There are many different branches to the military, including the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, National Guard, and National Reserve. There are an extraordinary number of career and assignment opportunities available. And there is nothing but diversity. You might find yourself programming computers or commanding a tank; you could be managing a hospital or operating heavy machinery. One of the benefits to a career in the military is the educational training that is available.
With all branches of the military, there are two distinct categories when it comes to occupations: (1) enlisted positions, and (2) officer. Most of the armed forces–some 85 percent, by some estimates–are made up of enlistees. Their primary duties are to carry out the fundamental operations needed by the military, such as combat, construction, administration, engineering, human services, and health care. The primary role of an officer is expectedly different. Officers act as leaders, managing performance, conduct, and activities in all occupations throughout the military.
Making a Good Career Decision
If you are considering joining the Armed Forces—Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, or Coast Guard—you will have an incredible amount of career choices. If you spend any amount of time with a recruiter, he or she will talk to you about the benefits you’ll receive. Some of those might include the money you’ll receive for education, how you might learn new job skills, how the service might offer you plenty of opportunity for travel and adventure, how you will receive health care, and so on. Some critics, however, will say these are somewhat overrated. Granted the recruiters have certain quotas to reach, so they will certainly tout the benefits of joining. Critics, on the other hand, are often biased against the military so they will do what they can to discourage you from joining.
The bottom line is that you will need solid information to help you make a sound decision about your future and your career. One thing is certain: Choosing to join the military and choosing a military career are huge life decisions. They will impact you for many years to come. Choosing the military for the sake of your career is a decision like none other. You will be legally committing to something you cannot quit without suffering serious consequences.
Something else that may be difficult to consider too is that you could be putting yourself in a career that will force you not only to potentially harm others but to risk your own life in the process.
All of these things need to be considered in making your decision. Don’t let a recruiter pressure you into something you are unsure of. You need to be certain, and there are some ways you can do that.
For instance, you will want to consider all of your options in terms of both career and education. What are some of the ways you can finance an education? How can you learn skills for a career? Are you looking for an adventure?
Decide too the “when” of your decision. Are you looking to do something now or later? Your age when you are making the decision should definitely be considered. Also, you’ll need to do some research and figure out which branch of the military would best suit your needs.
Next, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of all of your options. Make a list! Ask yourself what you will gain or lose by making a certain decision. How will your family and friends be impacted by your decision? What will you and your family and friends lose or gain if you make a certain decision?
One thing you will need regardless of your decision? Information! Knowledge is power, and that is important to remember. The first thing you’ll want to do is self-assess. Ask yourself if the option you are considering fits the kind of person you are. Do this my finding out as much as you can about both the civilian and military careers you are contemplating.
It’s valuable to write things down. Figure out what steps will be necessary to put your plan into effect. Consider how you might deal with any of the negative effects your decision could potentially have on family and friends. Again, write them out.
When it comes to making decisions about military careers specifically, you may want to visit these websites to help you explore your options:
• The ASVAB Program (Department of Defense)• Alternatives to the Military (money for school, job skills training, travel, adventure, and discipline) • Military Careers, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook • Youth and Militarism • Washington Truth in Recruiting • Today’s Military • Veterans for Peace • Join the Military: What you should ask the recruiter • Know what you are committing to
Once you have made a decision to pursue the military route and homed in on the U.S. Navy, the following is a list of top U.S. Navy careers, for both enlistees and officers.
Administrative—This area covers a wide variety of jobs, but the primary purpose to record and maintain information and records accurately. Administrative workers might work in specialized areas, including accounting, finance, legal affairs, supply, transportation, maintenance. Recruiters and personnel specialists also fall within this category.
Combat Specialty—These crews are specialty trained to provide help to the military at a moment’s notice, anywhere in the world. They work on aircraft, ships, and submarines, in all type of terrain and weather. Often their missions are difficult and dangerous, and teams include infantry, artillery, and special forces.
Construction—These include an abundant array of job and numerous areas of work. Construction crews build and repair bunkers and bridges, hangers and airfields.
Electronic and Electrical Equipment Repair—These teams often have very specialized training, and repair communications equipment, computers, optical equipment, navigational controls, weapon systems, various instruments, and other military apparatus.
