Rank and Responsibility

Table of Ranks & Responsibilities

Table of Ranks & Appointments

Staff Officers

Rank & Appt Abbreviations



►►Lieutenant General

►►Major General

►►Brigadier General

►►Brigadier (1928-1968)

►►Col.-Commandant (1922-1928)


►►Lieutenant Colonel




►►2nd Lieutenant

►►Officer Cadet

Warrant Officers

►►Chief Warrant Officer (1968-)

►►W.O. Class I (1915-1968)

►►Master Warrant Officer (1968-)

►►W.O. Class II (1915-1968)

►►Warrant Officer (1968-)

►►W.O. Class III (1939-1945)

Non-Commissioned Officers

►►Staff Sergeant (1900-1968)


►►Lance Sergeant (1900-1968)

►►Master Corporal (1968-2000+)


►►Lance Corporal  (1900-1968)

Non-Commissioned Mbrs (Men)




Master Gunner

Platoon Sergeant Major

Honorary Ranks


Colonel of the Regiment

Honorary Colonel

Colonel Commandant


A Private was a soldier of the lowest military rank (equivalent to NATO Rank Grades OR-1 to OR-3 depending on the force served in).


The term dates from the Middle Ages where privates were known as "private soldiers" who were either hired, conscripted, or feudalized into service by a nobleman forming an army. As a military rank, such usage dates to the 18th century, when Napoleon Bonaparte's army first established the permanent rank of private.

Canadian Usage

Canada entered the 20th Century with the rank designation Private firmly fixed. A private generally wore no special rank insignia. The term remained constant through to Unification.

Some regiments/corps used traditional rank titles in place of private; these included:

  • Gunner - artillery

  • Trooper - mounted (cavalry or armoured)

  • Fusilier - Fusilier regiment

  • Rifleman - Rifle regiment

  • Guardsman - Guards regiment

  • Sapper - engineer

  • Signalman - signals unit

  • Driver - service corps unit

  • Craftsman - RCEME/LORE/EME


After Unification, the Canadian Forces had three levels of Private; Private (Recruit), Private (Basic), and Private (Trained). All persons holding the rank of Private were referred to as such and the qualifier shown in brackets was used in written records only.

  • Private (Recruit) - Self explanatory.

  • Private (Basic) - After finishing recruit training, a member becomes a Private (Basic). This rank is continued through trades training and beyond.

  • Private (Trained) - A Private (Basic) became a Private (Trained) after 2-1/2 years of service, and completion of their trade's initial qualification level (variously referred to as TQ1 (Trades Qualification 1), or QL 3 (Qualification Level 3). A Private (Trained) was the only "Private" to wear rank insignia, where his rank was denoted by a 1-bar chevron.

The Private (Trained) was also known by other titles, depending on unit and/or trade.

  • Gunner - artillery

  • Trooper - armoured

  • Craftsman - EME

  • Fusilier - Fusilier regiment

  • Rifleman - Rifle regiment

  • Guardsman - Guards regiment

  • Sapper - Canadian Military Engineers

  • Signalman - Signals unit

In terms of authority and responsibilities, the rank of Corporal was often seen as equivalent in the post-Unification armed forces, and the term "Corporal/Private" was often used. Corporals no longer required leadership training for promotion to that rank, and that grade represented a private with additional trades training and time in rank but no leadership responsibilities (though he was in practice often given minor leadership tasks).

Before Unification of the Armed Forces, a private wore no insignia regardless of level of training, but could be appointed Lance Corporal, for which he wore a one-bar chevron. A corporal at that time was the equivalent of a post-Unification sergeant in that he required leadership training for promotion and was considered sufficiently trained and experienced to command a section of infantry (or equivalent in other branches).

The official abbreviation for Private in Canada has always been Pte. It is sometimes seen incorrectly abbreviated in the American style, Pvt, in the media.

Canadian Army Ranks/Appointments
Non-Commissioned Ranks
Private  | Lance Corporal | Corporal | Master Corporal | Lance Sergeant | Sergeant | Staff Sergeant
Warrant Officers




Warrant Officer | Warrant Officer Class III | Warrant Officer Class II Warrant Officer Class I |  Warrant Officer | Master Warrant Officer | Chief Warrant Officer
Officer Cadet  | 2nd Lieutenant | Lieutenant | Captain | Major | Lieutenant Colonel | Colonel | Colonel Commandant | Brigadier
 Brigadier General | Major General | Lieutenant General | General


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