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Army Soldier

Hōia Ope Tauā

Alternative titles for this job

Army soldiers defend their country, keep the peace and provide disaster relief.


Army soldier recruits usually earn

$44K per year

Depending on rank, graduated army soldiers usually earn

$44K-$103K per year

Source: NZ Defence Force, 2017

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 can expect to earn minimum wage.
  • Privates (recently graduated soldiers) usually earn between $44,000 and $51,000 a year.
  • Lance corporals and corporals can earn between $47,500 and $68,000.
  • Sergeants and staff sergeants can earn between $59,500 and $90,500.
  • Warrant officers can earn between $77,500 and $103,000.

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

Source: New Zealand Defence Force, 2017.

(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 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 gunner, medic 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 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 medics need knowledge of emergency care, nursing and surgical methods.

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 16.5 years old to apply
  • 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 requirements, and you may need NCEA credits in specific subjects.

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 construction and mechanical technologies, digital technologies, mathematics, physical education and physics.

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).

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
  • the Army needs to replace ageing workers due to retire in the next 10 years.

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
  • hospitality
  • intelligence, IT and communications
  • logistics and administration
  • medical and health
  • trades.
A male soldier sets up a satellite dish outside in a park

Soldiers may use technology to protect their country

Last updated 28 April 2022