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Army Soldier

Hōia Ope Tauā

Alternative titles for this job

Army soldiers defend their country, forming highly skilled teams that work together in combat and security operations, peacekeeping missions, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. 


Army soldier recruits usually earn

$51K per year

Warrant officers can earn

$101K-$120K per year

Source: NZ Defence Force, 2023

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as an army soldier are good because positions regularly become available.


Pay for Army soldiers varies depending on specialist trade, experience and rank.

  • Army soldier recruits in training usually earn $50,597 a year.
  • Privates (recently graduated soldiers) usually earn between $61,000 and $70,000.
  • Lance corporals and corporals usually earn between $66,000 and $77,000.
  • Sergeants and staff sergeants usually earn between $80,000 and $106,000.
  • Warrant officers can earn between $101,000 and $120,000.

Army soldiers may also get food and accommodation allowances, free medical and dental care.

Source: New Zealand Defence Force, 2023.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Army soldiers may do some or all of the following:

  • operate and maintain military equipment, including weapons, radios and vehicles
  • take part in combat
  • load and unload supplies, and set up camps
  • train in areas such as fieldcraft, navigation, first aid and fitness
  • take part in ceremonial events such as parades
  • take part in peacekeeping operations 
  • participate in wartime-scenario training exercises
  • help in search and rescue operations, and disaster relief efforts in New Zealand and overseas.

Army soldiers also train in a specific role or trade, such as communication systems technician, gunner, logistics specialist or field engineer, with specific tasks and duties related to the role.

Skills and knowledge

Army soldiers need to have knowledge of:

  • Army regulations, tactics and protocol, including health and safety, ethics and conduct
  • combat and fieldcraft skills
  • how to operate and maintain weapons and radio equipment
  • Army drills and exercises
  • first aid and rescue techniques
  • how to clean and care for a uniform.

Army soldiers also need to have skills and knowledge related to their field of specialisation, or trade. For example, army communication system operators need knowledge of radio systems, satellite terminals, data and voice networks.

Working conditions

Army soldiers:

  • usually work regular business hours but may be expected to work long or irregular hours on training exercises or when on deployment
  • work and train at military camps in New Zealand and overseas
  • work in all weather conditions and may have to work in combat situations
  • may spend long periods away from home on overseas assignments.

Entry requirements

To be eligible for army soldier basic training you need to:

  • be at least 17 years old to apply (18 years old at the completion of basic training)
  • have no criminal convictions
  • have completed at least three years of secondary school education
  • be medically and physically fit
  • be a New Zealand citizen, or a New Zealand residence class visa holder.

If you meet the above requirements, you will also need to:

  • pass aptitude and fitness tests
  • attend a formal interview for your selected trade (area of specialisation).

Some trades have different age and NCEA subject requirements. Some trades also require you to attend and pass a residential selection board. 

A current, clean New Zealand driver's licence is recommended.

On-the-job training

New Army recruits do 16 weeks basic training at Waiouru Army Camp.

After basic training, recruits do corps training to learn the basics of a specific army trade.

Secondary education

A minimum of three years of secondary education is required, and you need NCEA Level 1 credits in specific subjects. Useful subjects include English, maths, science, engineering, history, languages, physical education and technology subjects.

Personal requirements

Army soldiers need to be:

  • disciplined and able to follow instructions
  • careful and accurate, with an eye for detail
  • efficient and able to work well under pressure
  • practical and adaptable
  • able to work well in a team.

Useful experience

Useful experience for army soldiers includes:

  • training as a soldier in the Territorial Force/Army Reserve
  • involvement in youth organisations such as Scouts and Cadets
  • work or sporting experience in a team environment
  • experience in a trade such as automotive mechanics, carpentry or plumbing.

Physical requirements

Soldiers must pass Army fitness tests, so they need to be fit, healthy and strong, with good hearing and eyesight (with or without corrective lenses). Some specialisations require you to have normal colour perception.

Find out more about training

New Zealand Army
0800 136 723 -

What are the chances of getting a job?

Chances of getting a job as an army soldier are good because:

  • the Army usually recruits up to 500 soldiers a year to replace those leaving.

Although there is good demand for army soldiers, competition for some specialist roles can be high.

The New Zealand Army is made up of around 4500 staff.

Diversity of staff important

The Army is committed to diversity, and wants to increase the number of women and have more of a mix of cultures. Women typically make up about 15% of army staff.

Chances good for cyber soldiers

The Army wants to increase the number of intelligence officers and information technology staff to boost New Zealand's cyber security.

Defence Force only employer

Army soldiers work for the New Zealand Defence Force in New Zealand and overseas.


  • Army News, 'A Message from Chief of Army', February 2017, (
  • Defence Careers website, 'Army Intake Schedule', accessed July 2017, (
  • New Zealand Defence Force, 'Defence White Paper 2016', June 2016, (
  • New Zealand Defence Force, 'Future35 Our Strategy to 2035', accessed July 2017, (
  • New Zealand Defence Force, 'New Zealand Government Defence Capability Plan 2016', (
  • New Zealand Defence Force, 'The 2015-2016 Annual Report', accessed July 2017, (
  • Patterson, J, 'NZ Defence Force to get $20bn Upgrade', 8 June 2016, (

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Army soldiers may progress in rank to:

  • lance corporal and corporal
  • sergeant and staff sergeant
  • warrant officer.

With further training, army soldiers may progress to become army officers.

Army soldiers may specialise in: 

  • combat and security
  • engineering and technical trades
  • catering
  • intelligence
  • IT and communications
  • logistics medical and health trades.
A man and woman soldier in full camoflage holding guns inside an empty building

Soldiers may take part in combat and peacekeeping operations

Last updated 27 March 2024