Kenya Defense Forces Recruitment Requirements

Every year KDF recruitment is conducted around the country to induct fresh blood to one of the most revered forces in the African continent. In 2020, the recruitment is projected to happen towards the end of the year but is yet to be announced.

The Kenya Defence Forces is respected for its might and abilities which are evident with the peace-keeping missions that have stood the test of time despite fierce attacks from Al Shabaab, Kenya’s biggest terrorism problem.

During this rigorous recruitment process, thousands of youths flock into training grounds prepared to undertake daunting tests in a bid to secure a spot in the next group of recruits. Some are motivated by the idea of fighting with honour for their country while others salivate for the attractive KDF salaries and remunerations.

Either way, the process is the same. Yet not everybody who wants to become a soldier can become one and there exist several terms and conditions ensuring only the best pass the sieve.

You might have heard some of these requirements but most are just hearsays and total nonsense meant to discourage dreamers. Luckily today, we shall find out the real requirements for KDF recruitment. This information is sourced from the Ministry of Defense website and is as correct as you interpret it.

General KDF recruitment requirements

These are the conditions that must be met by anybody wishing to serve in the KDF. To be considered even before the physical and health tests start, you must meet these terms.

  1. Be a Kenyan citizen with no dual citizenship.
  2. Have a valid Kenyan National Identity Card. Additionally, 4 Copies of National Identity Card and KRA PIN certificate will be required.
  3. Be between 18 and 26 years old for GSO Cadets, General Duty Recruits and Tradesmen/women with Certificate/Government Trade Test, not above 30 years for Specialist Officers, Tradespersons with Diploma, and not above 39 years for Chaplains/Imams.
  4. Have no criminal record.
  5. Minimum Height: Men 1.60m (5ft 3in), Women 1.52m (5ft).
  6. Minimum Weight: Men 54.55 Kg, Women 50.00 Kg.
  7. Female candidates must NOT be pregnant at the time of recruitment and during the entire duration of training.
  8. Be physically and medically fit as per the KDF standards.

Previously, I thought KDF only recruits men above 1.8 m and women above 1.6 m but these revelations give hope to my fellow ‘shorties’ who dream of being at the forefront in protecting our nation. There might be more of such terms out here but most of them as stated earlier are just rumours.

KDF Physical Fitness Standards

Subject to a lot of controversies is the last term; be physically fit according to KDF standards. Many people don’t know exactly what KDF is looking in terms of the physical condition of a potential recruit. So let’s find out exactly what these physical requirements are?

Unfortunately, there are no well-defined physical conditions listed anywhere by KDF. Yet many requirements are spelt out during recruitment camps mainly to narrow down the number of recruits.

Considering a camp that is looking for 10 recruits yet a thousand hopefuls show up for the recruitment, most of whom have passed the general requirements. What criteria would be used to eliminate 990 people?

That’s when KDF recruitment officers use seemingly outrageous terms and questions to eliminate anybody that is not as close to perfect as possible. Some of these terms are indeed very funny as narrated in this Standard Media article. For you sake let me list some outrageous reasons you could be disqualified from the KDF recruitment program.

  • Having ringworms – They would spread easily in the barracks
  • Being light-skinned – You are considered a softie and an easy target in battlefields
  • Having multiple body scars – You could be a criminal survivor
  • Impatient and short-fused – Random annoying questions, shouting and finger-pointing is done to identify and eliminate those who are quick in temper.
  • Cowardice – If you cannot withstand being stripped naked in front of a medical team and have your gonads and ‘rear’ inspected you’re done.
  • Having a B or above in KCSE – Why are you spoiling for those with Cs and Ds?
  • Chubby cheeks and Round butts – This represents soft up-bringing which is bad in the military environment.
  • Not having all teeth or having brown teeth – Someone has to go home
  • Being short-sighted
  • Being HIV Positive or any STI

Nonetheless, KDF recruitment has a soft heart too. Sometimes they forego these conditions to give marginalized communities an opportunity and also when looking for specialized recruits who in most cases have soft characteristics or several anomalies. This is where graduates can take advantage to join the force.

