Inside Military Careers

Insider tips you need to know to choose and succeed in the right career

Military Careers

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CareerReported Satisfaction
Military Intelligence Officer
Military Officer

Surprising and Helpful Information

Detailed info from people on the job

Examples of likes and dislikes:


"satisfaction of a job well done, team relationships developed with fellow workers and the unlimited opportunities to extend technical horizons are the three most rewarding parts of this job."


"long hours demanded, the low level of material rewards to assigned responsibility, and the interference with smooth family life are the three worst parts of this job."

Career Overview

Choosing a career in the United States Military is a huge decision which generally involves a service commitment of a certain number of years. For those individuals dedicated to serving their country, there are hundreds of career options within the five branches of the United States Military: the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. In addition to active-duty units, each branch has Guard and Reserve units that serve on a part-time basis and are deployed when needed. An individualís interests and qualifications determine which service unit is the most suitable, with diverse career options ranging from combat occupations to administrative and health care positions.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 2.4 million people receive training and work experience in many career fields, with 82 percent consisting of enlisted personnel, and officers making up the remaining 18 percent.

Career Skills

Individuals interested in a military career should generally be devoted to protecting their country. While skills vary by occupation, choosing a military path generally requires a great deal of self-discipline, with individuals in good medical condition to handle any intense physical work. In addition, individuals should enjoy traveling as many positions require time away from home for long periods of time. To join, applicants must meet certain age, educational, physical and character requirements, which vary by branch of service. All enlisted applicants are also required to take an aptitude exam which helps determine the selection for a particular training program.


All branches of the military generally require members to be 17 years old and be high school graduates or have obtained a GED equivalent. Officers usually need a four-year college degree or higher before serving, although it is possible to go through the enlisted ranks and advance to officer and complete training at a later time. Officers may be commissioned through specific programs such as those at one of the military academies such as West Point, the Naval, Air Force, and Coast Guard Academies, or through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) or Officer Candidate or Training Schools.

Career Options

Options within the military are differentiated between enlisted and officer careers. Enlisted personnel make up the majority of the Armed Forces, and perform the primary operations including combat, science and engineering, media and public affairs, and healthcare, among others. Officers are the managers of the military who supervise operations in all occupations. The following are a few examples of military career choices:

  • Combat personnel are those that execute or plan fighting operations against enemy forces during wartime, using guns, mortars, missiles, tanks, and other weapons and vehicles. Occupations in this field are usually specialized by the type of combat operation or weapons. Some career options include infantry, cavalry, artillery, and Special Forces, who handle the most complicated and dangerous missions.
  • Health care personnel cover a wide range of specialties and are responsible for providing medical treatment to its service members and families. Care is given both in hospital or clinical settings as well as field environments during combat operations. In addition to physicians, this field includes dentists, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and emergency medical technicians, to name a few.
  • Transportation specialists handle the safe transport of a mobile military force, including service members, aircraft, trucks, ships, and other equipment and cargo. The militaryís transportation system includes many career options ranging from personnel that operate each type of transportation to cargo specialists that plan, organize, load and unload military supplies and materials.
  • Protective services personnel work to secure the U.S. homeland, protect Americans at home and abroad, enforce military laws and regulations, and provide responses to natural and man-made emergencies. The military has their own law enforcement, police and fire departments, and includes careers that focus in these areas such as firefighters, military police, and security specialists.