The Army: You, Me, and Gunpre

impsethimpseth Registered User
edited May 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
Hello all, man it's been a while since I posted in the forums.

Here's the thing, I'm in the IT industry(kinda). I work in a call center in a tech support role. I've been doing this line of work for 4 years for 4 different call centers. The past three have all been outsourcers and each of them treated their agents like crap. The vast amount of bullshit I've attained could fill a whole series of novells and novellas. Well, after my last gig in which I made(I thought) good money at supporting high-end servers, and I mean really high-end. I figured there was no where left to go but up, so I quit that place to work at a non-outsourcing call center. I now work for a companies call center, I have a badge with the companies name on it and am able to take advantage of all the perks that you get by working for a company and not a company that's been contracted by the actual company......I sure you know what I mean. For some reason I'm actually getting paid more supporting high-end gaming PC's than I was supporting $20K servers, go fig.

I'm pretty fed up with call centers, I've worked for 4 and all of them do it wrong. Agents get burned out, get shit on and then expect to be happy about it. Well, I found out from my current manager, who I used to work with in the previous call center job, that I was considered to by a pretty angry guy back there. No hope for promotion, transfers to other departments sure, but no chance in getting out of the frontline role and being moved into something a little more lucrative. This information gave me much food for thought, and since then I've tried to be more satisfied/happy/whatever with my current lot in life. I know I'm going back to that because of the environment in which I work and the role in which I'm in. I expect very few chances of promotion or anything else with my current employer and I know I'm going to start giving off the same bad vibes here that I did at my previous work, if I haven't started already. At this point, I'm pretty fed up with the whole IT industry in general.

I haven't had that much of a chance to rant recently so I apologize for the above. Which brings me to: I'm thinking of joining the army. I've been told that with the 4 years of "IT" I can get a $10K, tax-free, signing bonus after basic training and mabye an automatic promotion too. I haven't gone to a recruiting office yet and I've really only looked at what info is on the army's website. So, my knowledge of the army is pretty limited right now, aside from being able to carry a big gun and talk loud. I need more information. I'm not asking for somebody to make my decision for me. I'm asking for any information you have on what it's like to work for the army, any experiences you've had, what the life is like(especially how it is on tour), the pay, if you actually like the army, that kind of thing. Keep in mind that I'm talking about the Canadian Forces army but I'm sure the majority of information is common for any military force out there.

Thank you very much for anything you can give me and I'll keep you posted on whatever I decide to do.

Sigs are fun.
impseth on


  • MuddBuddMuddBudd Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Whatever they promise you, get it in writing.

    MuddBudd on
    There's no plan, there's no race to be run
    The harder the rain, honey, the sweeter the sun.
  • CangoFettCangoFett Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    MuddBudd wrote: »
    Whatever they promise you, get it in writing.

    CangoFett on
  • geckahngeckahn Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Recruiters are completely full of shit. So heed the above advice.

    geckahn on
  • hardxcore_conservativehardxcore_conservative Registered User
    edited April 2007
    I'm not a serving member of the Canadian Forces—though I soon will be—but I've done some research. As a disclaimer, I wish to suggest that you verify everything you learn in this thread through information obtained from official sources. (Read: more than one.) Keep in mind that all following text is my interpretation of the facts, and may be incorrect.

    A few things:


    It's in your best interests to visit these. I've had some issues with out-of-date information, but they're generally accurate. They'll give you all of the information you need more fully and accurately than I ever will.

    This website is solid gold. It has up-to-date information on ranks, payscales, benefits, general information about the CF, everything. Most useful, I've found, is the information on specific MOCs.

    This website is slightly less useful than the CF Recruiting site, but it still has a lot of neat stuff. It has information on army news, equipment, a bit about Canadian military history, a bit about training, some other things. I've found the unit locator most useful.

    Information straight from those who've served. They're useful, entertaining, and you don't have to be a serving member to join. They sometimes provide contradictory information.


    The Canadian Forces is run differently from the United States military. For example: the Canadian Army, Navy, and Air Force are all subdivisions of one large organization, and much of the pay, much of the training, and many of the benefits overlap between the three. While I am sure that there are elements universal to armed service regardless of country, many things you hear about military service within the US do not apply here.

