How to join

Am I eligible?

Before you begin

Let’s start with the basics. To apply for any career with us, you'll need to be:

  1. Medically and physically fit
  2. A New Zealand citizen, or New Zealand Residence class visa holder
  3. Preferably free from criminal convictions (assessed on a case by case basis)
  4. At least 17 years of age.

    There are also some Defence Force careers which have additional requirements because of the nature of the role. But if you're unclear about anything, then the best thing to do is apply, and we can work through any criteria with you to determine if you can go forward.

Health and fitness

Being fit is an important part of being in the service. The good news is our fitness levels are easily achievable with a little effort, and we'll help you every step of the way.

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Aptitude tests

Joining the New Zealand Defence Force is a competitive process and it will help you to be successful if you adequately prepare for your Assessment Day. Your Candidate Engagement Facilitator will invite you to attend an Assessment Day. Spend some time beforehand, getting to know what is required when you attend an Assessment Day. Take the time to explore the information below on how you can best prepare for this day. Most people are naturally nervous about sitting tests, so knowing what to expect on the day, will help you to relax. The tests will take place at your nearest recruiting office. The tests provide us with information about how you might perform in a particular job. This helps to place you into jobs that match your skill set. The links below will introduce you to these tests and help you to prepare for them.

Abstract Reasoning

Basic Maths

Verbal Reasoning

Advanced Maths

Mechanical Reasoning

General Intelligence

Aviation Reasoning

Practice Test Answers

What sort of tests will you have to sit?

The aptitude tests will be a series of paper tests. There are extra tests delivered for those applicants who are applying for air crew roles. The purpose of the aptitude tests is to find out which NZDF roles might suit you, your aptitude and your interests. There are 6 aptitude tests administered for everyone regardless of Service; and two extra for RNZAF Aircrew. The series of 6 tests will assess your aptitude in different areas:

  • Abstract Reasoning - assesses your ability to work through patterns quickly and accurately.
  • Numerical Reasoning - is broken down into 2 tests that assesses your ability to  work with decimals, fractions and mathematical formulae. The second test is set at a higher level where some roles require a better knowledge of mathematics.
  • Verbal Reasoning - assesses your ability to use and interpret written information. In this test you will be asked to match words of the same meaning.
  • Mechanical Reasoning - assesses your ability to work through mechanical processes.
  • General intelligence – gauges your educational and training potential.

 Those applicants who are applying for air crew roles, will sit 1-2 additional tests:

  • Flight Mathematics - assesses your ability to work out speed, distance, flight time and fuel consumption calculations.
  • Aircraft Instrumentation Comprehension - assesses your ability to work out how the aircraft is orientated or travels through the air.

By looking at a range of different aptitudes, the NZDF can get an accurate picture of where your potential lies. If you would like to have a go at doing the practice tests before attending your Assessment Day – Check out the sample practice test questions. The practice test questions will be similar to those featured in the tests. Find a quiet place – free from noise or interruption before attempting the practice tests.

What can you do to prepare for the test session?

Between now and the test session:

Preparing for the tests will help you to perform to the best of your abilities. By reading through this section, you will get an idea of what kind of questions you will find on the test sheets and if you have not done this sort of testing before, it will help you to understand how to work through to an an answer.

The aptitude tests will take up to 2 ½ hours to complete. Tests are strictly timed so that everyone taking the test has the same opportunity to complete them. If you get stuck on any one question, don’t spend too much time on it. Move on and try to answer as many as you can within the time allowed. Don’t worry if you can not finish all of the questions, as very few people do. You will not lose marks for a wrong answer. Marks are given for correct answers, so ensure that your written answers are legible for the best opportunity to gain maximum marks. If some people find your hand writing hard to understand, it would be best to print out the answer.

All of  these tests are timed and you cannot use calculators/phones etc to assist you. The questions in the test get harder as they progress. Some of the tests are multi-choice, so be prepared for that eventuality. Two of the biggest mistakes that are made during aptitude testing is lingering too long on questions that you don’t know and running out of time before answering all the questions that you DO know.

There are two sound methods for attempting the tests you will be given;

1.  Start by working through the test systematically. Each question you encounter will be in one of three categories;

  • You know the answer;
  • You don’t know the answer, but may be able to work it out, and
  • You don’t know the answer.

Tackle the test by first working through the problems answering every question that you know immediately.

