Engineer Officer

Job description

Engineer Officers help the army live, move and fight. They are members of the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers. Together with the Armour, Infantry and Artillery, Engineer Officers are an integral part of the Combat Arms.

The primary responsibility of Engineer Officers is combat readiness. Either working within Canada during an emergency or on international missions, Engineer Officers are responsible for:

  • Constructing habitable camps
  • Breaching minefields
  • Using explosives to destroy a road or bridge
  • Constructing a bridge or ferry
  • Building a combat road
  • Disposing explosives
  • Constructing obstacles
Transcript

Engineer Officer

MODULE 1 – Overview of the trade

CAPTAIN KURT GRIMSRUD:  I’m Captain Kurt Grimsrud from Regina, Saskatchewan.  I’m an Engineer Officer serving at 1 Combat Engineer Regiment in Edmonton, Alberta.

LIEUTENANT SEAN DAVIES: And I’m Lieutenant Sean Davies from Oromocto, New Brunswick, an Engineer Officer serving at 2 Combat Engineer Regiment in CFB Petawawa.

DAVIES: Wherever and whenever the Canadian Army is needed, there’s not a task my engineers can’t tackle. I’m the one in charge to make sure that the job gets done right, whether it’s building a bridge… or blowing one up.

GRIMSRUD: The role of the Engineers in the Army is to help the other combat arms live, move and fight while denying the same to the enemy.  And our secondary duty is to fight as infantry when called upon.  At the troop level, a combat engineer troop will be integrated with usually an infantry section and they’ll be providing close support engineering.  The troop commander is generally an adviser to the infantry company commander and what he provides is information on the roads, mobility, how we can move around, how the engineers can best support the battle.

DAVIES: Examples of this could be : we come across a minefield and an anti-tank ditch.  Well, how do we get through those?  It takes engineers to breach those obstacles and I’m there to provide advice and also provide troops on the ground so that they can move towards their objective.

GRIMSRUD: Engineering is a core component of every military mission. When a flood threatens Canada’s homes, towns and farms, my troops are out there filling sandbags and shoring up the dykes. After a tragedy overseas, you’ll find us helping to rebuild shattered communities. And we’re always ready to fulfill our primary and historic role on the battlefield.

GRIMSRUD: The role of the officer within the Combat Engineers – obviously we aren’t driving the equipment and doing all the hands-on work.  We coordinate to make sure that what is happening with the troops and what is happening with the resources under our command is meeting the commander’s intent.

DAVIES: Whether you choose the Regular Force or a part-time role as a member of the Reserve, serving Canada as an Engineer Officer will teach you skills and take you places you may never have thought you’d reach.

MODULE 2 – What’s cool about the job

DAVIES: At a civilian engineering firm, you’re going to come out of university and be the new guy at the bottom. But in the Forces, you’re commanding thirty or forty people right from your first posting.

GRIMSRUD: As an Engineer Officer, you build up a resume of skills and experiences that you just wouldn’t get anywhere else.  At a very young age, we get a lot more responsibility than you’d get on the civilian side and a lot of experience in project management with a lot of various different types of projects, which make you very employable when you’re done your service with the Canadian Forces.

DAVIES: You show up to a job site and there’s nothing there.  And then, you’re like “Okay, I’m gonna build a bridge here” and you do your engineer calculations and design where this bridge is gonna go, and exactly what needs to be there for the bridge.  And then 6 hours later, you have a bridge there. It’s something that is pretty unbelievable.  It’s challenging but the hard work pays off and the rewarding feeling you get at the end of the day is well worth it.

MODULE 3 – Trade-Specific Training

GRIMSRUD: Here’s what to expect if you decide to enroll as an Engineer Officer.  After your Basic Officer Training, you’ll report to the Combat Training Centre at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick.

DAVIES:  Your training at Gagetown will be divided into three phases.  You’ll start at the Infantry School with a phase that all new Army officers go through.  Then it’s on to the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering for two additional phases of training.

GRIMSRUD:  First comes about two and a half months of basic battlefield engineering, focusing on defensive fortification – skills you’ll need to be ready to use, whatever the next mission brings.

DAVIES: Then comes the really intensive part: nine months of troop leadership training in all the tasks that an engineer troop can be called upon to perform, under hostile fire, in every imaginable topographical or climatic condition from mountain passes to desert wastelands to city streets.

GRIMSRUD: You’ll learn all about obstacle clearance, demolitions, bridge construction, minefield breaching and much more.  The course includes a really demanding four-week field exercise, where your ability to size up a situation and mold a cohesive, focused unit of Combat Engineers really gets put to the test.

MODULE 4 – Your First Posting

DAVIES:  When your training is complete, you’ll join one of the four Combat Engineer or Engineer Support Regiments across Canada.

GRIMSRUD: You’ll begin as a Troop Commander, leading about forty combat engineers, known as sappers, equipped with several armoured vehicles.

GRIMSRUD: Depending on the mission, your troop may be composed of soldiers trained as field engineers, armoured engineers or heavy equipment operators, able and ready to fulfill numerous military tasks.

