Life in the Army

Education and training

Challenging but fun

Just like any sports team, we use education and training to turn potential into real-life ability and achievement. Expect a lot of training in the Army, because it keeps you in peak condition, physically and mentally. Education and training also give you the unique skills that will make you an expert in your chosen trade.

It's challenging, but it’s also good fun and a bonding experience. Many soldiers meet their closest mates during training.

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Types of education and training


Your first 16 weeks of training will be spent on an All Arms Recruit Course (AARC), commonly known as Recruit Training. It’ll give you the basic skills you’ll need to become a successful soldier, covering everything from the fundamentals of weapons training to first aid, navigation and lessons on military law. It’s also where you’ll first be introduced to your chosen trade.

Your training will be based at our Waiouru Army Camp, though you’ll also do some exercises further afield. This will be an intense period of training, demanding a lot of you physically – but the great thing is you’ll be getting paid to keep fit, including playing social sports with your mates.


Even though this time will be fairly intense, you will still get some downtime – including most Sundays, which will be kept free to give you some personal time and the ability to attend church if desired. You can also spend your free time at any of our recreational facilities, including the gym, swimming pool, or library. There are even shops where you can get basic everyday items, so you’ll have access to everything you need.


There will also be a break halfway through the course to give you some time to go home and rest before beginning the remainder of your training. There are also two visitors’ days where you can invite your friends and family to visit the camp.


Once you’ve graduated from Basic Training you'll be posted to your unit at any one of the Army camps within New Zealand. Your next stage of training will be your trade specific ‘corps training’ which will teach you the basics for your specific trade. You'll find life in the Army quite different once you march out of your basic training, in that your freedom and spare time will increase significantly. You’ll even find that your working days return to normal hours and your accommodation will move from shared rooms to single rooms if you choose to remain living in barracks.

As potential future commanders and leaders within the Army, Officers undergo different training to that of Soldiers. The training course at the Officer Cadet School (OCS) is 11 months in duration. The first seven weeks will be your basic training, learning many of the same skills soldiers learn on their basic training. This initial phase of training is the Joint Officer Induction Course (JOIC) and it is held at RNZAF Base Woodbourne (near Blenheim). You will complete this training alongside Navy and Air Force Officer Cadets.

Upon completion of the JOIC all Army Officer Cadets are then posted to Waiouru where they commence their specific Army Officer training which is known as the New Zealand Commissioning Course (NZCC). This runs for the duration of the year with graduation in December. The course is tough and designed to produce competent, fit, durable and determined leaders ready to command soldiers here in NZ and overseas on operations. The course is both mentally and physically demanding, and upon graduation you will commission as an Army Officer acknowledging the world class skills and knowledge imparted during the course.

Only the most determined and hard working individuals complete the NZCC and graduating from this course is internationally recognised and a very prestigious achievement. The course is tough so that by the time you graduate, you have been tested and trained proving you are ready for the highly rewarding career as an Army Officer.

For more information on ‘Officer Training’ view our 'Officer' section .

Throughout your career as a Soldier or an Officer, you'll receive skills and expertise that will be integral to you both in and outside of Army life.


Starting with individual training, you’ll gain expertise in your selected trade or professional role, as well as the basic skills you will need in combat situations. You’ll then move onto collective training – teamwork is a hugely important factor in all Army operations, so you'll need to put your skills into practice as part of a team, combining your expertise together to become an operationally prepared unit.

The last step in your initial training will then focus on sharpening your skills as a leader. All Army personnel are called to display leadership in their job, whether it’s taking charge of your team, displaying courage under pressure, or even responding to moral or ethical challenges – this will bring out the best in you, helping you to harness your full potential as a leader in both your job and in your daily life.


During your first couple of years in the Army, the training is almost non-stop. After that you will always be learning something on the job, whether individually or collectively.  We'll give you opportunities to train further throughout your career, including the chance to participate in a voluntary tertiary education programme available through the Military Studies Institute. You can even apply to have your tertiary education fully funded.

You will be hard pressed to find another organisation that can match the Army’s support for career development and further education.

The Army has some limited graduate schemes for officer entrants – but we now mainly focus on getting you into the service before we commit to tertiary scholarships.

If you are already a graduate when you join us, then you may want to pursue post-graduate studies too. This is also something we can help with, giving you time off and financial support. In particular for officers, we're looking for people who are graduates or part way through their degree. Once you've undertaken your initial training and have spent some time in a unit getting skills and experience, we can start looking at providing you with further educational opportunities. There are lots of options that we can individually tailor to meet both the Army and your needs. We'll make sure our career managers keep you up-to-date.

Some people discover a passion for education further down the line. Often, this is because specialist qualifications are required for their chosen trade. Qualifications can also be a good way of achieving promotions. Either way, in the Army you'll always have the opportunity to study – even if that means leaving your day job for a time. 

If you're thinking about a career in the Army and want to combine it with your studies, ask about how we can help. 


This scheme consists of two levels of scholarship incorporating both extra-mural and full or part time study options, with selection for engagement with the scheme based on meritorious process of recommendation through the chain of command.

Level 1 Scholarship (Extramural)

The academic equivalent of the first and second year of an approved course of study completed through extramural study. Level 1 scholarship will not attract a return of service obligation, dependent on individual circumstances. Some military courses completed during this period may earn academic credits which can be cross-credited to a tertiary course of study. Current information pertaining to these academic credits is available through the Defence Learning Centre.

Level 2 Scholarship (Full or part-time)

The academic equivalent of the third year of an approved course of study completed through paid full or part-time study. This involves an academic year of full or part-time study in order to complete the course of study which has been partially completed under level 1 of the Scheme, with longer applications considered on a case by case basis. This level will attract a return of service obligation.


The Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) Scheme is available for NZ Army Officers only. This requires you to study at the University College of the University of New South Wales in Canberra, Australia. Whilst at ADFA you will conduct your degree within a military environment including undertaking military training during the university holidays. Spaces are limited and selection is competitive. You will be required to study a Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) majoring in Mechanical or Civil Engineering. Please note, Civil Engineering as a choice is limited to the needs of the service so may not be on offer or a study choice on any given year.  This Scheme would be suitable to High School leavers who are about to engage in University Studies. On completion of your BE qualification you will be required to give a return of service (this is on a year for year basis from the date you graduate).

The entry for ADFA is 100 NCEA Level 3 Credits with 45 either merit or excellence.

The candidate must have studied NCEA Level 3 or equivalent of English, Mathematics, and Physics. Chemistry is desirable, but not essential.

Basic Training (All Arms Recruit Course)

Ever wondered what it's like to go through basic training in the NZ Army? See a round of brand new recruits taking it on and toughing it out for 16 weeks in the All Arms Recruit Course.

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Give your passion purpose

Whatever your passion in life, there's a role in the Army that will give it purpose.

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