As you come to a question you don’t know but may be able to work out, place an asterix next to the number on the answer sheet and continue answering the questions you know. If you encounter a question that you outright do not know, leave it, continuing to answer the ones you do know.

Once you have answered all the ones you do know, return to the answer sheet questions you have asterixed and begin working these out. If you finish these and still have time, begin attempting the ones you plainly do not know.

2.  A particular type of test you will encounter are multi-choice tests, where you must select the correct answer from 4 choices (a,b,c and d). Studying for a multiple-choice test requires preparation distinctly different from an essay exam. Multiple-choice tests ask to recognize a correct answer among a set of options that include 3 wrong answers, rather than asking to produce a correct answer entirely from your own mind.

Some people may struggle with multiple-choice tests and do not know how to do well on them. To do the best that you can on a multiple-choice test, start by analysing the questions. Then, answer the questions effectively by working through them strategically. Multiple-choice tests are random, without any patterns of right or wrong answers.

Analysing the questions

Follow the instructions for the test. New Zealand Defence Force tests will ask you to write directly onto the answer sheet. If you write your answers in the question booklet, you will score no marks. It is in your best interest to follow the instructions listed on the test.

Read the question carefully. Start by reading the test question slowly and carefully. When you are taking a test, use a blank sheet of paper to cover the possible multi-choice answers below the question. This will allow you to focus on just one question. You can also read the question more than once to ensure you understand it. Take your time and do not rush through the question. If you misread the question, you may not come up with the right answer.

Come up with your own answer to the question. Before you dive into the possible answers provided for the question, see if you can answer it on your own. Think about the question and come up with your own answer. Doing this can help you think of an answer before you look at the multiple-choice options. Chances are, the answer you come up with is one of the options for the question. If you can’t come up with your own answer, don’t fret. You can use the answers provided to come up with the right answer for the question, by ruling out the ones that are clearly false. If you are surprised by the answers given, you would want to double check that you have read the question correctly.

Preparing immediately before the test session:

You can prepare for the assessment day by testing yourself in your own time. For example:

  • Practice mental arithmetic. Don’t use a calculator as you will not have access to one during the test. Revise mathematical equations that you have previously learnt.
  • Read articles in magazines and newspapers, then recall your understanding of what you have read.
  • You should have a go at the practice test questions before attending an Assessment Day. The purpose of the practice aptitude tests is to familiarise yourself with the NZDF’s style of testing, particularly if you have not used this type of testing before. The questions are meant to familiarise you with the types of questions you will encounter during the test.  Go through the tests, answering the questions you know straight away. Come back to the ones that you are unsure of.
  • The sample test answers are provided as well, so you can mark your own work. Don’t be too concerned if you do not attain really high scores on your practice tests, as people rarely get top marks.  However if you were to get a score of less than 10 for any of the first four tests, you might want to do a bit of brushing up on that particular subject, or contact your Candidate Engagement Facilitator for advice.
  • As there are no calculators / phones allowed to assist you during the tests. Although some of the questions are straightforward, you may need to get back up to speed on doing mental arithmetic. If you find that you are only getting through about half of the math tests before the time runs out, you can try to speed up your thinking by practicing mental arithmetic in your head. Just Google ‘learn mental maths’ and there are various websites that can help you to speed up your mental calculations. By speeding up your thinking, you will be able to attempt more questions. You can easily practice mental maths exercises within a couple of days.
  • By placing yourself under the same testing conditions, you will have a good idea of what will happen on Assessment Day. You can see how many questions you answered right and how long you need to take, to either answer the question, or move on to the next one. The sample test answers are also provided. Try not to look at them until after you have tried the test. The tests are strictly timed, so try to mirror the same conditions when you practice with the sample tests. 
  • Some mobile phones have a clock App, with a timer function. You can set up the time you need to complete the test and then press ‘start’ when you are ready.
  • Have a good nights sleep before attending the test session.
  • Know where you are expected to turn up to and know how to get there. Check car parking options. If you can, turn up 5-10 minutes early. If you are running late for what ever reason, contact your Candidate Engagement Facilitator and let them know how late you will be.
  • Eat a light meal, heavy meals can make you feel sleepy and dull your senses.
  • Refrain from drinking excessive amounts of fluids prior to sitting the test.
  • Bring a watch to help allocate your time.
  • Be confident in yourself and remain calm.
  • Remember that on your testing day…relax. You know what you know. All your knowledge and the preparation you have  done prior is inside you…don’t worry about what you don’t know. The better prepared you are for these tests, the more NZDF roles will be available to you.

