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Artillery Officer

OFFICER | Full Time, Part Time

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As a member of the military, an Artillery Officer is expected to coordinate and execute indirect fire support, ground based air defense, surveillance and target acquisition, and provide tactical advice as part of the combat arms team. Working closely with the other members of the combat arms in the Armoured, Infantry and Combat Engineering regiments as well as all other support arms on and off the battlefield. 

There are three specialized areas for an Artillery Officer: Field Artillery Officer, Air Defense Officer, and Target Acquisition Officer. Each are expected to become experts of their own technologically complex equipment and its tactical employment.

Field Artillery Officers Expertise: 

  • Howitzers and Mortars
  • Battlefield Surveillance Radars 
  • Observation & Fire control systems
  • Coordination and integration of indirect fire and close air support

Air Defense Officer Expertise:

  • Air Surveillance Radars 
  • Tactical Data Link Systems
  • Future Ground Based Air Defence Systems

Target Acquisition Officer Expertise:

  • Uncrewed Aerial Systems
  • Acoustic Weapons Locating Systems
  • Weapons Locating Radars
  • Artillery Intelligence and Counter-Battery Fires

Work environment

An Artillery Officer can be called upon to serve in any kind of terrain be it Arctic tundra, tropical jungle, desert, mountains, or urban town and cities. Artillery Officers are deployed overseas on operational missions and in Canada in support of civil authorities in cases of national emergency. Initially, they are posted to one of five Artillery regiments:

  • 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, Shilo, Manitoba
  • 2nd Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, Petawawa, Ontario
  • The Royal Canadian Artillery School, Combat Training Centre, Gagetown, New Brunswick
  • 4th Artillery Regiment (General Support) Royal Canadian Artillery, Gagetown, New Brunswick
  • 5th Canadian Light Artillery Regiment, 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, Valcartier, Quebec

If you chose a career in the Regular Force, upon completion of all required training, you will be assigned to your first base. While there is some flexibility with regards to postings (relocations), accommodations can’t always be made, and therefore, you can likely expect to move at some point in your career. However, if you decide to join the Primary Reserve Force, you will do so through a specific Reserve unit. Outside of training, your chosen Reserve unit will be your workplace on a part time basis, and you will not be obligated to relocate to a different base. As part of the Primary Reserve Force, you typically work one night per week and some weekends as a minimum with possibilities of full-time employment.

Career Overview


CAPTAIN CRAIG SKELSEY: I’m Captain Craig Skelsey, from Toronto, Ontario. I’m an Artillery Officer with the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School in Gagetown, New Brunswick. Artillery Officers are technical and tactical experts in the art of war. As part of the combat arms in the Canadian Army, Artillery Officers provide the Infantry and Armoured Corps with on-time, on-target firepower using modern equipment, like the powerful M-777 Howitzer that can deliver precise and effective artillery fire out to 40 kilometres.

CAPTAIN CRAIG SKELSEY: The greatest advantage that artillery has is you’re able to strike the enemy where conventional tanks and infantry can’t do that. It also lets us provide effects such as smoke illumination, just to cause different effects on the battlefield, and that allows us to do things like mark targets for other friendly forces, it allows us to screen friendly forces, blind enemy troops — all things like that.
On a day-to-day basis, Artillery Officers command troops, conduct training and run courses. On exercise or in theatre, they are often found on the gunline leading and directing the soldiers firing powerful and accurate conventional and satellite-guided projectiles downrange, or in Forward Observation parties with ground troops in search of the enemy. They also collect and interpret digital information from unmanned
aircraft, microphones and high-tech radar.

CAPTAIN CRAIG SKELSEY: With the surveillance equipment we have, we’re able to provide more of a shield-and-sensor role, where we can detect the enemy, keep observation on the enemy, things like that, and in addition, we have our air defence which has the ability to monitor the airspace that’s friendly and enemy, and provide the overall air picture.
Artillery Officers don’t just call in the guns; they also call in fixed-wing and helicopter support when needed to win the battle.

CAPTAIN CRAIG SKELSEY: The people on the other end are relying on you to provide that fire downrange. So there’s an incredible amount of importance behind that. And then, just knowing that you’re achieving that effect and you’re doing it safely is a good feeling.

