Army Officer Āpiha Ope Tauā

Army officers train army soldiers, manage field exercises and lead soldiers in combat, security operations, peacekeeping missions and disaster relief. 

Army officers may do some or all of the following:

  • organise and conduct training
  • lead troops on deployment and instruct troops during training exercises
  • budget, and manage resources assigned to them
  • operate and maintain army equipment
  • help in search and rescue operations, and disaster relief efforts in New Zealand and overseas
  • conduct operational and strategic planning.

Army officers also have duties related to their area of specialisation. For example, engineering officers oversee the erection of bridges, and construction and maintenance of roads.

Physical Requirements

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

Useful Experience

Useful experience for army officers 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
  • work, sporting or other group experience in leading or managing others
  • tertiary education, or experience of activities requiring self-discipline and responsibility.

Personal Qualities

Army officers need to be:

  • disciplined and organised
  • confident
  • 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 and communicate well.


Army officers need to have:

  • leadership, management and budgeting skills
  • problem solving and decision making skills
  • knowledge of army 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, radio, vehicles and specialist equipment
  • first aid and rescue skills.

Army officers also need to have skills and knowledge related to their field of specialisation, or trade. For example, medical officers need knowledge of emergency care, nursing and surgical methods.


Army officers:

  • 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.

Army Officers can earn around $51K-$74K per year.

Pay for army officers varies depending on specialist trade, experience and rank.

  • Officer cadets usually earn between $51,000 and $74,000 a year.
  • Lieutenants usually earn between $78,000 and $98,000.
  • Captains usually earn between $89,000 and $117,000.
  • Majors can earn between $101,000 and $133,000.

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

Source: New Zealand Defence Force, 2023.

Army officers may progress in rank to:

  • second lieutenant
  • lieutenant
  • captain
  • major
  • lieutenant colonel
  • colonel
  • brigadier general
  • major gneral
  • lieutenant general (chief of defence force).

Army officers may specialise in: 

  • combat
  • engineering
  • intelligence
  • communications
  • logistics
  • health.

Years Of Training

1-2 years of training required.

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

  • be at least 17.5 years old to apply (18 years old at the completion of basic training)
  • 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)
  • attend and pass a residential selection board, held over a week at Trentham Military Camp.

Some trades differ in their age requirements, and may require you to have NCEA credits in specific subjects or a tertiary degree.

On-the-job training

New officer cadets are posted to Waiouru Training Facility to complete the 12-month New Zealand Commissioning Course, and graduate as an officer in the New Zealand Army.

Once graduated, army officers will undergo further training in a specialist field of either combat, engineering, intelligence, communications/IT or logistics.

Army Officer