Marching into a Career with the Military

February 14, 2024

You can gain valuable experience and other benefits by joining the military. Serving in the military can provide training, education, and work experience in many different occupations. These occupations all work together to maintain national security.

There are five main service branches: the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, along with the reservists for each branch and the Air and Army National Guard.

Examples of Military Careers

  • Engineering, science, and technical personnel operate technical equipment, solve problems, and collect and interpret information.
  • Vehicle and machinery mechanics conduct preventative and corrective maintenance on aircraft, automotive, and heavy equipment as well as powerhouse station equipment.
  • Combat specialty personnel train and work in combat units, such as the infantry, artillery, or Special Forces. Combat specialty personnel may maneuver against enemy forces and fire artillery, guns, mortars, or missiles to neutralize them. Members of elite Special Forces teams are trained to perform specialized missions anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice.
  • More examples of careers in the military can be found at

You can enter the military in a full-time or part-time capacity. Full-time active duty is a similar time commitment to working at a full-time civilian job. Some people serve for a relatively brief period in the armed forces – three to six years of active duty. Others begin a career that lasts 20 years or more.

For those interested in continuing a civilian career or attending college there are two primary ways to enlist part-time: the Reserves or the National Guard.

  • Reserves: reservists are part-time service members who maintain trained units at home. The reservists are available for active duty deployment in times of war or national emergency.
  • National Guard: the Army or Air National Guard are part-time service members whose main focus is on homeland security and humanitarian relief. These units assist communities in their state during emergencies like storms, floods, fires, and other national disasters. During times of conflict, the President can federalize the National Guards and service members can be deployed overseas.

Military Pay

Pay in the military is based on your current rank and the amount of time you’ve been in the service. Members can receive additional pay for foreign, hazardous, submarine or flight duty, or for being medical or dental officers.

In addition to basic pay, qualifying service members can receive additional benefits including housing allowances, low-cost health insurance, medical care at military or veterans’ hospitals, coverage of some educational costs at accredited institutions, and guaranteed home loans.

To Be Enlisted or To Be an Officer?

If you are interested in military service, a question to consider is whether you would like to enlist or enter as an officer.

In order to enlist in the military with a high school diploma or a general education diploma (GED®), you must be at least 18 years old. The maximum age to join most military branches is 35. When you start the enlistment process, you take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test to determine what your job placement will be. Each job and each branch require different scores. You must also pass a physical fitness test, and some jobs may have stricter requirements. Enlisted service members participate in military operations such as combat or training operations. They operate, maintain, and repair equipment, perform technical and support activities, and supervise junior enlisted personnel.

You can also join the military as an officer if you have already obtained a college degree. Officers manage enlisted personnel, plan missions, provide orders, and assign tasks. Officers also operate and command aircrafts, ships, or armored vehicles. If you have a specialized professional degree, you could also be responsible for providing medical, legal, engineering, and other services to military personnel.

Why would you want to join the military? You need to take the time to consider this question carefully. There are many good reasons to join the military, including:

  • Answering the call to serve your country
  • Educational and monetary benefits that can last a lifetime
  • Personal satisfaction and pride
  • Family tradition
  • Devotion to duty
  • Learning useful new skills
  • Full-time employment
  • Job security
  • Personal improvement

A great place to learn more about the military is at

If you decide to join, be sure you have a good reason to do so.

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