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
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
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 19–34 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
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
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
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.