About the Job

Combat Engineers, known as 'Sappers' are part of the Corps of Royal Australian Engineers (RAE). Combat Engineers conduct the complex, challenging, and rewarding tasks that allow military forces to move, live, and fight. Sappers are trained in a broad range of tasks including bridge-building, clearing explosive hazards, creating obstacles, demolitions, and operating small boats. Combat Engineers also conduct basic construction tasks and purify water.

A Sapper, trained as a Combat Engineer, is a combat soldier with a wide range of tactical 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. Sappers also maintain a secondary role as infantry and employ a range of armoured and other vehicles to achieve their tasks.

Combat Engineer tasks include, but are not limited to: 

  • Conducting demolition tasks
  • Searching for explosive devices
  • Assisting in construction of temporary roads, bypasses and fords
  • Operating small boats
  • Erecting bridges using both pre-fabricated and constructed components
  • Assembling and operating rafts and ferries
  • Constructing field defences and wire obstacles
  • Laying, arming, neutralising, disarming and removing mines and booby traps
  • Producing potable water using water purification equipment
  • Carrying out concreting tasks
  • Using and maintaining power tools

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

In-Service Information
Employment Category Number (ECN): 096
Employment Category: Combat

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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.

Salary & Allowances

In the Army 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.


Combat Engineers are employed in Combat Engineer Regiments, and Construction Squadrons in the following locations:

  • QLD - Brisbane, Townsville and Amberley
  • NSW - Sydney
  • NT - Darwin



Applicants must be at least 17 years of age and able to complete the Initial Minimum Period of Service before reaching Compulsory Retirement Age (60).

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

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

If you have not achieved the appropriate passes for this role, an education assessment can be conducted to determine your eligibility. Employment history and other qualifications will be considered. Speak to your ADF Careers Centre representative to discuss options.

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 assessment 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

Male candidates will be enlisted for an Initial Minimum Period of Service (IMPS) of four years.

Female candidates will be enlisted for two 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.

Your Careers Coach can advise on how IMPS will relate to your chosen occupation.


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 ADF Careers Centre.

Security Requirements

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.


Military Training

As a General Entry recruit, you’ll be required to complete the Recruit Course.

Army Recruit Course
Duration: Approximately 12 weeks.
Location: Kapooka, Wagga Wagga, NSW.

During training, you will take part in physical training, weapon handling and shooting, first aid, drill and field craft. You'll be challenged both mentally and physically.

Although it can be demanding, most 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. The priority of our instructors is to help you succeed.

For more information, visit Soldier Training at Kapooka.

Employment Training

Combat Engineer Course: 12 Weeks (Full-time)

Note: Course duration may vary depending on public holidays and other Army requirements.

At the completion of your basic military training you will undertake a Basic Combat Engineers Course of 12 weeks duration at the School of Military Engineering at Holsworthy, Sydney, NSW.

The Combat Engineer Course consists of 4 Phases as follows:

Phase 1
  • Understand RAE Induction in corps history, organisation, trades and capabilities
  • Use Construction tools and equipment which includes OHS and operation of chainsaws
  • Prepare for and conduct Basic Engineering including excavations, concreting, road and drainage repairs, construction of field defences and obstacles
  • Operate and work in a Chemical, Biological, Radiation and Nuclear Threat Environment and demonstrate personal decontamination techniques
Phase 2
  • Water Purification system operation and conducting water analysis
  • Demolitions use including preparing explosives and landmines
  • Prepare for and conduct Search Operations
  • Explosive Hazard Reduction Assistant training in locating and clearing explosive hazards and using hand-held mine detectors
Phase 3
  • Assist in the construction, operation and maintenance of the Medium Girder Bridge
  • Assist in the construction, operation and maintenance of the Fixed Modular Bridge
  • Small Watercraft Operation and maintenance
  • Assist in the construction, operation and maintenance of the Floating Support Bridge
Phase 4
  • Basic Combat Communications
  • Grenade and Pyrotechnic use
  • Weapons

Following qualification as a Combat Engineer, soldiers in the RAE may have the opportunity to progress to a number of branch trades.