Professional development for Non-Commissioned Members


All members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) must be capable of performing the common tasks contained in the Non-Commissioned Member (NCM) General Specifications. These common tasks are universal in nature and pertain to fundamental expertise, cognitive, social, change and professional ideology competencies, which when combined deliver the appropriate leadership and management capacities.

To perform these duties/tasks effectively, which involve activities outside their occupation and environment, members of the CAF must attain levels of competencies commensurate with their rank. These common competencies complement and reinforce the environmental (Army/Navy/Air Forces) and occupational (trade) skills and knowledge acquired through occupational training and enable members of the CAF to perform effectively at all levels in the CAF. It is these specifications that call up the type, timing, and quality of Professional Development required by each NCM at each stage of their development and consequently form the foundation of professional development in the CAF as reflected by the design of the Developmental Periods (DPs) within the CFPDS.

This following information describes the framework for the planning and conduct of the Professional Development (PD) of Canadian Armed Forces Non-Commissioned Members. The Canadian Forces Professional Development System (CFPDS) is the product of an evolutionary process extending over many years.

Developmental Period

A Developmental Period (DP) is a timeframe in a career during which an individual is trained, educated, employed and given the opportunity to develop specific occupational or professional skills and knowledge. DPs are distinguished by a progressive increase in the levels of accountability, responsibility, authority, competency, military leadership ability and the knowledge of operations and war. Accordingly, the CFPDS is designed to meet the unique developmental needs of the NCM. It is defined by five DPs each of which encompasses one or more ranks. Training, education and experience within a DP prepare the NCM not only for effective employment in that DP but also for progression to subsequent DPs.

Non-Commissioned Members Developmental Periods

The following chart outlines Professional Development milestones as well as the requirements for progression to the next Developmental Period:


NCMs will acquire...

and second language training through self-development or based on the requirements of the position held or on

with progression to the next DP based on the successful completion of ...


  • basic training;
  • environmental qualification;
  • basc occupational qualification;
  • the requirements of the component, military occupation or entry program;
  • BMQ training;
  • environmental training;
  • basic occupational training; and
  • advancement to AB/Pte(T).


  • applicable common, environmental and occupational qualifications;
  • increased general, environmental and occupational skills and knowledge;
  • experience at the unit level;
  • the requirements of the component or military occupation;
  • PLQ training;
  • applicable environmental training;
  • applicable intermediate occupational training; and
  • advancement to MS/MCpl


  • applicable common, environmental and occupational qualifications;
  • resource management experience;
  • increased experience in common, environmental and occupational activities;
  • continued experience at the unit level;
  • potential for advancement;
  • ILP;
  • applicable environmental training;
  • applicable advanced occupational training; and
  • promotion to P01/WO.


  • applicable common, environmental and occupational qualifications;
  • skills in planning and conducting sub-unit and unit elvel missions and activities at the tactical level to operational levels;
  • resource management expertise;
  • continued experience in common, environmental and occupational activites;
  • an understanding of the CF beyond unit and environment level;
  • potential for advancement;
  • ALP;
  • promotion to CP02/MWO;
  • applicable environmental training;
  • SLP; and
  • promotion to CP01/CWO.


  • staff work and experience in preparation for the highest levels of NCM leadership as institutional leaders and for selection to CP01/CWO senior appointments at the strategic level;
  • Senior Appointment Qualification;
  • potential for selection to designated senior appointments at the CP01/CWO rank.
  • Senior Appointment Programme (SAP).


The purpose of the Developmental Period 1 is to focus development towards achieving the required skills and knowledge for CAF entry level employment and further training. The formal developmental requirements include achievement of the Basic Military Qualification, environmental and occupational qualifications. Development of second language ability may also be indicated but only to the extent necessary to fill positions related linguistic requirements.

After achieving the developmental requirements of DP1, Non-Commissioned Members (NCMs) are deemed to be occupationally employable at the introductory level. Progression into DP 2 takes place when the member joins a unit and leaves the Basic Training List.


The purpose of the DP 2 is to prepare NCMs for supervisory employment related to the member’s environmental affiliation (Army/Navy/Air Force) and occupation (trade).

The focus of development in DP 2 is twofold:

  • to consolidate and reinforce previous training and employment experience leading to enhanced individual occupational capabilities; and
  • to develop leadership potential.

The formal development requirements for DP 2 are the Primary Leadership Qualification and environmental and occupational qualifications. Training strategies to achieve these qualifications may include both Distributed Learning and residential components.


The purpose of the DP3 is to prepare NCMs for employment as a supervisor in an occupationally related employment, matching the members’ environmental affiliation. While building on further occupational training and experience, the focus of DP 3 is to further develop leadership and management skills through experience and increased responsibilities.

Formal development requirements for DP 3 are the Intermediate Leadership Programme and the environmental and occupational qualifications. Education/training strategies to achieve these qualifications may include both Distance Learning and residential components.

During DP 3, NCMs gain leadership experience and proficiency through employment in jobs with increased span of control and responsibilities. NCMs who exhibit high leadership skills and potential are selected for promotion to Petty Officer Second Class/Sergeant (PO2/Sgt).


The purpose of the DP 4 is to prepare NCMs for employment as supervisors and managers, with an increasing probability of employment outside the member’s occupation or environment. As well, the level of operations associated with employment changes from the tactical level encountered in the previous DP to the operational level. The focus of development in DP 4 is leadership, management and staff skills for employment as a member of a command team and for staff level duties within headquarters.

The formal development requirement for DP4 is the Advanced Leadership Programme and the Senior Leadership Programme (SLP).

The SLP is offered during DP4 and develops prospective personnel for leadership, staff and advisory positions.


The purpose of the DP 5 Senior Appointments Programme is to prepare Non-Commissioned Members (NCMs) for varied employment assignments to include unit, joint or combined operational employment, employment within a command team at a base, wing or staff positions within higher Headquarters. The Chief Petty Officer 1st Class/Chief Warrant Officer (CPO1/CWO) occupies a unique position within the framework of the CAF. The traditional role of the CPO1/CWO has been to act as the custodian of the NCM corps, and as a co-steward of the CAF Profession of Arms. The CPO1/CWO is instrumental in the formulation of a strong Officer/NCM team, and fosters an atmosphere of partnership. The focus of development is the ability to provide advice on the human factors uniquely associated with military organizations and operations as well as providing input to plans, programs and policies at the senior staff level. The level of operations associated with employment in DP 5 can range from tactical to strategic, but is predominantly at the operational level progressing to the strategic level for selected individuals.

The CPO1s/CWOs appointed to senior appointments and key positions, through succession planning, will receive education specifically tailored to prepare them for these appointments.

During DP 5 NCMs gain experience in positions which are often outside their occupation and/or environment.

OS/Pte (B) AB/Pte (T) LS/Cpl MS/MCpl PO2/Sgt PO1/WO CPO2/MWO CPO1/CWO

Basic Military Qualification (BMQ)

Environmental & Occupational Quals

Environmental & Occupational Quals

Develop Leadership Potential

Primary Leadership Qualification (PLQ)

Environmental & Occupational Quals

Develop Management and Leadership Ability

Intermediate Leadership Programme (ILP)

Second Language Training (as required)

Develop Advanced Management and Leadership Ability

Advanced Leadership Programme (ALP)

Environmental &Occ Quals (if applicable)

Senior Leadership Programme (SLP)

Develop Exceptional Management and Leadership Ability

Second Language Training (as required)

Selection for Key/Senior Appointment

Senior Appointment Programme (SAP)

Executive Leader Programme (ELP)

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