Preparing for KDF Recruitment

Now, considering the daunting tasks potential recruits are commanded to do during recruitment, it is very wise for you to prepare well before attending the program. Indulging in strenuous physical activities and healthy habits weeks before prepares you for these tests which often leaves young men and women collapsing and in some instances death. It’s not a joke. These activities include

  1. Embark on a two to three-kilometre run twice a day with proper stretching.
  2. Drink plenty of water daily to rehydrate the body and help in blood circulation and removal of toxins from the body
  3. Sleep at least 6 hours every night to help the body rest and rejuvenate
  4. Avoid alcohol which inhibits cognitive function and generally weaken one’s body as a result of dehydration and overworking body organs.
  5. Eat well. Ensure you have a balanced breakfast on the material day, the meal should be roughly three hours to the exercise. Avoid meaty diets 12 hours before the test, it increases dehydration.

The sooner you begin testing your body and practising healthy habits, the easier it will be to pass the physical tests. Be rest assured with one-week preparation, you will not collapse during KDF recruitment day.

KDF Academic Qualifications

Besides the general qualifications for recruitment, one has to be academically qualified. These minimum grades ensure a recruit is competent enough to learn the ways of a soldier. One must be able to read, write and speak in either the national or official languages; Kiswahili and English.

Also, there are numerous positions in the army and each requires different levels of academic qualifications. These conditions ensure those with high academic qualifications can undertake work in specialized areas while the rest go the general work. So here’s the layout

  1. Servicemen/women (General Duty) Recruits. Must hold a minimum mean grade of D (plain) in KCSE
  2. Cadets/General Service Officer (GSO): Minimum mean grade of B (Plain) in KCSE with at least C+ (Plus) in English, Mathematics and one Science subject. Requisite for 3 years of training in BSc degree in Military Science and Security Studies upon completion.
  3. Specialist Officers. Must hold a minimum mean grade of B (Plain) in KCSE with at least C+ (Plus) in English, Mathematics and one science subject. Must be a holder of an undergraduate degree from a recognized University/institution and be registered with a statutory body where applicable. The training period for Specialist Officers will not be less than three months.
  4. Tradesmen/women: Technicians: A minimum mean grade of C (Plain) in KCSE, a relevant Diploma or above from a recognized Institution and be registered with the relevant statutory bodies, where applicable. Artisans: A minimum mean grade of D+ (Plus) in KCSE and either a relevant certificate with Government Trade Test Grade II or Craft II from a recognized Institution.
  5. Constables: Be a retired Kenya Defense Forces Service Member or a retired National Youth Serviceman/woman. Be between the ages of 30 and 55 years old for retired KDF and between 35 and 45 years old for retired NYS. Possess a Discharge Certificate with a minimum rating of “Very Good” in conduct. Must have served for at least 9 years Colour Service and retired honourably from KDF.

While the academic qualifications of the various ranks in KDF are clear, what most don’t understand is the difference between the three entry ranks; Servicepersons, cadets and specialists officers.

A service person is a soldier with the responsibility of taking the forefront during military expeditions. It is the lowest rank and typically like labourers in a constructions site.

Meanwhile, the difference between cadets and specialists officers is the training and specialization aspect. Cadets only need a mean grade of B plain while specialist officers must have a mean grade of B plain and possess undergraduate degrees of required special courses from recognized institutions.

This difference thus extends to training where cadets must undergo full 3-year training in Bachelor in Military Service while specialist officers who already have a bachelor’s degree undergo basic military training for about 6 months.  

KDF Specialist Officers and required Degree qualifications

Since we’ve mentioned that specialist officers must have degrees in specific programs, how about we find out some of these so-called special posts and the accompanying degrees.