What to do during the test session?

At the test session:

On arrival at the recruiting venue, you will be required to present your photo identification. Be aware, you cannot be tested if you have no ID physically on you. If you don’t have any form of photo ID at all, get in touch with your Candidate Engagement Facilitator to discuss your options.

You will need to bring with you, original copies of the following documents:

  • Your Birth Certificate;
  • Your Passport (if you have one);
  • Citizenship or proof of Permanent Residency (if held);
  • Driver’s license (if you have one);
  • Record of Achievement such as NCEA qualifications or tertiary / educational qualifications. A breakdown of credits received is required rather than the certificate to show you have passed;
  • The NZDF Biography form; and
  • If you are applying for an officer role, a resume / curriculum vitae is also required.

These will be checked and then handed straight back to you. If you don’t bring these documents, it will slow down the processing of your application. Aim to have them all available for Assessment Day.

Your recuiter will give you instructions on how to complete each of the tests. Instructions are also printed on the test booklet. In most tests, you will have the chance to practice some example questions, to make sure that you understand what you have to do. You will not have to opportunity to use a calculator or dictionary during the tests. There will be space available (and a spare piece of blank paper if you need it) on the test paper to do any rough work for working out the answers. You will have to hand in your rough working, but it will not be taken into account when your answers are marked.

Some of the tests have a test booklet and a corresponding answer sheet. If you place your answers in the booklet, you will receive no marks. Place all of your working and answers on the answer sheet. You will not lose marks for providing a wrong answer.

Ensure that your written answers are legible. You won’t get marks if the assessor cannot read your answers. If your writing looks like a scribble, try printing your answers.

Don’t spend too much time getting fixated on any one question, unless you get to a point where you are finding the questions really hard. Try to answer as many as you can within the time allowed.

For the fitness testing you will need to bring along suitable PT kit. This is generally shorts/running pants, t-shirt, and running shoes. Bringing a drink bottle and towel along is recommended.

If you think that you are ready to attend an Assessment Day, get in touch with your Candidate Engagement Facilitator, who will book you into an upcoming test session at a time that suits you.

How many times can you do the aptitude tests?

There is a limit to the number of times you can attempt the aptitude testing. If you fail one or more aptitude tests on your testing day, you will have to wait 6 months before sitting the test again (or you will be given the opportunity to progress with trade choices, you do meet the aptitude criteria for). This stand-down period allows you time to personally upskill on the areas that you are weak at. After 6 months, you will then be invited to re-sit  only those test/s you have previously failed. You don’t have to resit the test until you are ready. If you are focusing on academic study to upskill your knowledge, talk to your Candidate Engagement Facilitator to see what is best for you. This second attempt is your final opportunity to pass the test/s.If you do not pass, we will be unable to proceed with your application for some roles (however you will be given the option to consider other trade choices you do have the aptitude for). Do not be in a rush to be re-tested. Take the time to upskill yourself in the areas that you are weak in.

Overseas applicants

We welcome overseas applicants, but there is some paperwork you'll have to get ready first.

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Which way will you join?


Officers are leaders, managers and strategists. Their decision-making skills and problem-solving abilities enable them to plan and execute tasks in a wide variety of scenarios. It's their job to earn trust and respect from the personnel under their charge and display the strength of character to inspire. If you're a graduate, or plan on being one, ask about a career as an officer in the New Zealand Defence Force.

Despite the name, being a soldier, sailor, airman or airwoman is anything but 'regular'. It's all about being part of a very special team. Whether you are working on land, on sea or in the air, you will be an expert in your field, providing the hands-on skills that makes us such a diverse, exciting and capable organisation. Whatever your trade, you will enjoy a diverse career that enables you to fulfil your potential in unique situations.

There is also another option open to you. All three services maintain a Reserve Force. This is an opportunity to play your part, learn trades and experience life in the Defence Force, but on a part-time basis. This means you can experience the best of both worlds and combine a civilian career with Defence Force experience.

Joining as a civilian

They might not always have to wear a uniform, but civilians still form a crucial part of the Defence Force too.

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What NCEA credits do you need?

Check out individual roles

To qualify you will need to meet the minimum basic requirements listed above, as well as specific requirements for your chosen role. The easiest way to see what is required is to look at the individual roles on this website.

Check out NCEA levels

Alternatively, click the link below to go to an external site which describes NCEA levels in more detail.

See NCEA levels
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