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This career is ideal if you like getting your hands dirty as well as using your head to solve technical problems. As a vital part of our ground crew, you’ll be trained to manufacture and repair a variety of equipment, using various metals and alloys.

  • Service
    Air Force
  • Specialisation
    Engineering and Technical Trades
  • Location
  • Starting Trade Training
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About the role

As an Aeronautical Metal Worker you’ll be a member of the ground crew, jointly responsible for all aspects of maintenance required to support Royal New Zealand Air Force aircraft operations, both in New Zealand and overseas. The aeronautical metal worker trade covers two separate specialisations: aeronautical metal work and general engineering.

Job on base

Aeronautical Metal Work

This includes the manufacture, modification and repair of aeronautical components such as aircraft structure, armament and mechanical components. You will conduct your tasks using a wide range of specialist metalworking and welding applications. You can expect to be working with various materials including aluminium,stainless steel, cast-alloys, chrome-molly steels and titanium.

General Engineering

The RNZAF uses a broad range of non-aeronautical tools and equipment to facilitate its day-to-day activities. Aeronautical Metal Workers play a crucial role in the manufacture and repair of this equipment. In general this role involves the fabrication of light-to medium engineering tasks in steel, stainless steel and aluminium.

Job on deployment

RNZAF units often live and operate from a field or camp environment when deployed on missions or exercises within New Zealand or overseas; these units need to be largely self-sufficient.

Aeronautical Metal Workers primarily deploy providing the specialist skills associated with the manufacture and repair of aeronautical components. These vital skills are also put to use in the role of camp maintainer. In the camp maintainer role RNZAF Metal Workers are also responsible for the general maintenance of a tented camp and thus play a pivotal role in ensuring camps are self-sufficient and functioning correctly. Duties may range from simply changing a tap washer to the highly skilled and important role of water filtration, storage and disposal.

This is a crucial, hands-on role that provides great experiences at home and abroad.

Career progression and training

Career Progression

Basic Training

Job Training

Ongoing Training

After gaining considerable experience, you’ll be given greater responsibilities encompassing management of metal-working tasks and associated equipment. Metal Workers who have completed all their trade training are known as Master Aeronautical Metal Workers.

In addition to using their trade skills Master Aeronautical Metal Workers are eligible to perform military command and leadership duties as a team leader and may be required to manage section budgets.

Team leaders are responsible for the personnel under their command, including the conduct of personnel performance appraisals, mentoring, personnel development planning, and the maintenance of discipline. Master Aeronautical Metal Workers with substantial trade knowledge and experience may also be appointed as instructors where they will train and assess trainee Aeronautical Metal Workers.

Upon successful enlistment into the Air Force you will be posted to RNZAF Base Woodbourne (near Blenheim) for your Recruit Course. Here you will do 12 weeks of basic military training to find out if you’ve got what it takes to be in the Air Force, and learn various subjects including:

  • Organisation and Administration
  • RNZAF Customs and Protocol
  • Drill and Parades
  • Military Field Skills and Weapon Training
  • First Aid, and Search and Rescue Techniques
  • Physical Fitness
  • Teamwork and Self Discipline

After your Recruit Course you will complete a full-time 17 week Aeronautical Engineering Fundamentals Course. This course covers:

  • Personal Qualities and Attitudinal Expectations in the Aviation Workplace,
  • Aviation Workplace Safety,
  • Aeronautical Engineering Trade Science and Administration,
  • Aeronautical Engineering Tooling and Processes,
  • Aeronautical Components/Systems, and
  • Maintenance Practices.

This course is a requirement for all technical trades within the RNZAF and sets you up well for your career as an aviation technician.


On completion of the Aeronautical Engineering Course you'll undertake a 30-week full-time Aeronautical Metal Worker Course to gain the basic skills to become an Air Force Metal Worker.


After graduating from your primary trade course you will be employed for approximately 18 months on an RNZAF base, carrying out duties and gaining experience. This training is designed to consolidate and extend your trade training, providing access to the aircraft types and the equipment on which you will be employed. The On-the-Job training (OJT) completes your primary trade training.

The Master Aeronautical Metal Worker Course is a full-time 22-week residential course at Woodbourne. Once you graduate, you will be posted to an engineering workshop at either RNZAF Base Auckland or RNZAF Base Ohakea.

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Salary and benefits

Careers in the Air Force are well-rewarded, diverse and exciting. As you become more experienced and move up through the ranks, gaining additional skills and qualifications, your salary will rise accordingly.


Under Initial Training


Starting Trade Training


Future Potential Earnings

Figures updated on July 1st 2023

Benefits and allowances

Earn a competitive salary while training or learning your trade, along with additional allowances for time spent in the field, at sea, overseas, or deployed on operations.

In addition to salary and allowances, other benefits of joining the New Zealand Defence Force include:

Access to your Service marae or tūrangawaewae

Sponsored tertiary study programmes at all levels

Free access to gyms and swimming pools on camp and bases

Opportunities to travel

Free and subsidised medical and dental care

Subsidised food and accommodation on camps and bases

Free and subsidised insurance cover

Help to buy a home and save for retirement

Entry requirements



Fitness and medical


Period of Service

  • You must be at least 17 years of age.
  • Meet the citizenship & security requirements to gain CV security clearance for this trade.

3 years secondary school. Note, qualifications may be used to assess trade suitability.

  • You must be medically fit for service.
  • Colour perception restrictions may apply.

There are strict citizenship and security requirements to gain the required CV security clearance for this trade.

Find out if you’re eligible here.

Your training is some of the most thorough and advanced in the world. On graduation as a Master Aeronautical Metal Worker, you’ll be contractually obliged to spend another 24 months in the Air Force.

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Ready to start your Air Force career?

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