Get your career off to a flying start with the Royal New Zealand Air Force 

If you say you want to join the Air Force, most people will think you want to be a pilot. Sure the Air Force needs great pilots, but to keep a fleet of diverse aircraft ready to fly at a moment’s notice you need a lot more talent than flyers alone. In fact, there are over 25 Air Force careers you can take up.

The Air Force is primarily responsible for: maritime surveillance, search and rescue, disaster relief, peacekeeping (in up to 20 countries), Police and Army/Navy assistance, Antarctic support and transportation and logistics.

The RNZAF provides the fastest and most flexible response of any of the NZ Defence Forces to emergency situations. That’s why it is such a vital component of the NZ Defence Forces, and that’s what can make it such a varied and exciting career.

Air Force training

To join the Royal New Zealand Air Force you must be over 17 (same for all services) and, depending on the different role you may be aspiring to, you will need to have met specified NCEA standards. Are you, or will you be, eligible to join the Air Force?

Air Force training starts with 12 weeks of Recruit Training, where you will learn the values and the basic ropes of Air Force life. Training is at RNZAF Base Woodbourne near Blenheim. Further training in your chosen specialist field follows this. As well as Woodbourne base, the other RNZAF bases are Whenuapai in West Auckland and Ohakea in the Manawatu.

View the specialist roles you can train for in the RNZAF

Check out the salaries and other conditions in the RNZAF

Follow the lives of some Air Force trainees as they embark on their 12-week Recruit Course

Train as a Royal New Zealand Air Force Officer

Once you join the Air Force, you’ll be posted to RNZAF Woodbourne base to do the Joint Officer Induction Course (JOIC), which is a 7-week, full-time course. The JOIC course gives you a basic level of military skills including field-craft, weapon handling, navigation, drill, battle-craft, communications and an introduction to leadership. Once you have done the JOIC, you move on to the 22-week long Initial Officer Training Course, also at Woodbourne      

View the range of officer roles you can train for in the RNZAF

Studying in the Air Force

Thinking about an engineering career but don’t want to end up with a major student debt? The Air Force has two schemes in place for Engineering Officers that can mean not only are your studies paid for but also you get to put these into action in the real world right away.

The Graduate Incentive Scheme (GIS) is for graduates or students in their final year of a BE(Hons) or BEngTech, and it basically reimburses the cost your studies in annual payments over four years of service.

Much more relevant to school leavers is the RNZAF University Scheme (RUS) is for undergraduate and Year 13 students. Basically you can become Officer Cadets in the RNZAF Reserve and the Air Force will pay for your engineering studies as well as an annual living allowance on a ‘year for a year’ return of service basis. When you finish your degree you join the Air Force as an Engineering Officer and begin your Initial Officer Training. Even better, RUS students are also eligible to do up to 10 weeks of paid engineering work experience with the Air Force each year.