Finding out what makes Air Force personnel tick is just one of the exciting challenges of this role. Develop your psychology skills in the fast moving and exciting military world.

  • Service
    Air Force
  • Specialisation
    Medical and Health
  • Location
    Whenuapai, Ohakea, Woodbourne
  • Starting Trade Training
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About the role

As a Military Psychologist, you’ll be employed as a Commissioned Military Officer. You will be involved in a broad range of organisational and military psychology activities. These range from conducting recruitment and selection activities, performance orientated coaching, and supporting operational deployments, humanitarian relief, and peacekeeping activities.

Applicants must have a Master’s Degree in Psychology, preferably with at least one paper in Industrial and Organisational Psychology. A minimum of a B- average in the last two years of full time psychology study is required.

If already registered as a psychologist, you will be introduced to the role through a series of projects relevant to the Defence Force. If unregistered, the Directorate of Psychology will finance and supervise you through your journey to become an NZ-registered psychologist.

Job on base

Your first post as a base psychologist is likely to involve providing support and advice to Air Force commanders on psychological and organisational human resource matters. This involves adopting a consulting-like approach and developing base-wide networks in order to work alongside a wide range of people. Your work will vary; you could be asked to conduct short term coaching, design and deliver training and education on psychology related topics, as well as research and projects tasked by the Head of Air Force Psychology. Subsequent postings and projects may involve more aviation and organisational research. You will also combine your professional career with the responsibilities of being an RNZAF officer, which includes secondary base duties and being involved in general base life.

Job on deployment

Another significant area of work involves support to operations. As an RNZAF Psychologist you are part of a wider team of Defence Force psychologists. All Defence Force psychologists are involved in providing education and support to individuals and formations heading overseas on deployments, as well as providing support and screening for those returning from missions. From time to time this work occurs outside NZ; so you maybe called upon to serve overseas temporarily.

Career progression and training

Career Progression

Basic Training

Job Training

Ongoing Training

Post registration, your career will initially involve one to two postings as a regional psychologist to one of the RNZAF’s three main bases.  Further opportunities exist within the tri-service environment that allow you to specialise in areas such as selection, training, organisational development and support to operations. Opportunities for promotion and additional advancement exist in the form of senior psychology posts.

RNZAF Officer Commissioning Course (ROC)

(26 weeks) Location: RNZAF Base Woodbourne

All individuals selected to become Commissioned Officers in the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) are required to complete this course. It is designed to prepare students with the knowledge and experience necessary for commissioned service and the beginning of a career in leadership. This course will cover various subjects including:

  • RNZAF Customs and Protocol
  • Drill and Parades
  • Military Law
  • Military Field Skills and Weapons Training
  • Defence and Strategic Studies
  • Personnel Administration
  • Communication Skills
  • Command, Leadership and Management
  • First Aid

After successful completion of your RNZAF Officer Commissioning Course (if you are not already a registered psychologist), you’ll enter into registration to become a psychologist. Through this 12 month period under supervision of a military registered psychologist, you will develop your psychological skills and knowledge through the completion of six projects and applied learning.

Upon successful completion of these requirements and a written and oral examination, you will be registered in the ‘general’ scope of practice. You will also be provided with additional training to meet the demands of the role, such as training relating to operational debriefs, critical incidents and aviation psychology. Further professional training is also encouraged and you’ll be able to continue studies voluntarily or through sponsorship, and attend professional conferences such as the New Zealand Psychological Society Conference and/or international conferences.

As a military officer, you will be expected to maintain your level of fitness as well as a core set of military skills and knowledge.



As well as the courses listed above, you will be required to complete two leadership, command and management courses. These courses last up to two weeks and are held at RNZAF Base Woodbourne. All RNZAF officers are required to complete these courses as well as further courses covering service writing, staff skills and professional military education before being eligible for promotion beyond Flight Lieutenant.


The New Zealand Defence Force Command and Staff College at Trentham Military Camp (Wellington) conducts two courses: a residential eight week Joint Junior Staff Course and a seven month Joint Senior Staff course. Both courses comprise a mixture of visiting lecturers, tutored discussion groups, visits and individual study to give you the skills you need for high-ranking appointments. If you’re a successful graduate of the Staff Course, you’ll qualify for a Postgraduate Diploma of Arts. You can then choose to complete a further four papers to gain a Master of Philosophy.

WATCH | How our Psychologists help enhance the performance of individuals and teams across the NZDF.

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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.


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

Period of Service


Fitness and Medical


Period of Service

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.


  • Hold a Master’s Degree in Psychology or be in your final year of study, preferably with at least one paper in Industrial and Organisational Psychology.
  • A minimum of a B average in the last two years of full-time psychology study is required.

There are strict citizenship and security requirements to gain the required SV 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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