A clearance diver is an exciting career path for men and women of the New Zealand Defence Force. A Navy diver is trained in Mine clearance and underwater explosives utilising the latest diving equipment. They also, search for missing persons and conduct underwater engineering on ships and structures.

  • Service
  • Specialisation
    Navigation, Combat and Security
  • Location
  • Starting Trade Training
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Manawanui Divers_FLIPPED_May 21

About the role

As a Navy diver you will have to be determined, have a high degree of stamina and physical fitness, work well under pressure, love a challenge and enjoy being part of a strong team environment.

I’ve lead a team to the Solomon Islands to do some EOD work clearing all the explosive remnants of WWII... To go out and get rid of all that danger for them was pretty cool.

Career progression and training

Career Progression

Basic Training

Job Training

Ongoing Training

Specialist Training

You will start your career with initial training before completing your first professional diving course. A period of consolidation with the Clearance Diving Group or at sea will then follow where you will build up your diving and navy experience in preparation for the next level of training. Further courses, promotion and training will follow to assist with career progression and advancement. Civilian recognised qualifications are awarded on completion of Navy dive training.

Once trained, you will be skilled in mine countermeasures, clearance diving, underwater engineering and the disposal of explosive ordnance and improvised explosive devices. You will be employed at sea and ashore in New Zealand and overseas as part of the Navy’s Clearance Diving Group.

This may include land based deployments with organisations such as the United Nations becoming an integral part of our Littoral Warfare Force.

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

  • Teamwork and support
  • Naval history and customs
  • Drill and parades
  • Core mariner skills and weapons training
  • First aid and firefighting
  • Physical fitness
  • Self-discipline

After completing your Basic Common Training course you'll begin an intensive and demanding five week Defence Diver course to learn Military Diving (to a maximum depth of 30m) in order to gain:

  • Fundamentals of diving (theory and practice)
  • Complete seabed and ship's hull searches
  • Complete all maintenance relating to military diving
  • Complete all shipborne underwater maintenance tasks
  • RNZN decompression training

On successful completion of the Defence Diver course you'll be employed with the Clearance Diving Group or Navy Dive Training School, Devonport performing routine diving tasks and continuation training. These can include ship's hull maintenance and assisting the New Zealand Police and other civil authorities in searching for missing persons and crime scene evidence, including searching and disposal of suspected improvised explosive devices ('homemade bombs').

During this time you can expect to be posted to sea in order to consolidate and gain experience onboard naval vessels and be exposed to the naval culture. You'll be required to assist in all general ship activities and may even be part of the ship's boarding parties. In addition, you will be required to maintain your diving competencies and assist the Senior Rating Diver with all diving related tasks.

At the completion of this phase of training, personnel will be qualified as ADAS Part 1 (Australian Diving Accreditation System (Part One - Diver to 30metres)). 

After completing your competency log you will eligible to commence your Able Diver Course which is about 38 weeks in duration and will cover the following:

  • Compressed air diving to 50 metres
  • Mixed gas diving to 54 metres
  • Surface supply diving to 50 metres, including
    • underwater salvage, and
    • underwater engineering tasks 
  • Military combat diving using 100% oxygen on a rebreather set
  • Dive Medical Technicians
  • Mine countermeasure diving including searches and disposal
  • Explosive ordinance clearance (below the high water mark)
  • Above and underwater demolitions and explosive training
  • Pouncer Operations (Mine disposal inserted from helicopter) 

When you have progressed to this level, which usually takes the first four years of Naval Service, you will have the opportunity to gain additional civilian qualifications.

The Diving School currently awards 30 NZQA Unit Standards in occupational diving. Your Navy diving qualifications equate to a recognised Class 3 Construction Diver.

During your personal development you will have the opportunity to gain experience in other areas, such as Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (IEDD) training and technical administration and maintenance. As a professional Diver, you will be required to instruct and assess Defence Divers. 

After appropriate leadership and management courses you will have the opportunity to attend professional courses in the USA, Australia and the UK, and even to gain an internationally recognised ADAS qualification in Construction Diving.

If you think you can find a more exciting way to get one, don't hold your breath...

Navy Diver Training School_May 21

Salary and benefits

Careers in the Navy are well-rewarded, as well as being diverse and exciting. As you become more experienced and move up through the ranks, gaining additional skills and qualifications, you will see your salary rise accordingly.

While undertaking Basic Recruit Course you will be paid as a Recruit. On completion of your Recruit Course you will be paid as an Ordinary Rate and your pay will continue to increase as your career progresses.


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


  • Be a minimum of 17 years of age upon entry.
  • Be free of any criminal conviction for the previous two years.
  • Pass the RNZN Diver Selection Board.

RNZN Diver Selection Board

The selection board helps to determine your aptitude and suitability for a career in the RNZN as a Diver or General List Executive Mine Warfare Clearance Diving Officer (GLX MCDO). This is also an opportunity for you to gain insight into life as a RNZN Diver or GLX MCDO. The selection board takes place in Devonport, Auckland over 3 days.

3 years secondary school. Note, qualifications may be used to assess trade suitability.




There are strict citizenship and security requirements to gain the required security clearance for this trade. You must be free of any criminal convictions for the previous two years.

Find out if you’re eligible here.

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