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Military Careers for College Graduates 


Here is a snapshot of careers offered by the U.S. Armed Services the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines made up of 1.5 million officers and enlistees:


The Army says that to be a U.S. Army soldier is to be a part of the world's best fighting force. Soldiers spend their days training, working, and serving together to protect America's freedoms. But the Army wants college graduates to know that they also have time after work for family, friends and personal interests. From recruitment to retirement, the Army seeks to provide a unique and diverse lifestyle for soldiers.

The Army, which has about 500,000 active duty personnel through September 30, 2004, including 81,000 officers, is offering enticements such as money to repay college loans and payments for college tuition, job training, world travel, and health benefits. New active duty enlistees are receiving about $1,400 to $1,800 per month in pay, and bonuses averaging $9,000 are used to entice those recruits with special skills and qualifications. The Army's goal by September 30, 2005 is to sign up 80,000 new active duty soldiers, compared with 77,000 at the end of fiscal 2004.

The first step in becoming a soldier is working with a recruiter. The Army wants its recruiters to learn why each soldier's role in the Army is important. Soldiers are given every opportunity to grow especially when it comes to careers. The Army seeks to give soldiers the physical and mental strength, job skills, and leadership capabilities that will serve them whether they continue their careers in the Army or as civilians.

The Army has more than 150 job categories for soldiers on active duty and more than 120 for those in the Army Reserve, whether it's working with computers, assisting physicians or fixing helicopters. Broad career areas include administrative support, arts and media, combat, construction and engineering, law enforcement, and transportation and aviation. Every soldier earns money and benefits for his or her service whether as an officer or an enlisted soldier on active duty or in the Army Reserve. Army personnel are provided with housing and meals if they live on post or money to help pay for them if they live off post.

One of the most important benefits that you may have as a soldier is money to further your education or to pay off your existing student loans. Military skills training is important to the Army, but so is encouraging you, as soldiers, to attend college or take continuing education courses. As a soldier you may take advantage of the Montgomery GI Bill and the Army College Fund as ways to pay for your college education up to a total of $70,000 for those soldiers on active duty.

For college students, the Army ROTC program operates on more than 700 campuses nationwide. Army ROTC Cadets gain practical experience in management and problem solving while training to become Army officers. And college students, or those on their way to college, can compete for up to $17,000 per year in tuition scholarships, with generous textbook allowances. The Army also partners with more than 1,600 colleges and four-year universities to help soldiers get higher education during or after their tour of service. Online college correspondence courses are also available to soldiers, and the Army will provide the computers.


The 54,000 officers in the U.S. Navy are among the most well respected men and women who serve in the U.S. military. For college graduates, Navy career fields are limitless aviation, engineering, healthcare, intelligence and communication, legal, public affairs, special operations, and supply, transportation, logistics. The Navy's goal is to offer careers to graduates that match their talents and interests. The Navy's total force of officers and enlistees is 374,000.

The Navy believes its versatility operating on land, on water, in the air and under the sea translates into diverse career choices. For an officer, privileges include signing bonuses for college credits and degrees; advanced training with full pay and allowances; use of officers' clubs worldwide; career and promotion opportunities; 30 days paid vacation annually; money to pay off student loans, and incentives to earn advanced degrees.

Naval officer candidates must attend Officer Candidate School, a 13-week program that challenges members with coursework, physical fitness, and military training, laying a foundation for their Navy careers. Other prerequisites are a bachelor's degree from an accredited university and being 1934 years old.

For those starting college, the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) can offer students a four-year scholarship worth up to $150,000 at top colleges or universities. Students get to focus on their studies and college life without worrying about how to pay the bill. The scholarship can provide enough money to cover up to four or five years of tuition, textbook fees, a monthly spending allowance, and other related fees.

In the Navy, and all branches of the U.S. military, pay depends on rank and years of service. Promotions depend on performance and seniority. In general, Navy personnel are eligible for advancement after nine months. In addition, personnel at some duty stations are eligible for additional Cost of Living Allowances. Benefits include living accommodations or housing allowances, free dining services or food allowances, a uniform allowance, and full healthcare benefits. Officer salaries too are based on rank and seniority. The monthly pay for an ensign upon receiving commission, for instance, is $2,848.50 plus allowances and benefits.


