Army Communication and Information Systems Specialist

Job description

Army Communication and Information Systems Specialists provide fast, reliable wired and wireless communication and information systems using leading edge voice and data systems. They are also part of a larger team that provides Army units and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) with communication and information services throughout Canada and around the world. 

Army Communication and Information System Specialists expertly install, remove, operate, maintain and repair leading edge communication and information technology such as: 

Their primary responsibilities are:

  • Wired and wireless communication and information systems
  • Radio, satellite and microwave broadband technology
  • Fibre and copper broadband technology
  • Voice and Data delivery services training
Transcript

TITLE:

ARMY COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION SYSTEMS SPECIALIST

IN THE CANADIAN FORCES

I’m Private Chris Tidd from Toronto, Ontario. I’m an Army Communication and Information Systems Specialist with Joint Signals Regiment here in Kingston, Ontario.

And I’m Master Corporal Amanda Collins from Scarborough, Ontariop – an Army Communication and Information Systems Specialist currently posted to CFB Petawawa.

On the battlefield, commanders can’t command without information. That’s why keeping an unbroken link with fighting forces in the field is one of the most vital roles a soldier can perform.

TIDD: As Army Communication and Information Systems Specialists, we design, install, and maintain satellite, wireless and cable networks to support the entire range of Army missions, whether it’s pursuit of the enemy, humanitarian relief after a natural disaster, or the normal flow of information to and from headquarters or on our bases at home.

COLLINS: ‘Cause if you don’t have communications, I mean, the guys at the front line can’t communicate : “This is what we see” to the guys at the back to say: “Okay, we need more support” or “We need this” or “This is what’s gonna happen”.

TIDD: Being an ACIS Specialist means performing split-second, high-intensity work under battlefield conditions. But it also means months of classroom and lab training on some of the world’s most sophisticated communications equipment -- from radiation detection devices to circuit boards and cryptographic gear.

You’re in an environment where the techniques and the equipment is changing very fast, whether it be within the satellite communication field or within radios themselves, using different frequencies, different new equipment that comes on the market. As well as Canadians being part of NATO, you’re having to work with other countries and their equipment.

Within the ACIS trade, you’re gonna have your Signallers, which operate all the equipment at hand, whether it be your computers, and operating radios, talking on the radios themselves and managing the net there. The linemen are basically in charge of laying all kinds of lines, whether it be fibre optics or Cap-5 or coaxial cables, things like that.

You could find yourself a hundred and fifty feet up a tower one day, setting up a microwave relay, and down in a manhole the next day, splicing communications lines.

COLLINS: In our role as Information Systems technologists, we also administer, maintain and repair the computer networks at our bases and headquarters in Canada.

Whether we’re attached to the artillery, the infantry, an armoured regiment, or the combat engineers, our radio, computer and satellite crews stand ready to support our troops in action.

TIDD: Definitely, as a Signal Operator, there’s a lot of opportunities for travel, especially here at the regiment I’m at. We’re the only satellite communications regiment in the Forces, so we’re constantly deploying on exercises, and training exercises as well – as well as any kind of overseas operations – we’re one of the first guys in, last guys out.

Whether you’re working under a microscope in a climate-controlled, dust-free environment, or crawling through the bush to get to a unit whose radio has gone out, being an Army Communication and Information Systems Specialist guarantees you a huge variety of experience, challenges, and high-tech training, plus the teamwork and camaraderie of Army life that you won’t find anywhere else in our wired world.

TIDD: The thing I like most about my job is the fact that we’re one of the most fast deployed and often deployed trades in the Forces. And, myself, within 2 years, I was deployed overseas, in Afghanistan, doing the job I love, and learning a lot of new things.

The fact that you’re just connecting up to a satellite that’s out in space, using, going through the ionosphere, everything else like that, and communicating to the other side of the world in half a second, it’s pretty amazing.

COLLINS: For me, it’s become the teamwork, it’s the atmosphere. The fact is, I could do a 9-to-5 job doing the exact same thing on civvy street, and I’m sure it’s just as gratifying to some people, but the fact is, I can do it here, and maybe tomorrow I can deploy to Afghanistan or to Alert. And it’s just the fact that we can go a lot of places that most other people don’t even know exist sometimes.

