Civi Technical Support to Royal Signals

#1
Hi all,

I'm looking for some advice.

At the minute, I am employed as a Technical Support technician for a large bank in the North. I've got 1 year experience in this role, with another 3 years experience as a Desktop Support Technician (2nd/3rd Line). I have my MCSA, MCSE and studying towards an OU degree and a CCNA.

I'm looking for a challenge and to work with more advanced equipment, with more hands on, as well as very technical, that requires a fair bit of intelligence.

My idea is to apply as a Communications Systems Operator or System Engineer Technician, as these seem to be very hands on, working on high-tech equipment, with both a mental and physical challenge attached.

What sort of work would I be looking at in these posts?
Are there opportunities to be posted abroad?
Do you get to work on cutting edge technology (eventually)?
For someone in my position, what would you recommend?

Any thoughts and ideas would be great.

Thanks,
Matt
 
#2
System Engineer Technician is about to be merged with Information Systems Engineer to form the new Communication Systems Engineer trade (first course starts in April).

Everyone starts off with the basics, so if you're already MCSE and near CCNA you will very probably be very frustrated at the level of training, however you should be able to excel technically and concentrate on the more 'green' aspects of a career in the army.

If you join as a CS Op, with your background, you will inevitably be encouraged to change trade so I wouldn't even bother with it. It's a good trade but with your solid IT background I feel it would be wrong choice and you would only end up working in an IS role anyway.

You will absolutely 100% definitely end up overseas very very quickly, wondering where all the sand came from.

There's some good kit out there, but remember that we're a public sector organisation and our beancounters often hold more sway than they should. So state-of-the-art stuff isn't always on hand.

Ask to either join as a System Engineer Technician or Information Systems Engineer - either way you will actually train as a Communication Systems Engineer (CS Engr). Best trade in the Corps! :D
 
#3
ITMatt said:
I'm looking for a challenge and to work with more advanced equipment, with more hands on, as well as very technical, that requires a fair bit of intelligence.
The Royal Corps' will certainly challenge you, but you will work on some of the most antiquated bits of kit known to man. Although this will allow you some good hands on and technical problems.

On a serious note, looking at your resume, I would visit the ACIO and ask about the new trade of Communications Systems Engineer. It is a cross between two trades, the Sys Eng Tech you appear to know about, and the IS Engr which specialises in geeky computer stuff and IP addresses.

I wouldn't bother with CS Op if I was you.

There are some pretty serious bits of kit coming in now, and they are getting more and more technical. But like I say there are still bits of kit out there that would be more fitting in a Roman Legion.

Like I say, go to the local ACIO and find out more. Or have you thought about hte TA?
 
#4
Alternatively go work find work with a defence contractor - they develop all the new shiny bits of kit and there are always opportunities to deploy to the same places if you so wish. A fair number of the systems in theatre are managed/supported by civi firms anyway.

Edit: just to point it out as an alternative, not what I think the OP should do.
 
#5
That is one way, but if you fancy a bit of a challenge and something a bit different, the Royal Corps is the way ahead.

And a lot of companies out there still seem to have a high regard for ex Corps bods. Esp defence contractors.
 
#6
Go with a defence contractor. More hands on. Better opportunities. Better pay and benefits (not pension).

If you want to do all of the above but get less money, be cold wet and miserable then the Royal Corps is for you.
 
#7
IS Ski Geek said:
Go with a defence contractor. More hands on. Better opportunities. Better pay and benefits (not pension).

If you want to do all of the above but get less money, be cold wet and miserable then the Royal Corps is for you.
The moderator of the RSIGNALS forum advising a potential recruit not to join his corps? You've been abducted by aliens haven't you?
 
#8
Thanks guys for replying with your honest answers.

One of my natural concerns is that a lot of the technical work done in the Army will be outsourced to civi companies, which leaves less work for the technicians already employed within the Army. Again, as roadster has pointed out, I presumed a lot of the kit will be dated equipment due to the time it takes to develope and test to ensure that very little can go wrong with them.

I'm looking for the lifestyle of a soldier, who is deployed often and gets to see some action, combined with a technical career, where I would be working on various technologies with ever advancing prospects, as I do enjoy working with news equipment and learning new skills.

