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CDS vs NDA: Which is Better?


We all know that UPSC releases the notification twice a year for both CDS and NDA around the same time for the recruitment of officials in the Indian Armed Forces. CDS and NDA both are golden opportunities for aspirants who are preparing for defence exams. One question arises in the mind of every aspirant preparing for the defence examination: Which one is better CDS or NDA? Well, the answer to this question is not simple, the answer to this question depends upon various factors discussed in the article below.

CDS Exam

Combined Defence Service examination is conducted by UPSC for the recruitment of Commissioned Officers in the Indian Military Academy, Officers Training Academy, Indian Naval Academy and Indian Air Force Academy. It is a dream job for every aspirant who are preparing for the defence exam. CDS provides very good carrier opportunities and promotions are very fast in this, one can go up to very high managerial post. CDS provides very handsome salary, perks and allowances.

CDS Exam Process

CDS follows a three-stage recruitment process it consists of:

  • Written Test
  • SSB Interview
  • Medical Examination
  • Merit List

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CDS Allowances

The CDS officials salary does not only include a handsome monetary sum but also includes several allowances that contribute to the total sum. Given below are some standard allowances that a officer gets along with the basic amount after getting selected through CDS. These include.

Allowances Details
Flying Allowance Pilots in Level 10 & above pay scale get Rs 25,000 per month as flying allowance
Dearness Allowance Same rates as applicable to civilian personnel
Kit Maintenance Allowance Rs 20,000 annually
Highly Active Field Area Allowance Rs 16,900 pm
Field Area Allowance Rs 10,500 pm
Modified Field Area Allowance Rs 6,300 pm
High Altitude Allowance Category-I – Rs 3,400 pm Category-II – Rs 5,300 pm Category-III – Rs 25,000 pm
Siachen Allowance Rs. 42,500 pm
Uniform allowance Rs. 20,000 pm
Free Ration Officer in Peace & Filed Areas get Free ration.
Transport Allowance (TPTA) Higher TPTA Cities: Rs 7200 + DA pm Other Places: Rs 3600 +DA pm
Children Education Allowance (CEA) Rs. 2250 pm per child for only eldest two surviving CEA is applicable from kids’ Nursery to 12th class

NDA Exam

The National Defence Academy is the joint defence service training institute of the Indian Armed Forces, where cadets of the three services i.e. the Indian Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force train together before they go on to respective service academy for further pre-commission training. Well it is a hard choice because both the jobs are prestigious and carry a different charm. As per the NDA 1 2022 notification the pay scale of NDA officer is 56,100. Apart from the salary UPSC provides various kinds of perks and allowances. NDA Salary is attractive along with the perks and allowances given. NDA salaries are given as per the 7th pay commission along with other admissible allowances.

NDA Exam Process

NDA follows a three-stage recruitment process it consists of:

  • Written Test
  • SSB Interview
  • Medical Examination
  • Merit List

NDA Allowances

Along with the salary, cadets after clearing NDA examination, are entitled to various perks and allowances. Given below are some of the perks which are enjoyed by a candidate after getting selected as commissioned officer through NDA:

Allowances to NDA Officers Amount Payable
Dearness Allowance Admissible at the same rates and under the same conditions as are applicable to the civilian personnel from time to time.
Kit Maintenance Allowances INR 20,000/- Annually with Dress Allowances
Para Allowance Rs 10,500/- Per Month
Special Forces Allowance Rs 25,000/- Per Month
Para Jump Instructor Allowance Rs 10,500/- Per Month
Project Allowance Rs 3,400/- Per Month
Para Reserve Allowance Rs 2,625/- Per Month
Technical Allowance (Tier-I) Rs 3,000/- Per Month
Technical Allowance (Tier-II) Rs 4,500/- Per Month

NDA and CDS Eligibility Criteria

Before appearing in the CDS and NDA examination, one must check the Eligibility Criteria. For appearing in NDA examination, a candidate should have passed 12th class where as CDS exam requires a candidate to be a graduate. Now women can also appear in NDA examination.

Parameter NDA CDS
Age For NDA 2, male/female candidates must have born not earlier than January 2, 2002, and not later than January 1, 2005

For NDA 1, male/female candidates should be born not earlier than July 2, 2003, and not later than July 1, 2006

19 to 25 Years
Gender Men and Women Men and Women
Educational Qualification For Army wing of NDA, male/female candidates must have passed Class 12 or equivalent examination from a recognized board

For Air Force and Naval wings of NDA and 10+2 Cadet entry scheme at INA, male/female candidates must have passed Class 12 or equivalent examination with Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics


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Q1. Which job is better CDS or NDA?

Ans. This depends on the aspirants and which job profile is suitable for them. Candidates can check all details in the given article.

Q2. What is the highest rank a person can get in his/her CDS career?

Ans. Chief of Army Staff is the highest rank a person can get in his/her CDS career.

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