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Air Force

Construction Engineering Officer

OFFICER | Full Time, Part Time


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Overview

Construction Engineers provide engineering support, such as facilities management, fire engineering, contract and project management, and construction and environmental engineering.

As members of the Military Engineer Branch, Construction Engineers plan, develop and implement projects involving a wide range of military engineering tasks. Their primary responsibilities are to:

  • Prepare or approve construction drawings, designs and cost estimates
  • Advise superiors on military engineering matters
  • Exercise leadership and technical control over organizations involved in engineering services
  • Provide mapping, charting and geodesic support to sea, land and air operations
  • Lead and manage a team of skilled personnel

Work environment

Construction Engineers work as part of a Construction Engineering Flight or Unit. Although the primary role of Construction Engineering Officers is to support the operations of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Construction Engineering Officers may also support Canadian Army operations and missions. After a period of time gaining practical experience, Construction Engineers may be posted to a Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) base or headquarters. Over the course of their careers, Construction Engineers will likely be deployed on a domestic or international mission, including operations in support of UN, NATO or Coalition missions.

Career Overview

Transcript

TITLE:

CONSTRUCTION ENGINEERING OFFICER

MAJOR AARTHI PRABHAKARAN: I’m Major Aarthi Prabhakaran originally from Surrey, B.C. I’m a Construction Engineering Officer posted to 8 Wing Trenton, here in Ontario. 

Wherever the Canadian Armed Forces are based or deployed, providing Canada’s soldiers, aviators and sailors well-functioning infrastructure is a vital part of the mission.

On base in Canada, Construction Engineering Officers fill the role of a town engineer, setting up and taking care of buildings and facilities, roadways, airfields, jetties, ranges and training areas, the power grid, as well as water supply and sewage systems. 

MAJOR AARTHI PRABHAKARAN: To me, the most attractive thing about being a Construction Engineering Officer was marrying what I had learned in my civil engineering degree with practical, real-life scenarios. I really enjoyed my education at the Royal Military College and I wanted to apply it.

Their team includes a wide range of expert technicians who work in Construction; Water, Fuels and Environment; Electrical Distribution; Electrical Generating Systems; Plumbing and Heating; Refrigeration and Mechanical Systems; Fire Fighting, as well as Drafting and Surveying.

MAJOR AARTHI PRABHAKARAN: So the job of a Construction Engineer is extremely vast. The great thing about the trade is that there are a few different streams that you can go down, and most officers actually get exposed to all of the streams at some point or another in their career. So you have the construction stream, you’ve got the firefighting stream, you’ve got the project management stream, and all of those are different aspects of what a Construction Engineer does.

Whether the job calls for setting up humanitarian assistance camps in Haiti, weatherproofing a radar installation in the High Arctic, or flood control in Manitoba, Construction Engineers are always ready to travel anywhere in the country… and the world.

When the Canadian Armed Forces deploy to a theatre of operation, Construction Engineers are the first ones in; and the last ones out. They build the camps for the Task Force to live in and operate from. They’re the ones responsible for maintaining the camp infrastructure throughout the mission. And they’re the ones that stay behind to dismantle and pack up the camp when the mission is complete.

MAJOR AARTHI PRABHAKARAN: I’ve had two great opportunities to deploy so far in my career. My first opportunity was to Egypt for a year, and my second opportunity was on Operation Impact based out of Kuwait. Both of those opportunities were very different, but they were both fantastic. I learned a lot about myself, and all of the training that I had done leading up to those deployments was really great practice, but to be able to take all of that practice and put it into action was a really special feeling.

MAJOR AARTHI PRABHAKARAN: I’m extremely proud of the work that we do here. There aren’t too many places where you come to work with fantastic professionals who are also dedicated and motivated to be there. And that’s by far the best part of the job, is working with all of these extremely talented people.

Once they complete their military and occupational training, Construction Engineering Officers are typically posted to an engineering support unit at one of Canada’s military bases, where they’ll lead teams of highly-skilled technicians in the planning, budgeting, and execution of operating, repairing, and maintaining the base infrastructure. They could also be tasked to manage a wide range of construction projects, from conception to completion. 

MAJOR AARTHI PRABHAKARAN: The first couple of years of your career you’ll spend learning the trade, learning the various components, getting to know the different trades that work for Construction Engineering Officers – it’s very much a period of soaking up as much knowledge as you can, but you’ll continue to do that throughout your career.

Even during their first posting, Construction Engineers can expect to be deployed on an operational tour, either here in Canada or around the world.

Construction Engineers always emulate their motto, “UBIQUE”, which means “everywhere.”

MAJOR AARTHI PRABHAKARAN: So many moments in my career so far where I’ve had to pinch myself because I’ve been lucky enough to be flying into Iraq, and I’m it – I’m the engineer. And I’ve got to take the information in, and make a plan for execution. So it’s moments like those that I look back on and really think that I’m extremely lucky to have chosen the profession that I’ve chosen, and know that every step along the way I’m able to do my job alongside some fantastic people. 

Related Civilian Occupations

  • Construction Engineer
  • Civil Engineer
  • Realty Asset Manager
  • Director of Public Works
  • Facilities Manager

Training

After enrolment, you start basic officer 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 CAF, 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.

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 Soldiers, including more advanced weapons-handling, field-craft, and section-level tactics.

Learn more about Basic Training here.

Construction Engineers attend the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering in Gagetown, New Brunswick. You will learn to lead your team in the execution of basic engineering tasks in both garrison and on deployment. You will also be introduced to Construction Engineering operations such as conducting engineer reconnaissance, preparing reports for military decision makers and planning the installation of facilities and structures to support such operations. You will have the opportunity to become familiar with the various Construction Engineering roles, in different settings and scenarios, and further develop your leadership skills. Upon completion of your training as a Construction Engineering Officer, you will be able to manage infrastructures at main operating bases and to plan and direct infrastructure projects for both domestic and deployed operations.

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 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 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.

Construction Engineering Officers serve with the Royal Canadian Air Force. When they are employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis they usually serve at CAF bases and tactical units at locations within Canada.

Reserve Force members 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 the Construction Engineering Officer qualification requires about 11 months and is conducted at the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering at Gagetown, New Brunswick.

Air Reserve members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts and are employed in the same unit and perform the same job. Air Reserve members usually serve up to 12 days per month in a regular work day, with opportunities to serve full-time for short durations as needed. Reserve Force members are paid 92.8% of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.