Career Development

Career development resources for aspiring professionals.

Career Change Center

Career change guides, tutorials and resources for professionals in transition.

Job Search Resources

Job search resources, websites, guides and directories for job seekers.

Military Careers, Jobs and Training Information

The military is comprised of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, National Reserve and National Guard. The military offers a variety of career opportunities and assignments. If you opt for military career you may find yourself involved in such diverse activities as managing a hospital, commanding a tank, programming computers, operating a nuclear reactor, or repairing and maintaining planes and helicopters. Educational training and work experience in these and many other fields is provided by the military to more than 2.5 million people nation wide.

There are two distinct categories of military occupations; enlisted positions and officer. The greater part of the Armed Forces, about 85 percent, is comprised of enlisted personnel. Their primary duty is to carry out and execute the fundamental operations of the military including combat, administration, construction, engineering, health care, and human services. In contrast, the primary role of an Officer is to act as a leader, supervising and managing activities, performance, and conduct throughout the Armed Forces in each occupational sphere.

Enlisted occupational groups

  • Administrative Careers

    Administrative professionals are needed throughout the military in a variety of fields. The primary responsibility of administrative professionals is to record and maintain accurate information and records. Accurate information and records are vital for planning and carrying out a successful course of action. Records are kept on paper and electronically. They include information on recruits and personnel, as well as equipment, funds, supplies, and many other areas of interest. It is the job of the enlisted administrative staff to record information, prepare various reports, maintain files, and review information to assist military officers. It is possible for administrative professionals to work in a specialized area such as finance, accounting, legal affairs, maintenance, supply, or transportation. One such administrative specialists is a recruiting specialist. Recruiting specialists actively work to recruit and arrange positions for qualified personnel by providing information about military careers to young adults as well as to parents, schools and local community organizations. Other administrative specialists include training specialists and instructors. They work to make various training programs available to new recruits and other employees. There are also personnel specialists, who obtain, process, and store information on military personnel, including specifics on their training, job assignments, promotions, and health.

  • Combat Specialty Occupations

    Combat specialty occupations encompass elite teams of enlisted, specially trained reinforcement crews who provide immediate help to the military at anytime and throughout all regions of the world. Working aboard aircraft, ships, submarines and through all manner of terrain and weather, these special-operations teams are readily called upon for difficult and dangerous missions. Such teams include the infantry, artillery, and special forces who specialize in operating weapons or in carrying out particular missions during combat. Persons involved in this line of work may be trained to operate tanks and assault vehicles as well as fire artillery, guns and missiles; and may be asked to assist in various raids, demolitions, search-and rescue missions, and intelligence operations.

  • Construction Occupations

    Construction occupations include an abundant array of job and numerous areas of work. Construction members are called upon to build and repair anything from buildings and airfields to hangers, bunkers and bridges. Some jobs require specialized skills such as experienced plumbers and pipe fitters. Other specialized areas of work include architects and electricians. Enlisted personnel are required to operate various heavy equipment such as bulldozers and cranes, while others concentrate on electrical-wiring, and other structural details.

  • Electronic and Electrical Equipment Repair

    The electronic and electrical equipment repair team is responsible for repairing and maintaining proper function of various electronic and electrical equipment used throughout the military. Frequently categorized by type of equipment, repairs often require the workforce to master specialized skills in relation to the equipment being repaired. Repairs are made to computers, optical equipment, weapon systems, communications equipment, navigational controls, various instruments, and other military owned tools and apparatus.

  • Engineering, Science and Technical Occupations

    Those interested in engineering, science and technical operations will be required to gain specific knowledge relating to their chosen field. It is vital that they possess necessary skills relating to the operation of technical equipment, the ability to solve complex problems and the capacity to interpret compound information, as well as any other specialized expertise pertinent to their area of work. Most enlisted personnel specialize in one particular field. Such areas include environmental health and safety, space operations, emergency management, and areas of intelligence. Environmental health and safety experts specialize in monitoring and controlling environmental conditions to limit the amount of germs and disease causing agents throughout the area. They also inspect various facilities and food supplies as well as maintain a tight grip on other aspects that could prove hazardous to human health and to the environment. Those working in space operations possess the knowledge necessary to repair and operate ground-control equipment dealing with space craft and the electronic systems used to track them. Emergency management specialists and teams are responsible for preparing emergency procedures for all types of disasters including earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes. Intensely investigating and examining the information gathered, those specializing in intelligence become experts in studying aerial photographs, surveillance systems and various types of radar.

