Aeronautical Metal Worker

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.

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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

While undertaking initial Recruit Course you will be paid as a Recruit (see attached pay table).

On completion of your Recruit Course you will be paid as an Aircraftsman and your pay will continue to increase as your career progresses

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

You must have achieved NCEA level 1 with a minimum of 12 credits in level 1 Science.

Find out more about the NCEA levels and certificate requirements

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

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.

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.

Aeronautical Metal Workers receive comprehensive Air Force training throughout their careers.  At the rank of Leading Aircraftman you will receive training to achieve a Level 4 National Certificate in Aeronautical Engineering (Specialist Support and Aircraft Structure).  You will then receive further training and at the rank of Sergeant achieve a Level 6 National Certificate in Aeronautical Engineering (Production Control). 

Woodbourne, near Blenheim and Ohakea.