  1. Medical Officers: Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery and be registered with Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (MPDB).
  2. Pharmacists: Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy and be registered with the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB).
  3. Nursing Officers: Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and be registered with the Nursing Council of Kenya (NCK).
  4. Dentists: Bachelor’s degree in Dental Surgery and be registered with the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (MPDB).
  5. Laboratory Technologists: Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Laboratory Technology/Medical Laboratory Science.
  6. Counselling Psychologists: Bachelor’s degree in Counselling Psychology.
  7. Public Health Officers: Bachelor’s degree in Public Health/Environmental Health and be registered with Public Health Officers and Technicians Council (PHOTC).
  8. Cyber Security/Digital Forensic/IT Officers: Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science/Information Technology/Software Engineering/Networking. Certification in Cyber Security, Digital Forensics, and Ethical hacking or Information Security analysis will be added advantage.
  9. Engineers: Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical, Electrical & Electronics, Telecommunication, Instrumentation and Control, Mechanical, Marine, Biomedical, Naval Architecture and Mechatronics Engineering and be registered with the Engineers Board of Kenya (EBK).
  10. Journalists: Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication majoring either in Broadcast Production or Public Relations with at least two (2) years working experience.
  11. Lawyers: Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from a recognized University, be an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya, hold a current and valid practising certificate with at least two (2) years practising experience. Experience in litigation will be an added advantage.
  12. Physical Training Officers: Bachelor’s degree in Sports Science or Bachelor of Education (Physical Education).
  13. Finance/Accounting Officers: Bachelor of Commerce (Finance/Accounting option).
  14. Music Specialists: Bachelor’s degree in Music.
  15. Chaplains/Imams: Bachelor’s degree in Theology/Islamic studies from a recognized Institution. Protestant Churches and Roman Catholic Chaplains must be ordained Ministers and recommended by Archbishop and Episcopal Conference respectively. Imams must be recommended by the Chief Kadhi.
  16. Hospitality Management/Catering Officers: Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management/ Food Production.
  17. Entrepreneurship and Management Officers: Bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurship.
  18. Statistics Officers: Bachelor’s degree in Statistics/Applied Statistics/Actuarial Science.
  19. Procurement & Supply Chain Management Officers: Bachelor’s degree in Procurement and Supply Chain Management / Purchasing & Supplies Management.
  20. Library and Information Officers: Bachelor’s degree in Library and Information Science.
  21. Project Managers: Bachelor’s degree in Project Planning and Management.
  22. Quantity Surveyors: Bachelor’s degree in Quantity Survey and registered with the Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors (BORAQS).
  23. Oceanographers:  Bachelor’s degree in Oceanography.
  24. Dock Masters: Bachelor’s degree in Nautical Science.

Tradespersons Diploma and Certificate requirements

By definition, a tradesperson is a worker with specialized skills in a particular technical trade such as carpentry, moulding, masonry, plumbing etc. This jobs normally require work experience, on-the-job training and formal vocation training but a bachelor’s degree.

Tradespersons in the Kenya Defense Forces are very crucial in enabling the efficient and timely functioning of its projects. Therefore a diploma or certificate in any of these fields gives you a chance to be recruited as a tradesperson in the military


  • Accounting/Finance/CPA II
  • Aeronautical Engineering (A&E)
  • Archives and Record Management
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Carpentry and Joinery
  • Community Health & Development
  • Community Health Nursing (KRCHN)
  • Computer Science/Information Technology
  • Counselling Psychology
  • Clinical Medicine and Surgery
  • Electrical and Electronics Engineering
  • Electrical and Instrumentation/Control Engineering
  • Human Resource Management
  • Journalism (Print Journalist, Audio – Visual Producer)
  • Marine Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering (Plant/Production)
  • Medical Laboratory
  • Music
  • Painting/Coating Technology
  • Para Legal
  • Pharmaceutical Technology
  • Plumbing and Pipe Fitting/Plumbing Technology
  • Project Planning and Management
  • Public Health/Environmental Health Sciences
  • Purchasing and Supplies Management
  • Radiography
  • Refrigeration & Air Conditioning
  • Research Skills Development
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Tailoring
  • Telecommunication Engineering
  • Warehouse/Store Keeping Management
  • Welding & Fabrication


  • Auto/Motor Vehicle Electrical
  • Automotive/Motor Vehicle Mechanics
  • Carpentry and Joinery
  • Composite Manufacturing Technology
  • Electrical and Electronics
  • Marine/Ship Construction
  • Masonry and Brick Laying
  • Plant Mechanics
  • Plant Operations (Heavy Plant/Crane/Forklift/Tug Operations)
  • Plumbing and Pipe Fitting
  • Welding and Fabrication

KDF Recruitment 2020

KDF Recruitment is conducted annually from September to November. This year it is very likely that this recruitment will be held soon despite the Corona Pandemic fiasco. When KDF announces the recruitment, be sure to prepare yourself with all the required documents, physically and mentally.

Ensure you’re on your best shape and be positive. Keep your emotions at bay because you will be tested ruthlessly. You might feel insulted and violated at some moment but bear in mind that every test is meant to prepare you for the much ruthless world waiting for you in the military service world. All the best.

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