Photo courtesy of the Canadian Forces
“Almost everything that you can find in the civilian world, you can find in the Canadian Forces,” says Sgt. Madeleine Voyer of the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group. “We have about 100 jobs to choose from.”
When you’re interested in finding out information about jobs in the military, you begin your journey where Sgt. Voyer works, at the government office at 391 York Ave. The recruiter will usually start with a rundown of the basic requirements to make sure you’re eligible.
Employees of the Canadian Forces must be Canadian citizens, must be 17 years of age (there are certain cases where 16 is acceptable), and you must have a minimum of a Grade 10 education.
That being said, education is valued highly in the forces. “Grade 10 gets your foot in the door, but it doesn’t get you all the opportunities,” says Sgt. Voyer. To be an officer, you need to be a degree holder, and many positions require specific post-secondary training.
The good news is much of the educational requirements can be completed while earning a salary and getting tuition and books paid for by the Canadian Forces, so members graduate free of debt.
For educated professionals, “We have a lot of reimbursement opportunities for education,” says Sgt. Voyer. Medical students can benefit from having their expensive master’s programs covered if they come to the forces with their bachelor’s degree.
Full-time and part-time commitments
There are full-time and part-time positions in the Canadian Forces; part-time work in the primary reserve is a popular choice for students.
As a reservist, you generally work one night a week and a few weekends a month over the school year, and full-time over the summer. “It allows the person to stay within their community. They don’t have to commit to a contract like the regular forces do,” says Sgt. Voyer.
As a full-time regular force employee, you can be asked to move to different bases, even different countries – an opportunity Sgt. Voyer relished.
“I was looking for adventure and challenge; I’ve always loved travelling,” she says.
Her career as an aerospace control operator saw her based in three different provinces and even working for the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Washington State.
There are many perks to committing to a career in the Canadian Forces long-term. “We have great job stability, very competitive salaries, excellent full medical and dental coverage (and) a lot of opportunity for travel,” says Sgt. Voyer.
When you begin working for the Canadian Forces, you get 20 paid vacation days a year, which is bumped up to 25 days (five weeks) after five years of service.
Though it may never have occurred to you as you entered a career as a tradesperson, there are many opportunities for non-commissioned members of the Canadian Forces in specialized roles. “We have something that caters to everybody,” says Sgt. Voyer. And even if you wish to eventually leave the forces, “the skills are very transferable,” she says.
What it takes
Canadian Forces recruiters look for “mature and well-rounded individuals. The more education they have, the better,” says Sgt. Voyer. They’re also on the hunt for people with a lot of drive, the ability to work as a team, and good leadership qualities. For regular forces, a willingness to relocate from time to time is also necessary.
The Canadian Forces also actively recruits diversity for its membership; “We want to represent Canada’s demographic,” says Sgt. Voyer.
One Canadian Forces Aboriginal entry plan combines basic military training with a cultural camp conducted by elders. The Aboriginal entry programs do not require a commitment to joining the military, and individuals can choose to discontinue at any point of the program.
While the job opportunities are immensely rewarding in the Forces – equally so is the act of service you perform for your country and others. For more information, visit http://www.forces.ca.
The current most in-demand jobs
Social Work Officer
For Non-Commissioned Members
Aerospace Telecommunications & Information Systems Technician
Air Weapons Systems Technician
Army Communication & Information Systems Specialist
Avionics Systems Technician
Weapons Engineering Technician