period in a trade of their choice. They can be students, teachers, lawyers, delivery persons, secretaries, or other members of society.

They serve on a part time basis, and there is no obligation to participate in any mission overseas. Communities can count on the Naval Reserve to supply a dedicated group of highly trained individuals who can offer real assistance whenever their communities need help. Naval Reservists are active members of your community who have access to a large network of family, friends, and co-workers and the willingness to share their personal stories of how Canada and its government is committed to National Defence and to its people.

In addition to augmenting the Regular Force, Naval Reservists form port security teams, diving units, naval cooperation and guidance of shipping organizations and important public relations units such as the National Band of the Naval Reserve and the Compagnie franche de la Marine. Most particularly, the Naval Reserve has the task of providing the necessary crewmembers to operate ten Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels.

Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels (MCDVs)

Our Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels are crewed mainly by Reservists. These KINGSTON Class ships were designed and built to commercial standards, although some key areas such as stability, flood control, manoeuvrability and ammunition storage are built to military specifications. The ships are very flexible — inter-changeable modular payloads can be fitted for route survey and bottom object inspections.


The MCDVs’ primary mission is coastal surveillance and patrol. Coastal surveillance involves general naval operations and exercises, search and rescue, law enforcement, resource protection and fisheries patrols. MCDVs offer an economical alternative to major surface units for routine but nevertheless important patrolling duties, as these are vital in maintaining our sovereignty and protecting our shores. The 12 vessels are divided equally between both coasts.


Payloads can be added to the MCDV to provide limited mine countermeasure capabilities. The vessels' design accommodates three modular payloads: a mechanical minesweeping system (MMS), a route survey system, and a bottom object inspection vehicle. These can be on- or off-loaded within 12 hours. During Route Survey tasks, the ships deploy a partially controllable "towfish" fitted with side scan sonar. This towed system creates imagery and a database of the condition and objects on the seabed for subsequent investigation. The database can later be used, during mine hunting tasks for example, to avoid investigating previously located and known objects. A remote operating vehicle (bottom object inspection) can also be deployed to closely investigate objects that have been observed.

Naval Intelligence

In the newly reconfigured trade of Naval Intelligence, Naval Reservists fulfill a number of roles and have a variety of different skills. They provide background and current information analysis on the maritime environment to command when it is required. They also are the Navy’s specialists in Merchant Shipping, acting as the Navy’s first contact with the merchant navy community. Canada has a NATO commitment to provide officers who can liaise with and provide guidance to merchant ships in times of crisis. If, in such a time, vital ships must be protected, there exists the capability to orchestrate convoy units in conjunction with the Regular Force Navy. These officers have made contact and worked on exercises with Allied Naval Officers and with merchant ships the world over, promoting the Canadian Navy within other nations and with the powerful shipping companies with whom we share the world’s oceans.

Port Security Units

Port Security is one aspect of Maritime Coastal Operations conducted to ensure the maritime security of the nation. Port Security Units work in conjunction with Port Inspection Diving Teams (PIDT) to ensure the sovereignty and safety of Canada’s numerous ports and harbours. The PIDTs can accomplish a number of tasks, including: underwater searches and surveys of the ocean bed, underwater inspections of jetties and ships' hulls, locating, surveying and salvage of military aircraft, mine recognition and countermeasures, underwater demolition, underwater photography, repairs to ships' hulls, exercising ships in defence against underwater attack, and body searches.

Public Affairs

The Naval Reserve provides a number of important public relations opportunities with specialised units such as the National Band of the Naval Reserve and the Compagnie franche de la Marine.

The National Band of the Naval Reserve has helped the citizens of our country to become more aware of the Canadian Navy and its Naval Reserve, travelling in various parts of Canada each summer.