If you have a college degree or are about to earn one, the 377,000-strong Air Force encourages its recruits to take officer and advanced training. The Air Force Institute of Technology, located at Wright-Patterson AFB, in Ohio, is the Air Force's graduate school of engineering and management as well as its institution for technical professional continuing education. AFIT provides defense focused graduate and professional continuing education and research to sustain the technological supremacy of America's air and space forces. AFIT has three resident schools: the Graduate School of Engineering and Management, the School of Systems and Logistics, and the Civil Engineer and Services School.

The Air Force's Officer Training School and ROTC provide the two major pipelines to becoming one of the 74,000 officers in the branch. About 80 percent of new Air Force officers each year come through one of these two programs. The Air Force has ROTC detachments at seven HBCUs: Tennessee State University, Tuskegee University, Howard University, Grambling State University, Fayetteville State University, Alabama State University and North Carolina A&T State University. One goal of the Air Force is to establish an ongoing relationship with HBCU institutions. The Air Force also has 744 Junior ROTC units on high school campuses around the world, covering more than 103,000 cadets.

The Air Force also has a formal mentoring program that offers opportunities to every officer, enlisted, civilian, guard or reservist in the Air Force. The program's goal is to help every Air Force person reach his or her full potential through a network of support where mentoring is considered everyone's responsibility, not just that of supervisors.

Like the other service branches, the Air Force offers generous tuition assistance to its personnel. The Air Force tuition assistance program is designed to help active-duty personnel pursue voluntary, off-duty educational opportunities, paying 100 percent of the cost of college courses with a limit of $4,500 per fiscal year. Courses and degree programs may be academic or technical and can be taken from two- or four-year institutions on-base, off-base, or by correspondence. The College Loan Repayment Program offers those who have taken some college courses and accumulated debt an opportunity to help reduce the debt.

The Air Force pilot is a glamour occupation. Pilots and flight specialists have a unique blend of skill and determination that helps keep the Air Force at the pinnacle of air and space power. From airborne missions, to equipment and personnel transportation, to bombing missions, Air Force pilots and their teams get the job done. As an officer in flight specialties, a multitude of opportunities exist.

For those working in non-technical Air Force specialties, coordinating resources and leading mission preparation offer key career opportunities. Positions include jobs in intelligence, manpower, personnel, security forces and communications. In addition, the Air Force offers a number of specialty careers, such as chaplain, combat control officer, special investigations officer, and judge advocate or lawyer.

In addition to housing and food allowances offered by all the service branches, service personnel receive low cost, comprehensive insurance of up to $250,000 for $20 a month. Allowances are generally tax free, including shopping at the tax-free, on-base department and grocery stores.

Retirement is also a benefit. Personnel are eligible to retire after 20 years of service. The Air Force also requires no payroll deductions for its retirement plan, making it one of the earliest retirements around. Recreation is a big deal in the Air Force, as personnel set up social activities and recreational programs geared to the interests of each family member. Officers' clubs feature a full calendar of social events for members, spouses and guests. Bases sponsor youth activities, including teen functions. Most Air Force bases have golf courses, arts and crafts facilities, bowling alleys, tennis courts and swimming pools.


Since November 10, 1775, Marines have been trained to be leaders of what this branch of service calls the finest fighting force in the world. Citizens of the United States who have bachelor's degrees or are in the process of getting bachelor's degrees are eligible for the Marine Corps officer program. All majors and areas of study are acceptable. Marine officers must have the desire to be leaders, have a well-rounded background and experience and be flexible.

Marines don't have a specific ROTC program, but other opportunities exist. Platoon-Leaders Class is conducted during the summer -- and there is no obligation beyond attending the summer training. And Marines can go through the Navy's ROTC's program. Officer training programs offer annual tuition assistance and a competitive starting salary that can help you with loans or other expenses.

Marine Corps Officer training is designed to be intense. Marine Corps officers are directly responsible for the welfare and job performance of the men and women they command. People's lives often depend on that performance. The career of a Marine Corps officer has many advantages, including a variety of duties, responsibilities, and challenges is unlike any found in the civilian sector.

About 40,000 officer candidates join the Marines each year. Marines are trained in the art of self-mastery, acquiring self-discipline, the courage to undertake difficult tasks, and a steadfast commitment to overcoming challenges. Marines are warriors with a smaller but aggressive force at 177,000 total personnel and 19,000 officers.


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