Kaumoana Tauā Moana
Navy sailors defend their country, keep the peace, patrol borders and provide disaster relief.
Navy sailor recruits usually earn
$35K per year
Depending on rank, graduated navy sailors usually earn
$45K-$109K per year
Source: New Zealand Defence Force, 2017.
Pay for navy sailors varies depending on specialist trade, experience and rank.
- Navy sailor recruits in training can expect to earn $35,0000 a year.
- Ordinary rates (recently graduated sailors) usually earn between $45,000 and $49,000 a year.
- Able rates can earn between $52,000 and $63,000.
- Leading hands can earn between $59,000 and $76,000.
- Petty officers can earn between $66,000 and $88,000.
- Chief petty officers can earn between $74,000 and $103,000.
- Warrant officers can earn between $87,000 and $109,000.
Navy sailors 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
Navy sailors may do some or all of the following:
- operate and maintain military equipment, including weapons and radios
- clean, paint and repair ships and vehicles
- patrol coastal borders
- take part in combat
- load and unload supplies, sometimes across ships at sea
- 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.
Navy sailors also train in a specific role or trade, such as weapon technician, steward or medic.
Skills and knowledge
Navy sailors need to have knowledge of:
- Navy regulations, tactics and protocol, including health and safety, ethics and conduct
- combat skills
- how to operate and maintain weapons and radio equipment
- Navy drills, exercises and seamanship duties
- first aid and rescue techniques
- how to clean and care for a uniform.
Navy sailors also need to have skills and knowledge related to their field of specialisation, or trade. For example, Navy medics need knowledge of nursing, emergency care and surgical methods.
- usually work regular business hours but may be expected to work long or irregular hours on training exercises or when on deployment
- work on Navy ships, and onshore 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 life is like for a sailor in the New Zealand Navy – 1.23 mins. (Video courtesy of the NZ Defence Force)
Sailor 2: I really enjoy it. I've been in for only two and a half years and I've managed to do a lot of travelling, seen a lot of sights, made a lot of friends.
Sailor 3: You're not really just starting a new job, it's really a whole lifestyle.
Sailor 4: It's definitely different to city life – working the normal ave job every day.
Sailor 2: Life on base; it's convenient. You've got everything you need.
Sailor 5: We've got a Navy pub on base.
Sailor 2: Laundry services and everything; it's like a big house, really.
Sailor 5: With time off, sometimes – I'm from the 'Naki – a couple of us carpool and go down there and catch up with all our mates down home.
Being at sea's awesome, I love it. You get to move in, have a room full of about 15 guys. No one knows each other at the start and they just get on.
Sailor 6: Like playing sports and doing workouts on the back of a ship; not many people get to do that. Going swimming in the middle of the ocean.
Sailor 5: I've been to China; that's pretty cool – there's heaps of different navies there. From the Russians, Brazilians...
Sailor 4: My parents are really proud; they think quite highly of the Navy.
Sailor 6: My friends think it's really intense. They're like "Wow, the Navy's hard out." I feel quite proud.
To be eligible for navy soldier basic training you need to:
- be at least 17 years old
- have no criminal convictions
- have a minimum of NCEA Level 1 with 10 literacy and numeracy credits
- 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.
New Navy recruits do 18 weeks basic training at HMNZS Philomel in Devonport, Auckland.
After basic training, recruits do Basic Branch Training (BBT) to learn the basics of a specific Navy trade.
- Defence Careers website - how to apply for a role as a sailor in the New Zealand Navy
- Defence Careers website - information on upcoming intakes
NCEA Level 1 with 10 credits in literacy and numeracy is required for this job. Useful subjects include construction and mechanical technologies, digital technologies, English, mathematics, physical education and physics.
Navy sailors 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 for navy sailors includes:
- training as a soldier in the Territorial Force/Army 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 mechanical or electrical engineering.
Sailors 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 sailor are good because the Navy:
- regularly recruits new sailors each year to replace those leaving
- has a shortage of skilled electronic technicians and ICT specialists
- needs to replace ageing workers due to retire in the next 10 years.
Although there is good demand for navy sailors, competition for some specialist roles can be 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.
Defence Force only employer
Navy sailors 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).
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Navy sailors may progress in rank to:
- ordinary and able rate
- leading hand
- petty officer
- chief petty officer
- warrant officer.
With further training, navy sailors can become commissioned officers.
Navy sailors may specialise in:
- combat and security
- engineering and technical trades
- intelligence, IT and communications
- logistics and administration
- medical and health.
Last updated 26 April 2018