Communications technician

As a Communications Technician (CT), you will provide communications support in a war fighting capacity. Being a CT means you’re vital to the ships intelligence gathering operation.

You will be trained to operate highly sensitive and cutting-edge communications equipment to detect, intercept, collect, identify, analyse and exploit electronic emissions in defence of the ship and to gather information to support the mission of the fleet. Additionally, CTs present this information to the ship’s officers to support decision making in threat environments.

As a Communications Technician, you will complete demanding training in technical analysis and equipment usage. Your day-to-day tasks will be real challenges that offer great opportunities for high achievers.

You will need to understand and adhere to strict security requirements that surround this type of work and be able to present information clearly and concisely to command and provide an overall picture of what is happening from the information collected and analysed.  Communications Technicians must be able to gain and maintain a TOP SECRET security clearance as your day-to-day work is highly sensitive.

When Communications Technicians are not deployed they will work in the Naval Operations Support Unit which is located in the Devonport Naval Base in Auckland. In addition to this Communications Technicians will be required to take up positions in the Defence Headquarters or Joint Forces Headquarters, which are located in the Wellington region.

Communications Technicians at sea primarily work in Defence Watches which consist of a 7 x 5 routine (i.e. 7 hours on, 7 hours off, 5 hours on, 5 hours off). In addition to the primary duties of a Communications Technician, sailors on board HMNZ Ships are required to perform general tasks, anytime and anywhere to assist with the functioning of the ship. The completion of overnight duties in port is a role performed by all sailors, including Communications Technician, on a rotational basis.

Communications Technicians are primarily employed on the ANZAC Class ships. However Communications Technician With the introduction of the Project Protector Fleet (i.e. Multi Role Vessel and Off Shore Patrol Vessels) Communications Technician personnel will be required to augment these ships in order to enhance the ships Indications and Warnings and Force Protection. There are also opportunities to deploy on one of the other NZDF operational missions overseas or undertake a posting overseas that will allow you to enhance your tradecraft.

As soon as basic and specialist training is complete, Communications Technicians usually post to a ship, or to a shore establishment within New Zealand, to consolidate the skills learnt and work towards their promotion to Able Communications Technician.  

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 (see attached pay table). 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.

  • You must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Meet the citizenship & security requirements to gain TSS security clearance for this trade.
  • You must be free of any criminal convictions.

You must have achieved the NCEA level 1 Literacy and Numeracy requirements.

Find out more about the NCEA levels and certificate requirements

  • You must be medically fit for service.
  • Colour perception restrictions may apply.

Upon successful enlistment into the Navy you’ll be posted to Devonport Navy base in Auckland. Here you will do complete your basic training. Find out more about basic training.

After completing Basic Common Training and obtaining the appropriate security clearance, CT Ratings will begin a four year training plan which will help them progress to the rank of Leading Communications Technician (LCT).

In the first year, ratings will undergo Basic Ranch Training in order to develop an understanding of various concepts and analytical skills required of CTs and how to apply them in a real work environment. After promotion to Able Communications Technician (ACT) ratings will spend the majority of their time deployed on RNZN or Allied vessels, or ashore working to support overseas deployed units as well as attending professional advancement courses to increase their skill base.

Once ratings have gained sufficient experience working on CT systems at sea and ashore they will attend a LCT course. This course will facilitate the skills required to manage a small team in an operational enviroment.

All sailors are required to complete damage control (DC) training. The three main components of DC are firefighting, flooding and toxic gas drills. Seamanship, sea survival, rifle training is also mandatory to be an effective and safe member of the ships company.

Due to the nature of the CT trade, some courses throughout a ratings career will need to be conducted oberseas with other allied partner nations or even deployed on one of their ships. Due to the security clearance a CT holds, you may be deployed on Joint Force NZ missions all over the world with other services (i.e. Army, Air Force).

You will either be based on one of the RNZN warships or to the Naval Operations Support Unit – Devonport Naval Base.