Signals Officers deliver telecommunications services to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), especially the Army and command units.
A Signals Officer is responsible for the operations and maintenance of all communications systems that are not built into aircraft, boats or ships. They may be employed in policy development, project management, systems engineering and network operation. They work with command support equipment and systems that include:
- Purpose-designed, computer-based information systems that assist with battlefield command and control, reconnaissance and surveillance, and target acquisition
- The full spectrum of radio systems
- Electronic warfare capabilities
- Cyber warfare capabilities
- Cryptographic and communications- security capabilities
Signals Officers work in all climates, environments and circumstances, from the office-like setting of a base or garrison to service with an operational Army unit, both in Canada and on overseas deployments that may involve combat. Signals Officers may be deployed overseas on operations, or be posted to an international headquarters or to an exchange or liaison assignment in an allied nation.
Pay and career development
The starting salary for a fully trained Signals Officer is $51,000 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Regular promotions through the junior officer ranks take place based on the completion of required training and on the length of service as an officer. Once promoted to the rank of Captain their salary is approximately $74,000 per year.
Signals Officers first posting will be to an operational Army unit where they will prepare for their first leadership appointment. At this early stage they work under the supervision of a senior Signals Officer. As their career develops, they may be employed in administrative and technical fields as well as operations.
Signals Officers who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training.
Related civilian occupations
Although this occupation has no direct related civilian job, the management, leadership and instructing skills developed in this position are highly valued by employers.
Basic military officer qualification
After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 15 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the Forces, basic weapons handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in training exercises involving force protection, field training, navigation and leadership. A rigorous physical fitness program is also a vital part of basic training. Basic officer training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.
Following basic officer training, official second language training may be offered to you. Training could take from two to nine months to complete depending on your ability in your second language.
Common Army phase
After basic training, you will go to the Infantry School at the Combat Training Centre in Gagetown, New Brunswick. You will build upon the leadership training you received in basic officer training in addition to learning the skills required of all Combat Arms Soldiers, including more advanced weapons-handling, field-craft, and section-level tactics.
Signals Officers will attend the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics in Kingston, Ontario. During this period, they learn the skills and knowledge required to supervise and lead a Troop in tactical operations in the field, applying and building on the skills and knowledge gained during earlier training events. Emphasis will be placed on leadership, administration, and more advanced theory of communications and electronics and its application.
Signals Officers may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training.
If you already have a university degree, the CAF will decide if your academic program matches the criteria for this job and may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic training and military officer qualification training are required before being assigned.
Regular Officer Training Plan
Because this position requires a university degree, the CAF will pay successful recruits to complete a bachelor degree program at a Canadian university. They receive full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full pay in exchange for working with the CAF for a period of time.
This occupation is available part-time within the following environment: Army
Serve with the Reserve Force
This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time at an Air Force Wing in their community, and may serve while going to school or working at a civilian job. They are paid during their training. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.
Signals Officers serve with the Canadian Army. They are responsible for the operations and maintenance of all communications systems that are not built into aircraft, boats or ships and may be employed in policy development, project management, systems engineering and network operation. When employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis they usually serve with the Canadian Army and command units at locations within Canada.
Reserve Force training
Reserve Force members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts. They usually begin training with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required basic professional military standards. Following basic officer training, the home unit will arrange for additional training for specialized skills. Training for Signals Officers is conducted at the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics in Kingston, Ontario.
Reserve Force members usually serve part-time with their home unit for scheduled evenings and weekends, although they may also serve in full-time positions at some units for fixed terms, depending on the type of work that they do. They are paid 85 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.