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.

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 17 years or older on date of enlistment.
  • 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 Machine Tool Setter, 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 start primary trade training on a 31-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 22-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.

Machinists receive comprehensive Air Force training through 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 Aeronautical Machining).  You will the receive further training and at the rank of Sergeant achieve a Level 6 National Certificate in Aeronautical Engineering (Production Control).