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Signals Officer day-to-day

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Hello,

I was hoping to get some insight on the day-to-day duties of a Signals Officer, would you recommend this trade compared to the NCM Cyber Operator's?

Does anyone know if it's possible to list both NCM and an officer trade as a preference?

Thank you for your time.


P.S. do you think Signals Officers are more likely to have to move often?
 

ABSigs

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I'll leave it to those more in the know as to whether you can apply for both NCM and Officer Occupations, but I think you can. Your options will depend on the results of your CFAT and the overall recruiters assessment. As for the difference. The Cyber Operator trade is hands on. The trade is new (formed in 2017) and is still developing. At present their tasks are mainly related to cyber defence. In the future, they are likely to be involved in offensive cyber.

The day to day life of a Signal Officer is varied. It depends on the type of position filled. Junior Officers normally fill Troop Commander positions in Army field units or in other Strategic Signal Units such as the Joint Signal Regiment or 77 Line Regiment. Many Signal Officers are employed in staff positions ranging from Communication Information Systems planners to Project Managers for capital projects. Currently, there are also Signal Officers who are employed in Cyber related positions as planners and staff advisers for cyber operations.

At present most if not all Cyber Operators are employed within the National Capital Region. Whereas Signal Officers are employed across the country with additional positions overseas both on deployment and in NATO or exchange positions. So yes, Officers tend to move more.

The real question is what do you want to do. Plan, advise, lead as an officer or be the person who executes with their hands on the keyboard (NCM).
 
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Thank you very kindly for the most helpful and insightful answer.

In complete honesty, I feel very ready to plan/advise/lead vs. being strictly the "executor" however I'm aware that the hands-on skills in a field such as Cyber Ops will definitely be more valuable in the civilian world should I not decide not to spend my life in the armed forces.

The idea, dream even, is definitely staying with the military so that combined with my personality and personal aspirations makes an officer's job more suitable.

Would you say that the Signals Officers have decent enough opportunities in the civilian sector (project management etc.)? Once again, the insights are most appreciated :)
 

PuckChaser

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Thank you, would you mind sharing more? :)

Read through the retirement messages on CMCEN for Signal Officers. I would say a good majority leave the CAF to take project management/IT management jobs in the Public Service.
 
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That is very insightful and inspiring, to see all those successful careers going beyond retirement from the Armed Forces. I truly appreciate it, I never would've known about CMCEN. Happy holidays :)
 

brihard

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I’d love to see a long term look at what retention looks like for cyber operators. Almost guaranteed CAF becomes a farm team that trains up cyber operators and loses them to the private sector or other government agencies as soon as their initial TOS are up.
 

cyber_lass

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Hello,

I was hoping to get some insight on the day-to-day duties of a Signals Officer, would you recommend this trade compared to the NCM Cyber Operator's?

Does anyone know if it's possible to list both NCM and an officer trade as a preference?

Thank you for your time.


P.S. do you think Signals Officers are more likely to have to move often?
Signals officer can work anywhere the army does and do a lot of admin. Cyber is hands on. If you are expecting to do cyber stuff as a sig officer, probably not. It is a very small segment of your duties. And generally you can't apply for both NCM and Officer in the same app. At least not when I went through a year or so ago. If you have any cyber questions I can answer what I can.
 

cyber_lass

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I’d love to see a long term look at what retention looks like for cyber operators. Almost guaranteed CAF becomes a farm team that trains up cyber operators and loses them to the private sector or other government agencies as soon as their initial TOS are up.
I can't say too much, for obvious reasons. But the cyber group is not the trained as the as the private sector. Take that as you will. TOS are 6 years. If a cyber person actually went out of their way to network and get some quality certs, ok. But Willis and willy nilly inhouse stuff... nope. That is all I can and will say. Peace.
 

rmc_wannabe

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The Left and Right of Arc for Signals Officers is pretty much 180°.

That expression means you can be doing everything from IT Support, Cyber Operations, EW, Field Communications supporting Command and Control systems, Satellite Operations coordination, Joint/Strategic interoperability, Project Management, Capability Development, and various other things that enable our forces to communicate securely; while denying that to our adversaries. It's several "officer trades" wrapped into one.

That said, first and foremost you're 70 percent Army Officer 30 percent Technical officer. Very little of your day to day is getting into the nuts and bolts of communications issues, but managing a team of experts, providing direction and guidance, setting them up for success, and being accountable for the failures.

