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Army

Information Systems Technician

Non-Commissioned Member | Full Time, Part Time


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Overview

Information Systems Technicians are experts in Information Technologies (IT) who deploy, establish, administer, and maintain multi-platform networking computer environments, and a variety of data and voice networks. They are a part of a larger team that provides the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) with communications and information services throughout Canada and around the world. They handle communications and information systems equipment, such as:

  • Wired and wireless communications and information systems
  • Fibre optic and copper wire broadband technology
  • Voice and data network equipment and servers

Work environment

Information Systems Technicians experience the unique adventures and challenges that come with working outdoors, in military vehicles and server rooms. Information Systems Technicians work across the country and around the world wherever the CAF has a footprint.

Career Overview

Transcript

I’m Private Chris Tidd from Toronto, Ontario. I’m an Army Communication and Information Systems Specialist with Joint Signals Regiment here in Kingston, Ontario.

And I’m Master Corporal Amanda Collins from Scarborough, Ontario – an Army Communication and Information Systems Specialist currently posted to CFB Petawawa.

On the battlefield, commanders can’t command without information. That’s why keeping an unbroken link with fighting forces in the field is one of the most vital roles a soldier can perform.

TIDD: As Army Communication and Information Systems Specialists, we design, install, and maintain satellite, wireless and cable networks to support the entire range of Army missions, whether it’s pursuit of the enemy, humanitarian relief after a natural disaster, or the normal flow of information to and from headquarters or on our bases at home.

COLLINS: ‘Cause if you don’t have communications, I mean, the guys at the front line can’t communicate : “This is what we see” to the guys at the back to say: “Okay, we need more support” or “We need this” or “This is what’s gonna happen”.

TIDD: Being an ACIS Specialist means performing split-second, high-intensity work under battlefield conditions. But it also means months of classroom and lab training on some of the world’s most sophisticated communications equipment -- from radiation detection devices to circuit boards and cryptographic gear.

You’re in an environment where the techniques and the equipment is changing very fast, whether it be within the satellite communication field or within radios themselves, using different frequencies, different new equipment that comes on the market. As well as Canadians being part of NATO, you’re having to work with other countries and their equipment.

Within the ACIS trade, you’re gonna have your Signallers, which operate all the equipment at hand, whether it be your computers, and operating radios, talking on the radios themselves and managing the net there. The linemen are basically in charge of laying all kinds of lines, whether it be fibre optics or Cap-5 or coaxial cables, things like that.

You could find yourself a hundred and fifty feet up a tower one day, setting up a microwave relay, and down in a manhole the next day, splicing communications lines.

COLLINS: In our role as Information Systems technologists, we also administer, maintain and repair the computer networks at our bases and headquarters in Canada.

Whether we’re attached to the artillery, the infantry, an armoured regiment, or the combat engineers, our radio, computer and satellite crews stand ready to support our troops in action.

TIDD: Definitely, as a Signal Operator, there’s a lot of opportunities for travel, especially here at the regiment I’m at. We’re the only satellite communications regiment in the Forces, so we’re constantly deploying on exercises, and training exercises as well – as well as any kind of overseas operations – we’re one of the first guys in, last guys out.

Whether you’re working under a microscope in a climate-controlled, dust-free environment, or crawling through the bush to get to a unit whose radio has gone out, being an Army Communication and Information Systems Specialist guarantees you a huge variety of experience, challenges, and high-tech training, plus the teamwork and camaraderie of Army life that you won’t find anywhere else in our wired world.

TIDD: The thing I like most about my job is the fact that we’re one of the most fast deployed and often deployed trades in the Forces. And, myself, within 2 years, I was deployed overseas, in Afghanistan, doing the job I love, and learning a lot of new things.

The fact that you’re just connecting up to a satellite that’s out in space, using, going through the ionosphere, everything else like that, and communicating to the other side of the world in half a second, it’s pretty amazing.

COLLINS: For me, it’s become the teamwork, it’s the atmosphere. The fact is, I could do a 9-to-5 job doing the exact same thing on civvy street, and I’m sure it’s just as gratifying to some people, but the fact is, I can do it here, and maybe tomorrow I can deploy to Afghanistan or to Alert. And it’s just the fact that we can go a lot of places that most other people don’t even know exist sometimes.

TIDD: A career as an Army Communication and Information Systems Specialist starts with basic military and soldier training. Then you’ll head to Kingston, Ontario and the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics.

COLLINS: You’ll spend 18 weeks in Kingston. Even if you don’t have a high-tech background, the Forces will teach you everything you need to know about radio, computer, and satellite communications theory, how to set up and maintain information and computer networks, and how they serve the military mission.

TIDD: The courses at Kingston will cover a basic overview of all three branches of the ACIS specialty: communications systems, information systems, and hard-wired line and cable systems.

TIDD: After your basic course at Kingston, most ACIS Specialists will be assigned to a Signals Squadron or Joint Signals Regiment, where on-the-job training will continue.

As a new private, it was pretty intimidating coming to the Regiment, but there are a lot of very experienced people who were there to kind of help me along, show me the ropes, show me my faults, show me my strong points, and just kind of guide me in the right direction. So it was a steep learning curve, and a lot of fast and furious things coming at me, so it was very exciting and I was very happy to be there.

COLLINS: After about a year, you’ll branch out into one of the three core specialties of the trade, and you’ll be attached to the artillery, the infantry, an armoured regiment, or the combat engineers.

There’s electronic equipment everywhere, so every base needs us – as well as deployments overseas.

TIDD: Proudest moment on the job was probably when I was overseas in Afghanistan. There was only 5 of us in Kabul providing all the communications, and it was just an awesome opportunity to show my own skills and to serve my country doing the thing I love the most.

COLLINS: I’ve lived pretty much from one end of the country to the other, and I’ve been overseas and I’ve been to the top of the world, so it’s one big adventure for me.

TITLE:

ARMY COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION SYSTEMS SPECIALIST

IN THE CANADIAN FORCES

Related Civilian Occupations

  • Computer systems administrators
  • Information Systems Analyst
  • Computer Network Technicians
  • User Support Technicians
  • Information Systems Testing Technicians

Training

 

The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.

After Basic Training, Army recruits go to a Military Training centre for the Basic Military Qualification – Land Course for approximately one month, which covers the following topics:

  • Army physical fitness
  • Dismounted offensive and defensive operations
  • Reconnaissance patrolling
  • Individual field craft

 

Learn more about Basic Training here.

Information Systems Technicians attend the Canadian Forces School of Communication and Electronics in Kingston, Ontario. Training takes approximately 12 months and teaches the following basic skills and knowledge:

  • Computer systems theory
  • Information systems security
  • Installation and operation of information systems
  • Maintenance and operation of power generating systems
  • Information systems maintenance and repair techniques
  • Installation and maintenance of fibre optic and copper wire systems
  • Advanced Routing and Switching
  • Server Administration

Information Systems Technicians may have the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal military and civilian courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Cryptographic equipment operation and maintenance
  • Advanced server management
  • Advanced switch and router, configuration and maintenance
  • Software and firmware operations and maintenance
  • Computer Network security

As they progress in their career, Information Systems Technicians who demonstrate the required ability and potential, will be offered advanced training. Courses include:

  • Data Network Designer
  • Leadership Courses
  • Life Cycle Materiel Manager
  • Army tactical network (LCSS)

Entry plans

The minimum required education to apply for this position is the completion of the provincial requirements for Grade 10 or Secondaire IV in Quebec. Foreign education may be accepted.

Part time options

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 a military unit in their community and at military bases within the region where they live. Reservists may serve while going to school or working at a civilian job. They are paid during their training and are not required to move. They can, however, volunteer to move and can also volunteer for deployment opportunities within or outside of Canada.

Reserve Information Systems Technicians serve with the Canadian Army, providing fast, reliable, wired and wireless communications infrastructure to military units for training and operations. When employed on a part-time or term basis, they usually serve at a Canadian Army Reserve unit in their local community.

Reserve Force members of this occupation are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts. They usually begin training in their home unit to ensure they meet the required basic professional military standards. Following basic military training, arrangements will be made for occupational training. Information Systems Technician training takes approximately 12 months and is conducted at the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics in Kingston, Ontario.

Reserve Force Information Systems Technicians usually serve part-time with their home unit for scheduled evenings and weekends. They may also serve in full-time positions at some units for fixed terms, depending what type of work is needed. Most Information Systems Technicians work in a server room environment either inside a building or in a military vehicle. They are paid 92.8 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a benefits package, and can contribute to a pension plan.