The U.S. military is a huge employer. With jobs ranging from chef to demolition expert, there is something for just about every interest. If you are considering the military as an employer, your opportunities will be plentiful.
To enlist or not?
A career in the military can be achieved in two ways—by enlisting or by getting hired as a civilian employee. As an enlistee, you will be held to the terms of your enlistment contract and are subject to military law. If you don’t like your job, you can’t just quit. The commitment involved in enlisting is enormous.
Rod Powers, a military guide for About.com, author of ASVAB for Dummies and a retired Air Force Sergeant, says: “If you don’t like your civilian job, you can just quit. You can’t just quit the military. You are obligated by the contract you signed. If you fail to show up for work at your civilian job, the worst that can happen is that you’re fired. Fail to show up for your military job (known as AWOL or desertion), and you can go to jail.”
Benefits of enlisting include educational, travel and job opportunities and the opportunity to make lifelong friends. But consider also the dedication and hard work, as well as intense physical demand and mental pressure that are all part of military life. You might find yourself away from home for months or even years, and actual combat is a serious possibility.
Anne Dwane, vice president of marketing for Military.com, works with enlisted personnel on a daily basis. “The military is more than a job,” she says. “It is a lifestyle with unique benefits, privileges and responsibilities. Military service involves being part of something bigger than yourself.”
Retaining your civilian status might be a good idea if you are a little overwhelmed by the thought of enlisting. You would receive benefits such as health insurance and promotions but wouldn’t have to go through boot camp or be in fear of going to jail if you quit your job.
Your career options
There are scores of military careers to choose from. Just think of a civil-ian profession, and there is more than likely a military counterpart for it.
“Aviation, special operations, intelligence, firefighting, mechanics, photography, medicine, communications, IT and networking, engineering, construction—the list is long,” says Dwane.
She also notes some of the hottest job titles in the military now: “Military intelligence, communications, medicine (nursing, medics, physicians) and aviation are especially popular right now. The military uses cutting edge technology today and attracts people who want to get solid training and experience in these fields. There is also high interest in learning foreign languages as part of military intelligence specialties.”
On the Web site www.usmilitary.about.com, Powers notes some of the more unusual job titles in the military, such as oboe player, diver, multimedia illustrator, fabric repair specialist, wheel repairer and animal care specialist.
The military offers a wide range of careers that don’t involve participating on the battlefield. So if you’re not that thrilled by the thought of going to battle should war break out, there are other options to consider as an enlisted or civilian employee.
The military is always hiring, and with that in mind, jobs and quality training will always be available. “In addition, military skills and experience are increasingly valued by private sector employers,” Dwane says. “We’ll always need a well-trained military, and the quality of training people receive in the military is high.”
Making an informed decision
Sound like a big deal, trying to figure out whether a military career is for you? It is a huge decision. But there are a lot of resources out there to help you. Here are a few tips for finding out all you can.
Check out the Internet. Visit www.military.com for a “no bull, no bias, no pressure” guide to military careers. They also have endless information about the different branches, a message board so you can ask questions and a career finder.
Talk to people who have been or who are currently in the military. They can give you an insight into the real deal like no one else.
Visit your local recruiting office. Recruiters can give you all the information you need for any branch of the military you’re interested in pursuing.