The PTI trade is responsible for developing and maintaining the operational fitness and wellbeing of NZDF personnel. PTIs can specialise as Rehabilitation Instructors and also in Adventurous Training disciplines.

  • Service
    Air Force
  • Specialisation
    Medical and Health
  • Location
  • Starting Trade Training
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About the role

Physical Training Instructors (PTIs) play a key role in developing and maintaining the health, fitness and well-being of our airmen. In the Air Force, physical fitness is absolutely essential in maintaining good health.

As a PTI you are responsible for ensuring that personnel are physically capable to conduct their operational duties their careers. PTI’s also contribute to our airmen’s mental health and resilience, and support well-being and leadership development through team based activities.


Job on base

In your daily role on base, you will conduct regular group physical training sessions with Air Force personnel, organise and conduct a variety of activities to promote health and fitness. Additionally you will assist our other health practitioners in conducting exercise rehabilitation, remedial training and work across military functional groups to support sport and recreational activities. 


Air Force PTI’s facilitate regular adventurous training activities for base personnel to promote teamwork, resilience and personal development. Air Force PTI’s obtain qualifications in caving, abseiling, rock climbing, sea kayaking as well as taking groups’ mountain biking, coasteering and tramping. 


You will be expected to provide expert advice to individuals, units or teams, and our leaders on all matters concerning physical training. PTIs are also tasked with operating and equipping the gym facilities for each of our three main bases around New Zealand.


Being a PTI can be physically demanding, however your career is largely a lifestyle choice and you are expected to be a strong advocate and personal example for general health and fitness.

Job on deployment

As a PTI you will have the opportunity to deploy on operations with Defence Force units. When deployed as a contingent PTI, your role differs very little to back home. You will maintain operational effectiveness of deployed personnel by running regular strength and conditioning programmes, for both our Defence Force and other allied Forces or agencies.

Career progression and training


Basic training

Job training

Ongoing training

Specialist training


(4 days)
Potential candidates will be required to attend the NZDF PTI Selection Board. This is designed to evaluate your potential as a PTI. You will complete fitness tests that gauge your potential in a range of fitness components - endurance, strength, power, co-ordination, balance, speed and agility. You will also be assessed for psychological suitability, public speaking, teamwork, leadership, interpersonal communication, and your potential as an instructor.

Upon successful enlistment into the Air Force you’ll be posted to RNZAF Base Woodbourne (near Blenheim). Here you’ll 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

NZDF Physical Training Instructor Primary Course

(17 Weeks) Location: RNZAF Base Woodbourne (near Blenheim)

This is a tri-service course held at the Defence Physical Education and Recreational Training School, covering the following disciplines:

  • Anatomy and physiology;
  • Instructional techniques;
  • Class-taking;
  • Sport Officiation and coaching;
  • Fitness testing and
  • Event Management.


 It is expected that you will have finished your task book compulsory training and proficiencies by the end of this stage. It is also expected that you would have gained sufficient experience working as a PTI to attend the NZDF PTI Advanced course.

You have the opportunity to continue with tertiary study throughout your career, with support from the Air Force. Additionally, opportunities to further your knowledge through exercise science research are becoming commonplace for PTIs within the Defence Force.

Due to the constantly evolving nature of the fitness industry, you are required to maintain your professional competency and keep up to date with best practice. Throughout your career you will attend various industry best practice training courses, conferences and overseas training with other Defence Forces.

Once you’ve completed your Advanced Physical Training Instructor course, specialist courses are available to you at various stages in your career:


All PTIs are given the opportunity to attend this course, which covers the rehabilitation of service people from injury or illness, and qualifies you to complement the work of NZDF physiotherapists in returning personnel to active duty following injury.

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Salary and benefits

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


Under Initial Training


Starting Trade Training


Future Potential Earnings

Figures updated on July 1st 2023

Military factor

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 17 years or older.
  • Meet the citizenship & security requirements to gain CV security clearance for this trade.
  • Pass the Physical Training Instructor selection board.

As a PTI you must hold an extremely high level of fitness and self motivation. More information on the minimum fitness requirements of the PTI Selection Board can be provided by a Defence Careers staff member.

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

Find out if you’re eligible here.

There may be a return of service period for this trade.

Please contact our 0800 number or talk to your Candidate Experience Facilitator for more information.

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