In addition to basic seamanship qualifications, each member of the Royal Australian Navy is trained in a specialist trade, known as a "rate". These rates are numerous and have changed as naval technology has changed. The various rates are today classified into several functional groupings, or branches, which are listed below. Earlier in the RAN's history these branches were more numerous: in the list below some of the branches that have since been absorbed or amalgamated, or have become defunct, are listed in Italics.

Seaman

The Seaman Branch includes ordinary seamen, gunners, weapons systems operators, fire fighters, radar operators and clearance divers.
Gunnery Branch

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Radar operators aboard the cruiser, HMAS Hobart, 1945.
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Technical Branch

This branch includes all personnel responsible for the maintenance and repair of weapons, machinery and electronic equipment as well as the operation of a vessel's propulsion system. Some technical branch sailors are also responsible for the operation of weapons systems.
Armourer Branch, Artisan Branch, Artificer Branch, Sailmaker Branch, Stoker Branch

Communications

The Communications Branch and its predecessors include the personnel responsible for all forms of communication between naval vessels and shore establishments as well as some internal ships communication.
Signal and Telegraphist Branch

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The communications number on a searchlight platform. He is wearing headphones and a microphone.
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Supply and Secretariat

The Supply and Secretariat Branch and its predecessors include writers (clerks), cooks, stewards, naval stores and victualling supply staff.
Butcher Branch, Baker Branch, Printer Branch, Coding Branch

Medical

The Medical Branch is made up of medical and dental staff.
Sick Berth Attendants

Naval Air

The Naval Air Branch includes all those responsible for the operation of naval aviation, including the mechanics, as well as naval meteorological and photographic personnel.