Āpiha Tauā Moana
Navy officers train navy sailors, manage field exercises and lead sailors in combat, peacekeeping missions, border patrols and disaster relief.
Navy officer cadets usually earn
$35K-$52K per year
Depending on rank, graduated navy officers usually earn
$55K-$146K per year
Source: NZ Defence Force, 2017.
Pay for navy officers varies depending on specialist trade, experience and rank.
- Officer cadets (midshipmen) usually earn between $35,000 and $52,000 a year.
- Ensigns can earn between $55,000 and $70,000.
- Sub-lieutenants can earn between $69,000 and $84,000.
- Lieutenants can earn between $85,000 and $126,000.
- Lieutenant commanders can earn between $98,000 and $146,000.
Navy officers 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 figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Navy officers may do some or all of the following:
- organise and conduct training
- instruct and lead sailors during training exercises and on deployment
- budget, and manage resources assigned to them
- operate and maintain Navy equipment
- help in search and rescue operations, border patrols and disaster relief efforts in New Zealand and overseas
- train sailors in fitness, first aid and combat.
Navy officers also have duties related to their area of specialisation. For example, airborne tactical officers control the operations and communications of helicopters that are based on ships.
Skills and knowledge
Navy officers need to have:
- leadership, management and budgeting skills
- knowledge of Navy regulations, tactics and protocol, including health and safety, ethics, and conduct
- knowledge of drills and parade requirements
- knowledge of how to operate and maintain weapons and radio equipment
- problem solving skills
- first aid and rescue skills.
Navy officers also need to have skills and knowledge related to their field of specialisation or trade. For instance, navy warfare officers need to know how to operate various weapons systems.
- 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 on Navy ships 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.
What's the job really like?
Find out what it takes to be an officer in the New Zealand Navy – 2.19 mins. (Video courtesy of the NZ Defence Force)
Officer 2: My job is navigating officer, it means I'm in charge of basically the bridge team and making sure that we get from A to B safely and on time.
Officer 1: I'm primarily responsible for sonars, radars, communications equipment, LANS, missiles and guns.
Officer 3: I'm a marine engineering officer, and I'm basically in charge of making the ship go through the water.
Officer 4: My current role in the Navy is a junior engineer on HNZS Canterbury. This involves getting to learn systems, from propulsion to air conditioning, power distribution, sewage treatment.
Officer 3: We use diesels, gas turbines, fridges, chilled water plants, compressors –anything like that that you need to keep the ship moving and ready to do anything the captain wants it to do.
Officer 5: My current role as a deputy supply officer is mainly pay, admin and logistics. So, we have army and air force that come on board, as well as everything that comes with them, which is helicopters, embarked forces, cranes and cargo; so we need to get those people fed and ready to do their job.
Officer 4: I joined the Navy – a classic example – the Navy recruiter came into science class while I was at high school and said "Who wants a free degree?"
Officer 5: I went to university for a couple of months and it just wasn't everything I thought it would be; I wasn't outside, I wasn't getting active, so I just thought "Just join the Navy and see where it takes me."
Officer 6: The best thing about my job is that not many people get to do it. I get to fly a $64 million helicopter by myself and am purely responsible for everything that happens to that helicopter.
Officer 7: The best thing about being in the Navy is being able to drive millions of dollars' worth of warship in really complex situations.
Officer 4: The best thing about being in the Navy is the culture – like-minded people into sports, into travel and a real good bunch of people to get on with.
Officer 3: We flew into an island that had been hit by a Cat 5 hurricane. The island had been without water for 48 hours and my team and I went in there, got the plant running and then was able to deliver the water out. The smiles and everything that they had on their faces is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Officer 5: I love life, my job; I love the ship.
To be eligible for navy officer basic training you need to:
- be at least 17 years old
- have no criminal convictions
- have a minimum of NCEA Level 2 with 12 credits in English
- hold a current and clean driver's licence
- be medically and physically fit
- be a New Zealand citizen, or a New Zealand residence class visa holder.
If you meet the criteria, you also need to:
- pass aptitude and fitness tests
- attend a formal interview for your selected trade (area of specialisation).
Some trades differ in their age requirements, and may require you to have NCEA credits in specific subjects or a tertiary degree.
New officer cadets (midshipmen) are posted to Devonport Naval Base to complete a five-day induction course before they start the seven-week Joint Officer Induction Course (JOIC) at RNZAF Base Woodbourne in Blenheim.
After the JOIC, cadets are posted back to Devonport Naval Base for 15 weeks of Junior Officer Common Training (JOCT).
- Defence Careers website - information on the application process
- Defence Careers website - information on upcoming intakes
NCEA Level 2 with a minimum of 12 credits in English is required for this job. Useful subjects include construction and mechanical technologies, digital technologies, mathematics, physical education and physics.
Navy officers need to be:
- disciplined and organised
- careful and accurate, with an eye for detail
- efficient and able to work well under pressure
- able to manage and lead people
- able to solve problems and make decisions
- able to give instructions well.
As well as the ability to command and show leadership, you have to be able to motivate your team.
Useful experience for navy officers includes:
- training as a sailor in the Navy
- being a member of the Naval Volunteer Reserve
- involvement in youth organisations such as Sea Scouts and Cadets
- experience at sea
- work or sporting experience in a team environment
- experience in a trade such as automotive or mechanical engineering.
Navy officers must pass Navy fitness tests, so they need to be fit, healthy and strong, with good hearing and eyesight (with or without corrective lenses). Some positions require you to have normal colour vision.
Find out more about training
- NZ Defence
- 0800 136 723 - www.defencecareers.mil.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Chances of getting a job as a navy officer are average as the Navy recruits only a small number of officers each year, and competition for positions is high.
The New Zealand Navy is made up of around 2651 staff.
Diversity of staff important
The Navy 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 22% of Navy staff.
Chances good for some specialist roles
Your chances of being accepted into basic navy officer training are better if you apply for the following trades:
- airborne tactical officers
- helicopter pilots
- marine engineers.
Defence Force only employer
Navy officers work for the New Zealand Defence Force in New Zealand and overseas.
- Bonallack, A, 'How do you Choose your Speciality? It all Starts with Defence Recruitment', May 2017, (www.navy.mil.nz).
- New Zealand Defence Force, 'Defence White Paper 2016', June 2016, (www.defencecareers.mil.nz).
- New Zealand Defence Force, 'Future35 Our Strategy to 2035', accessed July 2017, (www.nzdf.mil.nz).
- New Zealand Defence Force, 'New Zealand Government Defence Capability Plan 2016', (www.nzdf.mil.nz).
- New Zealand Defence Force, 'The 2015-2016 Annual Report', accessed July 2017, (www.nzdf.mil.nz).
- New Zealand Herald, 'Navy's Newest Vessels haven't Left Port for Years', 14 April 2016, (www.nzherald.co.nz).
- Patterson, J, 'NZ Defence Force to get $20bn Upgrade', 8 June 2016, (www.radio.co.nz).
Progression and specialisations
Navy officers may progress in rank to:
- lieutenant commander.
Navy officers may specialise in:
- combat and security
- engineering and technical trades
- intelligence, IT and communications
- logistics and administration
- medical and health.
- Defence Careers website - information on Navy jobs
- Royal New Zealand Navy website - information on Navy ranks
Last updated 25 August 2017