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.

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. Your job could involve:

  • Managing hundreds of personnel on base or camp, or teams of 30+ out in the field
  • Formulating high-level strategies and tactics
  • Stepping behind the controls of a frigate or aircraft carrying people, equipment and crucial supplies
  • Leading search and rescue operations in New Zealand and overseas
  • Commanding high-tech equipment and technology worth millions of dollars
  • Leading operations in extreme environments, such as Antarctica
  • Implementing peace efforts in unstable and politically-charged environments
  • Being one of the first people on the ground to help plan and manage disaster relief efforts, at home and abroad
  • 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
  • Training and mentoring other personnel in a wide variety of specialist role 


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

To find the role that suits you, explore our roles table here.


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 i) you apply for us to sponsor your tertiary education fees, or ii) you undertake training in specific roles such as a Pilot or Air Warfare Officer (these are specified on the individual job 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, for 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.


Not only will you be 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 with additional benefits like world-class training and partnered study, an Officer career will accelerate your life like no other job.

To check out the other benefits, click here.