It would be frustrating to join the Army to find that it is another 9-5 job working the same job I do now, because I would be taking a pay cut and changing my lifestyle dramatically.

The recruiting office I was speaking with about this was talking about working with satellite communications equipment, setting up and working in IT headquarters in the field, learning advanced IT security skills.

After a lengthy career in the Army, my goal would be join a defence contractor, as I would have experience in both civi and military IT.

How right is this?

For what I want, would Systems Engineer Technician be appropriate?

Sorry for the long winded post - I'm hoping to make the right decision.
 
#9
roadster280 said:
Thirdly, while your quals may be at the lower end of the ladder, they'll be in advance of your fellow trainees, most likely. This may well become frustrating.

Just a thought - google LIAG(V). Might just be up your street.
If Matt is willing to think TA rather than determined to join Reg, he should look at LICSG, which would actually fit his qualifications (I am assuming here that the first 'C' in CCNA is Cisco not Checkpoint - even then LIAG would be looking for CISSP, CISM, CLAS etc but check the arrsepedia entry)

I would say that, generally, the MOD kit is several generations older than what you will find in a normal civvy office (although this does not apply to retail banks.) Even the satcom gear is not cutting edge and (spit) Bowman (snigger) has nothing on some of the embedded Linux gear you can play with if you pick the right job.

ITMatt said:
The recruiting office I was speaking with about this was talking about working with satellite communications equipment, setting up and working in IT headquarters in the field, learning advanced IT security skills.
Yes (although not as advanced as you would play with if you joined, for example, Paradigm); yes - the important thing here being "field" - once a permanent HQ is set up, the civvy contractors come pouring in; err, no - not as far as I have seen - even if you ended up in the GOSCC or JSyCC (unless you consider watching an Intrusion Detection system advanced IT security - generally warmer than stag in the physical world, though.) 'Advanced' IT security (which generally means writing RMADS, compliance audit and the very odd investigation) is generally the purview again of civvy contractors - security architecture work is almost all with the IPTs and the contractors - with AISU or LIAG turning if a uniform is desperately important, or it is sandy underfoot (although Context IS - civvy contractor - are doing more and more under their DSSO contract.)

Edit to add more to last para.
 
#10
Idrach said:
roadster280 said:
Thirdly, while your quals may be at the lower end of the ladder, they'll be in advance of your fellow trainees, most likely. This may well become frustrating.

Just a thought - google LIAG(V). Might just be up your street.
If Matt is willing to think TA rather than determined to join Reg, he should look at LICSG, which would actually fit his qualifications (I am assuming here that the first 'C' in CCNA is Cisco not Checkpoint - even then LIAG would be looking for CISSP, CISM, CLAS etc but check the arrsepedia entry)
LICSG exists??

Matt, this specialist TA unit has limited training commitment (around 20 days per year). You can pick which operation you want to go on (which can be as little as 2 weeks or normally 9 months).

Biggest difference is in pay, if you joined the regular army you would start on £15,667 once trained as a siggie. If you joined specialist TA such as LIAG/LICSG you would be commissioned as a Capt, which means your daily rate of pay would be equivalent to £34,934.52 per annum. I would expect the TA Capt to do more technical stuff than the regular Sig.
 
#11
off topic/

Context IS is a really good company worked there for 18 months and gained about 4 years of knowledge in that time, only downside is that Mark Raeburn has hollow legs and can drink most people under the table.
 
#12
polar said:
LICSG exists??
Yup. And is recruiting. I don't believe it has reached IOC, though.

Matt, this specialist TA unit has limited training commitment (around 20 days per year). You can pick which operation you want to go on (which can be as little as 2 weeks or normally 9 months).

Biggest difference is in pay, if you joined the regular army you would start on £15,667 once trained as a siggie. If you joined specialist TA such as LIAG/LICSG you would be commissioned as a Capt, which means your daily rate of pay would be equivalent to £34,934.52 per annum. I would expect the TA Capt to do more technical stuff than the regular Sig.
LIAG is commissioned only, LICSG (IIRC) will have ORs although it will take appropriate people in as PQOs. If you are worried about TA pay then ... Some LIAG stuff is extremely technical, some is very policy based - hence the tech stream and management streams for the different skills sets. Similar with LICSG - some people will be hard-core techies, others will be project managers etc.

