Combat Engineer

Method of Entry:
Reserve - Other Ranks (Non Technical) (Reserve)

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As a Combat Engineer you will become a specialist in bridge-building, minefield clearance, demolition using explosives, field defence systems, water purification as well as road and airfield construction and repair. If you want a rewarding career as part of a highly qualified team experiencing true adventure, this job is for you.

General Information

Job Details

The Combat Engineer belongs to the Royal Australian Engineers (RAE) Corps. RAE soldiers are known as 'Sappers' and are responsible for assisting our own forces to move whilst also denying mobility to the enemy. Sappers are trained in a broad range of tasks including bridge-building, clearing minefields, demolitions, field defences as well as building, road and airfield construction and repair.

A Sapper, trained as a Combat Engineer, is a combat soldier with a wide range of trade and technical skills. Combat Engineers can wield a chainsaw, build a bridge, clear a minefield, build a road or airfield and use explosives to demolish a target.

The Combat Engineer is a soldier who is a specialist in military field engineering.

Main Job Functions:

  • Assists in construction of temporary roads, bypasses and fords.
  • Digs drains and constructs culverts.
  • Erects bridges using both equipment and non-equipment components.
  • Constructs and operates rafts and ferries.
  • Constructs field defences and wire obstacles.
  • Lays, arms, neutralises, disarms and removes mines and booby traps.
  • Conducts demolition tasks.
  • Constructs and operates field machines.
  • Operates boats.
  • Produces potable water using water purification equipment.
  • Carries out concreting tasks.
  • Uses and maintains power tools.

Following qualification as a Combat Engineer, you may have the opportunity to progress to one of the RAE branch trades such as Plant Operator or Architectural Draughtsman.


In today's Army, you can choose either to work full-time or part-time. It all depends on what you would like to do. If you prefer full-time work there is the Regular Army, and if you're after part-time work there's the Army Reserve. Whether you choose full-time or part-time work, you'll become part of one of the largest and most professional organisations in Australia. An organisation with a strong team spirit, and one that offers you a very high standard of training and an opportunity to work with the latest technology.

The Army Reserve has always been about challenge and reward. As a member of the Army Reserve, you'll gain new skills and experiences as well as improving your overall level of fitness. The best part is, while all this is happening, you'll receive tax-free pay. This means you'll have the cash to do whatever you want, whether it's study, work or securing a new job.

The Army Reserve has long been a part of Australia's proud military tradition, a tradition of determination, honour and courage. For years, part-time soldiers have played a vital role in protecting the security of Australia. On the battlefields of Gallipoli, Kokoda, Korea and Vietnam, the Australian Army has forged a reputation of being a strong, well-trained and dedicated team. It is a reputation you'll be expected to uphold as we face the challenges of the 21st century.

The Army is made up of specialised branches called corps such as the Infantry, Artillery, Engineers and Transport Corps. Within each corps, there are a variety of jobs or trades available. Before you join, you should find out what jobs are available in your local area and choose the one that appeals to you most. For instance, you could choose to be a Combat Engineer, a Communications Systems Operator or a Cook. Plus there's also a need for qualified people like Motor Mechanics, Dental Assistants and many more.

Even though you are an Army Reservist, for the majority of your time in the Army, you'll be trained along side full-time soldiers. The purpose of this training is to create a more capable part-time Army that is capable of taking a more active role in the security of our country and region.

Your training begins with Recruit Training at the Army Recruit Training Centre (ARTC) near Wagga Wagga in New South Wales. ARTC is the home of recruit training and is where all soldiers, regular or reserve, commence their career in the Army. During the course, you'll receive expert training from some of the Army's best instructors. No one is saying this training will be easy, but when you complete it, you'll be proud of what you've accomplished.

So, what sort of training will you be doing during Recruit Training? You'll be trained in all the skills a soldier needs. In other words, you'll learn how to work effectively and efficiently as a member of the Australian Army.

You need to be fit to join the Army Reserve. Prior to your enlistment, you must pass a fitness assessment called the Pre-Entry Fitness Assessment (PFA). This is a combination of push-ups, sit ups and a "shuttle run".

During Recruit Training you will be required to participate in additional fitness tests. The major one is the Basic Fitness Assessment (BFA). The BFA is the minimum physical fitness standard required for all members of the Army, both regular and reserve. It is also one of the major components of the Army Individual Readiness Notice (AIRN). The BFA is harder than the PFA, as you are required to perform additional push-ups, sit ups and a 2.4 km run.

Where possible, Recruit Training will be arranged to fit in with any other commitments you may have. If you're studying or just finished school, then this is a great way to develop new skills and earn cash.

The recruit course comprises 35 days of continuous training.

After recruit training, you'll walk away with around $2,104 tax-free, regardless of any other income or benefits you may be receiving.

Active Reserve members are required to complete a minimum of 20 days training per financial year to be considered effective. This service can be any combination of a two-week exercise, weekends or training nights.

Further information on part-time ADF careers can be found by accessing the Defence Reserves Support Council website.

The Council promotes the benefits of Reserve service by establishing partnerships with the community and employers.

Pay & Allowances

Salary while undertaking Military (Recruit) Training: $83.37 per day tax free.

Salary while undertaking or waiting to complete Employment Training: $98.56 per day tax free.

Each General Entry job in the Australian Defence Force is classified into a pay grade. On graduation from basic training ABP are classified as Pay Grade 1 and following additional training can be regraded to Pay Grade 2.

