NZ Defence Forces & Police

New Zealand’s Defence Forces are made up of three services, Navy, Army and Air Force.

When you sign up in the Defence Forces, you join a team with almost 9,000 others, a team dedicated to protecting the national interests and people of New Zealand during conflict or natural disasters.

Career opportunities in the Defence Forces are like an iceberg – when you look you only see a tiny part of a massive structure. There is a huge range of career choices available in each service, and the training and qualifications gained mean you are set up for a rewarding career in both the services or in civilian life. 

Our Defence Forces are trusted and respected by New Zealanders, pay is on a par with what you might earn in other fields and the services give you access to training, travel opportunities, and the chance to work with high-tech equipment that you just won’t find anywhere else.  

It’s not just a career for the boys either

Today there are more than 1300 women in the NZ Defence Forces, and all roles are open to women who are looking for a challenging and rewarding career. Some roles are more popular with women such as Communications and Logistics. Some combat roles (NZSAS, Commando and Diver) have really high selection and training standards that are both physically and mentally challenging. The standards are the same for men and women, making it very difficult for women and many men to get into these roles. 

Training is at the heart of jobs in the Defence Forces

Initial basic training for all recruits is 12-18 weeks long, and you need to be physically and mentally fit to cope with the challenge. You are not alone though, and you can bet the recruits beside you are going through the same emotions as you are. Often the lifelong friendships the services are known for are forged through this initial training period. 

Training for combat situations is done in all three services, but the reality is that you can train for over 80 different roles in the Navy, Army and Air Force, most of which have direct application in the civilian world. And it’s world-class training too, complete with dedicated career managers who plan your postings and courses to make sure you continue to progress and develop to your best. 

In the services you have the opportunity to continue your learning and training, both on-the-job and in formal education. You are able to gain NZQA qualifications such as NCEA, or even be paid to study at a university or at a polytechnic institute. You don’t normally join the services for life, and training with the Defence Forces for both a career and a life after the services is a smart move. 

Want to get an idea of which service might be the one for you? Have a look at the Defence Forces Career Finder to start you off.   



Are you physically up for the Forces?

You need to be physically up to it in order to join the Defence Forces, and sport plays a big role in the lives of service personnel. How fit do you need to be to get in?

  • Download the Force Fit app that will get you ready for your initial physical assessment, then for your training regime.   

Check out this YouTube video introduction to the NZ Defence Forces:

We Protect What’s Precious to Us - A Force for New Zealand 

All the questions you may have about the New Zealand Defence Forces and how you can become involved have likely been asked already. Check the Defence Forces huge Frequently Answered Questions section.