Aerospace Telecommunication and Information Systems Technician

Job description

Aerospace Telecommunications and Information Systems Technicians perform, supervise and direct the repair and maintenance of all types of Air Force telecommunications and information systems. They also manage and maintain mobile and fixed satellite communications systems, microwave systems, switchboards, cable plants, and all forms of command and control computer systems and networks. 

Aerospace Telecommunications and Information Systems Technicians perform preventive and corrective maintenance, system restoration, special inspections, modifications, installations and acceptance checks, as well as the repair and overhaul of all types of telecommunications, navigation and cryptographic systems.

Their primary responsibilities are to:

  • Perform preventive and corrective maintenance on all types of radios, radar and data processing, cryptographic, terminal, audio and video equipment
  • Perform inspections, performance tests and adjustments on strategic and tactical fixed and mobile telecommunications equipment
Transcript

AEROSPACE TELECOMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION SYSTEMS TECHNICIAN

IN THE CANADIAN FORCES

MASTER CORPORAL RYAN HEFFERNAN: I’m Master Corporal Ryan Heffernan from Niagara Falls, Ontario.  I’m an Aerospace Telecommunication and Information Systems Technician based out of CFB Kingston, at the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics.

CORPORAL MIKE ROBSON: And I’m Corporal Mike Robson from Ottawa, Ontario. I’m an Aerospace Telecommunication and Information Systems Technician serving at 8 Wing Trenton.

HEFFERNAN:  If you’re ready for a career in the constantly-changing world of computers, satellites, radio and radar in a military environment, then this just could be what you’re looking for. As far as I’m concerned, serving as an Aerospace Telecommunication and Information Systems Technician, or ATIS Tech, is the most challenging high-tech trade in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

HEFFERNAN: ATIS Techs install, maintain and repair some of the most advanced military communications, radar, and computer systems in the world.

HEFFERNAN: We support air bases themselves, we support operations both international and domestic.  Pretty much anywhere you see electronics, you’ll

see an ATIS Technician.

HEFFERNAN: We’re talking leading-edge satellite communications and cloud computing networks, airborne and ground-based radar systems, portable airspace command and control hardware, streaming battlespace video, hard-wired telephone links, and remote airborne surveillance.

HEFFERNAN: Yeah, we’re kind of your universal puzzle piece where you put us somewhere, and we can pretty much fit in.  Our skills are so diverse that we can just be put in an area, be familiar with equipment, and get it done.

ROBSON: In command and control centres at home, and on deployed operations from the Arctic to Asia and beyond, ATIS Techs deliver the essential skills that a modern military force depends on.

ROBSON: Without the radio systems, the planes can’t talk to the ground.  Without the phone systems, we can’t communicate between another base.  Without networking systems, there’s no data travel.  You know, they all tie together. But without any of these systems, you know, where would we be?

HEFFERNAN: Travel is a big part of the life of an ATIS Tech. One week, you could be at our most isolated base up at Alert near the North Pole, deploying a transportable precision-approach radar system.

ROBSON:  A week later, you could be on a field exercise in Western Canada, or in Haiti helping people cope with a natural disaster, or even deployed overseas in a combat environment, making sure that our F-18 pilots have a fail-safe back-link to their commanders.

HEFFERNAN: Whether you join the Regular Force or the Reserve, serving Canada as an Aerospace Telecommunication and Information Systems Technician is a great choice.

HEFFERNAN: We don’t just work hard Air, we work with the Army, we work with the Navy, we work with everyone. When you go to a place to fix things, people recognise an ATIS Tech and they’re like “Wow, look this guy can fix pretty much everything.  Throw anything at him, and he can do it” – from working a help desk in Afghanistan, to working on complicated radar systems on an airfield. 

MODULE 2 – What’s cool about the job

ROBSON: The best part of my job is when I get to travel.  I’ve traveled to the North Pole a couple of times, I’ve been to Hawaii, I’ve been to Australia.

HEFFERNAN: I’ve been to Africa, I’ve been to Afghanistan, numerous domestic ops, to do a job that not very many people can do.  One guy can say “I did computers”, one guy can say “Yeah, I did radar”, one guy can say “Yeah, I can hook up cables”.  I can say I’ve done it all.  And I haven’t just done it in Canada, I’ve done it overseas too.

ROBSON: It’s a very unique job.  Nothing else really in the world can offer the same experiences. 

MODULE 3 – Trade-Specific Training

HEFFERNAN: Even if you’ve got a solid IT or radio background, mastering the incredible variety of skills in the ATIS Tech trade will take time and intense concentration. But you’ll have some of the finest instructors in the world to work with.

ROBSON: After your basic training, you’ll spend nearly a year at the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics in Kingston, Ontario.

ROBSON: Your first semester is called POET – Performance Oriented Electronics Training. It lasts 23 weeks and covers the basics of circuitry, computer networking, radio transmission, power sources, and much, much more.

HEFFERNAN:  When you successfully complete POET, you’ll move on to a 14-week apprenticeship, also at Kingston. You’ll sharpen your skills on circuit boards and switchboards, airfield radar and navigation systems, radio transmission and secure encrypted networks.