It's a often times a thankless job, but it's an essential one. It also allows you to develop experience and skills that are both lucrative and sought after when you hand your uniform into Clothing Stores.

Cyber Operators, from my limited exposure, are starting to carve their place out in the Signals world. The trade is still young (5 years) and there is still a lot of work to be done establishing their roles on the Strategic level. As for life outside the military, it's pretty much the same with most trades: "yes the Army trained you, but where are your certs?" If you have the aptitude, you can get those certifications; but on your own time and own dime.

Hope that helps!
 
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Signals officer can work anywhere the army does and do a lot of admin. Cyber is hands on. If you are expecting to do cyber stuff as a sig officer, probably not. It is a very small segment of your duties. And generally you can't apply for both NCM and Officer in the same app. At least not when I went through a year or so ago. If you have any cyber questions I can answer what I can.
Thank you so much for the response!

Would you say that the signals officer, therefore, have better outlook both within the armed forces and in the civilian sector? I'm not particularly "crazy" about the cybersecurity sector but rather building a career within the army that can also translate well into civilian sector, should the need ever arise. Much appreciated!
 
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The Left and Right of Arc for Signals Officers is pretty much 180°.

That expression means you can be doing everything from IT Support, Cyber Operations, EW, Field Communications supporting Command and Control systems, Satellite Operations coordination, Joint/Strategic interoperability, Project Management, Capability Development, and various other things that enable our forces to communicate securely; while denying that to our adversaries. It's several "officer trades" wrapped into one.

That said, first and foremost you're 70 percent Army Officer 30 percent Technical officer. Very little of your day to day is getting into the nuts and bolts of communications issues, but managing a team of experts, providing direction and guidance, setting them up for success, and being accountable for the failures.

It's a often times a thankless job, but it's an essential one. It also allows you to develop experience and skills that are both lucrative and sought after when you hand your uniform into Clothing Stores.

Cyber Operators, from my limited exposure, are starting to carve their place out in the Signals world. The trade is still young (5 years) and there is still a lot of work to be done establishing their roles on the Strategic level. As for life outside the military, it's pretty much the same with most trades: "yes the Army trained you, but where are your certs?" If you have the aptitude, you can get those certifications; but on your own time and own time.

Hope that helps!
This helps tremendously, thank you kindly!

Would you be able to share your opinion on which one (signals officer vs cyber operator) you consider be a better choice for someone multiskilled, up for a challenge and willing to learn and develop, as well as quite ambitious? Much obliged :)
 

rmc_wannabe

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This helps tremendously, thank you kindly!

Would you be able to share your opinion on which one (signals officer vs cyber operator) you consider be a better choice for someone multiskilled, up for a challenge and willing to learn and develop, as well as quite ambitious? Much obliged :)

I hesitate to provide an opinion, having not been a Cyber Operator myself. It would be like me comparing how an F-150 and a Ferrari handle: I've never driven a Ferrari.

All I can say is that if you're looking to specialize, Cyber Operator is your best bet. If you're looking to be a generalist that can try on a different set of roles and responsibilities at any given posting, Signals Officer is probably your better bet.

Ambitious, multifaceted, inquisitive, and critical thinkers have been the backbone of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals for 119 years. Hell, our corps was born from a cavalry officer, Maj Carruthers, deciding that waiting for a Dispatch Rider while getting shot at on the Veldt wasn't the best Course of Action.

In any trade under our umbrella, those skills are essential. Where you apply them, that's up to you.
 

Mike5

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This is great perspective on both roles. Both roles can lead to rewarding careers (in the CAF and post-CAF). Look at the recruiting videos on Forces.ca for both Sig O and Cyber Operator; and then ask yourself, 'where would I be more motivated: specializing in technology or managing a team of specialists'?
 

cyber_lass

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Thank you so much for the response!

Would you say that the signals officer, therefore, have better outlook both within the armed forces and in the civilian sector? I'm not particularly "crazy" about the cybersecurity sector but rather building a career within the army that can also translate well into civilian sector, should the need ever arise. Much appreciated!
SigO would have better overall perspective of the army sig world, not necessarily in the private sector, not if you want to be hands on. As I mentioned SigO is more general in duties. You can specialise in cyber, but it is luck of the draw and aptitude/quals. If you actaully want to do cyber stuff than the operator would be better. Remember, as the other responder mentioned too, the army trains you to be in the army, not for you to leave to the civilian world.
 
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