Military training is the training received while serving in one of the five branches of the U.S. armed forces: army, marine corps, navy, air force, and coast guard. Those with military training can then enter a military career (submarine officer, intelligence specialist, combat engineer, etc.) or a career that exists in both military and civilian environments (law enforcement, logistics management, or paralegal, for example). Thus, military training can prepare a person for a lifelong military career or for civilian employment. In addition to providing specialized training, military service can lead to educational opportunities, including a college degree. It also develops important skills such as teamwork and discipline, which are useful both in life and in the workplace. Military personnel are trained to be leaders and to be self-confident, qualities that are in demand in the civilian job market.
When you join the military as enlisted personnel, you generally have some say in your training or assignment. Career counselors will help place you in a position that is suitable for you, and you will receive training to perform in that role. If you are not ready to make a full-time commitment to the military, you can join the U.S. armed forces reserves, in which you serve a total of roughly one month a year unless called up for active duty. However, serving in this capacity may not provide the same level of training available through full-time enlistment.
The five branches of the military include more than 140 occupational specialty categories, from aviation and combat operations to food services, health care, and even media and the arts. In total the military
offers training in more than 4,100 occupations. Some military jobs transfer directly to civilian life, while others do not. Military-trained postal clerks, mechanics, court reporters, nurses, dental hygienists, photographers, translators, and office personnel can usually take their skills to the civilian world with ease. Those trained in weapons or infantry jobs may have more difficulty transitioning to civilian employment, but they may be able to take advantage of the “soft” skills gained through service, such as teamwork and discipline.
The branches of the armed services have different missions, but they all organize their personnel in a similar manner. Enlisted personnel execute the day-to-day operations of the military and receive appropriate training to do so. Commissioned officers function as managers of the military and oversee enlisted personnel. The army, navy, marine corps, and coast guard also have a third category known as warrant officers. These skilled experts have specialized technical or tactical abilities in a number of occupational specialties, such as missile systems, military intelligence, telecommunications, legal administration, and personnel.
All military training is intended to support the functions of the military, although not all of these functions are combat related. You will be encouraged to reach your full potential and advance through the ranks as you gain experience and expertise. You will receive both classroom and field training throughout your time in the service. If you work hard and demonstrate leadership abilities, you will likely be given more training opportunities. Almost everyone who enlists in the military is eventually promoted to higher pay grades, in part because of successful military training.
All enlisted personnel first go through basic training, which includes 10 weeks of intense physical challenges and psychological adjustment known as basic combat training. After that, personnel attend advanced individual training, where they are trained in a specialty and receive a Military Occupational Specialty designation upon completion.
Both enlisted personnel and officers must undergo additional military training to advance in rank. Regularly scheduled periods of education and training take place from every few months to every few years depending on rank and focus. In the army, this is organized as the Non-commissioned Officer Education System and the Officer Professional Military Education. Leadership is a focus in both programs.
Military service also offers other opportunities to further your education or training in areas that may not relate directly to your assignment. Both formal and independent study programs, including correspondence courses, are offered on military bases and at local civilian schools. The air force, for example, operates its own community college where service members can earn associate degrees. Service members can sometimes take equivalence exams to earn college credit for what they have learned on the job. The military offers financial support, fellowships, tuition assistance, scholarships, loans, and grants to personnel who want to expand their education.
The requirements for military service are set by the U.S. Department of Defense and vary slightly for enlisted personnel and officers. In order to join the military, you must be a citizen or legal immigrant of the United States and possess a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED), though a few applicants are selected without high school credentials. You also must be at least 17 years of age; if you are under the age of 18, you must have the consent of a parent or legal guardian. Though you have to be under the age of 28 to enter active duty in the air force, you can be up to 35 years old for all other branches. The military also considers your medical history, criminal and police records, illegal drug use, and height and weight, which must meet military standards.
Testing is also part of the enlistment process. Many potential enlisted personnel first take the Entrance Screening Test, a preliminary aptitude test designed to predict whether you are likely to achieve an acceptable score on the mandatory Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). Administered on a computer, the ASVAB is a multiple-choice test that covers word knowledge and comprehension, as well as mathematical knowledge and reasoning. You must pass it in order to be qualified for enlistment. If you do enlist, results from the test may be used to place you in the most appropriate role in the military.
Four branches of the military also have dedicated academies for educating potential officers and career officers. If you are accepted into the army's U.S. Military Academy (West Point), the Air Force Academy, the Coast Guard Academy, or the Naval Academy, you receive the equivalent of a college education and degree with a focus on training to become an officer. Your tuition and expenses are covered, and you receive an allowance while a student. After completing your education at an academy, you are required to serve on active duty for five years.
A third program allows enlisted personnel to reach the officer ranks. Officer candidate schools provide opportunities for selected noncommissioned officers to receive the training that will result in a promotion to the officer ranks. A college degree is not always required to pursue this path.
There are numerous benefits to joining the military to receive career training. Training, skills improvement, and continuing education are important aspects of military life. Not only do you get paid to learn, but you also earn a salary and receive a number of benefits while training and working. Benefits include free meals and living quarters on base or food and lodging allowances off base. You also receive free medical and dental care, paid vacation, hazard pay, and a pension after 20 years of service. Opportunities to further your education and earn a college degree, during or after your military service, abound.
When you enter the military, job counselors consider your qualifications and help match you to a position and training opportunities that match your skills as well as your interests. The military may therefore help you discover an aptitude for a kind of work that you had not previously considered. This career counseling can help to guarantee that you are placed into a position in which you can excel. This, in turn, is likely to increase your job satisfaction.
A number of programs help personnel transition their military skills to the civilian job market, including vocational and technical licensing and certification programs. These programs can document past training and experience or offer new opportunities to obtain civilian certification. The United Services Military Apprenticeship Program (USMAP) documents the training and skills learned by military personnel in the navy, marine corps, and coast guard. It allows military personnel to earn national certification from the U.S. Department of Labor as workers in more than 250 occupational fields, such as baker, mechanic, and paralegal.
Military personnel also gain life skills they can use in their future employment. The military is known for its ability to instill self-confidence that enables individuals to overcome obstacles and accomplish difficult goals. Military personnel often gain other qualities, including independence, maturity, discipline, perseverance, leadership, and the ability to function effectively in a team. Some companies recruit former members of the military because of these characteristics and experiences.
Joining the military is a serious commitment. When you join the military, you must sign an enlistment contract. This agreement is for a minimum of three years for enlisted personnel, though it can be as high as eight years. Military life is highly regimented and disciplined, and you must obey orders or face severe consequences. The military is not for everyone, and you cannot simply leave if you find the experience does not live up to your expectations.
While many members of the military receive great training for their military jobs, not all of the skills acquired through the service are transferrable to the civilian job market. Similarly, not all military certifications translate to licenses or certifications for comparable jobs in the civilian workforce. This can result in a barrier to employment for military personnel and veterans, despite a 2012 federal law that allows a federal licensing authority to accept relevant military training.
Although people often assume that military training is only for young people with little civilian employment experience, the military offers training and opportunities to experienced professionals as well. If you already have sought-after skills, such being a licensed nurse, for example, you may be paid a signing bonus to join the military.
Once you have entered the service, you can further your skills through hands-on work and training. You will acquire specific job skills to add to your résumé after your term of military service is complete. You may also find that the military provides a rewarding, lifelong career path in your field.
Recruiters are the most common way to gain information about each branch of the military. Recruiters are military personnel who are trained to provide information to potential recruits. They represent the military and recruit at job fairs, college fairs, career programs, career days, and community and school groups. Recruiters also conduct the initial screening and testing of candidates.