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Advantages of being a Cadet in Kenya

If you are passionate about a military career, you have probably considered going the cadet way.

Maybe you admire the noble profession or just think it’s cool to dress up and protect your country.

No matter your reason, being a cadet officer is undoubtedly rewarding.

 If you can endure the rigorous training the recruits go through at the academy, you can withstand the demands of the job thereafter.

To put things into perspective for you, I have explained some of the advantages of being a cadet in Kenya.

The guide also answers some of the common questions surrounding this special branch of the KDF.  

Who Is A Cadet?

A cadet is essentially a rank within the Kenya government forces obtained after successful training in the Kenya Military Academy (KMA).

You could be a General Service Officer (GSO) regular cadet or a General Service Officer (GSO) undergraduate cadet.

 The former is for high-school leavers and the latter for graduate degree holders.

Cadet training is geared towards developing character and leadership skills among the trainees.

It also instills responsibility and a sense of duty in them.

Successful trainees join the force as junior officers in the category of commissioned Officers.

Their roles are varied and include:

  • Supervision of the flag detail
  • Training and counseling of other officers on appearance, attitude, discipline, and military courtesy
  • Supervision of the color guard to ensure high appearance and training standards
  • Reporting serious cases to higher-ranking officers such as the Batallion Commander.
  • Assisting army officers maintain peace and security at the borders

Advantages Of Being A Cadet

Now, let’s look at the advantages of being a cadet in Kenya.

Hefty allowances

Besides the basic salary, a cadet receives other allowances.

For example, when they are deployed outside the country for official duties, they are entitled to hefty allowances.

Some earn as much as Ksh. 10,000 in a single day.

Tax-free income

Kenya army officers aren’t taxed like other employees in the country.

That means they get to pocket a good net compared to the ordinary Kenyan.

Free housing

Cadets mostly live in army barracks along with their colleagues.

This kind of living arrangement is free as the barracks belong to the government of Kenya.

Although living in them isn’t the most comfortable and luxurious situation, it takes the burden of renting or buying a house off the shoulder.

Subsidized prices on commodities

Another tremendous benefit of being a cadet officer in Kenya is access to subsidized commodities.

This can be anything such as foodstuff, toiletries, clothing, and more.

Common products are especially subsidized – sometimes as much as half of what an ordinary Kenyan will pay for. 


Training and working as a cadet builds you in so many ways.

The training itself helps you gain endurance and stamina.

The wide range of physical and mental exercises toughen you up and make you ready for the task ahead.

The work also enhances your confidence, promotes teamwork, pushes your limits, and helps you develop new skills.

Some of these skills will stay with you and come in handy in other areas of your life.

Difference Between Cadet And Specialist Officers

Cadets are sometimes confused with specialist officers.

It makes sense as both fall under the Kenya Defense Force (KDF).

However, albeit related, both positions have differences.

For one, cadets undergo training for 11 months (for undergraduates) and three years (for high-school diploma holders).

Service officers, on the other hand, train for only six months.

This is because the latter must possess underlying experience in their respective field.

Cadets don’t require any experience or expertise prior to joining the force.

Speaking of education, GSO cadets accept graduate and high-school diploma holders while specialist officers only take graduates.

Cadets Salary In Kenya

Like any other organization, the KDF has different salary scales for different ranks within the force.

Here’s a list of the basic salary of KDF officers per month.

Typically, the salaries are reviewed after every four months by the Kenyan government.

  • Recruits (Ksh.7,172)
  • Lance corporals (Ksh. 26,509 – Ksh. 50,000)
  • Corporals (Ksh. 32,250 – Kshs. 70,000)
  • Captains (Ksh. 73,182 – Ksh. 110,000)
  • Majors (Ksh. 102,106 – Ksh. 150,000)
  • Lieutenant colonels (Ksh. 130,735 – Ksh. 180,00)
  • Colonels (Ksh. 153,317 – Ksh. 300,000)
  • Lieutenant generals (Ksh. 632,000 – Ksh. 800,000)
  • Chief of the Defence Forces (Ksh. 894,897 – 1,000,000

Are cadets paid during training in Kenya?

Yes, they are. They get a small wage of Kshs. 7,172 per month to cater for their personal effects.

During training, recruits live in army camps where food and other basic needs are provided by the Kenyan government.

How long does it take to train as a cadet in Kenya?

It depends on your educational background.

If you have a graduate degree, you only train for 11 months and become a GSO.

Else, recruits with high school diplomas only must go through a 3-year long training before they can be enrolled as GSO cadets.

Where do cadets go after training?

After commissioning them, the Kenya Defense Forces deploys cadets to different departments where they can assist soldiers in fighting for and defending Kenyan borders.

Do cadets go to war in Kenya?

Not necessarily. They take up leadership roles for soldiers who go to war as second in command.

Their roles involve developing discipline in the soldiers, training, and counseling them, and supervising flag details.

 Some take up other roles such as air traffic control, catering, business management, managing the environment, architecture, and more.

Can I join Cadet with a diploma?

If you want to become a regular cadet then you can enroll with a diploma.

Just keep in mind that you will be grouped with high school diploma recruits.

That means you have to train for three years.

On the other hand, a diploma locks you out of the General Service Officer undergraduate cadet. This is only a preserve for bachelor’s degree holders.

How to apply for a cadet in Kenya

The Ministry of Defence often makes announcements in local dailies regarding calls for applications.

 The ads will have the deadline for applications as well as the location of recruitment centers.

Additionally, you may find cadet online application forms on the internet.

These can be downloaded and printed. Once the form is filled out, take it with you during the recruitment exercise. 

Before you apply, be sure to check the qualifications of cadet recruits.

  • You must be a Kenyan citizen aged 18-26 years and possess a valid Kenyan National Identity Card.
  • You must be medically and physically fit as per the KDF standards
  • Have no criminal record
  • Weigh a minimum of 54.55kg and 50kg for male and female applicants
  • Bear a minimum height of 160 cm and 152 cm for male and female applicants
  • Not be pregnant for female applicants.

Finally, GSO undergraduate applicants should have a minimum of B plain in their KCSE and at least C+ in English, Mathematics, and one science.

When is the next Cadet recruitment in Kenya?

KDF is yet to announce the next cadet recruitment in Kenya. The last one was in November 2021.

Keep checking your dailies to stay on top of this news if you’d like to apply.

Also, make use of online tools, especially career websites to know the next recruitment dates.

Kenyalogue Contributor


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