Engineering and Science—Specialized training in engineering, science, and technical areas are necessary for these careers. Most will specialize in one particular field, such as environmental health and safety, space operations, emergency management, and intelligence.
Health Personnel—As in civilian life, healthcare professionals provide treatment and health-related services, choosing a specialty such as pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, x-ray and ultrasound operations, laboratory testing, emergency medical treatment, and other patient care.
Human Resources Specialists—This is also similar to what is done in the civilian world in terms of record-keeping and maintaining information about those serving in various military departments.
Machine Operator and Production Positions—Machine operators and production workers need to have skills in the use and function of machinery, tools, instruments, and other industrial equipment. They will need skills in engine operation, using welding equipment, operating turbines, running water pumps, and dealing with nuclear reactors. Dental and laboratory technicians are also included in this group; they handle building and repairing the equipment used to make dental pieces and eye glasses, as well as the lab equipment.
Media and Public Affairs Positions—Those who are working in media and public affairs areas take care of presenting information and events concerning the military to the public. They may also handle photography, filming and recording, audio and video editing, music programming, visual displays, and news production and press releases.
Protective Service Workers—Acting as a law enforcement agency, these enlistees enforce military law and policy. In addition, they will provide emergency relief in case of disaster situations. As military police, they will work to prevent crime and control traffic. They may also work as guards in correctional facilities or as firefighters.
Transportation and Material Handling Specialists—These are the people whose job it is to make sure people and cargo are transported safely. There are different types of transportation, such as aircraft, ships, and ground vehicles, and personnel are classified accordingly.
Vehicle and Machinery Mechanics—The equipment these workers might operate include the heavy machinery one finds on aircraft and ships. In addition, other equipment might include station equipment, marine engines, and heating and cooling systems. Various other positions include mechanics who are maintain helicopters and airplanes, automotive and heavy-equipment engines, missile launchers, and various heavy construction equipment.
Specific Careers for the U.S. Navy
• Aviation Boatswain’s Mates
• Air Traffic Controllers
• Aviation Machinist Mates
• Aviation Electrician
• Aerographer’s Mates
• Aviation Storekeepers
• Aviation Structural Mechanics (Safety Equipment)
• Aviation Structural Mechanics (Hydraulics)
• Aviation Structural Mechanics
• Aviation Ordnance
• Aviation Support Equipment Technicians
• Aviation Electronics Technicians
• Aviation Warfare Technicians
• Aviation Maintenance Administration
• Boatswain’s Mates
• Builders (including carpenters, plasterers, roofers, concrete finishers, masons, painters, bricklayers or cabinetmakers)
• Navy Construction Electricians
• Construction Mechanics
• Cryptologic Technician (Administrative)
• Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive)
• Cryptologic Technician (Communication)
• Cryptologic Technician (Collection)
• Cryptologic Technician (Technical)
• Damage Control
• Disbursing Clerks
• Dental Technicians
• Engineering Aids
• Electrician’s Mates
• Equipment Operators
• Electronics Technicians
• Electronic Warfare Technicians
• Fire Control
• Gunner’s Mates
• Gas Turbine Systems Technicians
• Hospital Corpsmen
• Hull Technicians
• Interior Communications Electricians
• Intelligence Specialists
• Information Systems Technicians
• Machinist’s Mates
• Machinery Repairmen.
• Mess Management Specialists
• Missile Technicians (Submarines)
• Operations Specialists
• Postal Clerks
• Photographer’s Mates
• Aircrew Survival Equipment
• Religious Program Specialists
• Ship’s Servicemen
• Sonar Technicians
• Torpedoman’s Mates
The following is a list of officer careers for the U.S. Navy:
• SurfaceWarfare Officer
• Submarine Officer
• Naval Aviator
• Naval Flight Officer
• Aerospace Maintenance Duty Officer
• Healthcare officers: Physicians, Dentists, Nurses and Medical Services Officers
• Supply, Transportation and Logistics Officers
• Engineering Officers
• Information Technology Officers
• Intelligence and Communications Officers: Intelligence and Cryptology
• Nuclear Trained Naval Officer
• Naval Reactors Officer
• Lawyer, Judge Advocate General Corps
• Science officers: Meteorology, Oceanography, Chemist and Biochemist• Public Affairs Officer