    There are two kinds of employees within the CF: Officers and Non-Commissioned Members (Or NCMs). All positions entail leadership roles, but Officers occupy higher positions on the chain of command, essentially assuming a managerial role. They have higher payscales, but one must possess at least a Bachelor's Degree from an accredited Canadian university to qualify for training. Many positions require more. Familiarity with the French language is also a requirement; if you don't already speak it, you will before your training is done.

    The role of an NCM is less glamorous: they are the workers and floor managers of the military. Their payscales are lower, but their positions usually require less education. After training, they often start out making around $30 000 a year. French language training, while an asset, is not a requirement.

    Regardless of which you are, you will work as a member of a specific Military Occupation (or MOC). Not all MOCs are within the Combat Arms, and some aren't even specific to a single branch. Infantry is only one MOC—Pilots, Combat Engineers, Armoured Soldiers, Intelligence Operators, and Dental Technicians are all examples of other military occupations. The specific MOC you seem to be looking at is Signals Operator, a non-commissioned combat position that as of recently entails a signing bonus for qualified applicants and a possible promotion to Corporal upon completion of training.

    Everything I've heard has indicated that recruiters within the CF are more benign than those within American military organizations. Our political climate is different from the one in America; our armed forces are not presently in Iraq, and while there is a recruiting drive they are not struggling desperately to inflate their ranks. Nevertheless, it's a good idea to triple-check everything you're told. Canadian recruiters may still mislead you to suit their interests; it's just less likely to get you killed.


    Visit the above links, educate yourself, verify everything. I've met some recruiters who've misled me, just as I've met some former and active members who've done the same.

    I could go on a great length about the things I've learned about the CF, but I don't know what else you'll find useful. Again, I would encourage you to visit the above links. And triple-check everything.

    hardxcore_conservative on
  • TiemlerTiemler Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    impseth wrote: »
    ...treated their agents like crap....vast amount of bullshit....burned out, get shit on and then expect to be happy about it...

    If you're trying to get away from this, the military may not be the place to look.

    Tiemler on
  • CycophantCycophant Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Ex-CF Infanteer here, and although I had what could be considered a bad experience, and thus my advice should be taken with a grain of salt, it's still a valid experience.

    I joined within a few weeks of turning 18, which was perhaps my first mistake (joining young). You didn't mention an age, but the fact that you've had to work a shit job for a few years is a good thing; that kind of experience comes in handy when life seems really shitty in the service.

    Certainly the best advice I can give you is don't believe what the Recruiter is saying without backing it up first with another (preferably print) source. Likewise, any promises made should be in writing, in your contract, before you agree. Although the CF isn't like the US forces, a recruiter is still a recruiter - their job is to sell jobs and fill positions.

    Realize that, particularly if you're joining as an Officer (though I don't believe the position you're interested in is), it's going to be a big commitment you'll be making. A minimum of 3 years, and as high as 6 to 10 years. Although there's ways out of it, it's not easy, it's probably something you'd regret later anyway, and it's a huge goddamn hassle. So make sure you're willing to give up a few years of your life to something you might very well hate.

    I've got lots more advice, but I'll save it. If you've still got some questions or just want one story of what it's like in the CF, fire me a PM or email, or just ask me here.

    Cycophant on
  • Ant000Ant000 Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    If you've still got some questions or just want one story of what it's like in the CF, fire me a PM or email, or just ask me here.

    What's it like in the Canadian Forces?

    <- Curious

    I thought about joining the CF when I graduated high school because I had and still have no idea what I want to do career wise, but I decided to take liberal arts courses at college and so far its been way more enlightening that I imagined it would be.

    Ant000 on
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    I'll tell you one thing that I think is pretty common to all armed forces: you may well not end up working in your field. I don't think Canada is doing as much outsourcing to contractors as the US, but still if they've got one too many IT guys you may end up doing something else. Possibly something unpleasant. Also even if you do get a "slot" in your field, you may end up having to pull shit details (how shitty depends on rank generally) off and on...especially in a combat zone.

