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Advice on choosing an officer trade

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Hello everyone,

Brand new member and first post - thanks for having me.

I've started the recruiting process (Reg) and am trying to decide on which trades to consider. I've completed CFAT and was told I did "very well". I'm scheduled for TSD next month. I'm sure a recruiter will confirm which trades I'm eligible for, but in the interim I wanted to do some more research because I have a broad set of skills and interests.

I have two undergrad degrees (kinesiology, psychology), a MSc, and am currently finishing a law degree. I have a long work history in healthcare, fitness, research, and now some law work. I've been given an articling position with the Superior Court beginning next year. I doubt I will be called to the bar by the time I would be recruited (if all goes well, of course), so a legal position right away is not an option.

I have a keen interest in intelligence. I also want to have on-the-ground experience doing the "actual work", rather than just lead as an officer. I like working with my hands, being active, and learning technical things. I'm an athlete and not afraid of hard physical work (bit of a pain junkie tbh). I work extremely well under pressure (spent time assisting in trauma surgery).

I've browsed Air Combat Systems Officer, Intelligence Officer, and Armour Officer. One of the recruiters suggested Naval Warfare Officer. All look interesting.

I'd appreciate any insight into any of these careers, advice on questions to ask recruiters about any trades I qualify for, and/or advice on how to make an informed decision.

Thank you in advance for your help, and please feel free to direct me to threads where some of this may have been already addressed.
 

daftandbarmy

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Hello everyone,

Brand new member and first post - thanks for having me.

I've started the recruiting process (Reg) and am trying to decide on which trades to consider. I've completed CFAT and was told I did "very well". I'm scheduled for TSD next month. I'm sure a recruiter will confirm which trades I'm eligible for, but in the interim I wanted to do some more research because I have a broad set of skills and interests.

I have two undergrad degrees (kinesiology, psychology), a MSc, and am currently finishing a law degree. I have a long work history in healthcare, fitness, research, and now some law work. I've been given an articling position with the Superior Court beginning next year. I doubt I will be called to the bar by the time I would be recruited (if all goes well, of course), so a legal position right away is not an option.

I have a keen interest in intelligence. I also want to have on-the-ground experience doing the "actual work", rather than just lead as an officer. I like working with my hands, being active, and learning technical things. I'm an athlete and not afraid of hard physical work (bit of a pain junkie tbh). I work extremely well under pressure (spent time assisting in trauma surgery).

I've browsed Air Combat Systems Officer, Intelligence Officer, and Armour Officer. One of the recruiters suggested Naval Warfare Officer. All look interesting.

I'd appreciate any insight into any of these careers, advice on questions to ask recruiters about any trades I qualify for, and/or advice on how to make an informed decision.

Thank you in advance for your help, and please feel free to direct me to threads where some of this may have been already addressed.

Holy cr*p. Are you sure you want to join the CAF? :)

But seriously, there's R23A (Infantry) and those who wish they were.

I hope that helps :)
 

winds_13

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Honestly, if I was in your situation, just finishing law school, I'd finish articling and get called to the bar first... it would leave the door open to potentially Occupation Transfer (OT) to Legal Officer later in your career, or to practice law outside of the military. If Keep in mind that for any trade you apply for (outside of Legal Officer), that you will be no further ahead than if you had joined after completing your first bachelor's degree.

As for the specific trades that you listed, they are in very different "trade groups" and offer quite different experiences. I'll give you my personal opinion, although I am not in any of these trades specifically. If you are interested in Armour Officer, the most similar trades are Infantry Officer and Artillery Officer. Army "Combat Arms" do very much get some "hands on" work, and lead their soldiers in all weather and climate. Fitness is a large part of the job in the combat arms, more so than elsewhere in the military, and there is plenty of opportunity to work out (daily, or twice daily) and compete in various sporting competitions (endurance races, powerlifting competitions, team sports, etc.). Air Combat Systems Officer is most similar to Pilot, and involves flying around various aircraft. Intelligence Officers do a lot of critical thinking, and preference is for those with a background in political science/international relations/etc., you will do work that is "hands on", but that will entail office work primarily. Naval Warfare Officers (NWO) are the command arm of the Navy, so they are in charge of navigation, management, etc. of maritime vessels. Of note, your posting options will vary significantly depending on which trade you choose (join the Navy, live in Halifax or Victoria... join the Armoured Corps, it's Edmonton, Petawawa, Gagetown, or Valcartier), although all officers tend be posted to Ottawa eventually.
 

dimsum

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@heynickletsgo - first, why Reg F? It sounds like you'd be a great fit for Reserves, especially with a potential "day job" as a lawyer.

Also, I wouldn't rule out Legal just yet. From hearing other folks, files don't progress quickly. I wouldn't be surprised if you've been called to the bar by the time your file is done.

