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Materials Technician

Non-Commissioned Member | Full Time

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As a member of the military, Materials Technicians maintain and repair land vehicles and related equipment. Materials Technicians belong to the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Branch of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

Their primary responsibilities are:

  • Welding
  • Machining
  • Sheet metal work
  • Painting
  • Work with textiles, fibreglass and composite

Work environment

Materials Technicians experience the unique adventures and challenges that come with working in different environments. Materials Technicians are employed at bases and stations across Canada and on deployed operations around the world. While on a base, they may be working in small spaces, like a workshop. In the field or on deployment they may work outdoors most of the time or in temporary accommodations. Their work usually supports Army units, but they may also work with the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force.

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


Canadian Armed Forces Recruiting Videos



Reviewed – 5 Apr 23 


CORPORAL KRISTEN CHATTERTON: I'm Corporal Kristen Chatterton from Nackawic, New Brunswick – a Materials Technician currently posted at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown.


NARRATOR: Materials Technicians – or Mat Techs for short – are the fabricators of the Canadian Army. They have the skills to repair or fabricate items so that land-based equipment can perform to its optimal level, both in training and on deployed operations. 


Mat Techs are agile and able to conduct mobile repairs to vehicles and shelters in any environment, from the Northern Arctic to a desert location. Their jobs can have them making repairs on the frontlines. 


CORPORAL KRISTEN CHATTERTON: At one point I could be welding on a tank, and the next point I could be in the textile shop sewing on a mod tent, a modular tent. The range of things that we do in our shop is endless honestly, and we have every tool you can possibly think of to actually accomplish all those jobs.


NARRATOR: “Arte et Marte” – By Skill and By Fighting – is their motto. They are soldiers first, and they train to be prepared for anything.


Mat Techs develop skills in welding, machining, plasma arc cutting, sheet metal work, auto body repair and refinishing, as well as spray painting. 


They work with metals and composites such as the armour and internal protection on armoured vehicles, on lifesaving equipment like gasmasks, as well as with fabrics such as canvas and PVC for military shelter systems.


CORPORAL KRISTEN CHATTERTON: If I were to go to the civilian workforce right now, I would have to either be a welder or I'd have to be a seamstress, or I’d have to be a fabricator. Within the Materials Technician trade, you have all those together. 



CORPORAL KRISTEN CHATTERTON: Definitely the coolest part of the job for me is welding. I mean, you get to burn stuff and you make it back up to bigger and better.  When someone comes in and they bring you something and they say it can't be fixed – well, you know you can fix it. You have all the opportunities and all the tools, all the knowledge, and you absolutely can fix anything.


NARRATOR: Once they complete their initial training, Materials Technicians are posted to one of the many Canadian Armed Forces bases across the country where they will undergo about 18 months of additional on-the-job training under the supervision of more experienced colleagues. 


CORPORAL KRISTEN CHATTERTON: The qualities that I feel you would need to have as a Materials Technician is drive, passion, the “willing to learn”. It's okay if you make mistakes because that's how you actually get better. If you're just willing to learn and you come with a great attitude and positivity, we can teach you everything else.


NARRATOR: As their career progresses, Mat Techs may have the opportunity to pursue advanced training in areas like advanced machining and welding, military bridging inspection, and sea container inspection.


CORPORAL KRISTEN CHATTERTON: Being a part of the military, you're able to be physically fit as well, and you have those opportunities to go on to other avenues of physical fitness. So for myself, I have played on Team Canada women's football. I was able to go to Finland in 2012. I was able to represent Team Canada in British Columbia in 2017. And it was probably one of the best experiences I've had in my life with a great group of people.


Related Civilian Occupations

  • General Welder
  • Millwright
  • Tool-and-Die Maker
  • Sheet-Metal Worker
  • Auto Body Repair Technician


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.

Learn more about Basic Training here.

Materials Technicians attend the Canadian Forces School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering in Borden, Ontario for about a year. Using a combination of instruction, demonstrations and practical work, they learn the following skills:

  • Shop mathematics
  • Interpretation of mechanical drawings and blueprints
  • Power and hand tools
  • Metallurgy and heat treatment
  • Pattern development and layout
  • Welding:
    • Oxy-acetylene
    • Gas Metal Arc
    • Gas Tungsten Arc
    • Shielded-metal Arc
  • Plasma arc cutting
  • Metal surface refinishing
  • Auto body repair and refinishing
  • Rust-proofing and retreatment
  • Spray-painting
  • Drilling, threading and reaming
  • Textile repair
  • Sewing-machine repair
  • Respirator repair
  • Repair of fibreglass and composite materials
  • Identification of metals, alloys and plastics

On-the-job training

Materials Technicians are posted to a CAF Base for about 18 months of on-the-job training, which resembles a civilian apprenticeship program.

Materials Technicians may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including a 27-week intermediate training course. At the end of this training phase, a Materials Technician’s trade knowledge, skills and experience are comparable to those of a civilian journeyman.

There is also the possibility to take training to reach supervisor and manager levels. The supervisor level course takes about 13 weeks, and the manager level course takes about nine weeks.

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

  • Advanced machining
  • Advanced welding
  • Non-destructive testing techniques
  • Military bridging inspection
  • ISO sea container inspection
  • Occupational health and safety

Entry plans

No previous work experience or career related skills are required. CAF recruiters can help you decide if your personal interests and attributes match the criteria for this occupation.

The minimum required education to apply for this occupation is the completion of the provincial requirements for Grade 10 or Secondary 4 in Quebec, including Grade 10 Applied Math or Math 416 / CST 4 in Quebec, and Grade 10 Science or equivalent.

Foreign education may be accepted.