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Army Air Force Navy

Signals Intelligence Specialist

Non-Commissioned Member | Full Time, Part Time


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Overview

Signals Intelligence Specialists intercept and analyze electronic transmissions, including foreign communications. They also protect Government of Canada computer networks.

A Signals Intelligence Specialist has the following responsibilities:

  • Collect, process, analyze and report on electromagnetic activity on radio frequency, using highly sophisticated equipment
  • Manage and protect computer networks
  • Ensure information technology is secure
  • Use and maintain classified publications

Work environment

Signals Intelligence Specialists work with extremely sensitive information in a high-security, restricted-access facility. They typically work in shifts; however, they also have frequent opportunities to work regular business hours and can be deployed around the world.

Career Overview

Transcript

TITLE: SIGNALS INTELLIGENCE SPECIALIST

CORPORAL CLAIRE WELTON: I'm Corporal Claire Welton from Halifax, Nova Scotia, a Signals Intelligence Specialist currently posted to CFS Leitrim in Ottawa, Ontario.

If you like to stay in the know about world events and emerging communications technologies and have a knack for foreign languages, then becoming a Signals Intelligence Specialist might be the right choice for you!

CORPORAL CLAIRE WELTON: I can't tell you too much about my job because it's top secret, but a lot of it is analyzing, processing and disseminating indications and warnings to the command team so we can enable operations overseas and at home.

Signals Intelligence Specialists use some of the world’s most sophisticated equipment to intercept and analyze foreign electronic transmissions and computer data. They are cleared to the highest levels of national security – and to Canadian Armed Forces commanders, they are like an additional layer of protection.

CORPORAL CLAIRE WELTON: We're the ones that give the information out to these commanders so they're able to make their moves overseas. They're able to see the battlefield from an electronic perspective. One day I could be working on time-sensitive reports that I'll have to give to the commander. Or I could be briefing generals on upcoming missions and battles.

Electronic Warfare operators within the Sig Int trade also operate cutting-edge communications technologies. But their office is in the back of an armoured vehicle or out on the ground with a light electronic warfare kit that they carry in a rucksack.

They’re able to intercept any type of communication in the battlespace, hone in on the direction they’re coming from and provide that intelligence to commanders about the potential threats to their safety.

In addition to supporting the Army, Sig Int specialists may also have the opportunity to deploy with the Royal Canadian Navy and with the Royal Canadian Air Force, providing signals intelligence support on exercises and operations abroad.

The introduction of a new Remotely Piloted Aircraft System to the Forces will have Sig Int Specialists directly controlling sensors aboard the aircraft to provide Indications and Warnings to Commanders and decision-makers to protect Canadians on the ground. 

Foreign language skills are a huge asset to a Signals Intelligence Specialist. If you speak, read or write a language other than French or English, or if you have a gift for languages and you're eager to learn a new one, then this would be a particularly good trade for you.

CORPORAL CLAIRE WELTON: I would say the coolest part of my job is the different teams I get to work with. It's not just one piece of Signals Intelligence that makes the picture – you have many different departments working together, and when we all come and we solve the mystery together, it's like a big win.

While overseas in Romania, it's amazing to think that I had a job that would allow me to go out and get to experience the culture. I got to swim in the Black Sea, which is amazing. I couldn't believe I was in the Black Sea.

On completion of their basic military and occupation training, new Signals Intelligence Specialists are posted to either Canadian Forces Station Leitrim in Ottawa or to 21 Electronic Warfare Regiment in Kingston, Ontario.

At Leitrim, Sig Int specialists work with extremely sensitive classified information in a high-security restricted access facility.

Specialists posted to Kingston provide tactical electronic warfare support to Canadian Armed Forces units deployed on international operations. Wherever they start out, as their career progresses, the opportunities for postings and developments increase, including the possibility of outside-Canada positions in a number of U.S. locations, as well as postings in the United Kingdom and Australia.

CORPORAL CLAIRE WELTON: This trade is intriguing because we have a variety of specialties, whether it's electronics intelligence, signals analysis or even linguistics. You can find a niche for yourself.

CORPORAL CLAIRE WELTON: There is no formal education that could prepare you for this trade. You can't go to a high school career fair. You can't study this in university. It's the kind of trade where you’ve just got to go for it and join and just see what's out there.

It's gone great for me. I've learned things I never thought I could learn. I work in a diverse team environment, and I've had the opportunity to deploy overseas to Romania and get to see Signals Intelligence Specialists on the ground in what we do

Related Civilian Occupations

  • Information Technology Security Consultant
  • Computer Incident Response Specialist
  • Intelligence Analyst
  • Satellite Ground Controller

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.

Signals Intelligence Specialists attend the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics in Kingston, Ontario, for 45 weeks. Using a combination of theory instruction, demonstrations, practical work and simulation exercises, it covers the following:

  • Signals Intelligence mathematics
  • Communications rules and procedures
  • Radio direction-finding
  • Communications data systems
  • Operation of auxiliary equipment

Signals Intelligence Specialists may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • High-Frequency Direction-Finding Operator
  • Mobile Research Operator
  • Satellite communications
  • Foreign languages
  • Computer network support
  • System administration
  • Morse Code Operator

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

  • Signals Development Operator
  • Linguistic Operator

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 including Grade 10 Applied Math or Math 426 in Quebec. Foreign education may be accepted.

Part time options

Reserve Force members generally work part-time for a Reserve unit in their community. 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.

Reserve Force members train with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required professional standards of the job. If additional training is required in order to specialize their skills, arrangements will be made by the home unit.

Typically, Reserve Force members work or train with their home unit for at least four evenings and one weekend per month, from September to May of each year. They are paid 92.8 percent of Regular Force rates of pay and receive a reasonable benefits package. There are two units with Signals Intelligence Specialist positions, one in Ottawa and the other in Kingston Ontario. Signals Intelligence Specialists work in a highly secure environment with restricted access, handling extremely sensitive information.