Electronic-Optronic Technician - Land

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Job description

Electronic-Optronic Technicians maintain, repair and modify fire control systems to ensure the accurate delivery of ammunition to the intended target.

Electronic-Optronic Technicians belong to the Corps of Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). The primary responsibilities of the Electronic-Optronic Technician is to:

  • Inspect, test, identify faults in, adjust, repair, recondition and modify electrical, electromechanical, electronic, electro-optic and mechanical equipment, optical instruments, and control systems for weapons and missiles
  • Repair surveillance and thermal observation systems
  • Maintain vehicle satellite navigation systems
  • Maintain fibre-optic systems
  • Repair laser systems
  • Maintain optical, electrical and electronic test equipment
  • Repair portable and trailer-mounted power-generating systems
  • Operate and maintain general-purpose and specialized tools and equipment
  • Drive military-pattern vehicles



PARRILL: In 21st-century combat, one speck of dust on a laser gunsight can decide a battle. It’s our job to make sure our soldiers can see what they’re shooting at.

I’m Master Corporal Jason Parrill from Saint Anthony, Newfoundland. I’m an Electronic-Optronic Technician posted here in Gagetown, with the 3rd Area Support Group.

And I’m Corporal Steve Valardo from Saint John, New Brunswick.

If Electronic-Optronic sounds complicated, you can just call us “EO Techs”.


This is where we work, here at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, in my home province. There are EO Techs at every Canadian Forces base.

PARRILL: It’s all about what we call fire control, making sure the ammunition hits the target. EO Techs play a big role in artillery, armoured, and infantry operations. We work on thermal and night-vision scopes and goggles – control systems for missiles – chemical and nuclear weapons detection – and satellite navigation for our vehicles in the field. Pretty cool stuff – and a pretty cool job.

VALARDO: What we do has a huge impact on the mission. It’s complex, detailed, high-precision work -- fixing laser sights, maintaining fibre-optics, keeping the lenses and equipment clean, down to the microscopic level.

Some optical equipment is very, very precise and for cleaning optics, can take up to two or three hours just to clean a single lens, because a very small tiny speck of dirt that cannot be seen by the human eye, but it can be seen by a microscope can actually affect a sight greatly.

Our shop here at Gagetown has some of the most sophisticated optical and electronic gear in Canada.

PARRILL: But we also go wherever the troops go. I’ve been in the Forces for nine years, and I’ve already served on deployments in Afghanistan, Haiti, Bosnia, Croatia and Eritrea in East Africa. I’ve seen a lot of the world for a boy from the Northern Peninsula!

Afghanistan, Haiti, Africa, very dusty, very dirty, very hot. And a lot of our sighting equipment has to be filled with nitrogen so there’s no humidity or mould can grow in them, and especially, the sand and the dirt, that’s the biggest thing, especially for the precision optics.

VALARDO: If being an EO Tech sounds like the job for you – whether or not you’re already working or studying in the electronics or optical field -- the Canadian Forces is the place to do it. I started in the Reserves after a year and a half of university courses in engineering, then moved on to the Regular Force. But the Army can train you to be an EO Tech right out of high school.

When I was seventeen, I just needed to get out there and get a job, and my friend was joining the Reserves and he had told me a lot about it… You got to actually learn some good leadership skills and managing skills… and it was just a lot more appealing than working behind a desk.”

Like all military occupations, the training starts with Basic Military Qualification. Then comes a year and a half of concentrated classroom and on-the-job education. The Forces have a nickname for everything, and the first course is called “POET” – Performance-Oriented Electronics Training – 26 weeks in Kingston, Ontario, then 33 more weeks at the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering School at Canadian Forces Base Borden, near Barrie.

PARRILL: Once your time at Borden is over, you’ll have the kind of education and training that would cost you thousands of dollars at a civilian school – and you’ll be paid your full salary and pension and benefits while you learn!

