Exploring Careers in the Military: Opportunities in the Army (page 4)
Your choice to join the military is a personal one. You may wish to join because it is an honorable family tradition. You may wish to join because the military offers you the best training and education opportunities available to you or anyone. You may wish to join because the military is the largest employer of young people just starting their careers. You may wish to join because you have a deep desire to give back to your country what it has given you, your family, and your friends.
Regardless of your motivation, the decision to join the military is a serious and important one that will influence your life in many ways.
One of your first decisions will be to identify the branch of the armed services you wish to join. Your decision will determine what you do, where you live, what training you will receive, and your future opportunities.
The following article give you an overview of the four branches of military service and the benefits you will obtain by joining.
Opportunities in the Army
Today's "Army of Excellence" is a modern and powerful military force composed of about 104,000 officers, 15,000 warrant officers, and 559,000 enlisted soldiers. Army men and women work in many types of jobs, ranging from general administration to the operation and maintenance of the Army's many thousands of weapons, vehicles, aircraft, and highly technical electronic systems.
Soldiers, working as a team, perform the Army's mission of protecting the security of the United States and its vital resources. The Army stands constantly ready to defend American interests and the interests of our allies through land-based operations anywhere in the world. The Army needs approximately 80,000 to 90,000 new enlistees and 7,000 new officers each year. Those who enlist in the Army will find hundreds of challenging career opportunities that can offer a lifetime of security and excitement to them and their families.
You can enlist in the Army for two, three, four, five, or six years. You must be between 17 and 42 years old, an American citizen or registered alien, and in good health and physical condition. To determine what careers you are best suited for, you must take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). The ASVAB is offered at most high schools and at military enlistment processing sites.
In most cases, qualified applicants can be guaranteed their choice of training or duty assignment. There are often combinations of guarantees that are particularly attractive to those who are qualified. For those who wish to be guaranteed a specific school, a particular area of assignment, or both, the Army offers the Delayed Entry Program (DEP). An applicant for the DEP can reserve a school or an assignment choice as much as one year in advance of entry into active duty. Other enlistment programs include the Army Civilian Acquired Skills Program, which gives recognition to those skills acquired through civilian training or experience. This program allows enlisted members with previously acquired training to be promoted more quickly than they ordinarily would be. In some cases, the Army also offers enlistment bonuses.
Enlistment programs and options vary from time to time. Local Army recruiters always have the latest information and are ready to answer inquiries without obligation.
Initial Army training is provided in two phases: basic training and advanced individual training (job training).
Basic Training -Basic training is a rigorous nine-week orientation for men and women entering the Army. Basic training transforms new enlistees from civilians into soldiers. During basic training, new soldiers gain the discipline, spirit, pride, knowledge, and physical conditioning necessary to perform Army duties. Army basic training is given in several locations throughout the country, including training centers in South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Missouri.
Upon reporting for basic training, new soldiers are assigned to a training company and are issued uniforms and equipment. They are introduced to their training leaders, otherwise known as drill sergeants. Drill sergeants are experienced noncommissioned officers who direct soldiers' training to ensure that they are successful.
Army basic training stresses teamwork. Soldiers are trained in groups known as squads or platoons. These groups range from 9 to approximately 80 soldiers; they are small enough that each soldier can be recognized for his or her special abilities. Such groups tend to become closely knit teams and develop group pride and camaraderie during the eight weeks of rigorous training they experience together.
Basic training is conducted on a demanding schedule, but each soldier progresses at the rate he or she can handle best. Soldiers attend a variety of classes and field instructions that include military training, weapons familiarization, physical conditioning, and military drills. All training emphasizes teamwork and therefore includes classes in human relations. These classes help trainees from different backgrounds learn to work closely together. Only limited personal time is available during basic training, but there is plenty of time for receiving and answering mail, for personal care, and for attending religious services.
Advanced Individual Training-After basic training, Army soldiers go directly to advanced individual training in the occupational field that they have chosen and qualified for, where they learn a specific Army job. Advanced individual training schools are located at many Army bases throughout the country.
The Army offers skills training in a wide range of career fields, including programs maintenance, administration, electronics, health care, construction, and combat specialty occupations, to name a few.
Advanced individual training students generally attend traditional classes very similar to those in a high school or college. These classes are supplemented with demonstrations by highly qualified instructors and by practical exercises that use hands-on training, Army equipment, or Army procedures in a way that prepares students for their jobs. Many soldiers also receive on-the-job training, learning job skills by working at a job with other soldiers under the guidance of qualified instructors.
Some advanced individual training courses are registered with the U.S. Department of Labor as certified apprenticeship training programs. Generally, this training qualifies participants for both federal and state apprenticeship programs and helps them secure future civilian employment in their chosen trade.
Every job in the Army has a career path leading to increased pay and responsibility with well-defined promotion criteria. After six months of service, new soldiers advance to Private (E-2). The next step in the promotion ladder is Private First Class (E-3), which occurs after the twelfth month. Promotion to Corporal or Specialist (E-4) occurs after established time-in-grade and time-in-service requirements are met. These times vary, but every soldier can ordinarily expect to become a corporal within his or her first three years of service.
Starting with grade E-5, promotions to Sergeant through Sergeant Major are made on a competitive basis. At each grade, there are minimum periods of time in service and time in grade that must be met before a soldier can be considered for promotion. In some cases, there also are educational requirements that must be met for promotion.
The Army offers a number of ways to advance beyond enlisted status as either a warrant officer or a commissioned officer. These programs usually are reserved for the best-qualified soldiers. Warrant officers perform duties similar to those of commissioned Army officers. Many warrant officers are directly appointed from the enlisted grades as vacancies occur. These opportunities usually exist in the technical fields, especially those involving maintenance of equipment. Other opportunities are available in Army administration, intelligence, and law enforcement. Unique among the armed forces is the Army's Warrant Officer Aviator Program. Qualified personnel may enlist for Warrant Officer Candidate School and, upon completion, receive flight training and appointment as Army Warrant Officer Aviators.
Enlisted soldiers may also compete for a limited number of selections to attend Officer Candidate School (OCS) or the U.S. Military Academy. Upon graduating from OCS or the academy, soldiers receive officer commissions. For soldiers with college degrees, there are opportunities for direct commissioning.
For enlisted personnel, the Army has a well-defined system for progressive service school training. Soldiers are often able to volunteer for this schooling; in some cases, they are selected on a competitive basis.
As a soldier progresses in his or her career, advanced technical training opportunities are offered. These courses include, but are not limited to, advanced noncommissioned officer courses at the staff sergeant grade level and the Sergeants Major Academy at the E-8 and E-9 levels.
Civilian education is stressed as a means to improve both the soldier's work performance and his or her preparedness for life in a technical and competitive society. The Army Continuing Education System provides counseling, academic services, and vocational-technical services at little or no cost. In a few cases, the Army sends its soldiers to college, but generally they are encouraged to pursue college training during their off-duty time.
Army personnel are also eligible to participate in educational assistance programs with the government, such as the Montgomery G.I. Bill and the Army College Fund, for a total of approximately $74,000 for education.
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