by Heidi Riley
The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is a diverse organization employing approximately 100,000 Canadians at home and around the world. “The CAF is the largest sector of the Canadian Public Service,” says Sergeant Matt MacDonald, who has been in the CAF for 31 years.
The CAF offers approximately 100 different trades and professions in the Army, Navy and Air Force that interested citizens can apply for. They have their own trade schools for most occupations so they can provide all the required training. They also offer university and college education that in some cases can be fully funded.
“Joining the CAF is not just about combat,” says Matt. “You can get a profession or trade, and after a period of service in that occupation, take your experience and walk away with money in the bank and no student loans.”
The CAF offers either part-time work in the local area (the Reserve Force) or full-time permanent positions (the Regular Forces) in most Canadian provinces, depending on the trade or profession.
“When I was at UPEI, I would work in the Reserves for contracts up to six months, and then I would go to university for a semester.” says Matt. “As a result, I never needed student loans at all. After a tour to Bosnia I also used my military hours for funding to go to Holland College for the Aircraft Gas Turbine program. I have worked in the local community most of the time, and also served in seven other Canadian provinces.”
The Reserve Force
The Reserves is a program designed for students or those in regular full-time careers. Members work one night a week and one or two weekends per month. Members also get full-time employment from April to August for the first four years after joining.
Reserve members get a $2,000 bursary for every year they are in school. Jobs in the Reserves include Naval Warfare Officer, Human Resources and Public Affairs Officers. With the Reserves, members do not sign a contract and there is no minimum amount of time they must serve.
“I was in the Reserves during my time in post-secondary education,” says Petty Officer Jason Murray, who is recruiting for the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve.
What experience or skills are you looking for?
No skills or experience is required. The CAF provides all required training.
Rate of pay
Paid education salary starts at $27K per year gross pay. Standard pay for trades starts $36K per year and there is a pay increase every year. By year four, members are typically at $60K and up.
Training and/or mentorship
CAF members receive training at the apprentice or journeyman levels or at the professional levels of occupations, depending on which path they travel. There is also a college subsidy program where members are paid a salary and go to college, with all academic expenses paid.
CAF also offers a university scholarship program where the member is paid a salary plus all academic expenses to get a degree at the Royal Military College or another Canadian university. They are guaranteed employment in the CAF for a minimum of nine years after graduation.
“In addition, we also subsidize certain Masters programs. For example, if you graduate with a BSc, we will pay for you to go to dental school or medical school, plus pay you a salary,” says Matt.
All members are provided valuable leadership training and professional development on ethics throughout the course of their careers.
Do you hire international students who have valid work permits?
Applicants must have Canadian citizenship, unless they are a foreign-trained soldier from a NATO country and have specialized occupations.
How to apply
The application process has a number of steps, including an aptitude and personality test, medical assessment, interview, and security checks. They are done sequentially over a period of a few months.