VALARDO: You’ll study basic electronic and electrical theory -- how optical and laser sights, satellite navigation and surveillance systems work and how to repair and maintain them -- and how all this fits together on our tanks and reconnaissance vehicles.

PARRILL: On this job, every day is different, and the training and learning never stops.

It’s never boring, that’s for sure. It’s always something different. If you actually looked at the manual of all of our, all the things we take care of, it’s, I think it’s about 93 pages long. But it’s never boring, especially when you’re overseas. It could be anything from supplying power to a camp to fixing the thermal scope inside of a Lav III.

VALARDO: It’s a very important job, especially now if you look at your soldiers overseas. A lot of the equipment that they’re using, we maintain… When the soldiers are actually out in the field, and they’re actually hitting their target and everything works fine for them – that’s probably the most rewarding part.



Working environment

Electronic-Optronic Technicians typically work at a base or station in Canada in a workshop. During field training and on operations in the field, they generally work in temporary or improvised workshops or outdoors. Electronic-Optronic Technicians are dedicated to the Army, but they may support Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy operations.

Pay and career development

The starting salary for a fully trained Electronic-Optronic Technicians is $49,400 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Electronic-Optronic Technicians who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training.

Related civilian occupations

  • Electronic Engineering Technologist
  • Electro-Mechanical Technician
  • Surveillance/Thermal Equipment Technician
  • Optical/Optronic Technician
  • Laser Equipment Technician

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Basic military qualification

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 CAF physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.

Basic military qualification – land course

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

Basic occupational qualification training

Electronic-Optronic Technicians take the Performance-Oriented Electronic Training course, which takes about 26 weeks, at the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics in Kingston, Ontario. You will then attend the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers School in Borden, Ontario, for training specific to the roles and responsibilities of the Electronic-Optronic Technician. The training takes about 33 weeks but may be less for those with civilian qualifications in the field. Using a combination of classroom instruction, demonstrations and practical work, it covers the following material:

  • Basic electrical and electronic theory
  • Repair of electrical and electronic equipment
  • Basic optical and optronic theory
  • Repair of mechanical and optical equipment
  • Repair of vehicle-mounted optronic and electronic devices
  • Basic computer theory and architecture
  • Repair of night-observation devices
  • Repair of surveillance equipment
  • Repair of surveying equipment
  • Basic soldiering skills, including field-craft and battle-craft

On-the-job training

Electronic-Optronic Technicians are initially posted to a unit on a CAF Base for about 18 months of on-the-job training, which is similar to an apprenticeship program. During this period, you practice and build on your previous training. You are then eligible for additional training at the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers School to bring your knowledge, skills and experience to that of a civilian journeyman.

Specialty training

Electronic-Optronic Technicians may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Maintenance of the electrical, electronic and optronic systems of the Leopard tank
  • Maintenance of the Javelin missile system
  • Maintenance of artillery computers
  • Air-conditioning equipment
  • Maintenance of the electrical, electronic and optronic systems of low-level air-defence weapons
  • Simulators and trainers

Advanced training

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

  • Maintenance of digital computers
  • Maintenance of thermal sights
  • Maintenance of advanced surveillance equipment, lasers, and fibre-optics
  • Maintenance of simulators and trainers
  • Leadership and tactics
  • Supervisor-level training
  • Manager-level training

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Entry plans

Now hiring: we are now accepting applications for this job through direct entry.

Required education

The minimum required education 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 and any science course at the Grade 10 level or Secondaire IV level in Quebec. Foreign education may be accepted.

Direct entry

If you already have a college diploma, the CAF will decide if your academic program matches the training criteria for this job and may place you directly into the any required on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic training and military occupation training is required before being assigned.

Paid education

Non-commissioned Member Subsidized Education Program

Because this position requires specialty training, the CAF will pay successful recruits to attend the diploma program at an approved Canadian college. NCM SEP students attend basic training and on-the-job training during the summer months. 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. If you choose to apply to this program, you must apply both to the CAF and the appropriate college. For more information, see Paid education

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