  • Health Career Personnel

    Health-care personnel may work as individual assistants or as part of a patient-service team in assisting medical professionals. Their primary role is to aid in providing treatment and health related services to the men and women serving in the military. Personnel in this area of work will work in association with doctors, nurses, dentists, and physical therapists providing basic and crucial support within a hospital or clinic. Typically health-care specialist choose to specialize in a particular area of interest. Such areas include pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, x-ray and ultrasound operations, laboratory testing, and emergency medical treatment. In most facets of health-care personnel will be working closely with patients. An ability to deal calmly, politely, and rationally is essential.

  • Human Resources Development Specialists

    Specialists working in the Human Resources department become experts in areas categorized by activity. For instance, those specializing in military personnel obtain and keep information about the people serving in various military departments. The information they collect my include reports on various training an individual has completed, their current job assignment, any promotions they may have received, as well as accurate records on their health. Another example of a human resources development specialist is a recruiting specialist. These dedicated people undertake the task of recruiting new military men and women and arranging positions for qualified personnel. They are often asked to speak at schools and local community assemblies to provide information to young adults, parents and other community members about military employment and training opportunities, occupational pay and benefits, as well as service life. Training specialists are another group of specialists devoted to human resources. The men and women working in this field provide specialized training, classes and demonstrations to military personnel enabling them with the skills necessary to perform their jobs.

  • Machine Operator and Production Occupations

    Military personnel involved in machine operation and production occupations are skilled in the utility and function of various pieces of industrial equipment, machinery, tools, and instruments. They work creating and repairing various parts on and for a wide range of items and structures. Some of their skills may include operating various engine types, welding equipment, turbines, nuclear reactors, water pumps as well as using several differing types of materials. Those working in this area may be required to have a knowledge of an assortment of metals which might be used to restore or build structural parts of ships and submarines, as well as various buildings and other equipment. Dental and laboratory technicians are another group of personnel belonging to the machine operator and production occupations category. They are in charge of constructing and repairing the dental, eyeglasses, and laboratory equipment used by military personnel. Survival equipment specialists also belong to this category and are responsible for the inspection, maintenance and repair of any and all survival equipment such as parachutes and other aircraft life support equipment.

  • Media and Public Affairs Occupations

    There are careers for both enlisted personnel and Military specialists dealing with media and public affairs. Those working in Media and public affairs occupations are responsible for presenting and interpreting military events and information to the public. Some public affairs specialists act as interpreters and translators for both written and spoken languages. Other duties throughout this occupation include taking and developing photographs, working with films and recordings, operating audio and video editing programs, creating and producing music programs, arranging and developing artwork and other visual displays, and participating in the production of news releases and other public presentations.

  • Protective Service Personnel

    Protective service personnel act as a law enforcement agency regulating and putting into force military laws and policy; they also provide emergency response teams to any disaster situation, and some service teams work at maintaining standards of food quality, proper handling, and appropriate preparation in all areas where food may be served. Those involved in this aspect of military duty routinely specialize in areas according to function. A team of military police who work to prevent crime, control traffic and offer emergency response is one such example. Other examples include, guards, individuals working in correctional facilities, firefighters, and food service specialists.

  • Transportation and Material Handling Specialists

    Working to ensure the safe transport of people and cargo, transportation and material handling specialists are responsible for the operation of a variety of aircraft, motor vehicles, and ships. Personnel are classified by mode of transportation. For instance, aircrew affiliates run the equipment on board an aircraft, while vehicle drivers operate various types of military vehicles. Quartermasters control, navigate and pilot many small ships and various other types of watercraft, and cargo specialists pack, stack load and unload assorted military supplies.

  • Vehicle and Machinery Mechanics

    Vehicle and machinery mechanics are classified by the type of equipment they repair. Such equipment includes heavy machinery located on aircraft and ships, as well as heating and cooling systems, powerhouse station equipment, and marine engines. Various positions available in vehicle and machinery mechanics include aircraft mechanics who are responsible for the maintenance of helicopters and airplanes, automotive and heavy-equipment mechanics who repair all manner of vehicles as well as self propelled missile launchers, power shovels, and other such heavy construction equipment, heating and cooling mechanics who renovate and install thermostat units as well as refrigeration and heating equipment, marine engine mechanics who keep watch over the engines and electrical equipment of boats, ships and other watercraft, and powerhouse mechanics who establish, maintain and restore electrical and mechanical gear in power-generating stations.