CAPTAIN CRAIG SKELSEY: When you’re able to provide that much firepower onto any given location or target, knowing that you would not want to be on the other end of that… the thing that is most amusing about that is the reaction of the infantry and the armour. When they see that you are able to do that, and they don’t get to see all the behind-the-curtain activity, they just know that when they look at you and they ask for fire and now, all of a sudden, there’s artillery raining down where they need it — they think it’s somewhat magic.

After completing their training, Artillery Officers are posted to one of the five Artillery Regiments in Canada. Reservists return to their home units to continue building their skills. New Artillery Officers are immediately placed in a leadership position as a troop commander, in charge of 30 soldiers.

CAPTAIN CRAIG SKELSEY: And that involves you being put in charge of a troop of guns, which can be anywhere from 2 to 3 guns, and you work in a battery construct, and essentially you’re in charge of the administration and the running of that troop. You’re put in a position where a lot of people with more experience than you need to rely on your leadership and your command decisions. So what that means is that you need to be the one to set the example at all times. It may be raining and you may be in the worst conditions that you can imagine, but you need to be the one that puts on the happy face, and the one that keeps pushing forward in order to achieve
the mission.

CAPTAIN CRAIG SKELSEY: I’d say it’s exceeded my expectations. When I joined the Artillery, I had no idea the power that an M-777 would be able to provide — nor the understanding or the ability of what would happen when you call for fire from a battery of M-777s, or drop a bomb from a jet. There’s definitely been some moments that have been incredibly exciting, such as the first time that I was able to successfully call in an airstrike in training, and there’s definitely highlights like that throughout my experience.

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After enrolment, you start basic officer training (BMOQ) 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 and CAF ethos, basic small arms weapons handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in field 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. 

After basic training, you will go to the Infantry School at the Combat Training Centre in Gagetown, New Brunswick for another 12 weeks to complete Basic Military Officer Qualification Army (BMOQA), where you will build upon the leadership training you received in basic in addition to learning the skills required of all Combat Arms officers, including more advanced weapons handling, field-craft, and section-level tactics


Learn more about Basic Training here.

Further courses at the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School, also at Gagetown, introduce you to the duties required of a leader in the Artillery. You will develop your leadership skills while learning the basic duties of an Artillery Troop Commander, across all specialties. 

This training consists of two portions, the first teaching the various duties of an officer in a Field Artillery battery. This includes the reconnaissance and deployment of howitzers, computation of firing data, and various technical duties. 

In the final phase of training, Artillery Troop Commander candidates refine their skills in a mounted context with armoured fighting vehicles. They also learn the fundamentals of deploying various target acquisition systems, such as radars, acoustic systems, and uncrewed aerial systems. Finally, they learn how to perform the role of a Fire Support Officer, coordinating and integrating indirect fires as part of the combat arms team.

Selected Artillery Officers may be trained as Ground Based Air Defense officers, learning about reconnaissance, deployment, and integration of air defense systems. Officers may also specialize as Forward Observation Officers, becoming technical and tactical experts in the integration of indirect fire with the infantry and armoured corps. Officers may also specialize in Target Acquisition, learning to manage the various sensors and intelligence gathering systems in the artillery. Officers may also specialize as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller, coordinating and integrating close air support and attack aviation.

Entry plans

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

Due to the requirement for a CAF officer to obtain a university degree, the CAF will pay successful recruits to complete a bachelor degree program in the Royal Military College System. Recruits will receive full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full pay in exchange for working in the CAF for a period of time. Typically, candidates enter the Canadian Military College System as an Officer Cadet where they study subjects relevant to both their military and academic career. In rare instances, based on the needs of the CAF, candidates may be approved attend another Canadian University. A determination will be made on a case by case basis. If you are applying for this program, you must apply to the CAF and it is recommended to apply to other Canadian universities of your choice should you not be accepted for ROTP.

Learn more about our Paid Education programs here.

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 an Army Base or armoury 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.

Artillery Officers serve with the Canadian Army. Along with members of the Armour, Infantry and Combat Engineering regiments, they are members of the Combat Arms team and they provide indirect fire support, air defence, and surveillance and target acquisition in battle. When employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis Artillery Officers usually serve with Artillery units at CAF locations within Canada.

Find a Recruiting Centre

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. Artillery Officers train to their Combat Arms qualification at the Royal Canadian Artillery School, at Gagetown, New Brunswick.

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 92.8 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.