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The Best Enlisted Jobs in the Military
Let me start out by stating that after 23 years as an enlisted Soldier in the military, every military job is vitally important to the well-being of our national security. There are military occupations that teach advanced technical skills, and some that greatly increase vocational abilities. All military jobs have the capability of developing leadership and decision-making skills that are in high demand by civilian employers, even in sluggish economic times.
Military jobs are literally a microcosm of the civilian job sector. No matter what your occupational desires, you will find a similar position within the military services. These jobs provide solid training and experience that potentially lead to even more lucrative civilian careers.
Having stated all of that, most young people want to know what the “best” jobs in the military are. By that, they actually mean one of two things – what are the easiest jobs or what jobs will land me a great high-paying job in the civilian world when I get out of the military? Considering there are over 200 career fields within the military, these are no easy questions to answer. What may be considered the best for some may not necessarily be for others. The following is a list of what I consider the best military occupational specialties based on current civilian job trends.
Emergency Services - Military Police and Firefighter
Ever since the tragedy of 9/11, emergency services have never been more in demand than now. Military Police continues to be one of the most popular career choices for recruits. Becoming a civilian police officer is often a goal for many MP’s after military service. A career in law enforcement or firefighting is a logical progression due to the paramilitary nature of the jobs. Emergency service personnel gain valuable experience handling the high pressure situations just like their civilian counterparts. Military law enforcement also offers the opportunities to pursue more specialized training in areas like investigations, K-9, or physical security. A military firefighter job is becoming much harder to obtain as a result of the Department of Defense utilizing more civilian contracted personnel. However, those lucky enough to land this position will get all of the training and experience that all but guarantee a firefighter job in the civilian sector.
Military Intelligence Analyst is the only job on this list that requires being able to obtain a top secret security clearance. As such, any derogatory background information such as criminal charges or financial problems like extreme debt or bankruptcy would preclude a recruit from obtaining a Military Intelligence job. Intelligence Analysts learn to meticulously investigate, analyze and annotate all important information retrieved from rival countries. The learn interrogation techniques, receive foreign language training, and analyze all sorts of communications and printed material for pertinent strategic information. This field has the possibility of leading to similar positions within the federal civil service system or FBI and CIA. The top secret security clearance alone is worth its weight in gold for any corporation that is developing or supporting projects vital to the military and national security.
Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic
A vehicle mechanic is one of the highest paying vocational trades in the civilian sector. Wheeled vehicle mechanics in the military receive top-notch training on a variety of vehicle types. Also, the military’s aggressive vehicle maintenance program ensures more practical experience than any civilian trade school could ever dream of providing. Automotive repair shops and dealerships are some of the largest employers of veterans in the civilian job market. They recognize the value of the training and knowledge of a service member, not to mention an already established and documented history of relevant experience.
The medical field is one of the most diverse in the military. Enlisted members can choose from many different specialties like Lab Technician, X-Ray or Orthopedic Specialist, Operating Room Tech, Physical Therapy, Occupational Medicine and more. It is no secret that the healthcare industry is booming and training for these jobs can be very costly for civilians. A military medical specialist not only gets their training for free, they gain real world experience much faster than civilian healthcare workers. The military has access to cutting edge healthcare technology that gives service members a leg up on the competition when pursuing a medical career outside the military. Potential recruits need to be aware that the healthcare fields are extremely popular and the available slots get filled early in each recruiting year. Also, most of the medical jobs require a recruit to furnish high school or college transcripts that reflect some type of biology or chemistry courses.
The information technology field is huge in the civilian job market, and it is just as big within the military. The military has millions of computers and IT equipment that must be monitored and maintained. The military also develops much of its own software applications giving programmers the opportunity to hone their skills. Military computer specialists have opportunities to receive major industry training and certification in some of the most sought after training courses like Microsoft MSCE, Cisco and more. Civilian IT professionals pay thousands of dollars each year to get what a computer specialist in the military gets for free. In a field where experience counts for much more than a degree, a computer specialist position in the military could prove invaluable in the ever-growing information technology industry.
Pass the ASVAB!
Qualifications and Requirements
Joining the military to get one of these prime jobs is not as easy as it was when your dad or grandfather joined. Enlistment requirements reflect the services increasing selectivity in recruiting personnel that can contribute to making the armed forces more professional than ever. All recruits must take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) which is a battery of ten tests that determine if they are academically eligible to enlist, and what career areas they are best suited for. One shocking statistic reveals that only 5 out of every 10 public high school students actually achieve an eligible score on the ASVAB. Recruits must also be morally qualified, meaning a clean criminal history. Although some services do grant waivers for minor offenses, they are becoming much more selective in their criteria. Recruits must also be able to pass an in-depth physical which includes meeting each service’s height and weight requirements. A recent study done by the Pentagon revealed that only 3 out of every 7 people in the United States within the enlistment age range actually qualify to enlist in the military.
I am a firm believer that there is no better opportunity for a young person coming out of high school or college to gain valuable training and experience in a chosen career area. These are the best jobs in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines that can prepare anyone to be highly competitive within the civilian job market and eventually lead to higher than average earnings over a lifetime.