If you’re keen on a hands-on technical career and love aircraft, this is definitely the job for you. As a Machinist in the Air Force, you’ll be responsible for the manufacture and repair of aeronautical and non-aeronautical equipment, using a range of complex and technically advanced machines and tools.

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

As an Air Force Machinist you’ll be a member of the ground crew, jointly responsible for all aspects of maintenance required to support RNZAF aircraft operations. Your duties will range from the manufacture and repair of aeronautical and non-aeronautical components to camp maintenance when the RNZAF deploys in New Zealand or abroad.

As your career progresses, you’ll be given greater responsibilities in maintaining aircraft and associated equipment. Senior Machinists are required to perform military command and leadership duties as team leaders. You may also be appointed as an instructor.

Career progression and training

Basic Training

Job Training

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 start primary trade training on a 33.5-week full-time residential Machinist Course. This will provide you with the basic skills to become an Air Force Machinist and will be followed by around two years’ on-the-job training.


You will return to Woodbourne for your advanced trade training – the 29.5-week Machine Tool Setter and Operator Course. Once you’ve graduated, you’ll be posted to an operational unit at either RNZAF Base Auckland or RNZAF Base Ohakea, where you will use your new-found skills to help keep the Air Force operating.

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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

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 17 years or older on date of enlistment.
  • 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 Machine Tool Setter, 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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