Members of the Reserve on part-time service are paid at a daily rate of pay and on completion of training, this occupation attracts a starting rate of $121.70 per day. Your pay grade will normally increase following the acquisition of additional skills and completion of advanced courses.

Refer to the Salary Scales for further details.

In addition to your salary, a Reserve Allowance of $26.95 per day is payable to compensate for the unique demands of Reserve Service.


General Requirements

Age Requirement

Applicants must be aged between 17 and 60 years of age inclusive on entry.

Applicants will not normally 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.

Citizenship Requirement

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.

More information on citizenship requirements and the citizenship waiver process is available from the Recruitment Centre and your local Defence Force Recruiting Centre.

Security Requirement

The Department of Defence requires ADF employees to have security clearances appropriate to their employment.

A process of background checks, collection of relevant information and, as required, interviews, enables the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency 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, and current policy requires applicants to have a checkable background for the previous 10 years. Required information includes:
- Residence
- Employment
- Education
- Credit
Australian Citizenship is a requirement for a security clearance and a clearance will only be granted to a non-citizen in exceptional circumstances.
NOTE: The security clearance is critical to an applicants successful progression through the Army training system. If an applicant is unable to obtain the required security clearance in time, they will not be allowed to continue their training and may need to be re-allocated to another employment category. As such, it is strongly recommended that all applicants obtain the required documentation as soon as possible to provide the best opportunity to be employed in their preferred employment category.

Aptitude Requirement

The application process to join the Australian Defence Force requires you to complete a series of aptitude tests including 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.

Gender Restriction

Consistent with an exemption provided for Defence under the Commonwealth Anti-Discrimination Act, women may not currently be employed in direct combat roles. This will change in January 2016 when all roles, including direct combat roles, will be open to women. 
Women are still eligible to become Combat Engineers however under the Direct Combat exclusion policy, they are unable to be posted into Combat Engineer Squadrons prior to January 2016. 

Education & Experience

Completion of Australian Year 10 education (or equivalent) with passes in English and Mathematics.


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.

Medical & Fitness Requirements

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 enlistment.

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

All candidates who are appointed or enlisted into the Army Reserve may undertake volunteer service until the age of 65 (Compulsory Retiring Age) subject to the requirements of the Army and suitability for further service. Members may transfer out of the active Army Reserve at any time.


Military Training

All General Entry recruits into the Australian Army Reserve are required to complete the Recruit Course.

Duration: 35 days continuous

Location: Kapooka, Wagga Wagga, NSW

Recruit training is the same for male and female entrants. During the Reserve Recruit Training Course you will be required to take part in physical training, weapon handling and shooting, drill, first aid, navigation and field craft. The training is deliberately challenging and has been designed to prepare you to be a soldier in today's Army. Recruits gain a sense of achievement, purpose and confidence during basic training, and on completion of the course feel justifiably proud of what they have achieved. 

For more information on the content of Recruit Training refer to the Joining Instructions.

Further information is also available at the Army Recruit Training Centre website.

Note: You should be aware that you must commence recruit training within 6 months of enlistment.

Employment Training

Training comprises three modules of 15 days each and one All Corps Soldier Training Module of 12 days duration:

Mod (1): This module can be conducted in RAE Units with training run either continuously or non continuously. Module 1 comprises of the following Combat Engineer Skills:

  • RAE Corps history, organisation, roles and tasks;
  • Operation and maintenance of a range of hand and power tools;
  • Carry out construction tasks using expedient methods and materials;
  • Assist in the construction of obstacles;
  • Assist in the construction of basic field defences;
  • Understand construction plant equipment, capabilities and safety;
  • Assist in the setup, operation and maintenance of water supply equipment, pumps and water testing equipment; and
  • Operate small powered watercraft and construct improvised watercraft applicable to RAE.
Mod (2): This module is conducted at the School of Military Engineering in Moorebank Sydney NSW. Module 2 comprises the following Combat Engineer Skills:
  • Carry out mine laying and clearance tasks;
  • Undertake battlefield area clearances;
  • Use a range of explosives and accessories to carry out demolition tasks;
  • Assemble, maintain and strip a section level dry gap military bridging; and
  • Conduct Engineer search tasks.
Mod (3): This Module is conducted at the School of Military Engineering in Moorebank Sydney NSW. Module 3 comprises of the following Combat Engineer Skills:
  • Fell, cut and trim selected trees;
  • Operate a Mobile Dimensional Saw to mill timber as specified;
  • Operate Powder Actuated Tools;
  • Set up, operate and maintain larger capacity water supply equipment including a Reverse Osmosis machine;
  • Set, operate and maintain watercraft designed to support RAE wet gap crossing operations; and
  • Set up, construct, operate and maintain large scale military bridges and rafts.
Mod (4): This Module conducted at the School of Military Engineering in Moorebank Sydney NSW. Module 4 comprises of the All Corps Soldier Training Skills:
  • Employ defensive measures as a member of a section in defence;
  • Act as a member of a Section on patrol;
  • Employ individual NBCD protective measures;
  • Identify and indicate targets using fire control orders;
  • Navigate across country by day and night using a range of navigational aids;
  • Operate selected night vision equipment;
  • Operate selected service weapons in a simulated and on live fire ranges; and
  • Comply with the conventions of armed conflict.


Employment Location

Reserve RAE units can be found in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney (21 Construction Regiment), Mt Isa, Townsville and Youngtown. These include Combat Engineer regiments and squadrons, and Construction regiments and squadrons.


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