Army Plant Operator full width

As a Plant Operator, you will use heavy machinery to construct or cross obstacles and keep our troops and equipment moving.

  • Service
  • Specialisation
    Engineering and Technical Trades
  • Location
    Waiouru, Linton
  • Starting Trade Training
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About the role

As a Plant Operator, you will use heavy machinery to construct or cross obstacles and keep our troops and equipment moving. You will be working in challenging conditions at home and overseas to carry out and support earthworks, road construction and troop movement activities for the NZ Army and other government agencies. You will operate a variety of heavy construction vehicles such as bull-dozers and cranes, as well as military bridging systems and combat tractors.

Job on base

In camp you will use vehicles such as bull-dozers, loaders, scrapers, excavators, graders, cranes and rollers to complete tasked construction work. This can include horizontal construction projects in military bases or repairing tracks and roads for other government departments. You could be employed to support civil defence, scrub fires, road repairs and flood control.

When you aren’t tasked, you will keep practising with these vehicles in camp, and conduct combat field engineering training using the gap crossing system and combat tractors.

You are responsible for the efficient and safe operation of all the vehicles you operate, as well as daily servicing and maintenance. You will also identify and report all faults before they turn into major mechanical failures.

Job on deployment

On deployment you may work as an individual, in a small construction team or as part of a larger unit. Your tasks will include excavation, road repair and construction, as well as quarry work. You will regularly be involved with construction aid projects overseas which will see you working alongside other nations. Plant Operators have been deployed on operations in Bosnia, Timor Leste, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Solomon Islands. Regular annual exercises enhance your skills throughout the South Pacific and in Antarctica.

A key part of the Plant Operators role on deployment is the concept of 'winning resources'. This is where Army Engineers take an existing natural or disused resources and make them usable for Army operations, such a securing quarrying material or recycling construction materials to create temporary runways or tracks.

Career progression and training

Career Progression

Basic Training

Job Training

As your career progresses, you will become a fully qualified plant supervisor. This includes greater responsibility as you manage a variety of tasks and construction sites. You will develop leadership, project management, and teaching skills to enable you to oversee and assist others in the trade and organisation. Over the course of your career you will have opportunities to work outside of the plant trade , providing further variety and challenges.

Upon successful enlistment into the Army you will be posted to Waiouru Army base. Here you will do 16 weeks of basic military training to find out if you have what it takes to be in the Army, and learn various subjects including:

  • Organisation and Administration
  • Army Customs and Protocol
  • Drill and Parades
  • Military Field Skills and Weapon Training
  • First Aid
  • Physical Fitness

 Location: Linton Military Camp (near Palmerston North)
This is an eight week course held at the School of Military Engineering, Linton Military Camp. This is the first course conducted for most trades within the RNZE. It introduces you to the combat side of being an engineer before you undertake your specific trade. The course covers the basics of field engineering including bridging, water supply, explosives, field defences, obstacles, booby traps, boating and other subjects. After the course, you will have a good understanding of field engineering and also be qualified as an Army (explosives) Demolition Handler. Further Combat Engineer training will be conducted over the duration of your career.


(14 weeks) Location: Linton Military Camp
This course covers the operation and maintenance of bulldozers, loaders, scrapers, excavators, graders and rollers. It is a combination of both theory and practical work, with course competencies aligned to the NZQA framework.


Professional development opportunities for higher qualifications  and advancement can be undertaken. This is likely to incur a return of service such as:

New Zealand Certificate of Quarry Shotfirer Course - 24 months.

New Zealand Certificate of Quarry Operations Manager Course  - 24 months

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Salary and benefits

Careers in the Army are well-rewarded, diverse and exciting. As you become more experienced and move up through the ranks, gaining additional skills and qualifications, your salary will 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 at least 17 years of age.
  • Meet the citizenship and security requirements to gain CV security clearance for this trade.
  • Class 1 restricted drivers licence is required.

3 years secondary school.

Note, that 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.

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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