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. 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.

Key Information

Preparing for Your Recruitment Process

This document provides information that will assist applicants for roles in the Navy, Army and Air Force, including details about the recruitment process, how to prepare yourself for assessment, and what to expect if you are successful in joining the Australian Defence Force.

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

In the Air Force you'll get paid a good salary from day one regardless of your age, experience or qualifications; and your pay increases as you progress through training.

In addition to your salary you'll receive a variety of allowances, extra pay for relevant qualifications – plus 16.4% superannuation, a far higher rate than you're likely to find in the civilian world.

For more details download our Salary Scales.


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 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.

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.

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.

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 six 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

Special Requirements

At a minimum, candidates must hold a valid Australian State or Territory provisional/probationary C Class Drivers Licence upon enlistment/appointment. Candidates with suspended or cancelled licences will not be eligible to join until the suspension or cancellation has been lifted or has expired.

Entry Requirements

Applicants must hold a provisional/probationary or full Australian C Class (or equivalent) motor vehicle licence for a vehicle with a manual transmission for 12 months. Applicants must 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 Job Opportunities Assessment (JOA) is completed as part of the application process to join the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Some jobs may also require you to complete a further evaluation at a later date.

The JOA is used by Defence to establish suitability for ADF entry, and then identify jobs that best match your abilities.

Further information about the JOA can be found in the Guide to the Job Opportunities Assessment for the ADF.

To get a feel for the types of questions that are used in the Job Opportunities Assessment and how they will look on your screen some examples can be found in the Job Opportunities Assessment Example Questions.


To serve in the ADF you must be an Australian Citizen.

If you are a permanent resident of Australia, the ADF may consider a temporary deferral 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 employees to have a security clearance appropriate to their employment.

A process of background checks, collection of relevant information and if required, interviews, enables the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA) to make an informed assessment of an applicant's suitability for a security clearance.

The minimum security clearance level required is Negative Vetting Level 1 (NV1), and current policy requires applicants to have a checkable background for the previous 10 years.

This means applicants must provide credible referees (non-family members) who are able to provide information about the applicant covering an extended period of time. Required information for an NV1 includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Residence
  • Employment
  • Education
  • Financial information
  • Travel

Some ADF jobs may require a higher level of security clearance such as Negative Vetting Level 2 (NV2) or Positive Vetting (PV). Your individual circumstances will determine the number and complexity of the questions and the supporting documents required for these levels.

Australian Citizenship is a requirement for a security clearance and a clearance will only be granted to a non-citizen in exceptional circumstances.

The security clearance is critical to an applicant's successful progression through the recruiting process. It is strongly recommended that all applicants action the Security Clearance Package (ePack) and provide the required documentation without delay to provide the best opportunity to commence training and be employed in their preferred employment category.

For more detailed information on the security vetting process and specific clearance level requirements set by AGSVA, please refer to the AGSVA website.

Support will be provided by DFR during the initial application process.


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.

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 at Holsworthy, Sydney, 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.