DAVIES:  You’ll be the principal planner and supervisor for all tasks assigned to you by your Squadron Commander. With a focus on combat readiness, you’ll have your team prepared for whatever the next mission may bring – anywhere in the world you need to go.

GRIMSRUD: Personally, I try to lead by example. I like to be involved with the troops. I like to be out doing the same things that they are and be involved in their day-to-day activities as much as I can, so that I understand their capabilities and can properly employ them.

DAVIES: You have to be able to have the technical knowledge, but you also have to be a people-person as well. If you have one without the other, you’re not gonna be able to lead your troops in the field, whether it’s on operation or just on a training exercise.

MODULE 5 – Testimonials

DAVIES: The goals that I set out when I first joined the military was to come to 2 CER and to be a field troop commander. So far, I’ve lucked in, and I’ve met both those objectives. I don’t know where my career is heading next, but I hope that I experience the same challenges and rewards that I’ve had thus far.

GRIMSRUD: Everybody joins the Army and trains hard so that they can get on deployments. So going to Afghanistan was definitely an exciting time. A lot of what we did was responding to IED, either incidents that had happened or finds of explosive devices in the roads. And at the end of that tour, we had done an enormous amount of work and had taken care of and protected a lot of people by getting those bombs out of the roads and making the country a little bit safer for everybody that’s there.

Overview

Working environment

Engineer Officers are employed at bases and stations across Canada and on deployed operations around the world. They experience the unique adventures and challenges that come with working in different environments and various terrains – Arctic tundra, tropical jungle, desert, mountains, urban complex – and various climates.

Pay and career development

The starting salary for a fully trained Engineer Officer is $51,000 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Regular promotions through the junior officer ranks take place based on the completion of required training and on the length of service as an officer. Once promoted to the rank of Captain their salary is approximately $74,000.

Engineer Officers may begin their career on missions. Depending on the mission, the Troop may be composed of combat engineers trained as field, armoured or heavy equipment engineers able and ready to fulfill numerous military tasks. The focus will always be on combat readiness. The Engineering Officer is the principal planner and supervisor for all tasks assigned by the Squadron Commander.

To meet the requirements of certain specialized appointments, Engineer Officers may be given opportunities for graduate education.

Related civilian occupations

  • Construction Engineer
  • Senior Project Manager – Construction
  • Geological Engineer
  • Mining Engineer
  • Utilities/Equipment Manager

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Training

Basic military officer qualification

After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 15 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the Canadian Armed Forces (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.

Common army phase

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

Professional training

Engineer Officers attend the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering in Gagetown, New Brunswick. For the first two and a half months, training focuses on basic combat engineering skills and includes subjects such as:

  • Basic demolitions
  • Mine warfare
  • Obstacle construction
  • Field fortifications
  • Dismounted infantry tactics at the platoon level

It ends with a three-week field deployment where the Engineer Officer’s ability to lead a Troop is assessed. The final nine months of training concentrates on reconnaissance, planning, and Troop-level combat engineer tasks. Subjects included are:

  • Bridge building
  • Minefield construction
  • Booby-trap clearance
  • Route denial
  • Bridge demolition
  • Combat road repair and construction
  • Defensive works
  • Timber and rope field machines
  • Destruction of battlefield munitions
  • Construction of temporary camps
  • Breaching various obstacles in the face of the enemy

At the end of the last phase, during a comprehensive four-week field deployment, the skills acquired are assessed.

Specialty training

Engineer Officers may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including after the first tour of duty with a first line unit, they may choose to specialize in one of the following areas:

  • Mapping and geodesic support to joint operations
  • Infrastructure engineering to both garrison and deployed installations
  • Technical engineering to support the procurement and management of equipment

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Entry plans

Direct entry

If you already have a university degree, the Forces 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.

Paid education

Regular Officer Training Plan

Because this position requires a university degree, the CAF will pay successful recruits to complete a Bachelor degree program at a Canadian university. They receive full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full-pay in exchange for working with 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 some instances, the CAF is able to pay for Officer Cadets to attend other Canadian universities in a relevant degree program. Officer Cadets who attend other Canadian universities typically attend university during the regular academic year and participate in additional military training during the summer months. If you choose to apply to this program, you must apply both to the CAF and the Canadian university of your choice. For more information, see Paid education.

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Part-time option

This occupation is available part-time within the following environment: Army

Serve with the Reserve Force

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.

Part-time employment

Engineer Officers serve with the Canadian Army. Their primary responsibility is combat readiness – to help the army live, move and fight. Together with the Armour, Infantry and Artillery, Engineer Officers are an integral part of the Combat Arms team. When employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis they usually serve with Canadian Army units at locations within Canada.

Reserve Force training

Reserve Force members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts. They 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. Engineer Officers attend the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering in Gagetown, New Brunswick for approximately one year to achieve their qualification.

Working environment

Reserve Force members usually serve part-time with their home unit for scheduled evenings and weekends, although they may also serve in full-time positions at some units for fixed terms, depending on the type of work that they do. They are paid 85 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.

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