HEFFERNAN: By the time you leave Kingston as an ATIS jr. apprentice, you’ll have a range of knowledge and practical experience that no civilian training school can hope to match. And you’ll be ready to use and advance your new skills in an Air Force setting.

MODULE 4 – Your First Posting

HEFFERNAN: Your first posting will be to a base in Canada or on deployment with 8 Air Communications and Control Squadron, or with a Tactical Control Radar Squadron overseas.

ROBSON: Throughout your Air Force career, you’ll have the opportunity to upgrade your skills as new computer and communications systems come online, and there are advanced specialty training courses available in a wide range of fields, from microwave communication to fibre optics, and from airborne surveillance to management and leadership training.

ROBSON: When I came in to this position, I did not know anything about telephones or telephone systems, or cell phone towers or anything like that.  I was put in this position, the military trained me and provided all the skills that I needed to really do it.

MODULE 5 - Testimonials

HEFFERNAN: When I was in Africa, I was on a deployment there and I was the only ATIS Tech in charge of setting up a communications network for the people there.  Just being able to explore different countries, and seeing where… We live in Canada… so we’re free – we have the opportunity to do whatever we want.  Then to see other people who don’t have that opportunity and for us to try and provide support for that was a big hit in my career.

ROBSON: Joining the military completely changed my life.  I left where I originally lived, put on the uniform, you know – nothing really compares to it.  You meet different people all the time, there are so many different types of people from across the country. You get a lot of hands-on experience, you’re not just sitting behind a desk. It’s a fun job, day-to-day.

TITLE:

AEROSPACE TELECOMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION SYSTEMS TECHNICIAN

IN THE CANADIAN FORCES

  • Perform repairs, overhaul and support maintenance on telecommunications equipment
  • Perform installations and acceptance tests
  • Liaise with all levels of command and functional groups, including base level personnel
  • Maintain and/or advise other occupations on the maintenance of the electromechanical and refrigeration requirements of telecommunications equipment
  • Deploy as part of the Air Force Support Capability as part of 8 Air Communications and Control Squadron, as part of a Tactical Control Radar Squadron, or as part of the Canadian Forces Joint Signals Regiment
  • Manage the life-cycle of material related to various telecommunications and information systems

Overview

Working environment

The duties of an Aerospace Telecommunications and Information Systems Technician are performed in operation centres, in static and mobile workshops, or outdoors. Aerospace Telecommunications and Information Systems Technicians may work at bases within Canada and the USA, including the Arctic, to locations throughout the world.

Pay and career development

The starting salary for a fully trained Aerospace Telecommunications and Information Systems Technician is $49,400 per year; however depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher.  Aerospace Telecommunications and Information Systems Technicians who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression and advancement.

Related civilian occupations

  • Electronic Engineering Technician or Technologist
  • Electronic Service Technician
  • Radio Communications Equipment Repairer
  • Telecommunications Equipment Installer

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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 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.

Basic Air Force training

Air Force recruits are introduced to the working environment and culture through a four-day course before starting the training in their chosen job.

Basic occupational qualification training

Aerospace Telecommunications and Information Systems Technicians attend the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics in Kingston, Ontario, to complete the Performance Oriented Electronics Training course which includes the following topics:

  • Circuits Theory
  • Electro-Mechanical and Solid State devices
  • Power sources
  • Amplifier, Oscillator and Digital circuits
  • Multistage electronic circuits
  • Conductors and cables
  • AM/FM Theory
  • Audio/Video equipment
  • Computers and peripherals

They continue with 20 weeks of training specific to their duties:

  • Technical administration
  • Automated information systems
  • Switchboards and terminal equipment
  • Cable distribution systems
  • Data communication systems
  • Audio and video systems
  • Airfield navigational aids and meteorological systems
  • Communications and crypto systems
  • Radar systems

Specialty training

Aerospace Telecommunications and Information Systems Technicians may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Airport Secondary/Surveillance Radar
  • Communications Control Systems
  • Precision Approach Landing Aids
  • E3A AWACS Airborne Equipment
  • Microwave Radio Systems and Associated Equipment
  • Instructional Techniques
  • Communications/Information Security
  • Meteorological Systems
  • Cryptographic Equipment Maintenance

Advanced training

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

  • Fibre Optics Communications Systems
  • Design Building Network for Communication Systems
  • Computer System Management
  • Advanced Radar Maintenance
  • Advanced Communications Operations
  • Management and Leadership Training
  • Deployed Communications Systems

Entry plans

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 with Grade 10 Academic Math or Math 246 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 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 (NCM) Subsidized Education Program (SEP)

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.

Part-time option

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

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. 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

Aerospace Telecommunication and Information Systems Technicians serve with the Royal Canadian Air Force. When employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis they usually serve at CAF locations within Canada, including the Arctic.

Reserve Force training

Reserve Force members usually begin training with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required basic professional military standards. Following basic military training, occupational training for the Aerospace Telecommunication and Information Systems Technician qualification requires about a year and is conducted at the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics in Kingston, Ontario.

Working environment

Air Reserve members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts and are employed in the same unit and perform the same job. Air Reserve members usually serve up to 12 days per month in a regular work day, with opportunities to serve full time for short durations as needed. Reserve Force members 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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