Employer Spotlight: Women in the Canadian Armed Forces

Petty Officer Second Class Stephanie McFadden and Petty Officer Second Class Heather Smolinski joined the staff of the Nanaimo Centre to talk about military careers for women.

On July 19th, Recruiter and Petty Officer 2nd Class, Stephanie N. McFadden, came in to our Brooks Landing location in Nanaimo to talk about careers for women in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). Currently, only about 15% of the forces are women, and the goal is to raise that number to 25%. Read below to find out about the exciting opportunities available for Canadian citizens between the ages of 17-55 with a minimum Grade 10 education.

What type of positions are available in the CAF?

There are more than 100 different full-time and part-time job opportunities available in the Army, Navy or Air Force including:

  • Technicians
  • Health Care Specialists
  • Sensor and Radar Operators
  • Air and Ship’s Crew
  • Telecommunication Specialists
  • Engineers
  • Public Protection Specialists
  • Administration and Support Specialists
  • Combat Specialists
  • Other Specialized Occupations
    • Chaplain
    • Imagery Technician
    • Intelligence Officer
    • Legal Officer
    • Musician

Are positions with the CAF full-time or part-time? Local or abroad?

You can apply to the CAF as a member of the Regular Force (full-time) or the Reserve Force (part-time).

Members of the Regular Force are ready to respond at a moment’s notice to threats, natural disasters or humanitarian crises at home and around the world. After you have gone through basic and occupational training, you will be posted to a military base, wing or unit in Canada. Although your preferences will be considered, the CAF will post you where your skills are needed most.

As a Regular Force member, you usually can expect to move to a different base every few years. You may also be deployed overseas if a military mission needs your skills and abilities. Missions can last a few days or weeks when responding to a disaster such as the earthquake in Haiti. They can also last up to one year as part of a long-term commitment like Canada’s former participation in the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan.

Members of the Reserve Force support the Regular Force at home and abroad. Reservists typically serve one or more evenings a week and/or during weekends at locations close to home. Some Reservists may volunteer to be deployed on operations, if there are positions available. There are Reserve Force units in hundreds of communities across Canada, including Nanaimo. Reserve Force basic training is on weekends only, so you can still attend school or work.

Regular Force Reserve
Full-time Part-time – 1 night/week & 1 weekend/month
Salary Daily Rate of Pay
Work within Canada and abroad Local Employment
Variable engagement specific to occupation No mandatory contract
Stability Flexibility

What is the Service Commitment in the CAF?

The time you spend in the Regular Force can range from three to nine years, depending on the job you choose. If you enrol through a paid education program, your length of service will be longer. You will receive a salary, medical and dental care, and paid vacation during your time in service. Time served is calculated based on two months of service for each month of paid education.

The time you spend in the Reserve Force is voluntary. There is no mandatory length of service. Most Reservists serve on a part-time basis and most have non-military, full-time careers or are full-time students. Routine training and deployments are also voluntary. However, a national emergency such as a war or an invasion may require you to serve full time in Canada or overseas. This commitment can only be mandated by the federal government in response to a serious national emergency.

What are the different Career Paths in the CAF?

You can apply to the CAF as an Officer or a Non-Commissioned Member. The path you choose will depend on your skillset, interests and educational background.

Officers Non-Commissioned Members
University degree required No prior skills required
Leader/Manager Tradesperson training
Decision/Policymaker Technician/Operator roles
Overall in command Progress from subordinate to supervisor
Over 30 occupations Over 50 occupations

What are the benefits of working in the CAF?

  • Competitive salary
  • Job security
  • Career advancement
  • Subsidized education opportunities – paid university and college with employment upon graduation
  • Valuable training
  • Transferable skills
  • 20 days paid vacation
  • Benefits – pension plan, full dental and medical
  • Travel, adventure and challenge!
  • Learn about health benefits, pension, and vacation and other benefits available in the CAF. https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/services/caf-jobs/education-benefits.html

What is life in the military like?

Understand what it’s like to work in CAF including moving, family life and the support services available. https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/services/caf-jobs/life.html

How do I apply?

Complete and submit the application online. Find out if you meet the eligibility requirements, learn about the process, and see what happens after you submit your application. https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/services/caf-jobs/application-process.html

If you are interested in a career that provides travel, adventure and challenge, then the Canadian Armed Forces could be your opportunity.

Naomi Kolke is the Resource Centre Coordinator in our Downtown Nanaimo WorkBC Centre.

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