Materials Technician

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Job description

Materials Technicians maintain and repair land vehicles and related equipment. Materials Technicians belong to the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Branch of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

Their primary responsibilities are:

  • Welding
  • Machining
  • Sheet metal work
  • Painting
  • Work with textiles, fibreglass and composite
Transcript

Materials Technician

CORPORAL JESSE JEWITT: I’m Corporal Jesse Jewitt, from St. George, Ontario. I’m a Materials Technician posted to 2 Service Battalion, in CFB Petawawa.

PRIVATE SAMANTHA MCPHEE: And I’m Private Samantha McPhee, from Metcalfe, Ontario, a Materials Technician posted to 2 Service Battalion, in Petawawa, Ontario.

NARRATOR: Materials Technicians or Mat Techs for short, are the fabricators of the Canadian Army. They have the skills to repair or fabricate items so that land-based equipment can perform to its optimal level, both in training and deployed operations. They work with metals and composites such as the armour and internal protection on tanks, on lifesaving equipment like gasmasks, as well as with fabrics such as canvas and PVC for military shelter systems.

JEWITT: A Materials Technician does just about everything actually, if it’s not a weapon or engine, we fix it. We do tents, welding, textiles, auto body work and repair, sheet metal fabrication, welder fabrication. Pretty much anything you can name.

MCPHEE: We go from working with a sewing machine, hand sewing, all the way to air carbon arc gouging.

NARRATOR: Mat Techs are agile and able to conduct mobile repairs to vehicle casualties and shelters in any environment, from the Northern Arctic to a desert location. Their jobs can have them making repairs on the frontlines. “Arte et Marte” – By Skill and By Fighting – is their motto. They are soldiers first, and they train to be prepared for anything.

JEWITT: So, on a day-to-day basis I could be doing anything from fixing a hole on a fender of one of our trucks, to fixing up a tent, to a guy comes in with a broken rucksack, needs a new strap put on it, I can do that. You got to be on the ball, you need to be able to take fastballs as they come in, you could be sewing a tent one minute and a guy comes in with a priority job saying: “Hey, I need you to weld this right now, this has got to go overseas.” You got to stop, drop, do everything and go over there and sort that job out.

MCPHEE: And then another day we’re out testing gasmasks, making sure that the seals are right. Repairing them, making sure that they fit. Then we can be out in the field and actually being a soldier. So, we can be digging trenches, ruck marches, runs.

JEWITT: The coolest part of the job for me being a Mat Tech is just the variety, just the sheer variety. There's so many different things, so many skills you get to learn and you’re always learning something new just about every day.

MCPHEE: My favourite part of being in the military and being a Mat Tech is that we get to exercise every morning. And when you come to work, you feel refreshed and ready to go. So, you’re all excited and you’re in a good mood, and then you get to work on projects that are a lot of fun also. You get to do new things every day.

NARRATOR: Once they complete their initial trade training, Materials Technicians are posted to one of the many Canadian Armed Forces bases across the country. Once they’ve gained some experience, they may have the opportunity to serve with the Canadian Special Operations Forces.

JEWITT: When I showed up at my first posting, it was a little daunting, everyone here obviously had been in the actual green machine, out on the floor doing their thing, for a long time, so it was a little… a little nerve-wracking initially. But, I mean, you just got to get in there and work hard and everyone will see that you work hard and you’ll be accepted.

MCPHEE: Everyone welcomes you in, you’re like a big family. It doesn’t matter who you are, everything’s always just fun and when it’s time to be serious, we buckle down a little bit.

JEWITT: As much as the frontline soldiers have our back with being out on the frontlines getting all the fighting done, we have their back being back at base, insuring that all their kit is good to go, so they can go back out there and continue to do a good job. When you’re out in the field and you’re actually seeing the face of the person you’re doing the job for, it’s very gratifying. We kind of are the people with the magic wands that will come over and just fix the problem that no one else could even find a solution for.

MCPHEE: So far, I’ve been on one major exercise for 80 days in Wainwright, Alberta. I got to work hands-on every day inside a tent. It was my favourite part of being in the military so far.

JEWITT: My job in the military versus a civilian welder, I believe we get much better benefits. There's a lot more time off, there’s chances to go on tour, travel to different places on the globe and do peacekeeping missions and get some help out to those people. Also, just the chance of furthering your own education within the military, as well as getting paid to keep fit and keep healthy. It’s great.

Overview

Working environment

Materials Technicians experience the unique adventures and challenges that come with working in different environments. Materials Technicians are employed at bases and stations across Canada and on deployed operations around the world. While on a base, they may be working in small spaces, like a workshop. In the field or on deployment they may work outdoors most of the time or in temporary accommodations. Their work usually supports Army units, but they may also work with the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Pay and career development

The starting salary for a fully trained Materials Technician is $60,000 per year; however, depending on your previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Material Technicians who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training.

Related civilian occupations

  • General Welder
  • Millwright
  • Tool-and-Die Maker
  • Sheet-Metal Worker
  • Auto Body Repair Technician

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Training

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

Materials Technicians attend the Canadian Forces School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering in Borden, Ontario for about a year. Using a combination of instruction, demonstrations and practical work, they learn the following skills:

  • Shop mathematics
  • Interpretation of mechanical drawings and blueprints
  • Power and hand tools
  • Metallurgy and heat treatment
  • Pattern development and layout
  • Welding:
    • Oxy-acetylene
    • Gas Metal Arc
    • Gas Tungsten Arc
    • Shielded-metal Arc
  • Plasma arc cutting
  • Metal surface refinishing
  • Auto body repair and refinishing
  • Rust-proofing and retreatment
  • Spray-painting
  • Drilling, threading and reaming
  • Textile repair
  • Sewing-machine repair
  • Respirator repair
  • Repair of fibreglass and composite materials
  • Identification of metals, alloys and plastics

On-the-job training

Materials Technicians are posted to a CAF Base for about 18 months of on-the-job training, which resembles a civilian apprenticeship program.

Specialty training

Materials Technicians may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including a 27-week intermediate training course. At the end of this training phase, a Materials Technician’s trade knowledge, skills and experience are comparable to those of a civilian journeyman.

There is also the possibility to take training to reach supervisor and manager levels. The supervisor level course takes about 13 weeks, and the manager level course takes about nine weeks.

Advanced training

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

  • Advanced machining
  • Advanced welding
  • Non-destructive testing techniques
  • Military bridging inspection
  • ISO sea container inspection
  • Occupational health and safety

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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 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.

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