The Army says it has over 150 different jobs, but some are not real jobs.
How do you choose a job in the Army? The short answer is do a lot of research and talk to a lot of people about what you think you might like. What you choose and are accepted for is what you will be doing, for the duration of your enlistment. There are hundreds of youtube videos about many Army jobs. Some are produced by the Army as advertisement, but there are also many by individuals and units. Search for forums and comments online, read the pro and the con.
Here are some thoughts that I hope helps. First, I’ll try to define army “job”. The Army advertises that it has over 150 different jobs. That’s true, but some are real jobs and some are not. When two soldiers, who have never met, and aren’t in uniform, strike up a conversation, one asks, “What do you do?” The other answers, “I’m an eleven bravo.” The other comes back with, “I’m a thirteen fox, work with you guys all the time.” Each now knows exactly what the other does, but neither has a real “job”, as in going to work at it every day. A “job” in the Army is an MOS (Military Occupational Specialty). The first answer, eleven bravo, means 11B Light Weapons Infantryman, the second, thirteen fox, is 13F Joint Fire Support Specialist, which is a forward observer for artillery.
Combat Arms, infantry, artillery, armor, combat engineers, and air defense artillery, don’t go to their “job” in the morning, after physical training (PT). They go to training. What ever that may be that day. The combat arms trains for combat. Infantrymen can study reaction to an ambush, but they can’t train for it until they get ambushed, in the field (in training), they can study company in the attack, but they can’t train for it until they are in the field, facing thick under brush, trying to figure how to be quiet and get in position.
Artillery and Air Defense Artillery may be doing crew drills, to reduce their set up time, in the field.
Armor (tanks) may be on a tank range, firing tables, and Combat Engineers may be training on breeching (blowing holes in) obstacles.
Support soldiers (those not in combat arms) go to their “job”, in the morning, after PT. Mechanics, medics, truck drivers, welders, computer specialists, supply specialist, and the list goes on, all go to their “job”.
So, first think about what you like to do, and what you don’t like. If you love being outside, maybe hunting and fishing, or just camping, hiking, and exploring, maybe you like to play sports, and you don’t like having to stay inside, you may want to take a good look at combat arms. Combat Arms soldiers have consistently polled as happier than support soldiers. If you don’t mind working inside, maybe you like brainy stuff, and maybe you like helping people, there are many different jobs from which to choose.
Here is something else to consider. How fast are promotions, in what jobs. Enlisted advancement, in the Army, is fairly automatic up to Specialist, pay grade E-4. Enlistees with a bachelors’ degree, or a civilian acquired skill, such as a certified welder, may enlist as a Specialist E-4, all other, non-prior service recruits enlist as a Private E-1. There are two pay grades within E-1, one for under four months of service, and the other about $100 more for over four months. Advancement to Private E-2 is automatic at six months, but can happen at four months. That’s a couple hundred dollar raise. Promotion to Private First Class (PFC) E-3, which is another $100 raise, officially comes at a year, but can happen at six months. A young woman, just out of high school, from our town, enlisted to be a Parachute Rigger, MOS 92R. In basic training, she found her calling, ended basic as the platoon guide of her 50 soldier platoon. In the thirteen week 92R AIT (Advanced Individual Training), she was promoted to PFC, as soon as she made the six month mark, and ended as the top graduate of her AIT class. Because she was the Distinguished Honor Graduate, she was assigned to the US Army Special Operations Command. Smart, hard working people move faster.
Promotion to Specialist E-4 comes, officially at two years, but can be waived back to 18 months. Most good soldiers make it at around 18 months. The next step is promotion to Sergeant. Promotion to Sergeant is a big deal, in the Army. The difference in prestige, courtesy, responsibility, and ego between Specialist E-4, and Sergeant E-5 is large, plus a pay raise.
Promotion to Sergeant E-5 and Staff Sergeant E-6 is in a primary zone or a secondary zone. The primary zone for Sergeant E-5 is 36 months time in service and 8 months time in grade, but the secondary zone, for exceptional soldiers, starts at 18 months service and 4 months in grade. Yes, you are eligible to be recommended for promotion to sergeant, shortly after making specialist. There are other requirements, such as a correspondence course and a leadership course. Weapons qualification scores, physical training scores, and civilian education are big items that are considered in promotion to sergeant.
Here is where the job comes into play. Some Army MOS’s have a much larger requirement for sergeants than others. The most numerous MOS in the Army is 11B, the infantry. An infantry squad, led by a Staff Sergeant, consists of two four soldier teams, each led by a sergeant. Hard chargers, in the infantry, are making sergeant at around two years in service. Want to know more about the infantry, see my story, “I AM THE INFANTRY – FOLLOW ME”.
Armor– Tank crewman, MOS 19K, is in that same category. Every four man M-1 Abrams Tank crew is commanded by a sergeant. See my story, “US ARMY ARMOR – BE A TANKER”. Combat Engineers, are also in this group, MOS 12B. I have two stories, “ARMY COMBAT ENGINEERS”, and “COMBAT ENGINEERS”, about those soldiers. Another in this category is MOS 13F Joint Fire Support Specialist, see my story “CALL FOR FIRE”.
Another MOS in which exceptional soldiers are being promoted fast is MOS 74D CBRN Specialist (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear). See my story, “CBRN – ENLIST AND BE A SERGEANT IN TWO YEARS”. Every company both combat and support has a 74D sergeant.
Here are some support jobs, that are also fast promoters. MOS 12Y Geospatial Engineer, see my story “GEOSPATIAL ENGINEER”. MOS 17C
Cyber Operations Specialist, this is a Top Secret job for real computer guru’s, see my story “COMPUTER HACKER”.
Another support job, currently making sergeant in around two years is MOS 35F Army Military Intelligence Analyst, see my story “ARMY MILITARY INTELLIGENCE ANALYST”.
If you’re set on being a mechanic, a truck driver, a medic, a human resource specialist, or a whatever, by all means hold out for that job. But, I caution you to thoroughly research the job you think you want, to see what those soldiers actually do, in the Army.
I encourage anyone considering enlisting in the Army to consider the “Airborne Option”, jumping out of airplanes. Those units have higher morale than non-airborne units. What?? You’re afraid of heights?? So are hundreds of paratroopers. Don’t look down.