Officer occupational groups

  • Combat Specialty Officers

    Combat specialty officers usually specialize by the type of unit they lead and are responsible for planning and directing military operations both in combat activities overseas, and as combat leaders. Areas in which they may focus include assault vehicle regiments, artillery systems teams, special operations forces, and the infantry. Some officers may also specialize in a particular weapon with in a unit. Examples include special operations officers who head their units in offensive raids, intelligence gathering, demolitions, and search-and-rescue missions, as well as missile and artillery system officers who direct enlisted personnel as they dispatch and test particular equipment within the system.

  • Engineering, Science and Technical Officers

    Engineering, science, and technical officers lead and perform activities in particular areas based on their specific expertise. Active areas may include space operations, environmental health and safety, and involvement within various engineering systems. Officers may be required to direct anything from communication centers to programs identifying pollution sources. Other personnel may work applying their own expertise and skills to various projects and designs such as the development of new military aircraft or bacterial analysis.

  • Executive, Administrative, and Managerial Officers

    There are many positions available for those interested in executive, administrative, and managerial careers. Areas such as finance, accounting, international relations, and health administration offer countless opportunities for placement. Various tasks within an area may include contracting, negotiating, direction over various departments, and liability over funds. For instance, health services administrators are accountable for the quality of care provided within the hospitals and clinics over which they preside. It is their primary responsibility to affirm that each department is effective in working together to provide maximum quality of care to the patients they serve.

  • Health Care Officers

    Health-care officers officiate in assisting, examining, diagnosing, and treating patients based on their level of education and their area of expertise. Such officers include surgeons, physicians, registered nurses, physical therapists, speech therapists, optometrists, psychologists, dietitians, pharmacists, and dentists. It is the goal and responsibility of all such officers to provide necessary health care, therapy, rehabilitative treatment, and any other essential services to their patients.

  • Media and Affairs Officers

    It is the responsibility of media and affairs officers to supervise the development, construction and presentation of information or events for public purposes. Areas of work my include producing and directing a motion picture, direction of musical ensembles such as a military band or orchestra, use of videotapes and television systems to produce both recorded and live broadcasts, as well as various occupations in news media and entertainment. Other jobs may include response to specific inquiries regarding military positions and activities as well as the necessary preparation of news releases and reports used to keep the public informed about past, present and future events.

  • Protective Service Officers

    Protecting individuals and property, protective service officers hold a strong allegiance to their position. They are responsible for the safety and well-being of all whom they serve. They supervise and carry out official duties on individual military bases. Acting as guards, law enforcement agents, and security officers they are able to investigate, enforce and carry out applicable consequences for crimes and laws that may have been broken. Protective service officers also work at developing evacuation plans and warnings to be used at a time of disaster.

  • Support Services Officers

    Support services officers work to provide service to military personnel and their families in a variety of ways. Some work in food service areas as food service managers where they direct and oversee the preparation and delivery of food throughout various facilities lactated on military bases and vessels. Others specialize in social work focusing on improvements that can be made to alleviate the affects of substance abuse, racism and sexist tendencies. Chaplains are another type of support services officers who offer spiritual service to fellow military personnel by performing spiritual duties and providing areas for worship.

  • Transportation Occupations

    Officers involved in transportation occupations oversee and carry out activities and duties by air water and land facilitating the safe transport of military cargo and personnel. Most often officers specialize in one particular area of transportation, but some may meet licensing and certification requirements enabling them to carryout a variety of duties. For example, military pilots are not restricted one certain type of aircraft. In order to transport troops and equipment needed to carry out combat missions, they may be authorized to fly various types of specialized planes as well as helicopters. Other jobs relating to transportation include those dealing with navigation. Radar, radio and other navigational equipment is used and interpreted by navigators who guide and direct various vessels, aircraft and other transport vehicles. Navigators and officers on ships and submarines work as a team to ensure a accurate travel course. Engineering is another occupation relating to transportation. The engineers aboard ships and submarines front engineering sectors including engine maintenance, repair, operation, thermoregulation, and power generation.

Employment Information

Active duty throughout the Armed Forces reached more than 1.4 million people in the year 2003. And an additional 1.2 million people served in the Reserve making a total of over 2.5 million participating military men and women. There were also approximately 38,000 people serving in the Coast Guard, which is now considered part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Military men and women actively serve throughout the United States, and are also stationed in many other countries around the world. Although military personnel can be found throughout all areas of the United States, states such as California, Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, and Georgia constitute an area where more than half of all military jobs are located. In 2002, about 395,000 military persons were stationed outside the United States (which includes those assigned to ships at sea). And an estimated 104,000 of these were stationed in Europe (mainly in Germany). Another 85,000 were assigned to East Asia and the Pacific area (mostly in Japan and the Republic of Korea).