I will say this though: People transfer to the Air Force. Not many people transfer from the Air Force. ACSO is an interesting trade that has very different roles depending on the airframe. And no, despite what some Pilots like to say, it's not a dying trade - we can barely keep up recruiting for the capabilities.
 

jeffb

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Do what makes sense to you but I know three law school grads who are artillery officers. Posting options for artillery are basically the same as armour. As an artillery officer you will likely start on a gunline leading soldiers who are shooting howitzers. After that, you will likely move on to either being a Forward Observation Officer where you coordinate artillery effects in support of the infantry/armour or you will move into Surveillance and Target Acquisition where you will lead soldiers operating RADARs, sound ranging systems or UAVs (drones). It's an awesome trade if you want to get your hands dirty with some great options for future employment once you are done your low-level leadership time.
 

dimsum

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Surveillance and Target Acquisition where you will lead soldiers operating RADARs, sound ranging systems or UAVs (drones).
To clarify, since most people don't know (even in the CAF), several organizations operate UAS/RPAS (or "drones"). The Artillery for sure, but also the RCN and CANSOFCOM.

Those operate fairly small UAS (handheld up to about a small car), but the RCAF will also be buying and operating larger RPAS (roughly the same size as a CF-18 Hornet).
 

brihard

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If you're already within striking distance of being done your legal training, get that under your belt. The military will still be here a year or two for now. Being a no-shit lawyer is an interesting and compelling thing to have on your resume. There are any number of professions where having legal training can be very valuable, even if you aren't working directly as a practicing lawyer.

I'll echo dimsum. Why regular force versus reserves? In the reserves you could still have your own professional career, but also get a taste for the military, and dive fully into it if it suits you. I was reserve infantry up until a couple years ago and we had several lawyers in my unit - most, actually, in the junior ranks. As the unit recruiter I hired one guy who had his PhD in Anthropology, got tired of doing field digs, and went to law school to do something different. He came in asking if we had infantry officer positions. Regrettably we didn't, he shrugged, said 'that's fine', and swore in shortly after as a private (turned out to be a solid soldier, too). I can think of three more lawyers we had who were PRes Pte-MCpl, and get to do the soldiering stuff on the side. Some businesses very much value being able to show that they support the secondary military employment of reservists working for their companies,. Anyway, just a thought. But it seems like law school and articling is a hell of a thing to nearly have accomplished.
 
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Thanks to all for the comments so far. I've contemplated reserves as well and you've all made great points. I definitely plan on graduating before attending basic.

My understanding was that it was more challenging to move from reserves to reg, rather than the other way - but please correct me if I'm wrong.

Also, if I've already started the reg recruiting process, does that transfer over to reserves easily? I should note I'm based in Toronto, if it makes any difference in advice.

As for why CAF - I think the opportunities for broader, more international work are far better than working in private sector, which is part of my long-term career goals. And let me tell you - grinding out billable hours on Bay St really sucks πŸ˜„
 

daftandbarmy

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Thanks to all for the comments so far. I've contemplated reserves as well and you've all made great points. I definitely plan on graduating before attending basic.

My understanding was that it was more challenging to move from reserves to reg, rather than the other way - but please correct me if I'm wrong.

Also, if I've already started the reg recruiting process, does that transfer over to reserves easily? I should note I'm based in Toronto, if it makes any difference in advice.

As for why CAF - I think the opportunities for broader, more international work are far better than working in private sector, which is part of my long-term career goals. And let me tell you - grinding out billable hours on Bay St really sucks πŸ˜„

You are correct. As a reservist, I'd suggest never go 'reserves first' IMHO.

And, speaking as a guy with less than stellar educational accomplishments, you do whatever the heck you want - because it looks like you can :)
 

Blackadder1916

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. . . doing the "actual work", rather than just lead as an officer . . .

I always grin when I hear this sort of comment, because the "actual work" includes a lot of equipment maintenance, clean-up (not what many joined the military to do, unless a wrench turner) and sitting around (or hiding) while an officer eithers makes up his mind (if possible), gets direction from another officer (who's also trying to make up his mind or is waiting for someone higher) or else waiting because the officer wanted to pitch-in (not always a bad thing) doing the "actual work" instead of what his job actually required.

I have a keen interest in intelligence. . . . opportunities for broader, more international work . . .

Have you considered CSIS?

(spent time assisting in trauma surgery)

Apply to med school next and then apply to the CAF for MOTP or MMTP if you're a reservist.
 

dimsum

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Oh lord lol. I'm tired of school.

Also, I applied to med school 4 times and wasn't successful. Sad, because MOTP was the plan for that!
Curious how you assisted with trauma surgery then? Were you a medical tech of some description (can't think of the civilian equivalents right now - early morning)?

