Full time / View Reserve role

Plant Operator

Enjoy the challenge of working in diverse and remote locations, operating a variety of earth moving equipment to help construct airfields for expeditionary operations.

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Job Overview

About the Job

Plant Operators provide civil/earthwork construction support to the Air Force's infrastructure. The Plant Operator's role involves the operation of various items of heavy earth moving equipment (dozer, excavator, dump truck etc) in the construction and maintenance of pavements and site excavations and also in emergency/battle damage repair activities. Plant Operators may be required to work shifts or participate in deployed operations with the Army in remote areas located within or external to Australia.

Principal duties concentrate on deployed conditions both within Australia and overseas. These roles are performed regularly on deployments to temporary and permanent airfields in support of expeditionary air operations. Such activities could also be undertaken at any of the major RAAF Bases and at isolated temporary RAAF airfields or construction sites within Australia. Plant Operators receive training in general and specialist heavy vehicle and plant operation and are required to support other trades (Plumber, Carpenter, Electrician) in the performance of their duties. Plant Operators also participate regularly in ground defence exercises and are required to provide temporary construction services. Working conditions vary from an office environment to the field.

Plant Operators are trained to perform their role through a combination of on the job training and various intensive courses that lead toward a Certificate 3 in Civil Construction (Plant Operations). Plant Operators are able to progress to the rank of Corporal and then apply to become Works Supervisors where they can then follow a career path up to Warrant Officer.

Other Ranks - Non Technical

Join the ADF with appropriate high school passes

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Salary can be over $67,280 p.a. on completion of initial employment training. This salary includes Uniform and Service allowance.

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Key Information

National Qualifications

Through career progression training, Plant Operators can attain all necessary competencies for the award of the current Certificate III in Plant Operations.

Salary & Allowances

Salary while undertaking Military (Recruit) Training: $1,434 per fortnight ($37,302 per year).*

Salary while undertaking Initial Employment Training: $1,639 per fortnight ($42,631 per year).*

While under training, you will also receive $403 per fortnight ($10,493 per year pro rata) Trainee Allowance.

Salary (excluding allowances) on completion of Initial Employment Training: $1,921 per fortnight ($49,970 per year).*

In addition to your salary, you will receive Service Allowance of $538 per fortnight ($13,991 per year) except while undertaking Military (Initial) or Employment training. This allowance compensates a member for the unique requirements that service life may impose on an individual and his or her family.

To assist you in maintaining your uniforms in good order and condition, you will also receive a Uniform Allowance of $16 per fortnight ($419 per year).

Each General Entry job in the Australian Defence Force is classified into a pay grade. This particular job is classified as a Pay Grade 1 Occupation on entry and then progresses in stages to Pay Grade 4 after completion of necessary training and workplace experiences over a period of approximately 4 years.

Refer to the Salary Scales for further details.

* Note: These figures do not include compulsory deductions for taxation; meals, accommodation and utilities (as applicable); or superannuation.


Plant Operators may be employed at various units and bases within Australia, such as:

  • RAAF Townsville
  • RAAF Richmond
  • RAAF Tindal and
  • As a corporal RAAF Amberley as an instructor.



Unqualified applicants must be aged between 17 and 53 years of age inclusive on day of entry.

Qualified applicants must be aged between 17 and 55 years of age inclusive on day of entry.

Applicants will not be allowed to enter the ADF until they achieve a minimum of 17 years of age, however they may be able to initiate the application process from 16 years and six months of age, depending upon the capacity of their local recruiting centre.

Education & Experience

Unqualified Entry

All unqualified candidates are required to have successfully passed Year 10 level of secondary education (including English and Mathematics).

Note: Consumer Maths, General Maths, Mathematics (General Mathematics) and similarly 'modified' Maths subjects are not suitable for this job,


If you do not satisfy the education requirements for this trade or do not possess evidence of your educational attainment there is an alternative pathway available to you.

You may be eligible to sit an Alternative Education Equivalency (AEE) Assessment to ascertain your ability at the required educational level for this trade.

Further information is available here.

Qualified Entry

Direct entry (qualified) to the Plant Operator mustering requires the candidate to hold:

  • Current Certificate III in Civil Construction (Plant Operations); or dated equivalent - Department of Labour and Industry (DLI) Licence; and
  • Licences for appropriate Plant and machinery.

