How to join

Am I eligible?

Before you begin

Let’s start with the basics. To apply for any career with us, you'll need to be:

  1. Medically and physically fit
  2. An NZ citizen, NZ Permanent Resident, or NZ Residence class visa holder with indefinite stay (once enlisted, it's your responsibility to gain NZ citizenship as soon as you're eligible)
  3. Preferably free from criminal convictions (assessed on a case by case basis)
  4. At least 16.5 years old to submit an application. You must have turned 18 years old by the time you graduate from your recruit course.

Some Defence Force careers have additional requirements because of the nature of the role. These will be listed on the individual trade pages.

If you're unclear about anything, the best thing to do is apply, as we'll work through the criteria with you to determine if you can proceed.

Read more about our citizenship & security requirements

Do I need a qualification?

This will depend on the role you apply for! Some trades simply require that you’ve attended three years of secondary school, rather than formal qualifications. Other trades require a higher level of education. Check the trade page for specifics.

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Unsure about NCEA?

The NZ Qualifications Authority website describes NCEA in more detail. If you have alternative high school qualifications to NCEA, get in touch with us to discuss how to go about getting these recognised.

Don't have enough NCEA credits?

The Open Polytechnic offers a free course called the New Zealand Certificate in Foundation Skills (Level 1). This will allow you to gain the credits you need to apply for a role with us.

Check out the Foundation Skills Certificate

Am I fit enough?

Being fit is an important part of being in the NZ Defence Force. The good news is our fitness levels are easily achievable with a little effort, and we'll help you every step of the way.

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What are my options?


Other Ranks


Officers are leaders, managers and strategists. Their decision-making skills and problem-solving abilities enable them to plan and execute tasks in a wide variety of scenarios. It's their job to earn trust and respect from the personnel under their charge and display the strength of character to inspire.

Many of our officer roles require a university qualification in a specific field, but some officer roles are open to general applicants, and some even offer university scholarships.

Our soldiers, sailors and aviators are the backbone of our Defence Force.  You'll be part of a special team, working together to achieve specific missions.

Whether you are working on land, on sea or in the air, you will be an expert in your field, providing the hands-on skills that makes us such a diverse, exciting and capable organisation. Whatever your trade, you will enjoy a diverse career that enables you to fulfil your potential in unique situations.

There is also another option open to you. All three services maintain a Reserve Force. This is an opportunity to play your part, learn trades and experience life in the Defence Force, but on a part-time basis. This means you can experience the best of both worlds and combine a civilian career with Defence Force experience.

Check out the Reserves >

Overseas applicants

We welcome military members from the UK, USA, Canada and Australia to apply for a career with us.

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