Do you ever look at the emergencies and crisis situations going on in the world and wonder how you can make a difference? Do you wish there was some way you could help even just from your own backyard?
Good news - this is possible if you pursue a military engineering career in Canada. Engineer Officers work with the Canadian Armour, Infantry and Artillery, and Royal Canadian Navy. Their main objective is to assist in combat readiness for internal affairs or on international missions.
It's definitely not the average day job. Being a part of the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers is one of the most exciting, fulfilling, and yes, challenging, professional paths out there.
The only thing is, you have to know how to enter this field if you want to really excel. Here are all the basics of starting a military engineering job in Canada.
Preparing for Your Military Engineering Career
Most people who are part of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) get started with the ROTP - Regular Officer Training Program. However, this puts you at the bottom of the food chain.
For some aspiring military personnel, it's more beneficial to do other things to prepare their skills and build their resume, then enter the CAF with a higher position. If the latter sounds more to your liking, you're better off going to college first if you haven't already, or pursuing a job that is similar to the responsibilities you'd like to have within the force.
Going to College
There's no way around getting a college education if you want to be part of the armed forces. If you already have this taken care of, great.
If not, taking a cadet position within the ROTP may be your best bet. This gives you access to the coursework you need to get a degree and basic training to advance in your military career. Oh, and ROTP will pay you to get an education and offer health coverage as well.
What if you went to college for something like history, or business, or biology, but you've recently realized your passion for engineering? You don't have to go back to school; instead, focus on gaining career experience within the engineering industry. Then, you can work on combining engineering abilities with military duties.
Entering Full-Time versus Part-Time
Going the ROTP route to find an engineering position in the military is typically a full-time commitment. This is also the case if you're doing a career change and want to apply for direct entry into the CAF.
The direct entry process means the Forces decide how suitable your educational and professional background is for military engineering positions. From there, you start basic training and complete additional military training, which leaves little time to do other work.
But, there are part-time ways to get your military engineering career started, too.
The most common of which is to serve with the Reserve Force. This gives you the ability to work a civilian job and do your military training. You also have the liberty of deciding where you'd like to live because you are not posted or require to move by the military, but you can volunteer to serve at another base if you decide to move for other reasons.
Additional part-time options include casual employment opportunities and reserve force training.
Going Through the Training Process
Whether you're a young cadet in the ROTP or entering the Canadian military after years of doing something else, you have to go through a training process before you can officially get started.
The following is a summary of what you can expect.
The Four Pillars of Achievement in the Canadian Military
The Four Pillars of Achievement in the Canadian Military are:
- Physical Fitness
You cover each one during your time as a cadet, or you can show your competency in certain areas when you go the Direct Entry route. Direct Entry can help you meet the bilingualism and academic requirements, and maybe even the physical fitness component.
From there, all you'd have to do is focus on military training and specific preparations for your new role.
A Basic Training Timeline
Military training can take anywhere from a few months to a few years. The ROTP process requires four years to complete, whereas a part-time role or an open position obtained through direct entry could require much less training.
For military engineering roles, there is a two and a half month training process to prepare candidates for basic combat engineering skills. These are the fundamentals of any engineering position within the CAF. They cover skill sets like doing demolitions, obstacle construction, and field fortifications.
After you've learned all the basics, your skills are put to the test in a three-week field deployment. This determines whether or not you are ready to move forward into the following phase, a nine-month intensive training. After the second leg of training, you have one more field competency test to pass before all your preparations are complete.
Speciality Training Opportunities
If you want to make sure you're fully prepared for your military engineering career, or you'd like to enter with the highest rank possible, it's worth looking into speciality training.
This may mean you focus on things like:
- mapping to support multi-organization operations
- infrastructure engineering training
- technical engineering preparations to assist in equipment management
Keep in mind that more training will delay your official entry into the CAF. While you may be paid to train and given the benefits of military rank, it's not until you're in the field and doing the real work that the job feels real. That's when the best benefit of all kicks in: the honour of serving your country.
Prepare, Train, Apply, and Excel!
Maybe you're realizing you're more prepared than you thought to start a military engineering career in Canada. Maybe you didn't think it would take as much time to prepare and train, but you still realize the value of such a career.
Either way, you can only sit behind a screen so much until it's time to get to work!
If you're ready to take your first steps toward joining the Canadian Armed Forces, click here.