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Air Force

Air Operations Officer

OFFICER | Full Time, Part Time

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Air Operations Officers assist in the mission planning, tasking, coordination and monitoring of air and space operations at the tactical, operational and strategic levels.  They directly support air and space operations staffing and lead Air Operations Centers.  They provide expertise of air and space operations in the planning and support of the same across the realms of force generation and force employment. They use leading-edge technology to connect tactical operations to battle space management systems to build and maintain strategic awareness. They are experts in the stand-up and operation of deployed air operations centers.

Work environment

Air Operations Officers may be employed across the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), though typically within the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). They typically begin their careers in flying or space squadrons/wings to develop capability-specific awareness.  Following this, they may branch out into other capabilities or bring their expertise to bear on operational and strategic operations. They may also be employed in force generation activities as diverse as project management and requirements capture and tracking.

Air Operations Officers work alongside officers of the other air operations occupations.  They bring an outside view of the aircraft to RCAF operations to complement those who begin their RCAF journey from inside an aircraft.  They may be employed around the world from anywhere where air and space operations are based.  This includes headquarters, airfields, ships, or in the field with the Army.  They provide expertise in rescue coordination centers, headquarters and project offices.

Related Civilian Occupations


After enrolment, Air Operations Officers begin their career by successfully completing the Basic Military Officer Occupation Qualification training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 12 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the Canadian Armed 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 the Basic Military Officer Occupation Qualification. This training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training and employment.

Following Basic Military Officer Qualification training, official second language training may be offered. Training could take from two to nine months to complete, depending on one’s second language ability.

Learn more about Basic Training here.

Air Operations Officers attend Barker College in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Basic Air Operations Officer Course is currently under development and is expected to be approximately 18-20 weeks in duration.

This training will help prepare you for the roles and responsibilities of the Air Operations Officer.  The course includes interactive lectures, guided exercises, practical exercises, demonstrations, distance learning, guided discussions, and guest lecturers. During this course, Air Operations Officers in training, will receive instruction and training in the following areas:

  • Conduct of air operations communications;
  • Planning of flight operations;
  • Management of flight operations;
  • Management of airfield operations;
  • Coordination of Emergency Response Plans; and
  • Management of Search and Rescue (SAR) operations.

Further training is required as an Air Operations Officer, including the successful completion of the Air Force Officer Development program and the Basic Space Operations Course.

As they progress in their career, Air Operations Officers who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced training in areas such as Air Requirements, Airworthiness, Project Management, and Operational Test and Evaluation. They may also be afforded the opportunity to complete related graduate training.

Entry plans

If you already have a university degree, the CAF will determine 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 Military Officer Qualification training.

Regular Officer Training Plan

Due to the requirement for CAF officers to hold a university degree, the CAF will pay successful recruits to complete a bachelor degree program in the Royal Military College System. Under this entry plan, recruits will receive full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full pay in exchange for guaranteed employment in the CAF, for a defined period of service. Typically, candidates enter the Canadian Military College System as an Officer Cadet where they study subjects relevant to both their military and academic career. If applying for the ROTP, it is recommended that applicants apply to other Canadian universities concurrently in the event they are not accepted for ROTP.

Learn more about our Paid Education programs here.

Part time options

There are part-time options for Air Operations Officer as well. Reservists generally work part-time for a Air Reserve Flight or an integrated squadron at their local Wing. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to work or move to another unit, flight or squadron. They may also volunteer for deployment on an operational military mission within or outside Canada.

Reservists train with their home Air Reserve Flight or Squadron to ensure that they meet the required professional standards of the job. If additional training is required, in order to acquire specialized skills, arrangements will be made by their home Air Reserve Flight or Squadron.

It is also possible to set up an “Individual Learning Plan” to take courses leading to a university degree related to this job and, upon successful completion, be reimbursed for up to 50 percent of tuition and other mandatory costs. Education fees for successfully completed courses are reimbursed up to $2000.00 per year up to a maximum of four years/ $8000.00, as long as the student was a reservist during the entire duration of the course(s).


RCAF Reservists serve full-time while completing their occupation training and typically work up to 12 days per month at their home Air Reserve Flight or Squadron. They are paid 92.8 percent of Regular Force rates of pay and receive a reasonable benefits package.