Career Tracks

The ISDC is not strictly a military organisation but recognises a military style chain of command as the most appropriate operating model for the dangerous, distant and unpredictable environment in deep space.

How an ISDC career progresses will depend on the interests and aptitude of a member.

The ISDC offers different career tracks, each with a varied emphasis on either technical engagement or co-ordination and management. Career tracks advance within professional fields (branches) that allow members to focus on areas of particular interest to them.

Together, career tracks and branches provide a career development framework which supports members throughout their time with the ISDC. Training courses, practical experience and mentoring allow members to tackle new challenges at their own pace.

What does an ISDC career look like?

The diagram outlines the three career tracks available with a broad summary of the work undertaken at each career phase, from junior to senior. Each career track offers a different balance between technical engagement and co-ordination/management.

For those who prefer a hands-on approach to technology and systems operation, a specialist career path would be a good fit. For those who like to plan, co-ordinate and deliver, an officer career track would suit better. The warrant officer career track offers a blend of both approaches.

Career Track


Officers are the co-ordinators and managers of the organization. An officer’s role is to ensure they have the resources and skills necessary to pass up recommendations from their team for decision (or make the decision themselves) and then execute on that decision.

As such, officer career emphasis is on operational management, an important aspect of which is the professional development of their team. This requires a broad understanding of vessel and crew capabilities and the tactical operating environment.

Warrant Officers

Warrant Officers are highly-skilled (usually academic) specialists who are direct appointments to their rank because of their knowledge and experience, usually within science and engineering fields.

Warrant officers will typically manage teams much like an equivalent commissioned officer and so this career path has some emphasis on operational management, but will remain focussed within their specialist area. Warrant officers are therefore unlikely to routinely be placed in command situations.

Technical Specialists (Crew)

Crew are the ISDC’s technical specialists, whose highly-focussed training and experience allows them to amass considerable expertise in their chosen field.  As crew careers progress, their training and skills become more targeted, allowing them to contribute to system improvement or even the development of new systems in their field.

Senior crew can expect to take on supervisory roles, managing specialist teams aboard ship or within projects. The most critical operational positions aboard a vessel will be held by senior crew.

Career Advancement

For any career track, the early stages of an ISDC career emphasise training. The ISDC offers training programs which are a mix of theoretical learning and practical experience. As soon as possible both officers and crew undertake training cruises which allow them to gain hands-on experience with vessel systems under the supervision of assigned mentors.


Once minimum training requirements are met, officers and crew are offered their first posts. A post is opportunity to gain experience while continuing with vocational training, with each successfully completed post a step towards more challenging roles.


Rank represents the holder’s experience and seniority and is used as a measure of the degree of responsibility a member can be expected to successfully handle. Certain posts and leadership roles typically require a minimum rank before they can be undertaken.

Rank is awarded for demonstration of both experience and ability. Experience requires time, but demonstration of particular ability can accelerate the attainment of rank.

The distinction between Officer and Crew ranks in the ISDC is primarily functional and concerned with accountability and appropriate delegation of responsibility.


As technical specialists, crew are additionally rated by their level of qualification in their chosen field. Each of the three qualification levels prescribe minimums for coursework and active duty hours with systems in their specialisation or sub-specialisation. At higher qualification levels this extends to include mentoring hours and practical system development or research output.

Basic qualification is usually achieved in a base specialisation (for example engineering) that includes time with a number of more focussed sub-specialisations, to expose the options available. Advanced qualification will usually be undertaken in just one of these more specialist areas.