As an Air Force Psychologist, you’ll be employed as a Commissioned Military Officer. You will be involved in a broad range of organizational, military and aviation psychology activities. These range from conducting selection activities, through to providing recruitment advice and performance orientated counselling, as well as aviation related projects through to supporting operational deployments and peacekeeping activities.

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 counselling, design and deliver training and education on psychology related topics, as well as research and projects tasked by the Senior Psychologist. 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.

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.

Post registration, you career will initially involve one to two postings as a base psychologist to one of the RNZAF’s three main bases. Your career may then progress into a more specialized role within the RNZAF, such as human factors or aircrew assessment and selection. 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.

While there is a minimum level of pay, your salary will depend upon your qualifications, previous work experience and whether you are already registered or not.  Post military training and psychology registration (if applicable), it is typical for a psychologist’s salary to increase, again depending upon experience and qualifications.

  • You must be at least 17 years of age.
  • Meet the citizenship & security requirements to gain SV security clearance for this trade.
  • Applicants must have at least a Masters Degree in Psychology, with an Industrial and Occupational background.
  • Applicants must be eligible for registration.
  • You must be medically fit for service.
  • Colour perception restrictions may apply.

First you’ll complete a 21 week Initial Officer Training Course at RNZAF Base Woodbourne (near Blenheim). This will commence in either January or July. Here you’ll find out if you’ve got what it takes to be in the Air Force, and 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 Initial Officer Training 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.

Training occurs in Woodbourne, near Blenheim. You could then be posted to Auckland, Ohakea, Wellington or Woodbourne.