What does an Officer do?

Officers are the leaders of the Defence Force. They’re the ones who can take control of a situation, command people and resources efficiently and make the necessary calls under pressure. They’re driven, ambitious and passionate about what they do. And their expertise is second to none.

Your kind of career

Officers cover a huge range of specialties across the Navy, Army and Air Force – so no matter your interests, you’ll be sure to find an exciting, diverse career in a field that’s relevant to you.

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What being an Officer can involve







  • Stepping behind the controls of a frigate or aircraft carrying people, equipment and crucial supplies
  • Commanding high-tech equipment and technology worth millions of dollars.
  • Leading search and rescue operations in New Zealand and overseas
  • Leading operations in extreme environments, such as Antarctica.
  • Training and mentoring other personnel in a wide variety of specialist roles.
  • Formulating high-level strategies and tactics
  • Implementing peace efforts in unstable and politically-charged environments.
  • Managing hundreds of personnel on base or camp, or teams of 30+ out in the field
  • Managing the maintenance of one of New Zealand’s largest and most complex computer networks.
  • Coordinating the protection New Zealand’s borders from both external and internal threats, such as illegal fishing
  • Being one of the first people on the ground to help plan and run disaster relief efforts, at home and abroad.
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Leading from day one

You don’t have to work your way up to an Officer position – you can enter as one straightaway. This means you’ll get to take on real responsibility from a young age.

If you join as an Officer in the Navy or Air Force, you’ll start training in your specific Officer role from the outset. In the Army, however, you’ll first complete your initial officer training as an Army Officer, before moving into one of our specialist roles:

  • Combat
  • Engineering
  • Intelligence
  • Communications
  • Logistics
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Why become an Officer?

No matter whether you choose an Officer role in the Navy, Army or Air Force, you’ll get more benefits than most careers in the civilian world – or even in other Defence Force roles. From being surrounded by other like-minded individuals to gaining leadership experience overseas, to hands-on, tailored career management, it’s a career – and a lifestyle – that’s truly unique. Check out some of the many reasons to become an officer below:

Salary and benefits

Not only are officers paid to train, but our salaries are competitive with the civilian world too. There’s even the opportunity to work your way up to a six-figure salary in some of our roles. And there's a lot more additional benefits too:

  • world-class training
  • partnered study
  • subsidised food and accommodation on base
  • free uniforms and job-related clothing
  • access to gym, clubs and leisure facilities
  • free medical and dental care.


Early responsibility

Officers don’t start from the bottom. You’ll quickly take on the task of leading teams of trained professionals and making real decisions. That means you’ll get practical experience from a young age that you’d otherwise spend years working towards in most other jobs.

Job variety

You’ll get the chance to move around leadership roles easily – so you don’t have to be afraid that you’ll be stuck in the same job for long. Our hands-on career-management team can work with you to help tailor your roles to your specific career goals, meaning that you can apply to move where you want throughout your career – and gain as many diverse job experiences as you desire.

World class leadership skills

With our specialist training, you’ll quickly become an expert in your field – and with the opportunity to train and update your leadership skills overseas, you’ll soon be at a world-class level. The skills you learn won’t just be relevant in your officer role either – they’ll be real-world skills that every employer will look for, but that only the best candidates will have. Best of all, you’ll be paid to train, so you’ll gain these skills without the hefty student loan.

Partnered study

Whether you want to take on an undergraduate degree, diploma or even post-graduate study, we can help you get there – through subsidised or fully-funded course fees and even paid study leave. 

Deployments and training

From operations in Antarctica to exercises on the other side of the world, travel will be a major component of your career. Your experiences working alongside people of other cultures and in unfamiliar environments will add unique skills to your CV, and give you personal insights into other cultures that most people will never see. You may even get the chance to train in world-class facilities across the globe, or participate in exchange programmes with other militaries, including those in the UK, US and Australia.

Personal travel

Your travels won’t just be all work and no play. With plenty of downtime, you’ll get the chance to explore places outside of hours too – meaning you’ll get experiences after work and on weekends that others can only dream of. Plus, since you’ll already be overseas, many of your travel costs will already be covered.

A network for life

A career in the Defence Force means setting yourself up with a wider network – not just of friends, but with a team of some of the most knowledgeable, specialised experts in the country. As you complete your initial officer training on base, you won’t just be surrounded by other like-minded individuals at work, but after hours too – so you don’t have to be worried that you’re in it alone. There’s also the opportunity to be involved in the wider community outside of base too, with officers often invited to represent the Defence Force in community events.

Technology and equipment

You’ll get to work with some of the latest and most advanced technology and equipment that can’t be found anywhere else – so your skills will be at the forefront of the ever-changing technological environment.


Officers are just as involved in sports as our other personnel. There's plenty of opportunities to further your sporting career, with plenty of teams on and off base from rugby to basketball, volleyball, netball, football, cycling, athletics and more. Our teams often take trips overseas to compete internationally too, with the ability to take special sporting leave or even apply for the Defence Force to sponsor your trip.

Family life

As a family-focused employer, you’ll be able to work your officer's career around your family, with the ability to take maternity or parental leave as necessary. And just like other jobs, you can also take time away from your role in the Defence Force as you wish – whether to pursue other work opportunities, travel or simply gain different experience  – and can apply to re-enlist at any time, in the same or a different role.

You won’t be locked-in

In most instances, you won’t be bound into a period of service. Just like a civilian job, you can leave to take advantage of other career opportunities as you desire. In fact, the only times you’ll face a return of service will be if you either apply for us to sponsor your tertiary education fees, or you undertake training in specific roles such as a Pilot or Air Warfare Officer (these are specified on the individual role pages).

The skills you gain will be well sought after, outside of the military too – with Officers often hunted for positions at the top of the industry they’ve been trained for in the corporate world. And it's not hard to see why, with their first-class knowledge, expertise and leadership ability. So no matter what your career goals are, life as an officer can provide more experience and opportunities for growth than most other jobs.

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