Professional development for Officers

All members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) must be capable of performing the common tasks contained in the Officer General Specifications (OGS). 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 Officer 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 within the CFPDS.

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

Officer Developmental Period

The following table outlines Professional Development (PD) milestones as well as the requirements for progression to the next Developmental Period (DP):

In DP officers 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;
  • basic occupational qualification;
  • the requirements of the component, military occupation or entry program;
  • basic training;
  • environmental training;
  • basic occupational training; and
  • promotion to Lt(N)/Capt.
  • applicable common, environmental and occupational qualifications;
  • increased general, environmental and occupational skills and knowledge;
  • initial experience at the unit level;
  • potential for advancement;
  • applicable environmental training;
  • applicable intermediate occupational training; and
  • promotion to LCdr/Maj.
  • PME Programme
  • applicable common, environmental and occupational qualifications;
  • experience in common, environmental and occupational activities;
  • continued experience at the unit level;
  • experience at formation and higher levels;
  • increased occupational expertise;
  • an understanding of joint and combined operations;
  • the JCSP qualification for selected officers;
  • potential for advancement;
  • applicable environmental training;
  • applicable advanced occupational training; and
  • promotion toCapt(N)/Col.
  • skills in planning and conducting joint and combined national and international operations;
  • further experience in common, environmental and occupational activities;
  • the NSP qualification for selected officers;
  • potential for advancement;
  • applicable environmental training;
  • applicable advanced occupational training; and
  • promotion to Cmdr/BGen.
  • skills in strategic leadership, development of national security policy and the management of resources at the national level.
  • potential for advancement;
  • N/A


The purpose of the Developmental Period (DP 1) is to develop the required skills and knowledge for CAF entry level employment and further training. The formal developmental requirements include achievement of the Basic Military Officer Qualification (BMOQ), environmental and occupational qualifications. Second official language training and education may also occur but, with the exception of military college cadets, this is normally limited to DP 1 training and employment with specific linguistic requirements.

After achieving the developmental requirements of DP 1, officers 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.


Professional Development during Developmental Period 2 is very demanding, with the emphasis on training and job experience oriented to occupation (trade) and environmental (Army/Navy/Air Force) requirements. The CAF common requirements for this DP are met, in part, through the Canadian Armed Forces Junior Officer Development(CAFJOD) programme. The CAFJOD Programme is intended to orient the junior officer to select topics within a professional body of knowledge related to the military profession. From this body of knowledge, officers will begin to enhance their critical thinking skills and develop innovative responses to a myriad of issues. In addition, environmentally conducted residency and self-study programmes are conducted to meet the specific needs of the environments.

Development within each occupation and environment continues with On-Job-Training. Mentoring and coaching by directing supervisors encourages development. In addition, learning from experience plays a large part.

Finally, selected officers may also participate in other formal developmental courses such as second language training, management training and postgraduate education.


The Joint Command and Staff Programme Residential and the Joint Command and Staff Programme Distance Learning are conducted at the Canadian Forces College Toronto.

The aim of the Joint Command and Staff Programme is to prepare selected senior officers of the Defence Team for command and/or staff appointments in a contemporary operating environment across the continuum of operations in national and international settings.

Through a range of professional educational activities, both the residential and Distance Learning versions of the programme develops officers to a level of knowledge and competence appropriate to the aim.


The National Security Programme (NSP) is conducted at Canadian Forces College Toronto. The NSP is designed to prepare participants for employment as strategic-level leaders and managers, and to prepare military officers as operational-level joint task force commanders and senior staff. This 10-month residential programme is intended for the following participants: civilian executives from within the Department of National Defence, other government departments, public security agencies, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions; CAF colonels and naval captains; and officers of similar rank from allied nations.

DP 4 is characterized by its focus on the national and international environment, decision making within states and their civil-military interface. The NSP includes the study of strategic leadership and the management of resources at the national level. It examines issues regarding the design, direction, and conduct of security operations, ranging from domestic security response to military operations in a war zone.


The purpose of the DP 5 Executive Development Programme (EDP) is to prepare General Officer/Flag Officers (GO/FO) for the highest levels of command and staff employment within the CAF, including formation Commander and defence executive. Education in this developmental period will prepare these officers for institutional command, leadership, and management responsibilities.

The EDP consists of four modules, as follows:

  • Introductory Session. An Introductory Session, based on the current GO/FO Executive Leader Programme at Canadian Forces College is designed to prepare newly selected GO/FOs for their new responsibilities with a view to maximizing their effectiveness.
  • Continuing Development Programme. This module consists of an individually focused, centrally managed programme of continuing development designed to broaden the perspectives of GO/FOs and to prepare them for employment in specific competency streams and positions.
  • Mentoring/Executive Coaching. The intent of this module is to develop a structured but informal programme of mentorship designed to enhance the effectiveness of the GO/FO by providing support for individual growth and peer consultation.
  • Team Building for institutional effectiveness. This module consists of a variety of group activities that provide the opportunity for GO/FOs (and civilian partners) to work together to solve problems in a focused group setting.










Basic Military Officer Qualification (BMOQ)

Environmental Training

Basic Occupational Training

Intermediate Occupational & Environmental Quals

Canadian Armed Forces Junior Officer Development Programme (CAFJOD)

Joint Staff Operations Programme (JSOP)

Advanced Occupational Quals (as required)

Joint Command and Staff Programme (JCSP)

Post Grad (PG)

Canadian Security Studies Programme (CSSP)

Develop Advanced Management & Instiutional Leadership Ability

National Security Programme (NSP)

Post Grad (PG)

Second Language Training (as required)

Develop Executive level Management & Instiutional Leadership Ability

Executive Leader Programme

Second Language Training (as required)

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