Defence Awarding Organisation

DAO provides vocational qualifications to armed forces personnel (regular and reserve) and to Ministry of Defence civil servants.

About us

The DAO was established in April 2008 following a change in government policy. This allowed certain employers including defence to form their own awarding organisations, in line with Ofqual’s national regulatory requirements.

Defence is a powerful brand and civilian employers are increasingly recognising the quality and competence gained through defence training and experience. DAO approved centres are now on the increase and the portfolio of vocational qualifications is steadily expanding. All qualifications are developed with the strictest adherence to the regulatory requirements

The vision

The Defence Awarding Organisation’s vision is to be recognised by the defence community as the awarding organisation of choice.

The mission

The Defence Awarding Organisation’s mission is: to award vocational qualifications to armed forces personnel (regular and reserve) and Ministry of Defence (MOD) civil servants to recognise quality and competence gained through defence training and experience; and to exploit accreditation opportunities across the defence community.

What we do

The Defence Awarding Organisation develops and provides nationally recognised qualifications for the defence community. All qualifications are on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) and range from Levels 1-7. We maintain the quality of our qualifications through a robust quality assurance system.

Our qualifications

These are mapped to Defence Systems Approach to Training (DSAT) compliant courses therefore it is important when identifying courses you would like accredited that they have an endorsed Formal Training Statement (FTS) and assessment specification.

The DAO qualification levels document (PDF, 1.87MB, 8 pages) provides further details.

Qualification hand books

DAO hand books provide information on qualifications, learning outcomes and assessment criteria for courses.

Awarding centres

How to become a centre

Please find below links to our in-depth information, policies and guidelines for running our Defence Awarding Organisation qualifications. These documents provide you with help and guidance on providing and administering our qualifications, including how to contact us and who to speak to for all your queries.

The DAO centre handbook is currently being reviewed.

External quality assurance visits

External quality assurance visits are conducted for initial centre approval after your first course has been completed and then annually.


For further information and updates please visit our newsletters page.

Help and support

If you have a question or require any more information, please use the information below. If you can’t find the answer to your query please get in touch using the details in the ‘Contact us’ section below.


We are always aiming to improve the quality of our services and welcome feedback to help us do this. If you have any suggestions for improvements to any of the services that DAO provides, email us at:

Contact us

Defence Awarding Organisation
Defence Academy Headquarters
Room 108


Civilian: 01793 314187 Military: 96161 4187

Email external: