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Army

Signal Technician

Non-Commissioned Member | Full Time, Part Time


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Overview

Signal Technicians are experts in telecommunication technologies. They maintain, repair, configure, administer, and modify leading edge communication systems. 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.

Signal Technicians operate on specialized electronic test equipment. They perform corrective maintenance, preventive maintenance, diagnosis, modifications, installations, configurations, inspections and administration for:

  • Wired and wireless communications systems
  • Radio, satellite, and microwave broadband technology
  • Radar location and detection technology
  • Fibre optic and copper wire broadband technology
  • Voice and data network defence, configuration, and administration

 

Work environment

Signal Technicians experience the unique adventures and challenges that come with working outdoors, in military vehicles, and in maintenance work shops. Signal Technicians work across the country and around the world wherever the CAF has a footprint.

Career Overview

Transcript

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Signal Technician

CORPORAL JONATHAN CAMPBELL: I’m Corporal Jonathan Campbell from Toronto, Ontario. I’m a Signal Technician posted at the Joint Signals Regiment in Kingston.

Signal Technicians work with cutting-edge equipment and technologies to provide and maintain the backbone for communications in the Canadian Army.

CORPORAL JONATHAN CAMPBELL: As a Signal Technician, you’re essentially the expert on all of the equipment, how they work, what you need to do to fix them. And when something breaks, you’re the first person that people are going to come to – you’re always in demand.

On a day-to-day basis, Signal Technicians oversee equipment maintenance, service telephone systems and radio gear, and ensure network security on bases across Canada. They program, configure, install and troubleshoot all tactical communications equipment. They also work on all IT-related tasks such as cable installations and repairs, operating test sets to analyze faulty equipment, or performing technical inspections for IT security.

CORPORAL JONATHAN CAMPBELL: As a Signal Technician, you’re going to work with Information System Technicians, you’re also going to work with Line Technicians, and depending on where you are, you’re going to work with the combat arms as well. And you’d be responsible for their communication equipment. But then you could also be part of a national rear link. And you could be deployed, and you’d be responsible for the entire camp’s communication back to Ottawa. You’re a very important part of a much larger machine and it’s very rewarding being able to see the contribution that you actually make.

CORPORAL JONATHAN CAMPBELL: I’d say the coolest part of the job is the variety of equipment that you get to work on. So when you look at communication in the Forces, we communicate with a lot of different equipment, and as a Signals Technician, it’s our job to make sure that you’re proficient in their capabilities, you know how they work, you know how to troubleshoot them – and it’s a never-ending process. And with technology, it always changes, right? So to me, it was just like having a consistent and constant challenge, and always being at the forefront of that technological change.

After becoming trade-qualified, Signal Technicians are posted to a brigade, base or unit, which can be anywhere across Canada. Reservists fulfill the same role in 23 different Army Reserve Signal units across the country. All Signal Technicians start off by completing several months of on-the-job training while shadowing more experienced members in the occupation.

CORPORAL JONATHAN CAMPBELL: Your first few years as a Signal Technician, it will vary. Here at the Joint Signals Regiment, you’ll learn about all the satellite capabilities that we have. If you’re, say, at a Brigade, your first few years may be a little bit different. There’s a lot more Army-specific kit, because their capability is different. That’s really one of the benefits – it’s just the breadth of technology that you really get to learn.

To maintain their highly adaptive skill set, Signal Technicians can expect to travel often throughout the year, participating in exercises and training courses. Signal Technicians will train for high readiness with their brigade and can expect to be deployed overseas.

CORPORAL JONATHAN CAMPBELL: I’ve deployed to Latvia, I’ve had some courses under my belt, but you know, if you were to make a list of the stuff I still have to learn, it’s long, it’s a lot. So really, the rest of my career, I just want to learn more of the kit, maybe get a few more deployments, and build that skill set and build that confidence.

CORPORAL JONATHAN CAMPBELL: On my deployment in Latvia, it just kind of dawned on me that, here I am, in a completely different country, getting paid to do something ridiculously exciting. I just stood there and I took in the moment – I realized, like, it’s the absolute best thing to have the kind of adventures that we have. And even when I talk to people who’ve been in longer – when they tell you their adventures and their experience… Yeah, you realize you’re part of something special, a part of something very unique.

Related Civilian Occupations

  • Telecommunication Carriers Managers
  • Electrical and electronics engineering technologists
  • Electrical and electronics engineering technicians
  • Electronic Service 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.

Signal Technicians attend the Canadian Forces School of Communication and Electronics in Kingston, Ontario. Training takes approximately 16 months and is separated into two parts. Part one is equivalent to a two-year electronics engineering technician program and teaches the following skills and knowledge:

  • Electrical and electronic theory
  • Digital electronic theory
  • Signal processing devices and operation
  • Power supplies theory
  • Radio and antenna systems theory
  • Satellite and microwave systems theory
  • Use of basic and advanced test instrumentation

Part two of the program includes specific training on communications systems and equipment. You will learn the following skills and knowledge:

  • Radio communications and information security
  • Installation and operation of communications and information systems
  • Maintenance and operation of power generating systems
  • Communication systems and equipment maintenance and repair techniques
  • Installation and maintenance of fibre optic and copper wire systems
  • Basic Routing and Switching Concepts
  • Use of advanced radio equipment testing instrumentation

Signal 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
  • Electronic Warfare systems and equipment operation and maintenance
  • Counter-Radio Controlled Improvised Explosive Device equipment operation and maintenance
  • Satellite terminal operation and maintenance
  • Missile detection and defence equipment operation and maintenance
  • Ground Penetrating Radar equipment operation and maintenance
  • Basic Switches, and router operation, programming, configuring, and maintenance
  • Software and firmware operations and maintenance including software defined radios

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

  • Technical Communications Security Inspector
  • Leadership Courses
  • Life Cycle Materiel Manager

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 Signal 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. Signal Technician training takes approximately 16 months and is conducted at the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics in Kingston, Ontario.

Reserve Force Signal 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 Signal Technicians work in a shop 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.