What is the career path to a successful career in the U.S. military?
I'm interested in exploring a career in the military, but I'm not sure exactly what that all entails--whether it's the right choice for me, what the options are within the military, and how to be successful. #career-paths #military #army #air-force #navy
The opinions expressed in the comments below are the opinion of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Army or the Department of Defense.
This is a challenging but interesting question and it's great that you are considering it at this point in your life. To be honest, I'm not sure that there is only one career path as the Army is a very large and diverse organization. There are however a few important decisions that an individual needs to make.
First, is the Army (or military) right for me? To answer this question you should talk with your family and friends and try to find someone in the military to talk to. The military presents you with many job, educational and travel opportunities but it is demanding work that often requires separation from your family and occasionally dangerous work. You should be sure that you want to serve in the military before joining.
Second, what type of work do I want to do (Intelligence Analysis, Mechanic, Infantry, Pilot, etc...)? To help answer this question, there is a great deal of information on Army jobs (called Military Occupation Specialties) on the Army website; there are a variety of message boards accessible on the internet discussing different jobs and their associated training and assignments; and military recruiters can advise individuals on the available jobs and the requirements for each of them. Different jobs may require mechanical orientations or mathematical skills. High school and your work experience may prepare you for your service.
Third, do I want to serve as an enlisted soldier or an officer? Servicemembers of different ranks have different jobs and different responsibilities, with enlisted soldiers generally acquiring more technical skills and officers acquiring more leadership and managerial skils. If you want to enlist then you need to have at least a high school diploma. If you desire to serve as an officer you will need to obtain a college degree. Accordingly, you should spend your time in high school preparing yourself for college and for completion of your pre-commissioning requirements (through Reverve Officers Training Corps or the United States Military Academy at West Point). Both of these options can assist you in paying for college but they require qualification and service in the Army after your college graduation and commissioning. Again, the Army website is a great resource for learning about the options available to you. Both ROTC and USMA provide great opportunities to learn about the Army and to develop yourself academically, physically and militarily while in college. Whether you want to enlist or become an officer, you need to develop your physical fitness, maintain a good work history, and avoid any criminal behavior.
Once you have joined the military the key to a successful career is hard work and teamwork. The jobs are demanding and require you to operate in a fast-paced environment with flexibility and self-motivation. Promotions require successful service in each job and at each level of authority. Nonetheless, you will not be alone. In the service you will develop tremendous friendships and accomplish many goals as a unit. Your leaders, peers and subordinates will all be important parts of your daily life and your career progression. As you advance in rank you will have additional opportunities to pursue more military and civilian schooling, different jobs, and service in different locations in the U.S. and abroad. The career path in the Army is no doubt unique- it will require you and your family to make many sacrifices but it also will reward you with self-development, travel and job opportunities, friendships and service.
I spent 21 years on active duty with the Army and would like to tell you that the previous answers are giving you truly excellent advice. I do not wish to be redundant so I will try to simply add on to what has already been said. The best thing you can do right now is to study hard and get the best grades that you can. This is important whether you wish to enlist or be commissioned. Should you wish to take a commission (the pay is better) I highly recommend applying to the military academy of your choice. If you haven't got your heart set on one particular service apply to all the service academies. While at the academy you will learn about all the various career options available to you as well as additional education opportunities. ROTC is another gateway to a commission. Two of my sons went to college on ROTC scholarships and were subsequently commissioned into the Army. If for any reason you do not think you would like to pursue a commission, each of the services has a great variety of enlisted career fields many of which are highly technical. Some of these can lead to becoming a Warrant Officer. Talk to recruiters from each of the services to see what is currently available but don't be rushed into a decision. Requirements for recruits to fill various career positions change frequently so you can hold out for what you want.
My best advice would be to visit a recruiter for whatever military branch you decide to enter. The recruiter can let you know what jobs are currently available for the branch of service that you are considering. Most any job that you see in the civilian world, can be performed in the military. Everything from being a police officer, computer technician, scientist, doctor, nurse, civil engineer, or even special forces troop. If you want to work 20 years in the military for a retirement, I suggest enlisting, or commissioning into an active duty role with the military. This is full time service that will give you all of the military benefits that you deserve, afterwards, you can always fall back to a part time role with the reserves or national guard if you decide full time service is not for you. If you first enlist in the guard or reserves and want to go full time at a later date, it is so much harder, if not impossible to do. In that case the best you can hope for is a dual status military technician role which will place you on the federal civil service payroll which has a different payscale and benefits than going active duty, you'd then also be required to attend monthy drill and annual training with your guard or reserve unit in a military status. In essence, you wear two hats, during the week you are considered a federal civilian even though you are required to wear your uniform to work, then once per month, you would have to show up on the weekend to the same job but get paid according to your military rank. I know, its confusing. Here is a link to a site that I think is very helpful in explaining how to go full time with the reserves / guard if you decide not to go active duty from the start: http://www.wantscheck.com/GuardReserve/GuardReserveHiring/tabid/74/Default.aspx
My advice is to take the personal interest exam offered at your school or the one offered at the recruiting station nearest you. See what your interests are before you do anything. Then find a compatible job in the military occupation code. Visit you local National Guard or Reserve Unit to get a real look at what takes place. Start with the recruiter. Then, pick a branch of service that fits your desire for sea duty, land duty, adventure, challenge, etc. Once you are in the military and you like what you do as a profession then make sure you meet all the established benchmarks for advancement. In addition look for opportunities to do the extra work that will help you to stand out as an individual. Plus, be patient, be diligent, and be faithful to your commander so he knows he can count on you to do whatever is necessary to accomplish the mission or task.
The military is a rewarding career wether on active duty, reserve, or national guard components. As for as a job, pick a job that you will enjoy going to work versus something you will dread. When you enjoy the job, time flies by and before you know it, you are half way through your enlistment contract
The Best advise is doing what you love or enjoy the most and that will give you the mot satisfaction which will create a successful career.
You will need to focus on stress and time management. In order to manage stress you have to manage your time wisely. <span style="background-color: transparent;">You have to set a routine for yourself and stick to it for the most part. Once you get into the groove of a routine it will be much easier for you to manage your time and have enough time for everything you need to do (including relaxing). Make yourself to-do lists on a weekly basis, use Google calendar or a planner to keep track of events, deadlines, and due dates. In addition to setting a routine and sticking to it, plan out relaxing activities into your day. Or set aside a time, after everything is done for the day, that you can have "me" time. I have also personally found it essential to not only find time for myself but also make use of that time in a way that is best for me and my holistic wellness. I have found the HeadSpace app to be an essential tool in helping me relax and generally feel more relaxed throughout the day, Guided meditation, even if you have a busy schedule, will make you feel more at ease and relaxed throughout the day as a whole (not just when you have the time to relax and focus on that "me" time).</span>
<span style="background-color: transparent;">Set a routine.Use Google Calendar.Set aside Me TimeWrite weekly to-do lists and use a planner.Find a peaceful and restful activity that will help you feel relaxed.</span>