    Aside from that all my experience is with the US armed forces, so I'll leave it there so as not to steer you wrong.

    mcdermott on
  • tyrannustyrannus Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    My old high school history teacher used to be a Marine sniper. He wanted to be an MP. You probably will not get the job you want. He also told me about a story where the army trained a guy to be absolutely fluent in German, and when they reassigned him, they sent him to the DMZ. Where his German did fuckall.

    tyrannus on
  • CycophantCycophant Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Ant000 wrote: »
    What's it like in the Canadian Forces?

    <- Curious

    I thought about joining the CF when I graduated high school because I had and still have no idea what I want to do career wise, but I decided to take liberal arts courses at college and so far its been way more enlightening that I imagined it would be.

    I joined for fairly similar reasons; not sure exactly what I wanted to do, military always interested me, yadda yadda yadda. In retrospect, considering what you have to give up and put up with, I would have waited until I had a better reason than just that.

    That being said, one's experience in the forces is going to be vastly different based solely on which MOC they join up as. I joined up as combat arms (infantry), and only much later realized it really wasn't the ideal place for me. If I could do it again, I would have waited, finished post-secondary, and joined at least as a tradesperson or an officer. In my opinion, you have to willingly give up your entire life if you want to join the forces, because it becomes your entire life whether you want it to or not. So you might as well make sure you're doing a job you can stand.

    Another important thing to consider is your obligations and responsibilities. Joining the forces if you have a family, or even a significant other, is a huge strain that almost always destroys the relationship.

    All of this changes if you joined up as a Reservist, mind you. The obligations to the military become a lot easier to handle at first, and over the long run. My suggestion to someone with a future who wants to join the CF would be try to join as a Reservist first and get a good look at what life is like. From there, you'll be much better equipped to make the proper decision to join full time or not.

    Cycophant on
  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    I don't understand how you went from

    "The IT industry is shitty"


    "I'm thinking of joining the army"

    Were you thinking of joining the army before you did IT? Why do you want to go? You just spent all your time complaining about call centres: you worked for four of them and then you conclude the IT industry is shitty. How about doing IT... that doesn't involve call centres?

    If you can't think of very good reasons to join the army apart from being frustrated at your current employment, I very much suspect you are going to regret it.

    Lewisham on
  • impsethimpseth Registered User
    edited May 2007
    Thanks for all the replies and that link to the CF army forum is great except it's blocked from work, but anyhoo.

    To answer a few questions. I'm 25. I don't think I'd want to put in the time to go for officer training(never graduated college) so NCM all the way, tho I doubt I'd want a career out of it. IT is a field, at least for now that I want to get away from. I know of non-call center IT jobs but I'm in a rut and have no skills outside of talking to people on the phone anymore. Resume reads like oddtodd these days. When it comes to how quickly my rant went from "I hate IT." to "Army sounds fun!", my dad is retired from the CF so I've got the history there. I know he had fun doing it. Never thought I'd be somebody to go for military service but I always said if things didn't work out in the private sector I'd give it a shot.

    Cycophant: Seeing as other people are curious, any stories you can lay down on the forums would be awesome.

    impseth on
    Sigs are fun.
  • CycophantCycophant Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Keep hitting your father up for stories, impseth. Ask others if you can find them; the wider base of knowledge you get about it, the better you'll know what you're getting into. I can give you my stories, but they're usually biased towards the negative (although I've got some great stories too).

    Irregardless of what job you end up taking, Basic is always a rude awakening for people. Be prepared to get angry with everyone at one point or another, attempt to learn things while only on a scant few hours of sleep, for many people be in the best shape of your life, and all sorts of other fun. Particularly if you're not going combat arms, it can be one of tougher things you'll do in your career too (apart from perhaps going on OP). But it's still a great experience, and you'll probably make friends you'll keep for a long time.

    From there it's off to your MOC training. I can't speak for the trade schools, but the few people I've talked with that have gone through them have had pretty varied stories, ranging from utter boredom to party school to incredibly academic. All the more reason to ensure you're picking an MOC you really want to spend a long time doing.

    Cycophant on
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