Although, let's be honest, if you mobilise now they will match civvie salary + bits (although only if you are on a proper mob, not on the LIAG ultra-short trips - content yourself with the gratuity).

rtfm-fool said:
Context IS is a really good company worked there for 18 months and gained about 4 years of knowledge in that time, only downside is that Mark Raeburn has hollow legs and can drink most people under the table.
:D You clearly need further training, young padawan. Although the last Context-sponsored "First Tuesday" I attended was extremely good fun. And Mark knows his red wine.
 
#13
Idrach said:
LIAG is commissioned only, LICSG (IIRC) will have ORs although it will take appropriate people in as PQOs.
Can you RSigs PQO if you outside LICSG/LIAG, not in RSigs units but other cap badge Bde.
 
#14
polar said:
Idrach said:
LIAG is commissioned only, LICSG (IIRC) will have ORs although it will take appropriate people in as PQOs.
Can you RSigs PQO if you outside LICSG/LIAG, not in RSigs units but other cap badge Bde.
I am not aware of any other units that put people through as R SIGNALS PQOs (and LICSG hasn't actually done this) - although once you are a PQO you can be employed elsewhere - in specialist role or as an SO2/SO3 (depending on your qualifications and training, your opportunities for employment outside SGRS may be extremely limited to nil, though.)
 
#15
I think we have a PQO, but he commissioned with the medics (as RAMC) but is now capbadged Sigs. I think he was going 2 Med Bde as a RSigs PQO
 
#16
polar said:
I think we have a PQO, but he commissioned with the medics (as RAMC) but is now capbadged Sigs. I think he was going 2 Med Bde as a RSigs PQO
You can certainly transfer from the PQO stream to the normal TA stream by going and getting the qualifications package done - LIAG have had one Captain leave that way into mainstream TA. The new TOS package, I seem to remember it being explained at me, has (will?) removed the traditional distinction between PQO commissions and the conventional route once you are in your first trained-strength role. A jump from RAMC to R SIGNALS at the same time would make it harder, I suspect, but it is clearly possible if your lad has done it.

Mind you, you don't need to be a PQO commission to be in LIAG - as far as I am aware, only one of the current LIAG Majors or Colonels is - all the rest are mainstream TA (Signals or otherwise) or transfers direct from Regular service or RARO (+ 1 QM commission.) Of course, now, I'll have forgotten somebody, or somebody else will have been promoted recently ...
 
#17
PoisonDwarf said:
IS Ski Geek said:
Go with a defence contractor. More hands on. Better opportunities. Better pay and benefits (not pension).

If you want to do all of the above but get less money, be cold wet and miserable then the Royal Corps is for you.
The moderator of the RSIGNALS forum advising a potential recruit not to join his corps? You've been abducted by aliens haven't you?
Ooops My bad. Its great for the courses you have done. Enjoy the helpdesk and unlocking peoples accounts etc. You will not ever get wet, be miserable and every day is like lying on the beach.

The job is never outdated or boring. Live life to the max. Bring back Frank.

PD maybe sometimes people need to have a realistic look at what they will be doing when they first start of in the trade as a siggy in the corps.

Managing expectations.
 
#18
IS Ski Geek said:
PD maybe sometimes people need to have a realistic look at what they will be doing when they first start of in the trade as a siggy in the corps. Managing expectations.
You're absolutely right mate, but everyone has to start somewhere. Even you had to start as a lowly signaller and now you're up there with demi-god powers in the land of the infinite budget. The guy is asking about what the job entails, not how badly treated we are compared to contractors with cartier watches, ferraris and trophy wives (I best not say that mine's shaped like a trophy!). Remember that the firm still pays our wages and if we recruit some poor mug then it lightens the load on the rest of us! :D

roadster280 said:
Tell you what IS a bad thing though - pedantry. And there's a space between R and SIGNALS :)
I agree. Pedantry is indeed a bad thing and very rarely worthwhile, that's why it's best to avoid it completely. The only people who get worked up about such trivial shite are those ********* who rarely contribute anything worthwhile. Not you though, you're awesome. Obviously.
 
