Plan Your Course of Action
You should not just walk into a military career. Most successful candidates planned a course of action that enabled them to obtain their desired position. Make a list of several positions you are interested in. Check the qualifications for those positions. Do you qualify? If not, obtain more education and experience. As you plan your career, ask yourself some important questions:
1. Are you ready for a military life?
Military life is not for everyone: The pay is predominantly low to start, a majority of personnel are stationed on overseas bases, personnel are subject to transfer at a moment’s notice, and, most important, they have signed a commitment, meaning they cannot simply quit if they do not like the service.
2. Are you willing to travel and be reassigned?
Military personnel may be transferred throughout the world several times during their careers, which means they may have to live on military bases until retirement. They may also have to conduct extensive travel for their duties. Not everyone can handle the military life. If you are single, it is your decision alone; however, if you have a family, it must be a family decision.
3. How do you feel about submarines, ships, and planes?
Before you sign up for a career that takes you into the air or under the sea make sure that you are prepared for it; do not make a career decision based on a movie or CD?ROM attraction.
4. Are you ready for military responsibility?
Being a member of the military entails more than a job; the duties and responsibilities for the most part are a significant burden that an individual must accept both on and off duty, 24 hours a day; therefore, the decision to pursue a particular position must be well thought out and planned in advance. Unlike civilian jobs, you cannot simply tell the boss you quit and then leave; when you sign on, you are obligated to serve for a certain time.
5. Is this a service career with a future?
Choose your career wisely from the start. Does it have a future? Will you be able to have a clear promotion path? And, for future consideration, does the career specialty have a civilian counterpart?
6. What type of military career or opportunities do you want? At what level?
A majority of those joining the U.S. military do so at the enlisted personnel level, which is fine, because today the military is geared toward education of its enlisted personnel. In many cases, a person joining the military as an enlisted member can serve and earn a college degree at the military’s expense; however, as you will learn in this book, there are several paths that can lead not only to a college education, but to an officer’s career, in which there is higher pay and prestige, and greater federal and civilian hiring opportunities.