TIDD: A career as an Army Communication and Information Systems Specialist starts with basic military and soldier training. Then you’ll head to Kingston, Ontario and the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics.

COLLINS: You’ll spend 18 weeks in Kingston. Even if you don’t have a high-tech background, the Forces will teach you everything you need to know about radio, computer, and satellite communications theory, how to set up and maintain information and computer networks, and how they serve the military mission.

TIDD: The courses at Kingston will cover a basic overview of all three branches of the ACIS specialty: communications systems, information systems, and hard-wired line and cable systems.

TIDD: After your basic course at Kingston, most ACIS Specialists will be assigned to a Signals Squadron or Joint Signals Regiment, where on-the-job training will continue.

As a new private, it was pretty intimidating coming to the Regiment, but there are a lot of very experienced people who were there to kind of help me along, show me the ropes, show me my faults, show me my strong points, and just kind of guide me in the right direction. So it was a steep learning curve, and a lot of fast and furious things coming at me, so it was very exciting and I was very happy to be there.

COLLINS: After about a year, you’ll branch out into one of the three core specialties of the trade, and you’ll be attached to the artillery, the infantry, an armoured regiment, or the combat engineers.

There’s electronic equipment everywhere, so every base needs us – as well as deployments overseas.

TIDD: Proudest moment on the job was probably when I was overseas in Afghanistan. There was only 5 of us in Kabul providing all the communications, and it was just an awesome opportunity to show my own skills and to serve my country doing the thing I love the most.

COLLINS: I’ve lived pretty much from one end of the country to the other, and I’ve been overseas and I’ve been to the top of the world, so it’s one big adventure for me.

TITLE:

ARMY COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION SYSTEMS SPECIALIST

IN THE CANADIAN FORCES

Overview

Working environment

Army Communication and Information System Specialists experience the unique adventures and challenges that come with work outdoors most of the time.  Army Communication and Information Systems Specialists are usually posted to one of the tactical Signal Squadrons at Petawawa, Ontario; Valcartier, Quebec; Edmonton, Alberta; or the Joint Signal Regiment in Kingston, Ontario. There are opportunities for qualified Army Communication and Information Systems Specialists to work in Infantry, Artillery, Armoured and Special Operations Regiments with other units throughout Canada, and on deployed operations around the world.

Pay and career development

The starting salary for a fully trained Army Communication and Information System Specialist is $49,400 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Army Communication and Information Systems Specialists who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training.

Related civilian occupations

  • Telecommunications Operator and Manager
  • Facility Operations Manager
  • Information Systems Analyst
  • Electronic Engineering Technician/Technologist
  • Line Installer-Repairer 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 Forces 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

Army Communication and Information System Specialists attend the Canadian Forces School of Communication and Electronics in Kingston, Ontario. Training takes approximately 18 weeks and teaches the following basic skills and knowledge:

  • Radio and antenna systems theory
  • Computer systems theory
  • Satellite and microwave systems theory
  • Radio communications and information security
  • Installation and operation of communication and information systems
  • Maintenance and operation of power generating systems
  • Communication and information systems maintenance and repair techniques
  • Installation and maintenance of fibre and copper systems

Specialty training

Army Communication and Information System Specialists may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including training in one of four sub-occupations:

  • Communication Systems Technologist
  • Information Systems Technologist
  • Line Systems Technologist
  • Communication and Information Systems Technology Manager

Advanced training

As they progress in their career, Army Communication and Information System Specialists who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced training. Available courses include:

  • Communications and information systems facility controller
  • Systems support specialist
  • Communications and information systems management
  • Data network design concepts
  • Small system support
  • Leadership and management

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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. Foreign education may be accepted.

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

Army Communication and Information Systems Specialists serve with the Canadian Army, providing wired and wireless communication and information systems support to military units for training and operations. When employed on a part-time or term basis, they usually serve at a military location 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 military training, the home unit will arrange for additional training for specialized skills. Training for Army Communication and Information System Specialists takes about 18 weeks and is conducted at the Canadian Forces School of Communication and Electronics in Kingston, Ontario.

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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