Note: Qualified applicants must have a pass in Year 10 English in addition to holding the relevant trade qualification.

If you do not satisfy the education requirements for this trade or do not possess evidence of the required educational attainment, there is an alternative pathway available to you.

You may be eligible to sit an Alternative Education Equivalency (AEE) Assessment to ascertain your ability at the required educational level for this trade.

Further information is available here.

Applicants applying for qualified entry must provide proof of high school results in addition to original trade certificates, units of competency results and a current resume to their Careers Counsellor. These documents will then be forwarded to the Recruiting Liaison Officer (RLO-1) at Directorate of Personnel - Air Force for review by the Air Force job sponsor to establish eligibility for qualified enlistment.

Medical & Fitness

To be enlisted or appointed, you must be medically and physically fit for entry to your chosen occupation. This is partially assessed from the completion of an extensive questionnaire covering your medical history, followed by a physical examination.

You will also be required to successfully pass a physical fitness test before appointment.

For further details on medical and physical fitness standards refer to Physical Fitness Standards for Entry into the ADF and Medical Process for Entry into the ADF.

Period of Service

You will be enlisted for an Initial Minimum Period of Service (IMPS) of four years. Subsequent periods of service may be offered subject to the requirements of the ADF and your suitability for further service. You may request discharge at any time provided you do not have an outstanding IMPS obligation.

Additional Requirements

Applicants should hold a provisional or full Australian C Class (or equivalent) motor vehicle licence for a vehicle with a manual transmission for 12 months. Applicants should be free of traffic infringements and/or offences that may result in future cancellation of the licence, or prevent the issue of and ADF Drivers Licence.


The application process to join the Australian Defence Force requires you to complete a series of aptitude tests which may include verbal, spatial and numerical ability and a general maths test. Some jobs may also require you to complete additional testing at a later date.

Psychology support staff will explain what is involved with each test.

The aptitude tests provide information about your suitability for the Defence Force and for particular jobs. Defence Force Recruiting can then help you identify jobs that best match your abilities.

Further information on the aptitude testing requirements can be found here.


Only Australian Citizens are permitted to serve in the ADF.

If you are a permanent resident of Australia, the ADF may consider a temporary waiver of the citizenship requirement if the position for which you are applying cannot be filled by an applicant who meets all the citizenship requirements, and then only in exceptional circumstances. You will be required to obtain Australian Citizenship as early as possible following enlistment or appointment.

Find out more in our Citizenship page or ask your local Defence Force Recruiting Centre.

Security Requirements

The Department of Defence requires ADF entrants to attain a security clearance appropriate to their avenue of entry. Details on the security requirements for all Air Force jobs can be found here.


Military Training

Duration: 10.6 weeks

Location: RAAF Base Wagga (NSW)

You'll start your Air Force career at No 1 Recruit Training Unit (1RTU). In three intensive months you'll transition smoothly from civilian to Service life, acquiring the basic knowledge, skills and physical fitness required for your role; and learning to become an effective and productive member of the Air Force.

You can read about what to expect at the No.1 Recruit Training Unit on the 1RTU website. You'll also find useful information in our Joining instructions.

Employment Training

Airfield Engineering Civil Training

Duration: 10 weeks

On graduation from Recruit Training at RAAF Base Wagga NSW, you will attend the first part of your training at the RAAF Security and Fire School RAAF Base Amberley near Brisbane in QLD. Here, you will undertake Basic Airfield Engineering Civil training, and driver training in preparation to attend the Civil Construction Courses at the School of Military Engineering (SME) at Moorebank NSW.

Civil Construction Plant Course

Duration: 16 weeks

After on the job consolidation of up to 6 months, you may attend the Civil Construction Plant Course which covers theory and skills relating to driving of Heavy Plant (Scrapers, Bulldozers etc). It is a 16 week intensive course at the School of Military Engineering, Holsworthy Barracks Sydney.

Further Training

Additional Employment Training

The opportunity to undergo further training in Specialist Airfield Engineering Courses, covering subjects such as scaffolding/ dogging/ rigging/ shoring and trenching/ explosive power tools may be available if required to complete specific construction tasks.

Plant Operators will also be required to undertake core training courses required for career progression. These are contained in the AFENG log book and include chainsaw, senior first aid, Airfield Lighting and High Voltage switching familiarisation, CPL and SGT promotion courses.