Commissioned Officer or Enlisted There are two distinct career paths in the military, Commissioned Officers, and, Enlisted. The minimum educational requirements for enlisted members is a high school diploma (or GED), while a bachelors degree is required for commissioned officers.
Many high school graduates enter the military as enlisted members and utilize their educational benefits to earn a degree and a commission!
Commissioned Officer Are you ready for the challenge of leadership? Then maybe you should consider a career as a commissioned officer in the military!
Earning a commission requires, at a minimum, a bachelor's degree from an accredited university or college. You must be a U.S. citizen, and meet physical, moral, and mental standards.
There are several pathways to becoming a commissioned officer. Some people already possess a degree and enter the military through one of the Officer Candidate Schools, while some are high school graduates and attend a service academy or a civilian college while participating in an ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) program.
While those who already have a degree are commissioned upon graduation from a short Officer Candidate School, ROTC and Service Academy students must first complete requirements for a bachelor's degree.
So what's the advantage of ROTC or a Service Academy? How about scholarship funds? ROTC and Service Academy students pay little to none of college costs!
The Air Force, Army, Navy (and Marine Corps through Naval ROTC) all offer ROTC programs at many college and universities throughout the country. Competition for scholarships is high, but you may also enroll as a non-scholarship recipient and still earn a commission upon graduation.
Service Academies If you are up to the challenge of a rigorous and disciplined four-year college program, you may be interested in one of the military service academies.
The Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, and Navy all run their own academies, Marine Corps officers are also commissioned at the Naval Academy. The Merchant Marine Academy is another option, although instead of a commission in the Active Duty Military, graduates are commissioned into the Naval Reserve.
All service academies (with the exception of the Coast Guard Academy) require that applicants compete for nominations from their Congressman or Senator.
Applicants must also meet SAT requirements and meet other academic, physical, and moral standards. In addition, participation in high school sports, and service organizations is essential.
Officer Candidate Schools If you already hold a bachelor's degree then you can earn your commission in as little as 13 weeks (depending on the service) through one of the Officer Candidate Schools.
While the service academies teach military history, discipline, and instill military values in addition to academics for degree requirements, officer candidate schools focus solely on the military aspect since their students already hold a degree.
Competition for these programs is high. Besides academic requirements, applicants must also meet physical and moral standards.
Opportunities for Enlisted Members Every year many enlisted members are given the opportunity to earn a commission through the pathways discussed above. Many enlisted members earn a degree while serving and apply for Officer Candidate School, while others apply for ROTC, or a service academy.
Enlisted The enlisted force makes up the majority of the armed services and is often thought of as the backbone of the military. They are generally the technicians and mechanics, the administrative staff and, of course, the bulk of the combatant troops.
Most enlisted members enter the military in the lowest pay grade (E-1) and work their way up the ladder to positions of leadership and greater responsibility. There are literally hundreds of different jobs for enlisted military members. Many of the jobs available for enlisted members are similar between the services. For instance, a firefighter in the Army and a firefighter in the Air Force.
Enlisted Rank Each service has its own names for the various enlisted ranks (Navy and Coast Guard are the same). Although they are called by different names each pay grade is the same throughout all the services. Enlisted pay grades go from E-1 through E-9 (the "E" represents Enlisted)
Because they are equivalent, the base pay for each pay grade is the same throughout the military branches.
Click the links below to get information about the hundreds of enlisted occupations. Remember that most Active Duty occupations are also available in the Guard and Reserve!