Also, to cover bases, I know that CAF courses aren't like formal schooling (whether it's easier or not is dependent on the person) but if you think that you won't need to "go to school" after joining the CAF, well...I got some bad news for ya. CAF members are continually doing some sort of course after they are qualified. Especially as aircrew - there are upgrade courses, courses to keep current on things...it never ends.
 
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Curious how you assisted with trauma surgery then? Were you a medical tech of some description (can't think of the civilian equivalents right now - early morning)?

Also, to cover bases, I know that CAF courses aren't like formal schooling (whether it's easier or not is dependent on the person) but if you think that you won't need to "go to school" after joining the CAF, well...I got some bad news for ya. CAF members are continually doing some sort of course after they are qualified. Especially as aircrew - there are upgrade courses, courses to keep current on things...it never ends.
Shoulda clarified - sorry about that.

I was a neurophysiologist, so I did brain and spinal cord monitoring... mostly during spine surgery, and often during emergency trauma. Nothing like being paged at 1am for a 10 hour procedure! πŸ™ƒ

I don't mind school work. Continuing ed is really important, and I think courses with the military would be really interesting. What I don't want to do is another 4-year degree plus residency. Universities have had enough of my time and energy.
 

dimsum

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Shoulda clarified - sorry about that.

I was a neurophysiologist, so I did brain and spinal cord monitoring... mostly during spine surgery, and often during emergency trauma. Nothing like being paged at 1am for a 10 hour procedure! πŸ™ƒ

I don't mind school work. Continuing ed is really important, and I think courses with the military would be really interesting. What I don't want to do is another 4-year degree plus residency. Universities have had enough of my time and energy.
Uh, why are you considering the Reg F rather than the Res F again? :sneaky:
 

daftandbarmy

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Shoulda clarified - sorry about that.

I was a neurophysiologist, so I did brain and spinal cord monitoring... mostly during spine surgery, and often during emergency trauma. Nothing like being paged at 1am for a 10 hour procedure! πŸ™ƒ

I don't mind school work. Continuing ed is really important, and I think courses with the military would be really interesting. What I don't want to do is another 4-year degree plus residency. Universities have had enough of my time and energy.

So, it's definitely Infantry then.

We're kind of the 'opposite' of University :)
 

SupersonicMax

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Shoulda clarified - sorry about that.

I was a neurophysiologist, so I did brain and spinal cord monitoring... mostly during spine surgery, and often during emergency trauma. Nothing like being paged at 1am for a 10 hour procedure! πŸ™ƒ

I don't mind school work. Continuing ed is really important, and I think courses with the military would be really interesting. What I don't want to do is another 4-year degree plus residency. Universities have had enough of my time and energy.
Isn’t neurophysiology a specialty that requires a M.D. first?? Or were you a technician?
 

Navy_Pete

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I've got to be honest, you seem massively overqualified for any CAF job, and jumping into the Reg F seems like it would be stifling for you. Sure, you can potentially do some really cool things, but there are long periods of waiting and preparing between all of that that can be really frustrating. The Reg F is a big machine with a massive bureacracy, so working within that can be occasionally soul sucking, but a necessary evil to get things actually done.

I would also recommend considering the Res F; may be a bit of work to switch between the two later, but that would give you a lot more flexibility, and is much easier if you find out it's not for you to move on with your life. You would still get to dip your toes into the hands on part but wouldn't necessarily have to deal with the same kind of bureaucratic drudgery, so may be a better fit for what you want to get out of it, and that way if you were interested in a non-officer trade may be easier to do that, and then transfer to something different in the Reg F later. Know more than a few officers on the Navy side that had some kind of combat arms militia time as reservists, and there is always something from that kind of experience that translates over.
 
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Isn’t neurophysiology a specialty that requires a M.D. first?? Or were you a technician?
Tech gig.. electrodes, wires, and sine waves all night long.. although sometimes we did awake craniotomies and testing in the ICU, so that was interesting.
 
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I've got to be honest, you seem massively overqualified for any CAF job, and jumping into the Reg F seems like it would be stifling for you. Sure, you can potentially do some really cool things, but there are long periods of waiting and preparing between all of that that can be really frustrating. The Reg F is a big machine with a massive bureacracy, so working within that can be occasionally soul sucking, but a necessary evil to get things actually done.

I would also recommend considering the Res F; may be a bit of work to switch between the two later, but that would give you a lot more flexibility, and is much easier if you find out it's not for you to move on with your life. You would still get to dip your toes into the hands on part but wouldn't necessarily have to deal with the same kind of bureaucratic drudgery, so may be a better fit for what you want to get out of it, and that way if you were interested in a non-officer trade may be easier to do that, and then transfer to something different in the Reg F later. Know more than a few officers on the Navy side that had some kind of combat arms militia time as reservists, and there is always something from that kind of experience that translates over.

Thank you.. I just like to get my hands into a bunch of stuff because I'm curious. Ain't nothin' special.

I'll investigate the Reserves next time I'm at the recruitment centre.
 
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