#19
IS Ski Geek said:
PoisonDwarf said:
IS Ski Geek said:
Go with a defence contractor. More hands on. Better opportunities. Better pay and benefits (not pension).

If you want to do all of the above but get less money, be cold wet and miserable then the Royal Corps is for you.
The moderator of the RSIGNALS forum advising a potential recruit not to join his corps? You've been abducted by aliens haven't you?
Ooops My bad. Its great for the courses you have done. Enjoy the helpdesk and unlocking peoples accounts etc. You will not ever get wet, be miserable and every day is like lying on the beach.

The job is never outdated or boring. Live life to the max. Bring back Frank.

PD maybe sometimes people need to have a realistic look at what they will be doing when they first start of in the trade as a siggy in the corps.

Managing expectations.
Glad to see some management being done!!! LOL
 
#20
ITMatt said:
One of my natural concerns is that a lot of the technical work done in the Army will be outsourced to civi companies, which leaves less work for the technicians already employed within the Army..
This is a valid concern and one that grates on a lot of technicians within the Corps. Even more exasperating is when you have to drive and provide force protection to the civi contractors who are doing the job for which you have been trained.

ITMatt said:
Again, as roadster has pointed out, I presumed a lot of the kit will be dated equipment due to the time it takes to develope [sic] and test to ensure that very little can go wrong with them.
Granted much of the kit in use is well past its shelf life but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. I've always got more satisfaction out of fault-finding down to component level on a thirty year old piece of kit and resolving a problem, ensuring comms are restored in the shortest possible time, than I've ever got from pulling a box out of a rack and sending it back to the manufacturer for repair.

There is also the opportunity in some of the more specialised units to work on a wide range of very modern, bespoke systems which you wouldn't get to see anywhere else.

ITMatt said:
I'm looking for the lifestyle of a soldier, who is deployed often and gets to see some action, combined with a technical career, where I would be working on various technologies with ever advancing prospects, as I do enjoy working with news equipment and learning new skills.

It would be frustrating to join the Army to find that it is another 9-5 job working the same job I do now, because I would be taking a pay cut and changing my lifestyle dramatically.
How often you deploy depends entirely on where you are posted. Some posts are 9-5 jobs and a number will be less interesting than what you are doing now, on the other hand some posts will require you to deploy regularly and learn new skills on the fly on what seems to be a daily basis. It's a case of swings and roundabouts - some years you're on the swings and other years you're on the roundabouts.

ITMatt said:
The recruiting office I was speaking with about this was talking about working with satellite communications equipment, setting up and working in IT headquarters in the field, learning advanced IT security skills.
All of these are possible but I would suggest that they wouldn't be at the same posting. What the recruiting office probably won't have mentioned is that the Corps isn't just be involved in setting up IT headquarters in the field but they set up and run the rest of the headquarters at brigade level and higher. This doesn't just involve the IT but also involves any other comms plus tentage, defences, guards and wiping staff officers arrses.

ITMatt said:
After a lengthy career in the Army, my goal would be join a defence contractor, as I would have experience in both civi and military IT.

How right is this?
Many Corps personnel go on to get jobs with defence contractors. The length of your career and how far in the technical trade path you progress will naturally affect what opportunities will be open to you when you finally leave the Corps but should you reach the dizzy heights of Foreman of Signals then you will find that the network of contacts is second to none when looking for work after you leave.

ITMatt said:
For what I want, would Systems Engineer Technician be appropriate?

Sorry for the long winded post - I'm hoping to make the right decision.
From what you've said so far then SysEngTech (or whatever it's called this month) would be appropriate, especially with the amalgamation with IS engineer already mentioned earlier in the thread. Don't forget however that within every career in the forces a certain amount of sh1t must fall and the Corps seems to catch more than its fair share.

If you do decide to join then my advice would be to always remember to keep a sense of humour, you'll need it, and take pride in your work. If you decide it's not for you then good luck to you in whatever you do end up doing, the job isn't everyone's cup of tea and at least you made the effort to look into it.

Sorry about the long winded answer but I wouldn't want you to make the wrong decision, too many people have and I get sick of them whinging about how they hate the life in a job that they volunteered for with their eyes open. For myself I've loved my time in the Corps, I love the job and I'llo be here until they throw me out kicking and screaming.
 

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