AGO Trainee Program

About the AGO Trainee Program

The AGO Trainee Program is a civilian competency-based training program in which participants undergo workplace-based training while completing a Certificate lV in Spatial Information Services.

As a trainee you will complement your study with relevant and practical employment in a unique environment. You will be in full-time paid work while completing your qualification and you are guaranteed employment on successful completion of the program.

Benefits of doing the AGO Training Program:

  • paid employment while undertaking your academic study
  • practical, high-quality, full-time work to support academic study
  • employment as a Trainee Australian Public Service (APS) (Technical) level 3 while participating in the program
  • opportunities for career progression within AGO and opportunities for a future career within wider Defence.

Real opportunities

As a trainee you will be given the opportunity to work on exciting, real-world projects using leading-edge technology in a range of job disciplines, including cartography, photogrammetry, data acquisition, data management and web mapping services.

Your work at AGO will be designed to complement your study program. A training plan, including your study and work requirements, will be negotiated with your supervisor.

Living in Bendigo

Our AGO Trainee Program is located in Bendigo.

Bendigo is located almost in the centre of Victoria, approximately 150 kilometres from Melbourne. It is the fourth largest inland city in Australia and fourth most populous city in Victoria. With such a close proximity to Melbourne, approximately 2 hours by train and 1.5 hours by car, day trips to Victoria’s capital are also a popular option for locals.

Bendigo has a relatively dry temperate climate with warm to hot summers and cool to cold winters. Bendigo gets 110 clear days annually.

Sport plays a major role in Bendigo with cricket, tennis, netball and Australian rules football being the most popular; however, many other sports are available, like swimming, basketball, soccer, rugby union, hockey, volleyball and orienteering. Bendigo has a vibrant art scene with many world-class exhibitions. There are also a huge number of cafés and dining options to suit any tastes. Lake Eppalock, which provides water to the town, as well as hosting many water sports like water skiing and canoeing, is also a popular attraction.

For more information, visit Bendigo Tourism.

Eligibility criteria

If you answer yes to the following questions, you may be eligible for the AGO Trainee Program:

  • Are you an Australian citizen?
  • Are you seeking a career within Defence and the Australian Public Service?
  • Are you seeking to gain a VET qualification in Spatial Information Services?

Candidates must also meet prescribed APS conditions of engagement, including citizenship, health, character and security checks.

The selection process

Recruitment is a three-stage process:

Application – Applications are online. You will need to answer a few questions about your experience, submit a résumé and provide contact details for two current referees. The application will be used to assess your:
  • writing skills
  • thinking skills
  • technical skills
  • ability to achieve results
  • interest in the Department of Defence.

Were open July–August 2022

Assessment Centre – If you are considered suitable, based on your application, you will be invited to attend an assessment centre where activities may include group exercises, a written exercise and interviews. Assessment Centres will be held in August and will assess your:
  • relationship management ability
  • communication skills
  • thinking skills
  • technical skills
  • ability to achieve results
  • interest in the Department of Defence
  • suitability to work within an intelligence organisation.


Final Selection – If your application is successful, you will be offered a position on the AGO Trainee Program. A security assessment and a simple medical are required before finalising your recruitment to Defence.


Commence AGO Trainee Program January 2023

Selection criteria

The following table shows how you will be evaluated against the selection criteria.

Criteria Characteristics (things you can demonstrate to show you meet the criteria)
Achieves results:
  • goal-focussed
  • resilient
  • realistic
  • overcomes obstacles
  • Ability to be proactive and take the initiative
  • Self-motivation and commitment to achieving results
  • Ability to develop solutions that target problems effectively
  • Ability to keep difficulties in perspective and respond positively to setbacks and challenges
  • Willingness to take responsibility for own actions
Thinking skills:
  • intelligent
  • shows wise judgement
  • Ability to identify interrelationships between issues, to draw links and to synthesise information across different sources
  • Ability to place information in a broader context and to identify likely implications
  • Ability to generate new ideas and innovative approaches to problems
  • Ability to generate effective practical applications
Communication skills:
  • listen
  • understand
  • explore
  • convey ideas
  • Ability to express oneself clearly and logically both orally and in writing
  • Ability to tailor communication to accommodate a wide range of other people
  • Negotiation and influencing skills
  • Listening skills
Relationship management:
  • gets on with others
  • contributes effectively
  • Ability to assist, support and work cooperatively with other team members
  • Commitment to team objectives and ability to generate this in others
  • Ability to give and receive feedback effectively
  • Understanding of own role within a team and impact on others
  • Ability to motivate, mentor and provide direction to others
Genuine interest in working with Defence
  • Genuine interest in and commitment to the work of Defence
  • An awareness of one’s ability to make a contribution to Defence and of the personal benefits to be gained through a traineeship and civilian career in Defence

Before applying

Before applying for the AGO Trainee Program, you should:

Hints to assist in preparation of your application

See Defence Graduate Program

Already have a GIS qualification?

Apply for Direct Entry as an APS 4, APS 5 or APS 6 Technician or Executive Level 1 (EL1) Manager. For current AGO vacancies, go to Defence Jobs and Careers or APS

More information

For more information on the AGO Trainee Program, please email AGO Trainee Program Enquiries.

For more information on the qualification, please visit the TAFE NSW: Spatial Information Services.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need to be an Australian citizen?

Australian citizenship is a condition of employment in the APS, including the AGO Trainee Program; see Department of Home Affairs: Australian citizenship.

Do you have age limits for applicants?

No. All applicants are selected according to the Australian Public Service merit-based selection process for an APS 3 position.

What does a medical clearance involve?

A medical clearance is a standard condition of employment in the APS to ensure you are fit to undertake your duties.
Note: A medical clearance is only required if you are offered a position.

As a Defence public servant, am I required to wear a uniform and participate in military exercises?

No. The AGO Trainee Program is for civilians only. Given you will not be a member of the Australian Defence Force, you are not required to wear a uniform and will not undertake any military exercises.

Why do I need a security clearance?

A security clearance is a condition of APS employment and is required to assess your reliability and trustworthiness in handling Defence information. If the availability, integrity or confidentiality of Defence information is compromised in any way, lives can be lost – it is as simple as that.

What level of security clearance do I need?

You will be cleared to a Baseline level (as a minimum) to participate in the AGO Trainee Program. However, you will be required to apply for a Positive Vetting security clearance once you have started the program.

What do I need for a security clearance?

You will need to be an Australian citizen to obtain a security clearance. In addition, applicants must have a verifiable personal background for at least the preceding:

  • 5 years for Baseline clearances, and
  • 10 years or from your 16th birthday, whichever is greater, for Positive Vetting

Does every applicant undergo a security clearance?

Only the candidates who accept a position in the AGO Trainee Program undergo the security clearance process. As part of your offer of a position you will be asked to:

  • provide comprehensive information about yourself for the past 5–10 years
  • provide comprehensive information about your dependants and relatives
  • give Defence the right to check any information you provide with relevant authorities such as the Australian Federal Police and financial institutions.

What if I am unsuccessful in getting a Baseline security clearance?

If you are unsuccessful in getting a Baseline security clearance, your offer to join the program will be withdrawn.

What if I am unsuccessful in getting a Positive Vetting security clearance?

If you are unsuccessful in getting a higher security clearance, you MAY be offered continued employment at the Baseline security level.